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Showing posts from July, 2008

It's Good to Eat the King

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One great thing about Southeast Asia that I will surely miss is the royalty here. Sure, America has the Pitt-Jolies, Burger King, and Budweiser (the King of Beers), but their crowns are all newly minted. If you want some royalty that you can really look up to, you need to go East. Without further ado, I give you:

Durian - The King of Fruits

After my encounters with Durian, I found a new credo to live by: only show interest in things you're prepared to eat. If you pay attention to anything in this country and it's even remotely edible, it'll only be a matter of seconds before someone chops it up and offers you a steaming plate of it. I thought I was pretty safe looking at Durian. People don't usually try to eat things that would kill you if it fell on your head, are impossible to carry without imposing reckless, widespread acupuncture on the hands, and smell like a full port-a-potty. If that's not nature's way of saying "do not touch," I don't…

H-E Double Breadsticks

I mean this in the most positive way possible, but I think Malaysia might have been my own personal hell.

Alright, that still sounds dark, but I promise now, this will be the most upbeat idea of hell ever.

Lemme see if I can define my terms secularly before I go any further.

Hell: a place that sucks.
Heaven: a place that doesn't suck.
Purgatory: a place that kinda sucks for a while.

So back in my old life stateside (which may or may not have been just a dream, I'm not sure) I could at times, be lazy. This is apparently a well-documented issue in people, with it's own mascot, ranking in the top 7 sins, and cultural heroes. My Malaysian hell punished me for my laziness above all else. The brilliant thing about this hell is that I got exactly what I wanted. Don't want to work? You don't have to! But the catch that you'll actually end up craving work. Working will be the highlight of any day, and you will wait hours upon hours just for the chance to do good work …

Broken in Malaysia

I eyed the car's dashboard. Whenever we hit a puddle, the emergency indicators would all light up for several seconds.

"That's a really good metaphor for this country," I told Len.
"This car was made in Japan," he said.
"Yeah," I said, "but it was broken here."

There are the places that make you and the places that break you, which then allow you to become remade somewhere and someway else. I came here to be broken, even if I didn't realize it at the time.

There is a short 10 minute video of the first time the ETAs met their mentors and their foster parents and it makes me want to cry a little every time I watch it. In the interceding 6 months since the video was made, nearly all of us have lost weight and/or muscle mass, aged approximately 5 years, and lost the child-like glint in our eyes. I wish I was making this up. You can actually compare the footage of how we looked then and how we look now and have no choice but to conclude t…

Happier Thoughts, Ezra

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Oh Peter, can you teach me how to fly?

I get a phone call of a guy speaking in Malay. I didn't know how to say "wrong number" so I just managed to get out Malay for "I'm Ezra. I'm white." "Oh oh oh oh....... okay," said wrong-number man. Turns out he was one of my co-workers who I ran into a second later. But I like how great "I'm white" is an acceptable response to most problems that I've encountered here. It's not so much a get out of jail free card as it is a "get out of jail and get pigeon-holed with a different set of problems" card. But still, it's not always as big of a problem as you might think for people to see you as stupider and richer than you are.

I got a chance to pick up some food from the Tuesday night market and I finally got around to trying out a Ramly burger. I had read some good things about it, and it's supposed to be Malaysia's contribution to the burger world. I can'…

ETA Humor

It's come to my attention that my last post might've been a bit dark. Maybe it was. But it was not a reflection on a general depression. If you're actually depressed, you can't really make jokes about the situation, dark or otherwise. It's not exactly gallows humor, since you get to die pretty soon after that. It might be something more like POW camp humor. Or prison humor. So I will now dub it ETA humor. It doesn't mean you're in great pain, it means that the bad parts of the situation have grown to be so ridiculous that they demand mockery. another way to sum it up might be: "so bad, it's good." So just to assure people again, I'm not unhappy here, it's just really funny how unhappy I could be.

However, it is disconcerting how it never occurred to me that people might be worried because of the dark nature of the last post. This makes me wonder how my thinking might have changed while being here. Yesterday Sarah and I were …

How to Apply to Fulbright

This would be the perfect application for the ETA program in Malaysia. Assuming it will exist in 2010, you're more than welcome to use it to apply for the fellowship.

"I want to be an ETA in Malaysia because I am afraid of the world after college and would like an ambiguously defined job in a foreign country to barely keep me busy for the next seven months.

I am well-suited to a life abroad because I have proved time and time again that I am able to ignore many key components of reality to convince myself that I am happy when in fact I am barely hanging onto my shreds of sanity and dignity.

Furthermore, I enjoy being both mocked and loved solely because of the color of my skin. As a white man in America I do not have the opportunity to hear "you are so pretty today, sir" enough and I crave the attention desperately.

While I am unremarkable in my home country, I have the pressing need to amuse and astound the people of Malaysia by performing such laudable feats as eati…

My Sippy Cup Runneth Over

Mr. Fix-it was telling me about silat, Malaysia's favorite (if not only) homegrown martial art. He was saying that if you get to a high enough level in silat you can drink a glass of poison and nothing will happen to you. This is as opposed to the effects of drinking a glass of poison on most people where nothing will happen to you... ever again.

This claim got me thinking:
1. Do you test your level of silat by drinking poison? Does this account for why I haven't heard of this martial art before?

2. Assuming this did work, how would you ever know if someone was trying to poison you? Conceivably your spouse, co-workers, or rivals could be trying to kill you, unsuccessfully, for weeks while you keep on smiling at them, laughing at their jokes, or carpooling with them. This could lead to some awkward conversations down the line. "Are you sure you feel fine? Really? And you finished the glass? Okay, well, keep me posted."

3. Couldn't you just not drink the glass…