Wednesday, May 29, 2013

One Year -- E.

It was a year ago Saturday that we first arrived in Malaysia.  A year ago this week we dragged our jet-lagged selves up to a Bidayuh village for Gawai, a local harvest festival tradition.

Somehow Bidayuh people can wear this kind of stuff without looking silly.
I wasn't pulling it off so well.
Now that we're back in Gawai season again (leaving tomorrow for several days out with our Iban friends this time!), it seems we have officially run the full circle of annual celebrations.  After Gawai, it was Ramadan and the subsequent Aidilfitri feasts; Christmas season didn't seem so far after that; then came Chinese New Year; and back to Gawai.  With countless minor holidays in between, of course.

This next year I want to try to keep track of time with seasonal fruits.  Some fruits are strictly seasonal, while others just seem to be extra-abundant at certain times.  Maybe it changes from year to year, but based on the past year I expect to see a progression something like this:







We're deep in watermelons right now, in fact.  Can't complain.

This was originally going to be a reflective post in which I summarized my family's experiences over the last year, and expressed how grateful I am to be living in Malaysia.  Instead, as usual, I ended up talking about food instead.  Maybe next time we'll get it.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

"Just A Little Off The Top . . . Leave The Sideburns" -- E.

My handphone sounded.  Someone had sent me a text message, but I couldn't get to my phone just then.  It would have to wait a minute or two.  Unfortunately, within 'a minute or two' I usually forget things completely.  What to do?  I decided to count down in my head -- slowly -- from 20.  When I got to zero, I would remember to check my phone.  A flawless plan!

Or so I thought.  Everything went well up until I reached the number 7, at which point a near total stranger suddenly stuck her fingers deep into my ears.  And I forgot everything.

Can you guess where I was?

Yes, there's nothing quite like getting your hair cut.  It's an unbelievably personal ordeal.  The amount of trust it takes to let someone whose name I don't know stand right up against the chair I'm sitting in and touch my head is often too much for me.  This is why I don't get my hair cut very often.

Queena used to do it for me, but she's never much liked to, and here in Malaysia the cuts are pretty cheap.  So I'm expanding my horizons.

I'd like to tell you about some of the differences between the Malaysian hair salon, as I experience it, and its American counterpart.  These differences are neither good nor bad, inherently.  But I do have my preferences.  Here in Malaysia:
  • I have more time to think.  It seems people often read magazines at the barber's.  At my most recent haircut there were magazines provided.  But they were filled only with pictures of people in short shorts and Chinese writing, neither of which I can understand.  Thus I was left to myself, trying not to replay Monty Python's murderous barber scene in my head.
  • The trends are different.  At least I think they are.  I've been out of the USA for almost a year.  Is this happening over there?
    I'm just not ready for this.
    That's a slightly extreme case in the photo there.  But still, Malaysians like hair a little shorter there, a little longer here, and in the end it does take some adjustment for me in what to expect my hair to look like when it's all done.
  • The infamous scalp massage.  When the haircut is all done, they shampoo your hair (even if you are a man) and they really rub it into your scalp.  I repeat, they do this to you even if you're a man.  This is the part where someone's fingers can end up in your ear.  I understand you can pay extra for an extended scalp massage session; needless to say I have never given it a try.

That's the end of my story.  Queena says I should tack on a picture of the kids, even though it has nothing to do with the rest of this post.  So here it is.

To all my Malaysian friends:  Janganlah marah dengan saya!  Saya bermaksud baik.  Don't worry, I like your hair, I like your shops.  But to a foreigner everything can feel unusual at first.