Seven-thirty a.m. in Georgetown, Penang and breakfast was an iced chai and a vegetable dosa hot enough to melt the paint off a car. I sat outside under an awning, wondering if the tiny vinyl chair, wilting in the tropical heat, would hold my weight until I was done. A dozen feet away, a Chinese man in a stained apron stood at a butcher’s block, lopping the feet off of dead ducks with a cleaver and dropping them into a white bucket. Every fifteen minutes, a young boy would arrive, put the feet in plastic bags, and take them to the market across the street. Exhaust from scooters put a gasoline tang in the air, but then a breeze from the ocean–never far away–would clear it away. Three-wheeled bike rickshaws pedaled by, flicking their bell every block, trying to attract custom. I watched the butcher wipe the cleaver on his apron as the sweat trickled down my spine and the small Malaysian neighborhood woke around me.