Photo credit here
It's hard growing up in a foreign country.
I went through that almost my entire childhood. Oh don't get me wrong, I love the UK and I would never trade my childhood there for anything in the world.
It's just that it tickles me to reflect on some of the things that my sister and I (and a few of our other Malay friends) would do just so that we wouldn't get singled out.
One very funny example just recently cropped up in my head, and I knew I had to write about it immediately. In the UK we would have the option of taking packed lunches from home or eat catered lunches called 'school dinners' or 'din-dins' there, though I don't know exactly why lunch was called dinner... it still leaves me baffled to this very day. Having school dinners was sometimes a challenge for us Muslims because we can only eat Halal of Kosher food, and so it was the usual custom that we bring our own lunches.
When the bell rings, you walk out of your classroom, single file, and walk together to the Dining Hall. Students on school dinners would be seated at one set of tables and students bringing their own food would be seated at another set, so as to ease the distribution of food.
To this very day I can remember I can remember two incidents that would be forever ingrained into my brain. First, during a particular lunchtime, I caught a glimpse of my sister's friend Liza sitting down at the table, but with nothing on the table. Upon closer inspection, I saw that she was holding her lunch (packed in a Tupperware container) very tightly on her lap, hiding it from view. Next, I saw her eyes rove about, making sure that nobody was watching her. Then, as quick as lightning she would dip her spoon into her Tupperware, quickly shove the food into her mouth, and tear away the spoon as fast as possible to destroy the evidence.
She was eating fried rice. Dark brown in colour. Little grains of rice, probably looking like newly-hatched maggots - to her.
I was amused.
But I wasn't that better myself.
My mum (bless her heart) would pack us sandwiches. Sometimes it would be cheese. Sometimes it would be peanut butter.
And sometimes it would be serunding daging.
Now, anyone who is familiar with serunding daging would be familiar with the heavenly taste of the dried beef and exotic flavours of its spices. However, to an English schoolboy, it would look like worms and mud...
So whenever I had a serunding sandwich, it would be my turn to do the disappearing act!
Funny, really, when I look back now...
Wonder how my kids are going to fare with their worms, maggots and mud in New Zealand.