Friday, December 12


"Er, what do you call this fish?" I looked at the dish on the table.
"Terubuk," replied Husband.
"You haven't eaten it before?"
"Well, actually I've never eaten it."
In my Chinese family, when it comes to food, we eat the best we can afford. Mother and Grandma bought only selected fish for the table. Never mind if we don't have any new clothes or new curtains, for food is the number one importance in my Chinese family. Therefore some fish that are cooked by the Malays are alien to me. I don't know their names or how they are supposed to be cooked. And I always scratch my head when they're bought for the home.
Mother used to say that unlike Chinese, Malays spend more on looking good than on eating well. "They can get on with just plain rice and dried fish."
I don't know how true it is nowadays.

"How do you want me to cut these vegetables?"
" Just cut them."
"Like this?"
I need to ask each time I help out at the kitchen. Chinese cook differently and prepare ingredients differently. I used more garlic and less shallots compared to Malays. I chop my garlic differently. My soups differ from the Malay's version, depending whether they're to cool the body or to add more heat. And my desserts or tong-sui are alien to a typical Malay.
Cooking is always an adventure. I won't know how my dishes will taste when I cook them because the ingredients used now are slightly different. I'm still getting used to the new taste of the soy sauce produced by Muslim factories. Really, they do taste different, so my dishes always end up tasting rather different than what they used to be during my non-halal days.
And Husband becomes my QC, heheheee... and he has been quite cautious testing my "alien dishes".

Cultural clashes happens all the time, worse when it involves other family members.
"You shouldn't sit at that table."
"He doesn't like being stared at when he eats."
"But I wasn't staring at him. I was watching the tv and talking to your sister. The sofa was too low and uncomfortable to sit. And I had my aurat properly covered too."
"Still it's better that you sit elsewhere."
"Ok, fine. If he felt uncomfortable, why didn't he tell me straight away? That would have solved the problem immediately. Need he keep quiet only to complain to you a week later?"
"That's not how it's done. It's a cultural thing."
"Fine, I'll remember that. Speaking of culture, do know that in Chinese families, we sit together at the table until everyone has finished their food. It's a form of respect that nobody leaves the table until everyone finishes eating. If the main table's full, children and teenagers, being lesser in status, eat elsewhere."

Then it was his turn to feel it.
"I wanted to salam with your mother but she just left the car."
"I've never salam with your Chinese mom-in-law. She'd freak out if I were to kiss her hand the way I do to your parents."
"Well, I thought I'd give it a try but she didn't give me the chance."
"So what did you do then?"
"I just waved at her and said goodbye laa... western style."
And it was my turn to laugh...hahahaa


  1. Assalamualaikum kak aliya...

    1stly, i'm glad to know you and Alhamdulillah akak antara orang yg bertuah sebab mendapat hidayah dariNya...

    teja suka baca blog akak..banyak cerita akak yg menarik...

    haa..untuk entry nie..agak susah kan kita nk sesuaikan diri dgn new environment?just like kita kena mulakan semuanya semula...

    :) harap akak sihat2 dan dapat rahmat Allah selalu..take care..

  2. Assalamualaikum Aliya ,

    First of all i must say that i am your biggest fan ! hehehe

    Judging from all the story you shared with us here,i can see that you are a straight forward person , i like people like you !!!! :)

    [quote] "They can get on with just plain rice and dried fish" [quote]

    LOLzzz your mom was so right about us,we malay people memang gitu
    hehehe....yang penting langsir-langsir dan perabot rumah tu must have the "Wow effect" and not to mension koleksi barang kemas must complete set by set ! hehehe

    In the past, where i stayed in this area(Ampang,KL), my neighbours were awesome,they are non muslim !
    We had a superb great 10 years of staying at that area, now i live in Kampong baru and my neighbours are very the snobbish YUCK !

    I really miss my old chinese neighbours Aunty Sue and Mrs Lim
    :( huhuhu... must give then a ring this Sunday

    I totally agreed with "snakebite"
    muslim reverts are way better muslim than those born muslim !


  3. Your writing is so simple yet so interesting. Good revealation in the situation where we are trying hard to convince the world ( ourselves) that racial interactions among us Malaysians are in perfect order. I guess we need more people like you to help us narrow the gap and correct the misunderstanding. Perharps more writings like this. Shall we also promote your blog to non malay friends. I am more for racial harmony. I worked very2 well with my non Malay colleagues, many of them remain my good/best freinds


  4. Waalaikumussalam Tun Teja,
    Alhamdulillah I always syukur for His mercy and hidayah to me :)
    Actually I don't consider my new life as a wife of a Muslim Malay man as starting over, hahaha( stubborn me, nohh). For me, it's more like adjusting, mana yang boleh teruskan yang tak sesuai lagi,kena adjust supaya selari dengan syariat Islam. Our home, insyaAllah will be a blend of Malay & Chinese culture with Islamic philosophy. How? Not sure, I'm still visualizing it, hehehe..

  5. Waalaikumussalam miss kampung baru,
    Well, thanks. I don't like to beat around the bush; anyway there're not many bushes left to beat, hehehe. I don't care much for the "Wow effect", mengada-ada people (whatever race). It's alaways nutritious delicious food and good books before new furniture and new jewellery.And quoting Frank Sinatra,"I did it my way.."

  6. Salam Tikmidina,
    Ahh,for one as "seasoned" as I am, I'm of the opinion that racial relationships were better during the 70s & 80s. All these politicking etc that have caused friction among the various races. I still have many friends who are of other faiths and we get along well. Of course, sometimes we need to explain why we do certain things and we need to learn to respect their cultures & beliefs. And we should also learn when to keep our opinions to ourselves, learn never to cross that thin line of racial/religious insensitivities and most importantly, learn to apologise if we made mistakes.