A very friendly Pakistani guy, Hassan, i think, striked up a rather friendly conversation today while I was waiting at the train station for my dad. The day before, a London-born Nigerian guy, Yomi, at the train station in college. It was quite interesting to have a conversation with a stranger, I didnt mind at all. Yomi and Hassan made the same comment halfway through the conversation :: I'm very friendly and approachable compared to the other Malaysians.
What they meant was unlike other girls and guys around here, I was probably the only one that actually answered their questions and had a real conversation with them. We talked about where they're from, the local food, the local people etc. Yomi said they discussed this in class, he didnt understand that it's our culture to be so cold to strangers. I think this is so true, especially when they are middle eastern or black. A very racist stereoype yeah. Unfortunately, there's this Malaysian mentality that makes us a very uncaring society. For one, we think that middle easterns, africans, foreigner on the street, espcially those near you are 1) out for your money or 2) out for your body. So when one comes by, you might hold your bag just a little closer to you or maybe walk further from them just as a precaution. But we dont think that way to white foreingers, do we?
Besides that, Malaysians has this stranger danger mentality. Im not talking about the casual passerby asking for directions and the time. When an uncle walking beside you suddenly smiles and say "HI, How Are You". What do we usually do? Initial response in the head : OMG STRANGER CREEPY STRANGER DANGEROUS! and then we just smile and nodd. no reply. how very, unfriendly of us. The man is just trying to be friendly but all he got was an akward blow-off. its true its really true! If some random guy just says "how are you" to you for no good reason we think that of all the bad possibilities and not just because they are friendly. do an experiment, go on the streets one day and start saying friendly "hi's" to people and see the response you get. its sad, really.
Ok so im not saying im better then the rest and i dont have the same mentality. My initial thoughts would be the same: stranger creep danger run. But i guess studying in Sunway College and my US stint really taught me ALOT about people. Sunway really shocked me with the amount of middle eastern students we had. I've met so many all the iranians, yemenis, africans are some of the nicest people and bestest friends ever! I've really learned ALOT about them and their culture and their country, and i guessed that helped me break the stereotype i had about them. Nice people, really. They have high visions and really smart too!
and US, ahh US. how i missed (really raelly really really miss) (really really) (really) the sweet unexpecting "How are You's" from random strangers. I get them almost everyday. you walk to work and you can have just the most satisfying conversation with the man walking next to you. thats how i got number 17 on my 100-things-to-do-before-i-die-list. Casey, a guy i met at the busstop inspired me. He saw my lonely planet book and we talked about his wonderful road trips and travels. Its amazing how much we can learn from a stranger. but not many of us know that, cause all of us are always busy with our phones, ipods, and ourselves to notice the person next to us.
how unfriendly of a society we live in. sad. i cant say the entire US was friendly, but Vail and the other places i went to certainly was. She really helped me to be a more friendly person, and be more open to strangers. Thats why i didnt mind talking to Hassan and Yomi even though i saw red caution all over my mind. So what im saying is, its okay to talk to strangers, strike up a conversation with one or entertain a conversation posed at you. Enjoy the talk and maybe learn something new. Be friendly, but always be careful. Don't go giving away your personal information or set up for a date alone or something. Hassan and Yomi were great to talk to but they'll just be strangers i met at the train stop. i didnt give Yomi my number don't worry.
the moral of the story? study at Sunway College and go to US. :P
break down the Malaysian Mentality.
from this moment, i am going to be friendlier to random strangers. Maybe even a "How are you" or two. won't you join me? :)
We can start making our society a friendlier, and more loving, caring one to live in! *semangats!*
disclaimer: dear international and local friends, none of these should be taken into offense, and no offense is intentioned here. I do not mean to generalize EVERY malaysian, just a view of the majority. I'm just voicing out what i think is important. I want to know what you think about this too, leave your thoughts here will ya!? :D