Conversation Openers – Malaysian Quirks?

A friend posted this in facebook the other day:

When ur single, ppl ask about boyfriend/ girlfriend, When u have a fiancee, they ask when is the wedding? When u get married, they ask when is the baby coming? When u already have 1, they ask when is the little brother or sister coming along? When u divorce they ask why? If u try to move on, they ask, so quickly? Ppl will never stop asking… if u proud of who u r & U don’t care what ppl think about u, paste it on ur wall… (sic)

I can’t help but laugh. Being a single person, I am always bugged with the “Are you seeing someone?” and “When are you getting married?” questions that I totally tunnel-visioned over the eventual questions that would follow suit should one day I jump on the just-married wagon.

I am not sure if this is a Malaysian quirk, but the post above got me thinking and asking around – what are the common questions or comments you’d hear coming from a Malaysian (and no one else) as conversation openers? Here’s a few:

  1. Sudah makan? (Have you eaten?) – sub-category “Kurusnya, tak makan ke? (Why are you so thin? Haven’t you been eating?) and “Amboi, sihatnya sekarang,” (Wow, you look so healthy these days) with the word sihat or healthy meaning fat. Instead of asking people “Did it rain at your place last night?” or “How was your journey to get here?”, we ask them if they have eaten.  And yes, when we say you look healthy, what we really meant is you’re fat. In fact sometimes most of the time the word fat is used outright. We are obsessed with feeding people and then we ask them why they are so “healthy”?
  2. You look terrible – a friend who’s a Brit brought this to my attention. She said when she first moved here it shocked and offended her that colleagues would stop her at corridors to tell her she looked terrible. Why would you tell someone that? she asked me. It took her a while to understand that telling someone that s/he looks terrible means the person is concerned about your wellbeing, not because the person is mean. I am sure I was guilty of this one, being that I was her boss and I was working her to death :-) Sorry Miss L!
  3. Ni kakak saya, dia ni bujang lagi (This is my older sister, she is still single): All single women of legal age in Malaysia will attest to this –  if you are single, this will be the standard introduction given to strangers whom you are meeting for the first time in your life – no exception. Apparently, my marital status is now my last name as each stranger is a potential match or matchmaker. Learn to live with it, honey. It will do your blood pressure a lot of good.
  4. Gigi mana? (Where’s your teeth?) – another Brit pointed this out. She said it used to amuse her to see people cooing at babies and asking them, “Gigi mana, gigi?”. Me? GUILTY! I don’t know why I do this. It just seems natural to ask babies this question, while knowing fully well they can’t answer and that I can see for myself if the baby has teeth or not!
  5. Dah lama sampai? (Have you arrived long?) – almost always asked when welcoming guests AT THE DOOR, when they just arrived literally seconds ago.

Share yours?



Filed under food for thought, Go Grr...

2 responses to “Conversation Openers – Malaysian Quirks?

  1. I ENJOED READING THIS IT GAVE ME ALOT OF GOOD LAUGHS AND I LEARNED SOMTHING NEW ABOUT MYSELF! i like being single but am exited to find my mr. right

  2. Hahaha no harm in finding. Good luck with that and let me know how it goes!

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