Sunday, April 20, 2014

Malaysian night

Kris and I are host parents to 4 Malaysian students at the local university. Apparently there are hundreds of Malaysian kids (yea, makes me sound old) running around. Anyway, we attended the Malaysian night this weekend, an evening of performances and Malaysian cuisine. They did a good job with soto and mamak mee I think.  Though the wife found it spicy

Anyway, one of their performances was about a Malaysian boy who left for the USA for 3 years of his studies. And I have to say, for some stupid reason, that brought back a surge of memories and emotions. After all, I remember that August night, when my buddies came over for a farewell party in my honor, of how I told them "Take care of yourselves. Don't have too much fun without me. See you in 3 years."  That was before residency turned into a 3 year additional fellowship. And then meeting my soulmate and deciding to settle down here. Gosh, that was 12 years ago. And though I feel blessed to have so much, there will always be a part of me that ponders the 'what ifs'.  What if I had never stayed? What if I was there with my family, to be able to be a better son to my parents? A better friend to my buddies? What if, what if?

Often, I get emails from Malaysians who are thinking of emigration. And I try to tell them that as much as you think Malaysia is dysfunctional, there will always be ties within your heart, ties that will always make you yearn, and miss what you have grown up to call home. It's a home that your children, bred in a land foreign still to you, will never know. And so, despite how I've been away since 1998, there is much I miss. But it was at least fun to have had the chance lays night to have a taste of Malaysian food, and to hear so many people speak in the accent with which I am so familiar. 

5 Comments:

Blogger Jen Poh said...

So true, and well said! I've been following your blog for a long time now and really enjoying reading your anecdotes. I'm a fellow Malaysian who's left home for 20 years and now reside in HK. Your "Buddy" TS was my childhood friend and we grew up together, with our parents being very close friends and still are. My husband and I were at TS and TY's wedding reception in KL, but unfortunately we did not make it back to Pg for his funeral. Just wanted to say hi here and it's nice to read what Malaysians living overseas feel and think. Many people think the grass is always greener on the other side but I guess a part of us will always miss the country/place we really call "home". I do too, and every time I go balik kampung the first thing I do is eat! After all, Penang is known for its glorious food! :)
You have a lovely family, by the way!

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post.
I have been living here for 26 years now and have actually spent a greater portion of my life in the US than Malaysia.
The recent MH370 tragedy greatly saddened me and made me realize how Malaysian I still remain. Even though I have become a US citizen, Malaysia will always remain an important part of my identity.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As they say, you can take a boy/girl out of Malaysia but you can't take Malaysia out of the boy/girl

2:42 PM  
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11:57 PM  
Blogger Lavennz Ooi said...

Hello! Greeting from a Malaysian Penangite living in Maine. I was googling about Malaysian expats in US and I found your blog.

This post is excellent! You inspired me to start a blog to keep track of my new life. It would be amusing when I read back after 10 years, even if I may not be in US. My husband and I moved to Maine in Sept 2013 with a "one-way ticket" because we couldn't tell our families and friends when we will be moving back to Malaysia. The move wasn't in our plan but we were very excited for a big change when his company offer him a job relocation. And time flies, it has been almost a year living in Maine. Surprisingly, both of us fit in easily. Life in Maine is relaxing (but not inexpensive). We have a lot of wonderful moments here; in the same time, I miss everything I left behind in Malaysia.

We will always wondering about "what if we didn't take the change" but I believe we will regret "if we never take a change".

7:42 PM  

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