Thursday, June 7, 2007

Meetings with Malaysians

Had David - the new Chinese Malaysian guy over to watch a DVD last night. It's good to have a bit of social life, and not just be focused on the outdoors and the job. We watched "Babel", with Brad Pitt. several different stories, all linked. One in Morroco where you see the beautiful high Atlas mountains, and the way the police gets information quickly (beating up an old couple outside their home), after an american tourist (brad pitt's wife) gets shot in a bus. It's a stray bullet because of 2 kids with a rifle, but the police worry it may be terrorists, and all are concerned that Morroco may loose out on tourists - an important source of income - as a result.
You also get to see utra-modern Tokyo, where you follow a deaf teenage girl who is miserable because boys won't pay attention to her - because of her deafness.
Back in the USA, Brad pitt's nanny takes his 2 kids to a wedding in Mexico, where they gleefully discover the easy way hispanics dance , play music and celebrate. A nice contrast to Pitt's typically white neurotic wife who asks the waiter in Morroco what they have on the menu that doesn't have too much fat... and then throws out Pitt's ice cubes for his coke - to ensure he doesn't catch something like diarrhea which might be the end of the world (not).
A great music score with guitar, and a film that you remember for quite a while.

I talked at length with David about Malaysia, girls in Malaysia, quantum physics and other topics. he says some girls at university who wore headscarves would not talk to him "you're a man and you're not a muslim" goes their reasoning. ie friendly talk is out - I only talk to men who are potential husbands.
Well, they can marry a non-muslim, but by law the non-muslim partner must convert to Islam. (and then carry around their ID card with religion: Muslim written on it). yep... Interestingly, in Indonesia, this is not the law - there are couples with partners of different religions.

Mila, a girl with a headscarf I was talking too this week during work, is very open minded and tolerant. She explained that her mother was christian, but converted to Islam in order to marry her father. But that both parents encouraged their kids to think for themselves and be tolerant of all religions. We talked about the lack of venues in Kuah , where we live, to go dancing or clubbing. there are clubs on Langkawi, but they are in the resort areas on the other side of the island.
We talked of the women in Hijabs - head to toe black covering with a slot for the eyes, that you see in the shopping center here, with their husbands dressed in shorts, sneakers and a baseball cap, USA-style. They are tourists, and I was wondering where they came from. Probably from the UAE - united arab emirates, she says.
She doesn't approve of hijabs, and says Islam doesn't condone them -unless the woman is very beautiful. It's a very clear way of enslaving women, in my view, along with forbidding them to drive, as in Saudi Arabia. She is quite cynical about UAE men, as she sees them in the resort strip here, and on planes, drinking alcohol (forbidden in Islam). She says when you ban everything, as soon as they are out of their country, they go to excesses.

She was reading an american novel, which she had bought in Kuala Lumpur. and she said I could go with her to KL some weekend - she goes almost every weekend - and she would show me cafes and the interesting club scene. That would be great - to have a local along with me on such a trip. The novel she was reading was set in the fifties, small town USA - romance and such. The front cover showed a girl in a long dress, and I commented on how in the UK and the west in general nowadays, a street can have stacks of girls with their belly-button showing, pierced, and other openely sexual come-ons. In Switzerland, I saw 12 yr old girls with short tops and piercings, and short tops are now banned in Swiss schools in an attempt to get the kids to study, play instruments, do sport and other stuff that is healthy to do as kids, rather than play at being miniature versions of Britney fuck-me Spears...
well, darling, if you want to get fucked in a back alley and offered hard drugs, you're on the right track...
We talked about how good ol Britney got massively overweight, took drugs, went into rehab - maybe young girls will think twice about idolising her now. Stars like her serve a useful purpose as a warning sign to teens and the rest of us. Yeah sex and drugs are exciting - damned alluring, actually, and it's probably healthy to taste everything once. But western popular culture has gone overboard in encouraging us to live our lives in one non-stop self-destructive orgy, as soon as we reach puberty.

Don't think I'm a hypocrite - I like sex, I drink alcohol, and I've had my share of hot girls and sex. But I know excess when I see it, and popular culture in the west is in excess. particularly in the UK. read a copy of "Zoo", or another UK "lads" magazine, and you see a celebration of binge-drinking, throwing up, taking drugs - a country where office-girls binge drink EVERY friday has something wrong with it. Throw romance, spirituality and a meaningful life in the dustbin, and this is what you get, I reckon. Binge behavior is way of trying to fill an inner gap which is left when you take those things away.

No comments: