A new chapter is starting in my life... but I have no idea yet what it will be called, though perhaps this is always the case unless one is blessed with uncommon prescience or cursed with absolute predictability in life. I will be travelling to Latin America (via San Fran) and then back 'home' to Southeast Asia (via Dubai) over the course of 5-6 months. I hope to share (some of) my stories with you as they unfold.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Indonesia. That very populous 'Malay' country next to Malaysia that, before Monday, I'd only known through its films and its migrant workers, two of whom work in my parents' home in Kuala Lumpur. It's good to finally see it, meet more of its people, begin to understand its diversity, and get a sense of what is shared between it and my country, and what is not.

It is fair to say that my Malay language skills are pretty rusty and that I have never really had to use Malay in casual conversation in any case as I was surrounded by English speakers for most of my time in Malaysia. So these past few days have seen a somewhat extraordinary burst of Malay on my part! My range of expression is limited, and my comprehension of others somewhat hampered by the substantial differences in vocabulary between (Malaysian) Malay and Indonesian, but still it feels fantastically fluid and easy -- after the communicational disabilities I experienced whilst travelling through Vietnam (and to a lesser extent Cambodia), I am finding this absolutely amazing, to be able to speak to people in their own language, to negotiate the mundane but sometimes tricky business of travelling with ease, to strike up random conversations with fellow passengers or conductors on buses.

One storekeeper remarked that she liked the sound of Malaysian Malay, "lembut... macam orangnya juga" (gentle... like its people) -- I'd never thought I could feel as proud to speak Bahasa Malaysia as I did at that moment.


Post a Comment

<< Home