Saturday 21 October 2017

Selamat Pulang ke Tanah Air. Welcome Home to Malaysia

"For all Malaysians returning home", the MAS stewardess announced, "Selamat pulang ".   About two weeks ago we safely arrived at KLIA.

So often now, coming home to my people and my tanah air is such a bittersweet experience.

On our first day back home we drove to AEON to stock up the larder with fresh vegetables, other  comestibles, and of course cat food.  A few minutes drive from the house we had to swerve to avoid a female Muslim driver who casually dashed in front of our car, from the other side of the road, to get to a minor road on the other side .  Five minutes later another such female jumped a red light, forcing us to lurch to a halt (despite the green light) so we could give way to another Her Bodoh Sombong Highness on her journey from scurrility!

And we were also introduced to a new Malaysian traffic regulation for motor cyclists.  It seems there's a special lane for them on the left.  Now.we get even more dirty looks and angry hootings for "getting in their way" as they overtake us on the left - as they always have done, rule or no rule.  Hamba pohon ampun, beribu ampun!    Who are we to question the DIY rights of these two-wheeled gangstas! 


This time the MAS flight was almost full, the food was quite satisfactory - not as good as Emirates but miles better than the pathetic mush of 3 years ago.  However they were not too organised at shepherding passengers from the departure lounge to the plane.  It was a right old mess and people were getting very impatient.  A Chinese lady who was obviously a resident/citizen in a western country told off the MAS official checking the boarding pass,  "You're enjoying this, aren't you?"  The official simply replied.  "I'm doing what I'm told to do" as she finished checking the boarding pass.  Touche!  She had the last word.

More and more, one can't help noticing how Malaysians have a pathological aversion to queuing.  A hijabed (Malaysian) woman with her grown-up daughter behind her flagrantly pushed their way in front of the spouse, brushing against him and knocking him back.  It seems that this is acceptable whether he is muhrim or not!  Then came the husband, pushing his way in as well.  The spouse looked at him and was about to tell him not to potong jalan but then he gave up and said instead,  "Go ahead. Do what your wife's just done".  He, like his wife, was at least 20 years younger than us.

He moved on past a Caucasian (the husband of the angry Chinese lady) who put out his hand to suggest a go-ahead for him.  He smiled and said , "Thank you, Sir".  But he could not translate the body language of that Caucasian that said with mock courtesy, "Oh, go on, go on, you sad little man".

Arriving at the departure lounge earlier on, this family stepped straight into Harrods nearby. Window shopping, the good wife said to her daughter, "Beg tu £91 sahaja!".  Five hundred ringgit is cheap?   It is half of Osman's (our road sweeper) monthly salary!

But we mustn't despair ....... 


There has been much moaning about the depreciation of the Ringgit.   However I didn't see the Malaysians on that flight worrying too much about it, judging from the shopping bags from luxury fashion shops they were carrying into the plane.

 ..... And we had visitors, both from overseas and nearer home.

A week into our return, we played hosts to Ellie - the daughter of Colin, a good friend of ours in Leicester - and her friend Dan.  Recent music graduates, they had worked hard at all kinds of part time jobs to save enough for a six-month backpacking tour of Southeast Asia.  Despite their parents' middle class background they were determined to make it on their own.  And both of them are just 22 years old!

It always warms this geriatric's heart when I get to meet such courteous, considerate and well-brought-up youngsters. They offered to help around the house, always waited for the older folk to sit down .....and Ellie always dressed up modestly in the house or when we went out.  In fact we wondered about Ellie's reaction to all the legs and tight shorts we saw when we took her to Tung Shin Hospital.  And they were on the local girls!

They stayed for four nights before they moved on to Melaka, Singapore, Sarawak and then on to the rest of Southeast Asia.  They had, prior to our arrival in KL, travelled to Batu Caves, Taman Negara, Pulau Perhentian, Penang  and Ipoh.

This was their thank you gift before they left.

3 porcelain coasters and 2 porcelain bowls from Ellie and Dan
They left their bedroom in the same state of tidiness and cleanliness as when they arrived.  "Cool", they exclaimed in appreciation when I showed them the room.

I have to respond with the same "Cool"  when they left.


It is tough for two septuagenarians to prepare a house  - one that had been unlived in for the past three months - for two house guests from overseas.  On our third day at Setiawangsa, on Friday, Rodiah (my home-help) and I were knee deep in clearing up used laundry, making up beds with fresh bedding and pillow slips, dusting and cleaning the guest room and bathroom for habitation.  I had to prepare a shopping and cooking schedule for meals.  Because of jet lag, I was getting only 3-4 hours sleep and there was one night when I had to do with just two hours.  I had to put off my brother's usual drop-in whenever we came back from Leicester and postpone my customary visit to my elder sister and Abang Long on my arrival in Kuala Lumpur.

And on that same Friday, some local friends came.  There was a buzz from a hand phone and simultaneously the sound of car wheels arriving.  A family of six were waiting at the gate.

I was dishevelled, sweaty, looking like something the cat dragged in - unfit company to both male and female, young or old.  I rushed upstairs to tidy up and make myself, as quickly as possible, presentable and tidy.  When I got down to the gate, they said they wouldn't come in. It was just a short assalamualaikum visit.  But it's like getting a phone call after midnight.  One is both shocked and unprepared!

After making her salaams, the wife and mother in the family pointed to Osman's mattress, - which was draped over the gate for an airing - made a little giggle and said, "Kak Maznoor kencing di tilam, kah?

Well, I ask you!  Or should I say Astagh-firullah-la azim!

The silence that followed was deafening and in my anger I retorted, "Kalau nak kencing, saya dah buat di England.

Why? Why? Why?  How do you fathom the reason for a statement like that?  The use of the word kencing is, in Malay custom, insolent and uncouth.  If I said such a remark when I was a child, my mother would tampar my mouth in public view.  I would be given a good scolding for being kurang ajar if I had been older - but not before giving a minta maaf to the recipient of the insult.

But I am still in shock.    The lady is well educated - in both a secular and (especially) a religious way.   She comes from a well-off urban middle-class family.     And  I am at least 20 years older than her.

There can be only one interpretation.     She was making fun of elderly people who cannot control their bladder and so have a tendency to wet the bed.   Well, I am elderly.   But I have not reached that stage  - and hopefully (like my mother) never will!  If it was meant as "a joke" - the usual cowardly excuse - it carries the stench of something worse than the smell of urine.   

Oh my Malays .... you can have the best education for this world and the hereafter and all the good things in life - and yet very few simple Malay manners.



Although our abode is in Wilayah Persekutuan, I am enormously proud of the Bugis Sultan of Selangor - the Sultan of my birth-state for taking  a stand to stem the winds ( in ascending order) of excessive zealotry, self-righteousness and bigotry in the Malay world.

And my ancestry is part Selangor jati,, part Minangkabau, part Bawean and part Chinese, but 100 per cent Melayu.

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