Penang has a vintage feel. One of worlds gone by and a lingering history which is absorbing. Ono, who runs a shop of curiosities invited me to a jamming session a local art gallery and provided me with an instrument from the 1970’s. Clad in a green plastic case – a keyboard with a tube which one blows into to create the sound. Retro eco musical heaven. After the session was over a group of us decided to head for a drink in the Chinese duty free bar. Once drinking i placed the instrument in question on our table. Three bottles of vodka later it was gone, vanished, walked. A mystery had begun and it was up to me to solve it! I had given Ono my word that i would return his possession the following day and i was adamant i would stick to it. As morning broke i started to search, returning to the bar to ask questions. Had anyone seen it? Lucky for me a waiter, George remembered me playing it and had information. He proceeded to walk me around the corner to an Indian food stall.
Had it been stolen? Taken in for safe keeping i asked myself and my two fellow detectives? George remembered seeing a Chinese man having dinner at the stall the previous night, sitting with the accordion at his table. Apparently a local man who regularly ate there. “Have you seen a Chinese man with a small green accordion”, i asked? The reply was YES, but he had not returned since last night. “Come back at two pm and i will ask around”, the Indian man said. Two pm came and went, as did four and six and eight, me being no further forward and starting to panic. Something borrowed in good faith should always be returned, especially to someone as cool as Ono.
So ten pm struck as i continued to sit at the chai stall, watching people coming and going, drinking chai, eating samosa’s and eating birds. Just waiting and looking and hoping the little green thing would appear like a rabbit from magicians hat. The chai wallah could see i was becoming distressed due to me leaving for Langkawi the following morning, and my desire to return he object not going anywhere fast. He scampered across the road and made a phone call. On his return he pronounced, ” Its OK, you will get it back. Come here at eleven pm, but call me first!”.
The rain was lashing down and the sky was being lit up every few seconds with fierce pink lightning. Eleven pm came and i returned to the stall. Waiting for me was a short Indian man of around fifty, wearing a crash helmet and flip-flops. “Follow me, i know where the accordion is”. I walked past the Temple of Mercy in the pouring rain, darkness and into the night. I was asked to wait as he knocked on a door at the side of an alleyway. No answer. Dogs barked until a lady surfaced from two doors down. She joined us and knocked harder. Finally a man came from within, passed out a set of keys and the door was unlocked. After some rustling and a deep breath in from me the little green accordion appeared. Good as new, still in its case. A whole day of looking and searching and wondering and it was there, back in my right hand un-scathed. I could return it to Ono and leave Penang without having to having apologise. I believed it would return and it did…But i can’t help but wonder why it was taken the first place.