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Tuesday, April 25, 2006
The Racist Post

Was out for coffee with Nikki last evening. Well deserved considering the fact that I am sinking into a self-induced depression. Actually depression is often self-induced by minds that think too much.

Do not think. Do not think. Do not think. But by thinking of not thinking, I am actually thinking. Okay, I am talking rubbish here. Maybe I am attempting to divert my attention from the now and here, which is quite depressing at the moment. I am sorry for pouring my emotional crap on you, dear readers, for the pass few days.

So I am making a point to write something more light and positive today. Which starts from the conversation I had with Nikki yesterday. She was giving me a low down on what happened since we last met two Saturdays ago at Gabriella’s farewell. She was at Dora’s one evening and they had a good chat. This chat was the very same chat I had with Nikki not too long ago – a question that I think many women ponder these days.

If you had to chose, would you prefer the man or the everything?

Dora has a sinfully beautiful house. Two storey house nestled between old trees, grass that seems to roll forever and a view to die for. Heated swimming pool, a patio for BBQ nights, kitchen the size of my living room and her en suite bath, the size of my bedroom. 5 Labradors and 4 cats to complete the look.

She has this and more. She has two beautiful Swiss daughters, being mauled by the locals at every chance. I would pack my daughters back to Zurich, if I were her. Those girls deserve far better men than the lot they are with. Mother and daughters are often seen in front of pubs, clubs and bars, taking a quick smoke together.

They are a unique bunch. Where is the husband and the father? He works in the Philippines and returns for no more than a week in every calendar year. Would you want a lifestyle like that? Whereby you do not have the man but you have everything else that you will ever need? A lifestyle that is so luxurious, it is sinful and you never had to work a day of your life.

Suffice to say that Dora deserves everything that she has. And true to what I usually believe, women hardly ever choose luxuries above a man’s love. And when they desert the man they confess to love, often it is out of necessity. Nikki did not tell me what Dora’s husband did but I can imagine an extended unknown family in the Philippines.

What would you choose? The man or the luxury?




Social Points
”You know she hasn’t called,” Nikki said, sounding hurt.

“Well Joanne said that she has water colour classes every Monday,” I replied. I was not consoling Nikki. I was cheekily sarcastic, which Nikki picked up.

“It has been two weeks since! How many classes does she attend?”

Truth was, Nikki and I both agreed that Joanne was weird. She is a tall, blonde Australian with two kids and an extremely fat husband who worked as an expatriate in some big shot company. The first conversation Nikki had with Joanne was about social points.

I believe in social points. It exists, whether you liked to believe it or not. A pecking order within a social group, a who’s who based on achievements and the value of success. How you look, what you wear, who you know, how many cars you have, what house, how smart your kids were, how much you earn, how much your husband earns, how pristine, how white your house is – such trivial things give you a position within the company of friends and enemies.

My social points plummeted 10 points two Saturdays ago when I walked into the party with a red string bikini poking thru my pink blouse. Joanne’s social points were based on her husband’s achievement, how much he earned and who she is sitting for tea with. There is a pecking order and everyone follows it, whether they liked it or not.

Have you ever thought about your social points? It exists even in the blogsphere. Open your eyes and perhaps you will see what I mean.




The Racist
Talking about Joanne opened the previously polite censorship and soon Nikki and I were talking about other new people we met during the party. How everyone was related to everyone else blah blah blah. Nikki said she was turned off by some expatriates who asked how did her family reacted to her being with my Best Guy Friend.

I laughed. If I smoked, it was at this point that I would have exhaled smoke. But I do not smoke. Anyway, back to the story. So Nikki was relating how she felt offended by some white folks who asked her how did her family feel about her migrating all the way to Malaysia, leaving her family for a Chinese man who was maybe half an inch taller than her.

I am quite sure those white expatriates would not have questioned if Nikki migrated here as a wife of an expatriate, who took up watercolour classes on Mondays, living in a house that she would not have been able to afford back in the UK. Nikki agreed that that was indeed the insinuation when they questioned her during Gabriella’s farewell.

”Oh god, I am so happy to know that she hates you too!” I said, holding Nikki by her arms, feeling rather pleased to know that I was not the only one who felt ostracized by an Indian lady doctor married to a sweet late 30s American expatriate. Rouge was always distant, despite us being in the same group of friends. Almost like a tradition, she would end each outing night with an argument with Josh.

“Don’t you worry,” Nikki said, tapping my arm, “Emma said not to be sensitive about Rouge.” Felt comforted hearing those words. “Rouge feels that she is superior.”

That was true. Somehow even when I did not talk much to Rouge, I felt that she felt that she was above everyone else in the room. I am not sure if it had anything to do with her profession, which was to heal people and save lives. I am fine with all this because I know I cannot hold hands and be friends with everyone on earth. But Rouge never fails to amuse me.

“Rouge is pulling a Michael Jackson,” Nikki remarked. I mentioned that I was in a conversation with Rouge, her female cousin and some other friends one evening quite some time ago. Her cousin was trying so hard to distant herself from the plantations. “I don’t go to the plantations. I have never been to a rubber estate. It’s dirty and full of mosquitoes. I’ve never been to any,” said Rouge’s cousin.

Perhaps I am being racist here. But personally I think it is stupid for one to deny what is part of your history and culture. Whilst it is true that neither girls were indeed working in the plantations, it was silly to try to distant themselves from the experience. So they were not rubber tappers, neither were their parents or perhaps not even their grandparents. Yes, Rouge is now a doctor but somewhere along her bloodline, was someone who worked in a rubber plantation.

Plantation lives and the caste system are very much a part of the lives of many Indians. Just as gambling, wan tan mee (noodles with barbequed pork slices), opium trade and triads are to the Chinese. And to try to whitewash oneself only goes to proof that one is insecure with one’s culture and pass.

There are Asians living all across Europe. I had Thai girlfriends who were adopted from birth and lived in Sweden with their adopted family. They have never been in contact with anything Thai, while absorbing all Swedish heritage. And I would understand if they felt more Swedish and behaved Swedish than Thai.

That is not Rouge’s case. Rouge painstakingly speak American English. Her accent is so thick. Everyone is curious and would ask her, “Did you grow up in the US?” Wouldn’t it sound stupid if one day she has to answer and it would be “I watched a lot of American films” ?


***
I find it weird when some Asians would go as far as to wipe their Asian roots away and colour their lives with a new, adopted culture that they did not grow up with. As far as I am concerned, I am Otto. My parents are Chinese. My paternal grandfather was a migrant from the province of Guangdong whilst my paternal grandmother was a Chinese British. When I was young, my grandpa rode a bicycle to work. He was a goldsmith till the day he died.

My maternal grandfather was a Hakka migrant, who came to seek his fortune selling medicinal herbs and fabrics. My maternal grandmother was the 2nd wife, taken in to care for the children that my maternal grandpa’s 1st wife could not care. Together they had 13 children and my mother was the youngest girl.

When I was young, funny animal parts and strange smell of medicine surrounded me. There were clinking sounds of roots pounded into powder, to balance the body’s yin and yang. Two doors away was a rubber collection shop and the smell of rubber filled the whole street.

My parents grew up to be teachers. My father taught my mother when she was 18 and they were married when she turned 24. I was born a year later and 2 brothers came in the next 7 years. We were never rich. We were never poor either. My brothers and I grew up and attended college/universities. Further education was not a luxury. It was not even an option. It was a necessity to better ourselves.

We tried our bests and this is the story of our lives.

Be proud of your pass because our pass makes us who we are today.
***

Ended the night with Nikki, promising that I would head over to her house on Thursday after work. Lots of cocktails inherited from Gabrielle's home bar, lots of idle chatter, perhaps some laughter and intimate talk. What a way to scan your childhood photos, eh?



Long Weekend Ahead
I cannot wait till the end of this week! I am planning to go somewhere. Yay! Am supposed to check for some destinations that I have not been. Any good suggestions for places of visit, darling readers?

I promise lots of stories (50% sexual because conversations with R often revolve around sex) and some photos. Would you like a photo of R’s bedroom and his paintings that I so love?





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10 Comments:

Well done! I was nodding my head frantically till my neck was about to break when I read about your part regarding people forcingly whitewash themselves.

It is a very common thing to see especially in Western countries. Putting myself in their shoes, I justify that they are feeling insecure and lack the sense of belonging in a place that is not dominated by the culture they grew up with. Hence the need to uproot their heritage to conform and blend into the local culture.

Some pull it off pretty well while others fail drastically and appear as try-hards. I admit that I am easily annoyed at the very sight of their pretentious antics. Just wishfully hoping that they would embarrass themselves one day. *evil grin*

The media has heavily promoted western culture, reinforced by the fact that the US has basically exercised imperialism on media and culture across the globe. I can only shake my head when my Chinese friend greet me,"Wassup mah nigga?"

Seeing people wearing thick HipHop clothes, a beanie and bling-blings under the hot Malaysian weather makes me feel pity for them.

Wow, this will never bloody end. I shall stop...

5:26 pm  

Yeah, well, it's ironic. Despite the fact that I was preaching against creative works being too insanely ethnocentric just a couple of days ago, I am also very much against people who choose to deny their past. I shake my head at those white-wannabes, their desperate need to be something they are not, the annoying accents they try to emulate. Strangely, these are the kind of people who can't seem to blend in over here in Australia, and they end up hanging out only amongst themselves.

And yes, chiggas annoy me too. Especially when the most hardcore rappers they can name are, oh, yeah, Nelly and Fifty Cent. Posers.

6:17 pm  

i'm a malaysian indian studying in US. while i may be making a sweeping statement by saying it's difficult to find ABI or ABCs who hold strongly to their roots, i do not blame them, as there is a lack of exposure to culture and traditions here. i do think it's amusing that people whitewash themselves. even more amusing is when i go home during summer and relatives expect me to sound americanized. me, i'd gladly stick to speaking manglish anytime. but perhaps some people choose to run away from their past because they feel it's unfair? take the caste system for example. once you're born into a caste, there's nothing you can do about it. it doesn't matter if you're a world renowned surgeon or a nobel prize winning scientist, don't you think it would be a little depressing if people overlooked all that and were only concerned about your caste? *shrugs* i may be off topic here, but this is just what i think.

-proud to be a malaysian now and always

6:52 pm  

why does everyone like the political/racial discussion? time to chill man. :P

anyway, if I were to getaway from some hustle bustle just to relax. I'd hit Bali. It's big and it's beaches still are a peaceful nation of its own. :)

2:52 am  

Brother . . . I am an Indian/Nepali brought up and raised in the US. .. and I completely feel the same way you do about ethnicity . . . I am proud to be who I am. I am proud of my heritage, and I know that nothing I say or do will ever change that past. I believe there is STRENGTH IN DIVERSITY . . . we are all actually more similar than we are different, it is the subtle differences among us that will drive human-kind forward.

4:00 am  

Ian
I have 5 chinese silk dresses (cheongsams) and 2 silk tops. All done with frog buttons =) so pleased with them!

It is one thing to adapt into a new culture/country. It is another to ADOPT everything and pretend yours never existed.



Eliar
Babe, it is pronounced as "Fit-E cen" =) Well I wrote this because I see it happening everywhere. It is fine for those Asians born and bred in a foreign land such as the girl who acted as Harry Potter's love interest, whatever her name was. Born and bred in Scotland, speaks with a Scottish accent.

But if you are from Kajang, tell me... where did you get your accent from? *hahahahahhaa*

10:52 am  

Kumitaa
Speaking proper English is of course important. It lends you credibility when you are out in the workforce, especially among the non-Msian peers.

But to totally deny what is part of your history serves only to remind everyone of your pass and perhaps even how you are unable to accept your own pass.

A world reowned surgeon is a world reowned surgeon. You might have a caste system but a sick person, when he is in pain, will have to recognize you for what you are good at.

Or you just let them wallow in pain... muahahahahahah...

10:58 am  

DannyFoo
This post should have been called, "The (anti) Racist Post".

Bali sounds great. Will check out AirAsia tickets.



APU
I am your sister.... not brother lah.......... glad to know that you are comfortable in your skin.

How boring the world would be if everyone was the same.

11:00 am  

HAHA... I really think it has a lot to do with people and their upbringing, how much exposure their parents plan on giving them when they are growing up in a foreign country, etc...

I suppose everyone gets swept away with "The American Dream" they see on MTV or read in US weekly. It's a bit sad la, those wannabes.

My cousins is an ABC and she condemns those that are whitewashed and she HATES the place so much and insists that she must marry a non whitewashed ABC (which are hard to come these days) or an Asian that understands that taking off your shoes when you enter a home isn't a "thing" but something you just do. :P

Ah, I blame America.

Great post Otto! :)

12:08 pm  

"Me Chinese and Chinese educated. Me no want to wash myself until white white..."

(yeah I know....duh...)

6:10 pm  

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