Monday, November 29, 2010

In Rome, do as Romans do

WHEN a foreigner approached Char Boh and asked for her phone number because he wanted to be her friend, sh e was flabbergasted. When she did not give it to him, the man asked if she had a Facebook account so he could keep in touch. That was when she realised that he had not noticed the ring on her finger.
So she told him she was married, had no time for Facebook, and ignored him completely.

The incident happened when Char Boh was waiting for her daughter at a tuition centre in Jalan Ipoh. When she related her experience over dinner recently, her husband Ang laughed.
He said she should take it as a compliment that she was still attractive in her late 40s.
His remark raised the ire of his wife and fearing that Ang’s favourite fish head curry might end up on his head, I intervened.

With news of Malaysian women becoming drug mules to foreigners after being sweet-talked into friendship, I told Ang, one could never be too careful. Char Boh had done the right thing, I said.

A few years ago, a friend living in a medium-cost apartment in Kepong told me of his experience with foreigners who had moved into his neighbourhood. The area was peaceful until local apartment owners began renting out their premises to foreigners.
Before they knew it, outdoor beer drinking sessions, loud banter that bordered on quarrels and frequent fights had became regular features.

The residents decided that they had had enough when the foreigners teased the local womenfolk.
The locals held a demonstration and made it loud and clear that foreign troublemakers were not welcomed in their neighbourhood. Because of a mischievous few, all foreigners there became the target of nasty remarks.

Worried about the increasing tension between the groups, my friend moved out for the sake of his family’s safety. Are foreigners headed here for long stays briefed on our social etiquette or have they taken the trouble to learn about local sensitivities?

Do they attend orientation sessions like the ones held for foreign maids? I recall seeing on TV3 h ow maids had to undergo classe s to familiarise themselves with Malaysian cultures before even leaving their countries.

Some gestures that are acceptable social practices in a foreign land may be considered kurang ajar in ours – especially when some seem to think that Malaysian women are easy targets.

No comments:

Post a Comment