Raoul: Do you know what an areca nut is, Kalyani? It has been featured in the headlines recently – the government was considering on banning its cultivation.
Me: Yeah, I do. You would know too, if I call it by its colloquial name – paan! Paan is actually the combination of the betel nut (also called areca nut) and the betel leaf.It’s consumed by many for a multitude of reasons that we won’t delve into.
Coincidentally, there is a state in Malaysia whose name is derived from the word ”pinang” which means ‘Island of the Areca Nut Palm’ in Malay. Can you guess which place I’m referring to?
Raoul: Of course. Do you take me for a dimwit? It’s Penang, and I’m offended.
Me: Awww, no no, don’t be! I just wanted to make sure that you were paying attention. 😛 Tell me something about Penang then.
Raoul: Well from what I’ve read about – Penang is quite a popular holiday destination. Especially if you are the one who loves to live in a pair of beach shorts and sunglasses all day! Having a history of being under the British colonial rule, Penang still has quite a few buildings of foreign architecture. The original colonial names of a lot of streets have also not changed – which gives one an impression of being in two worlds at the same time.
Me: That last phrase of yours – reminded me of Jamie in the movie A Walk to Remember, where she says that she had always wanted to be in two places at once. In retrospect, Landon could have also taken her to Penang – it has got the qualifications!
Raoul: Haha, I see what you mean. In fact, Georgetown, the capital of the state of Penang has even attained the status of being a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Me: Yes, that’s right. Hmm, it’s funny how one thing lead to another and we arrived at Georgetown from the wily areca nut! But, talking about Penang sure is interesting. How about I write an article on the places to see in Penang as my next post?
Raoul: Go ahead. You sound enthusiastic – did talking to me kindle your mind? If so, you should be posting more of my talks on the blog. A lot of minds would be refreshed – and I would be a potential substitute for paan! (sinks into the possibilities of fame and glory)
Raoul is merely a figment of imagination, and perhaps I should leave it like that. But I cannot. So here’s the real story – Raoul was the name of my grand- aunt’s dog, who died at a ripe old age. Since I never had any pets myself, I got Raoul to be my partner in this conversation happening in my head. You can expect more talks with Raoul only on the Travel Column, mlore.manipalblog.com! Do you have any suggestions for my next post on Penang? Send them right in to [email protected] or mlore.manipalblog.com. 🙂