March 22, 2006
I like Rojak
I had a whale of a time visiting my uncle in Vancouver last October. A great break between graduation and coming back to the grindstone of work.
What I remember most about the place: Racial diversity.
Filling the streets are groups of friends of all races hanging out together. Couples black and white, hand in hand, swinging their little coffee-coloured-skin children with beautiful curls. It’s a sight to behold, a rainbow of sorts within a bustling city.
Malaysia has always prided itself on being a cultural melting pot, with the many different races co-existing ‘in harmony’. An American visitor recently pointed out to me: “I’m amazed by how you guys live and interact with each other!”
I wonder if she’s right, though. The term tolerance in itself reflects the need to tolerate the other’s culture and overall being.
Merdeka Centre recently conducted a survey on racial views of Malaysians. I wish they’d backed it up with reasonable methodology (the reporting is vague), but it says that:
the majority of 1,113 people polled agreed most ethnic Malays are lazy, Chinese are greedy and Indians are untrustworthy.
Our mindsets are stuck. Immediately we think of the boundaries that set us far, far apart from the other. Immediately we focus on defining cultural traits.
The differences should make, not break society. Enhance, not agitate.
The different flavours that various ingredients contribute to a Malaysian local dish, Rojak, give it a delectable taste. With a mixture of vegetables and sauces, Rojak is sometimes used to describe a person of mixed descent… and sometimes, condescendingly.
Guess what? I like Rojak.
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