Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Happy Independence Day, Malaysia!

Malaysia is a lovely country. It's not perfect, but it's great. This is one place where you can get all kinds of food: Malay, Indian, Chinese, Thai, Western, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, and on and on. It's summer all year long with showers of blessing (and occasional flash floods in some areas, but still...). There is freedom. There is opportunity.

And I want to share an article I "hijacked" from the August issue of CLEO Magazine, Malaysia Edition. I nicked it (not word-for-word) in the spirit of Merdeka! celebration: 10 Things to Love About Malaysians.

#1 Everyone is related
Oh yes, we can go around calling perfect strangers "uncle" and "aunty" but we are in no way related to them. It is our term of endearment. I do that all the time. Whether it is kak (short for 'kakak'), or bang (short for 'abang'), or jie (older sister in Chinese), etc. we are an affectionate lot.

#2 Pull-table culture
When we hang out together but there is not enough space around one table, we merge two tables together! Nobody is ever left behind or left out.

#3 Opinionated (silently)
Malaysia is a multicultural society, yet we live in harmony. Malaysians are one of the most tolerant people you'll ever meet. But that does not mean we do not have any say, but we are a resourceful lot so if you'd only ask, we have some insightful feedback to share with you.

#4 Let's get loud
We are an enthusiastic lot and we can get quite passionate about what we talk about. Our facial expressions and--I love how CLEO puts this--epic hand gestures, makes us quite some storytellers and entertainers.

#5 "Have you eaten?"
Malaysians almost always ask this. In various languages, it sounds like this:
  • In Malay: "Dah makan?"
  • In Tamil: "Sapa de?"
  • In Cantonese: "Sek bao mei?"
  • In Hokkien: "Jia bah boi?"
Here are some of the photos I took in various places where food abound. They're all yummy Malaysian food (click on the pictures for related blog posts).

The Famous Penang char kuey teow (fried flat noodles)
Satay Kajang
My favorite nasi lemak
Delicious Malaysian desserts and kuih-muih
Ayam percik (Seasoned barbecued chicken)

#6 "Got discount ah?"
We love a good bargain. 'Nuf said.

#7 Mind your language
For emphasis, Malaysians end (almost) every sentence with the suffix "la" or "ar". For instance, a question: "Do you want something to drink?" should be replied with "No la". "Where did you go?" would be replied with "Nowhere ar." Also, Malaysian-English is often shorten or simplified.

#8 Go-getters
Count me as one of them. You want something? You work hard and work out the action plan to achieve your desire.

#9 Curiosity killed the cat?
We are simply observant and curious to see what's going on. That explains why a crowd form when there is a commotion in the mall, or when there's an accident on the road (people slow down to check it out even though it's none of their business).

#10 Ethnic Fridays
Since we are a multicultural nation, we celebrate our diversity by wearing traditional get-ups of various races. We are able to wear anything from an Indian Punjabi pantsuit to a Malay baju kurung.

Some of the above may ring true for non-Malaysians, but in each of the things listed above, there's something distinctively Malaysians. I wish all my Malaysian friends a HAPPY MERDEKA and enjoy the celebration!