Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Today I want to write a little about holidays. I heard once that Malaysia has one of the highest number of public holidays in the world. I'm not surprised; we have a tendency to celebrate anything, with just cause (or we'll make one up).

Thought the topic would be appropriate considering today and tomorrow are public holidays. Not just that, they are celebrations that are both religious in nature, yet underlines the plurality of my country. I bet Sin is just happy with the days off. :P

Aside: a typical description of Malaysia inevitably includes its multi-racial population and how united they are. Well, that's what they say. Naturally, there's problems and it's a burning question: just how natural/organic is this unity? Truthfully speaking, on individual basis, yes, there's racial harmony. People genuinely do like each other, and have grown up closely attuned to differences that may exist (which may be why Malaysians can be really adaptable in foreign situations; well, I'd like to think so, certainly it's one of our better traits). But this is also a country that realises the blessed peace that exist is very rare in this world, and for better and worse, has an administration that's racially polarised to address various disparity (economic mainly) among the races. This method have worked well thus far; the problem is that it must be re-evaluated or slowly abolished to maintain this unity. Because while the method (eg the New Economic Policy) have brought some sort of economic equality, at the same time, the biggest disadvantage of this policy is that it cultivates racial prejudice and thoughts. These qualities never quite existed (or rather, codified) amongst my forefathers, and I wouldn't want to see more stupidity now. These policies came to being because of the riots in 13 May 1969 (heh, that makes yesterday it's 33rd anniversary; not that we celebrate THAT. -_-), but it's starting to show its age.

Anyway. Back to the frivolous and the trivial. Today is also 12 Rabiulawal 1424 according to the Islamic calendar, marking it as Maulidur Rasul or the Prophet's Muhammad's birthday. Tomorrow on the other hand, is the anniversary of the Buddha receiving enlightenment under the bodhi tree, or Wesak Day. It's the norm to celebrate almost any major religious festival, that reflects the population. This plus the fact the official religion of Islam. Now, naturally not every state celebrates every festival, but even then, that's quite a lot of holidays *thinks happily of schooldays*. Let's see... we have Chinese New Year, Cheng Beng (Chinese Festival of Hungry Ghosts... right Sin?), Awwal Muharram (Islamic New Year), Raya Aidilfitri, Raya Aidiladha, Deepavali (the Hindu festival of Lights), Thaipusam, Thaiponggal, Vaisakhi (Sikh New Year)... err, I've lost count. Let's just stick with a lot, eh? Oh right, Christmas too. ^_^

What will I do today? Hee... I'm being a bad Muslim; I'm going to go out with a friend so he can go pick a cat at the animal shelter. Tomorrow, I suppose Buddhists will flock to the various temples; Penang (a state up north) has the largest Buddha statue in the region, I think.

But these two holidays are quite religious in nature, so no actual merry-making. Plus, it feels like a minor holiday. People make no fuss beyond, "phew, day off!". Modern secularism in action, or we just can't keep up with which holiday's which? LoL. You tell me.

But if it was a festival, say Deepavali or Chinese New Year or Aidilfitri, then comes in another Malaysian tradition: the open house. These days though it's more like 'open-house-by-invitation'. But in the old days... well it's exactly what it says. The house is open. Feel free to come over and raid the food. There's lots of it. These days, people are more reticent/particular about just hijacking any house for free food, but this concept still works with a few changes: the host will invite you, and you're FREE to bring anyone else. So the house is still open, but just you know, claim that you know the host's grandfather's uncle's daughter's son or something. lol. Not that anyone will chase you out. Who's gonna finish all that food otherwise?

But I'll save that for another holiday that really does call for merry-making, ok? :) Heh, sorry that this entry's a bit brief.

P/S: HEeeeeeeeeeee, Manchester United won the English Premier League! *laughs at Arsenal* [/end fangirl]

Monday, May 12, 2003

The Netherlands :

Weather: Cloudy,some sunshine. Temp: 15 C. (day) - 7 C. (night)
Forecast : Rain
Number One in the music charts still : step right up - Jamai (winner Dutch Idols TVshow)

Hello everybody,
My turn again. The last time I promised to talk about the politic situation in The Netherlands. But I changed my mind. Like Rod Stewart once said in a song: “I don’t wanna talk about it”
For months now, Dutch politicians only talk about a coalition. Without any results. The most politician talking a lot of crap only to keep up there own “good” faces. So sorry for my switch, but we have more time my friends……..

An easier subject for this Monday is the things I did in the last day’s. Of course my work is using the most of the daytime. I’m a system administrator at a large European Internet Service Provider. So from Monday till Friday, computers and Internet dominate my life. The last year I also worked behind the computer in my spear time and spend it to other things in life, like a new relationship. Dutch people lives with Internet. About 80 % of the people use it one way or another. Maybe to much? I don’t know. I like the "Internet Generation" and use it anyway I can. Oke, I visit the supermarket to do the daily shopping en I like to spend some time at a music store to by cd’s. But I almost never write a letter anymore, just email en when somebody has no mail ? Sorry, too bad.
It’s so simple to use the browser for all the information I need. I don’t know if‘s good or not but that’s my way of living. The best thing about the new digital revolution is closing the distances between country’s, people and culture’s.
I’m trying to get a course of learning the Indonesian and Mandarin by Irini and Tresia (LoL) and thinking about the life in the US or using a blog in Iran.

The non computer part is the concert I visited yesterday. Do you know Simply Red ?
Yesterday they give a show in The Netherlands. It was a fantastic night. Great musicians, (11 persons) from the UK. They are touring trough Europe right now and then go to the States. When they are in your area, it worth to visit them. The next show I’m about to see is the concert from the “Counting Crows” (Rotterdam, 10th of June) I’m looking forward to it. Also the concert of “Live” together with “Supergrass” and “Coldplay” (at the end of june)
If you don’t know what i’m talking about and you are interesting ? please let me know and I’m going to introduce you to the music that is popular in The Netherlands.
Oke, that’s it for now. Sorry that my posting have no deeper meaning, but I’m not in the mood for heavy talking right now. I still enjoy last night.
“And I wanna fall from the stars……….” (Simply Red – Song : “Stars")

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Hey, y'all. It's currently 10:00 p.m. (GMT -5:00) here in Raleigh, North Carolina. I know the time stamp says it's tomorrow. Where Farhad is, that's true. But for me it's still today.

I'd originally planned to segue from last week's entry to a more particular discussion of what makes American culture simultaneously pervasive yet difficult to define. I intended to touch lightly on American political traditions and how they differ from European traditions [sorry, Bas: archives don't include your post yet, and Google doesn't have your entry cached]; and why, even though the US Navy guarantees safe passage and international shipping through the Malacca Strait, most of us have no idea where it is or why it matters - even those of us who've seen Entrapment.

I wanted to use Sina Motallebi's situation to briefly discuss how Americans view themselves and others through two lenses: freedom and frontiers. Our feelings about both provide a good metric to assess the political goals pursued by different factions in the US. I figured that might interest people because these domestic squabbles often have consequences in the rest of the world, which in turn affect what we argue about and how we argue about it, which then affect the rest of the world, which... well, you get the idea.

Silly me, though. Farhad, the puppet-master pulling our strings and coercing our contribution, could (and did) write more about blogging in Iran, and with more panache and better insight, than I could. I'm left reworking my entry, focusing more on the technological incarnations of freedom and the frontier - file sharing, online music, movies, the companies that want to prohibit all of that, the people who promote it and make it possible, and the laws that keep us suing each other over the whole affair.

It's Mother's Day here in the US. That's kept me away from a computer for long stretches, and has me yawning and contemplating my pillow as I write this. As a result, I've substituted this brief missive for a fuller entry. (And if you're wondering, I made a documentary for my mother. My step-dad gave her flowers and cleaned the carpets, and pampered her all day. I'm not sure yet what my two brothers did for her, but - for their sakes - I hope it was thoughtful.)

My apologies to all for the delay. I will rectify the situation post haste, and will append the revised entry in the next day or two. In the interim, I have another brief documentary to edit and about 500 pictures to scan, so the revised entry will have to wait at least until tomorrow afternoon.

Kind regards -
Hi all, I dont know why, but Mr James Dasher our best friend and International weblog authors team member didnt post his entry yet. i hope he do it very soon. any way this is very nice article about Weblog , i found it when i was surfing on the web today " Deep Thinking about Weblogs".

Friday, May 09, 2003

Web log and internet in IRAN
o About "International Web log"
I must say thank you to all of my friends "the team members of this web log", they accepted my invitation to join "international web log" Authors team, and sent their first entries according to our schedule. About one month ago I thought about this project. And after that I decided to act my imagination. So I sent invitations to about 50 web logger from all over the world and invited them to join me for making a team. And these ladies and gentlemen accepted.
o Web log and internet in IRAN
About 3 years ago Mr. Hussein Derakhshan ( Hoder) wrote an article in a newspaper called "Hayate No" and introduced web log to Iranians. He made some changes on "Blogger" templates and provides them to written in Persian. After that a lot of Iranian adults and young people started to write their web logs. And some months later of that great event, 4 young guys decided to build a Persian web log site for Iranian. They built Persian blog. So a lot of Iranian signed in on their site and built web log. And now there are about 3000 active Persian web logs in Iran.
BBC world service wrote about web log in Iran: "The web is providing a way for women in Iran to talk freely about taboo subjects such as sex and boyfriends. Over the past few months there has been a big jump in the number of Persian web logs which are providing an insight into a closed society. Web logs, or blogs, are online journals where cyber-diarists let the world in on the latest twists and turns of their love, work and internal lives." I could talk very freely and very frankly about things I could never talk about in any other place, about subjects that are banned" said one of the first women to start a blog in Iran."
Web log has caused cooperation (or unity) among Iranian youth and web loggers and Web log has brought their hearts close to each other. For example one Iranian web logger dead when she wanted to climb a mountain In Tehran, after this terrible event, about 500 web logger and other net workers signed her comments and guest book to share their feeling with her family. About 3 times (as I know) Persian web loggers had meetings between themselves to know each other more. More important meeting organized by Hoder for Iranians who are living in the foreign countries such as Canada and USA. See here.
At first time we had some limitation to access Internet but about 4 years ago we can use it simply, also a lot of web loggers prefer to be unknown! And they are using nickname instead of their name. I don’t know why? But I think they are afraid of government authority. Unfortunately some web logger arrested because they wrote some things on their web log against of Iranian government or about politicians. Todays Iranian government decides to make a filtering some Sexy and policy sites.
More Persian web logs hacked by Iranian hackers, they hacked some of instructional web logs with out any reasons. Many of the hackers are young guys who want to be famous among the bloggers. One of them is called" MASH GHASEM" he hacked BLOG SKY recently. It was a
Bilingual free web log service site with best services. (I don’t like to write more about him because I would like continue these Web log for unlimited time with my friends!)
Ok then, I thinks for first entry and about Web log and internet in Iran this is enough! I will write more about Iranian traditions and Persian staff in my next entries. Also if some one interested about it, she/he can find more information by searching on engines such as Yhaoo and Google. I prefer to write here about Iranian specially traditions and some points of my view about Iran and Iranian and communications here.
I was surfing on the web and I found this beautiful advertisement Flash clip, I would like give it to my friends as a my first gift! Click here
*** Our friend Carla sent me an email and she sayed: she has a problem with her PC then she couldnt post her entry today, so i post my self today instead of tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Geeezh! my turn already, how fast time flies! And really, just like any other of you, I found it hard to find a certain topic to write. But since my partner, Irini has started off with some facts about our country, let me just tell you about the new phenomena in this lovely country of mine, a wave of Asian culture! Yes, sorry if you don't find the topic interesting, but this phenomenon amazed many of us in Indonesia.
OK, just to give you a picture on what Indonesian everyday culture like before the reformation. From what I can remember Chinese culture has been part of Indonesian own culture since a long time ago. For example we use words that originally from chinese words and adapt it to our everyday slang, such as for currency, we use the word ' cepek instead of seratus for 'seratus rupiah' (one hundred Rupiah, 'gopek' and not 'lima ratus' (five hundred Rupiah), there are also many places that we know as 'Chinatown' spreads all over Jakarta, although it mostly well known for its good food). But it'll be hard to find places to learn the Mandarin language other than at the "chinese area", and the Chinese were not allowed to celebrate their Chinese New Year publicly (even though you can see the red lampion hang everywhere, incest were burnt and paper red dragon were on display in front of the shops), and the! only Chinese singer that I know was Teresa Teng with her mellow songs thick with Chinese 'flavor'.
And then came the "reformation" era under KH Abdurrahman Wahidand Chinese New Year finally become apart of Indonesia national holiday! Everywhere there's a celebration, even many housing in several different areas had a "barongsai" contest (the dragon dance). And then an unbelievable phenomenal came through the tv screen, a Taiwanese TV series "METEOR GARDEN! Adapted from a Japanese comic HANA YORI DANGO, displaying 4 goodlooking guys as the main stars (now famous as the F4), the series was a hit all around Indonesia!!! The pirated CDs are sold more than 1 million copies just in Jakarta! And since then, the wave of Chinese cultures hit Indonesia like a tornado. And today, not only they came from China/ Taiwan/ Hong Kong, but also from Korea and Japan.
How big of an impact is it this 'Asian Culture' hit the youngsters and the not so young audiences in Indonesia? Well, now for example, there are literally hundred of places open a language course in Mandarin with the classes always full, the youngsters picked up the phone and say "Wei?" which is a chinese word for "hello" instead of the normal hello. Why? because that's what they see and hear their idol do in the tv screen. And today there are many new magazines published just to deliver all the gossips and news on all the Asian artist which copies are always increase every month, there are a few radio station in Mandarin and there's even a TV Station that has a news bulletin in Mandarin! And if we look up at the 'employment' section in the newspaper, todays they're looking for people who can read/speak/write not only in English but in Mandarin as well! Wherever you go now, there's no way that you don't see any picture/poster of many Asian Stars or Chinese words in Kanji, they're just everywhere its crazy. Those who can't understand the mandarin language will try very hard to memorized the lyrics to their favorite Mandarin songs from their favorite singers. Today, the chinese culture become a strong part of Indonesian culture, thanks to the F4!
And what does the impact has on me?? I have taken a Mandarin Course for 2 months now! (^_^) Ciao!!

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

Hello! Hi! Hola! Shalom! Ciao! Aloha! Herete! Konichiwa! Anyunghaseo! Wei, ni hau...? My name is Irini from Indonesia. First thing first, a big thumbs up for Farhad for this brilliant idea of an iblog. And secondly, like many fellow writers in this blog I also come to a point where I have absolutely have no idea what to write for the first time, not to mention that I'm the first from Indonesia. At first I don't know what subject should I choose. Should I explain about my country's stats? about the current issues? about me? I even surfed the net for a little more info about my own country, after all its been a while since i left my high school, where all the things about my country was being tought. And the next chalengge for me..my english. I'm not very good at it, but I hope you'll understand anyway what I'm blabbing about *_^
Also I'm not sure if I'm very "Indonesian" to give foreigners a taste of a real Indonesia. I'm a Gen X product, where I can't get by without Air Conditioner, instant coffee, instant noodles, chocolate bars, MTV... My celebrities idol are mostly from outside Indonesia for goodness sake, although these days they're not necessarily western. I've got an R&B Japanese group called "Chemistry" on my CD player and the next one is "Linkin Park", and I've just finished watching a taiwanese tv series and no, I don't speak Japanese or Chinese. But eventhough I'm not the perfect example of an Indonesian person, I still keep some of the eastern values to guide me, at least that's what I think.
Won't bore you with itsy bitsy details of my country, I'm sure Google.com can answer your answer better than I can. Okay, let's go to the basic first. The world might not instantly aware of where Indonesia is located, but most people know where Bali is, specially now after the horrid bombing last year, such a rotten way to get a recognation. So let me make this clear, Bali is one of the 17.000 islands in Indonesia (but only 6,000 islands inhabited). Why am I saying this? because some people still think that Indonesia is a part of Bali and not vice versa, and honestly i'm getting tired of it. Indonesia is a country where you can find 365 ethnic and tribal groups, which with it comes many different local cultures and languages, so there's no way you can specified a person from Indonesia as a "typical indonesian" just by the way he/she looks. Take me for an instance, my dad is part Ambonese- part Manado (two totally different islands, different ethnics, cultures & languages) and my mum is a Javanese (another different island, ethnic, culture & language) so what does that makes me exactly, because among Indonesian people itself, we still like to ask "where are you come from?" But my country is known as Republic of Indonesia, and bahasa Indonesia as its national language and I'm an Indonesian, not too proud of being one these days but I am one and so far, I have no intention to change my nationality in the passport. And did you know that we share one of the big island, Borneo- or Kalimantan to us, with Malaysia (hi Nina ^_^) and Brunei? Yup, we do. And we can't be more different nor similar with one another.
Like my fellow blogger, Nina, I'm also getting sick of the perception of western movies towards my country, although I can't give you exact examples but there's just too much times where the movies either picture us as this inhabited juggle people, or they used people who looks more like chinese than indonesian (like the little statuette that I saw in "Guinness Book of Records Exhibition" in London a few years ago), or that my country is a source of black magic. So now let me tell you this, we have our own MTV Indonesia (part of MTV Asia), we have KFC, McDonalds, Starbuck and Malls. We wear jeans and t'shirt.We have buses, trains, cars, etc for the transportation, big difference maybe that in our public transportation we have Air Conditioned ones and non-AC ones. And umbrella is not just for rainy days, sometimes the sun just too hot for even the locals to handle, or in my aunt's case, also to whacked a pickpocket with *_^ Granted the capital/big cities have more similarities with other countries, but for the last 20 years of my life I've been living in 6 different cities (5 in Indonesia & 1 in UK)so yeah, I think I know what I'm talking about.
So now you know a little bit of Indonesia and a little bit of me. And since I'm not sure which one subject in particular that I want to write this time, I'm going to leave this as it is...an introduction. Hopefully by my second entry I would have something more 'real' to share with you. I'm open for suggestion, or if anyone wants to know something in particular, just leave me a note, although I must warn you that my interest are mainly in non political/ economic/ government stuff like movie, music or everyday things/events. But not too worry, if I don't have the answer maybe my fellow indonesian participant, Tresia, have ^_^
Well, I'm off. Take care beautiful people..where ever you are.

Hello, i'm the french boy, i haven't french hat and i don't buy french bread. My first name is Loïc, it's britain but i leave in Paris, this beautifull city.
I must explain to you, the french culture. I propose to you a first episode: The French History.
Our ancestors was the gallics, they are barbarian, they melted iron and do the war between their. It's the first sedentary population, they are farmer and warrior. The roman army come in the 49 Before JC and they submited the gallics.
After the roman come another barbarians, saxon barbarians. They hunt romans but they convert in Christianity.
The dark age come and it's the Monarchy's begining in "Francia occidentalis" with Clovis etablishement in 496. His familly line control the country since 150 years. After their, come Charlemagne, he conquers the first continental empire. When he dies, his empire explosed between his son. The occidental part become the France. But Charlemagne's line is weak and regionnal lord become powerfull.
When Hugues Capet become King of France in 987, he is a powerfull lord in the north of France but the Bougogne's duke, the flandres duke are more powerfull. Since this years the french church is the real gouvernement in France, they decide who become king and prevent the wars.
In 14° century, the french king die with any child, the british king who are the son of french king's sister ask the royalty, a french lord Phillipe de Valois, the french King cousin proclaims itself King. It's the beginning of the Thousand Years War, the first war beetween modern nations. This war let the country in poor state. The french line win the War and become to submit the lords who had help the english. It's at this moment that french and english become to be enemy.
The dark age stop in the 16° century with François 1° and the "renaissance", it's the gold age of monarchy and country. France are a big european nation, economically, military, culturally. The top was reaching since the regn of Louis XIV, the "King Sun" who constructs the Versailles Castle, strengthens the country and develops arts.
50 years after, people revolt against the king, the french revolution begin. The laws change, people take power and lord die. It's a period of war against the stranger monarchy. Since french revolution, a caporal growth up. In the 1799, he take power, it's Napoleon.
Napoleon is a soldier, he conquers the Europe in a long War. But he create many laws, the money, many schools and devellops arts.
In 1815, english army defeat Napoleon in Belgium, it's the end of hate between the both nation, a king replace Napoleon but the period remain trouble. The people revolt often, Paris is always in street's war and the kings alternate with republics. In 1870, the german win the war and take the alsace and Lorraine. The third republic become here.
Under this gouvernement, the industry develops, science advances, the colony are conquering in Africa and Paris becomes city of light.
In 1914 the first world war begin. since 4 years, all the france product for War. Mens die, Womens work but with English and American soldiers, the war is winning but france declines.
Since the second World War, France was invading by Hitler's forces and french gouvernement collaborates with nazis, it's the darkest period of country. French resistants go to London and organize the fight. In 1942, the north africa colonys are free. In 1944, Allied forces unload in Normandy and in Provence. The defeat nazi Forces and France resistants included in Victorious country. They win their permanent place in the UNO.
Why I have explain to you, the french history? Because, french people are proud of their traditions of freedom and peace. But all this things was winning with wars and blood and nobody must forget that.

Sunday, May 04, 2003

Hello, I'm sin. I'm from Malaysia. As this is my first entry on the international weblog, I am a little nervous about what to write. I agree with many of the points that Nina brought up in the previous entry. Both me and Nina are very westernised asians, and we'll try to share as many points as we can about our culture. My views can be quite askewed at times, and as such, should not be taken as the general voice of Malaysia =)

My topic of the day will focus on SARS (Severe Acute Respitory Syndrome). Right now, this disease is quite prevalent in Asia, and we've had several cases reported in Malaysia. It isn't too bad around Kuala Lumpur (our capital) and the Klang Valley (where I live- its a 20-minute drive to KL, if there is no jam), although I have yet to visit a hospital. You rarely see people wearing masks, although there are exceptions. Many people still visit shopping complexes, night markets, and life goes on like usual.

SARS is a disease that's pretty much mystified us all. No one really knows how it works, or how to get rid of it. Hence, many rumors are churned up. Some of it sensible, and some not. Paranoia, of course, is present whenever situations like this appear. In the beginning, just a cough or sneeze would grab the attention of everyone around you. For someone like me, who has to put up with sinus practically everyday, I did earn a lot of unwanted attention. Thankfully, paranoia has substantially subsided, as we learnt more about the virus.

Currently, in my workplace, we've taken some precautions. First off, we've put this terrible smelling vinegar + ginger + garlic mixture on my floor. In fact, there are two bowls of this stuff on the floor. They got the recipe for this concoction from a chinese newspaper, and it's claimed to kill bacteria in the air. Me and my colleague have had to endure the smell, and it really is a sharp smell- kinda reminds me of bleach. We've now become immune to it, and I can't tell whether its there anymore. We hope our effort is not in vain =)

Secondly, we've got a tube of UV light, which has been scientifically proven to kill at least 60 - 70% of bacteria in the air. We're supposed to turn on the light for about two hours each day, otherwise there may be too much radiation. There is another unit in the reception as well.

The environment in which I work is a rather mixed one- there are colleagues who believe in traditional medicine, and those who prefer western. Although I say its traditional medicine, the doctor isn't necessarily live in a lonely hut in the middle of nowhere. In fact, some of the most popular traditional clinics are situated right smack in the middle of town. And, depending on the type of treatment you're going for, it can be pricier than regular clinics.

Back to the topic on SARS, the latest method of detection is through the use of thermal imaging. Singapore has already implemented this system in the Changi airport, and it looks like Malaysia is also planning on doing the same. I've actually been doing a little research on thermal imaging, and must say, this looks like fantastic technology.

Basically, what happens is that, we've got a camera that can detect temperature, accurate up to .1 Celsius. When passengers from SARS infected countries arrive at the airport, they have to be 'screened' before they are allowed into the country. It is a pretty fast and painless process. They just need to stand in front of a camera for a couple of seconds, and the camera operator can tell whether the passenger has fever. If so, that particular passenger will be sent for further check-up. It's contact-less, so there is little chance of contamination to airport staff. Pretty nifty, huh?

So far, CNN has reported 6 cases and 2 deaths in Malaysia. I'm sorry I can't say much more on the situation as I haven't read the papers in quite a while. Hee hee. I've been so tied up with work and stuff, I’ve neglected the newspapers.

Hopefully, SARS will be a seasonal virus, like the Ebola, and after its run, it won't bother us much anymore.
Hello all,
I'm Nina, and I'm afraid I must inform all of you, lest you are expecting something different, that I don't usually write serious blog entries. In fact, most of them are quite frivolous and trivial. So all of you dear readers can be safe to assume that anytime I post, it'll just be about the frivolous and trivial in Malaysia. :)

The irony of being a part of this wonderful idea by Farhad is that, as a Westernised urban girl in Asia, I'm probably a lot more familiar with Western culture than I am with my own native one. Therefore, I've to do a little bit more research than necessary, but in the course of thinking of an idea for my inaugural post here, I realised that there are many things I've taken for granted. You see, in some ways, we can be contemptuous of Westerners especially, since if we can understand and make room for their culture, why couldn't they do the same? LoL. It is irrational as Malaysia is after all, not the centre of the global mass media; the material we've consumed may have introduced us to foreign elements, but it merely reinforces the innate ones in their culture I believe.

But in any case, there are advantages of living not quite so in the middle of it. For one thing, in the periphery you get to absorb other influences from other cultures. It makes you hyper-aware of more than one foreign culture and the spirit of unity in diversity is one of the main pillars of being a Malaysian. (At least I'd like to think so.) As with anywhere else, eventually all those foreign elements are reinterpreted by the nature of the place. Like... the Kentucky Friend Chicken here is a lot spicier. (ok, lame example.) Anyway, as an urbanite who consumes MTV as she surfs the Internet, here are some things that aren't true about Malaysia:

  • We don't feed the elderly magic mushrooms. (re: The X-Files)

  • No, we don't eat snake meat for dinner either. Well, at least people I know don't. (re: Spin City)

  • Malaysia isn't a tv script shorthand for 'quick! We need a quasi-Chinese country that's not as famous as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan OR China!' There's a lot more to the racial composition than that.

  • As far as I know, the Malacca Straits is in Malacca. Not right smack in front of the KL Tower. (re: Entrapment)

  • And Zoolander? ALL LIES! ;p

Here are some facts about Malaysia: It has 14 states (see MAP); it's made of a lot of races, and not a single one of them can claim a comfortable majority (the biggest, the Malays, only count for about 49%); we're generally pretty relaxed people; yes, the tallest building is here; and yes, pirated movies is available FREELY.

Ok. So enough intro for now. Today I went to watch X2, the sequel to X-Men (for this I thank the movie pirates, because in order to fight these pirates, movie distributors usually endeavour to release blockbuster movies as soon as possible, usually on the same day; or earlier, but that's another matter of geography and crossing the International Date Line), and here's a mini-introduction to the cinema habits of Malaysians.

Well, as you can see, our tickets come with seat numbers. Free seating is not a common concept, only for public movie premieres or something, but no. My friend who used to live in New York tells me Americans tend to come to the cinema an hour or two earlier and is considered a social event as they are entertained by ads and movie previews. Explain this concept to a Malaysian, and they'll mutter something about wasting time and inefficiency. There's this word we adopted from Singaporeans: 'kiasu', Hokkien for 'cannot lose'. Kiasu in a situation of free seating would involve hordes of people coming at least an hour earlier and guarding their seats so possesively they'll give you an evil eye if it looks like you're about to remove a strategically placed bag of theirs that was placed on a seat to 'book' it. As it is, the kiasu-ness comes when buying tickets; quieing up an hour before the counters open at 11am. Oh, imagine how Star Wars fans were when it was about to open, but on a daily scale. ^_^

And another thing: we're casual lawbreakers. The movie is rated 18-SG (above 18 only due to violence), but still parents bring in their children. Couple this with the fact that we'll never resist a better bargain, the overpriced concession stands don't do as brisk business as they hope. Why? Does the term 'smuggling' sound familiar? LoL. Just before they enter the cineplexes, the bags would probably be discreetly bulging with foodstuffs, ranging from the typical snacks, to actual meals. I remember someone once sneaked in some pastries with durian (a local fruit with smell so pungent) in them and well, I couldn't quite concentrate at the movie in the beginning. The ushers don't really do anything, because it's like fighting an inevitable tide. So the practice is tolerated, it's not like nobody's buying popcorn; at least that's one foodstuff that's almost exclusive to them. :) Seriously though. I could get a bottle of water for RM1, why on earth should I pay RM2 more?

Ok, this post may sound excessively harsh, but really I do it with love. Don't every nation have their quirks?