O.K. I think it's time I mention something about my lab. There are 9 postgraduates (3 leaving soon ) and 3 postdocs under my supervisor currently. Then, occassionally there are some students coming in for attachment/training. And just recently a French girl (she's hot!) ; let's call her FG. Just today we were having lunch at the coffee area as usual and then a 1st year PG student (PGS) bought some pineapples (cut ones lar-from Marks and Spenser, imported from Costa Rica) and here was the conversation:
FG: Wow, what's that (in slow mode-she's not that fluent in English).
PGS: That's pineapple. Pineapple, you know?
FG: (looked blur). Er....
PGS: I think it is called anannas in French (or something like that lar)...
PGS: Oohh....(seems to know now)
Me: (With pride) Oh, we call that nanas in Malay too.
PGS: (Pretending to be interested). Oh, OK.
FG: Oh, Malay-what language? Where?
Me: Oh, I'm from Malaysia, you know. We speak Malay. (and of course others too)
FG: (looked blur again and silence)
PD (Postdoc): Malaysia-you know-south of Thailand?
FG: (still looked blur)Where is it in the map?
Me: OK. Here's China (trying to visualise a map using my hands), and here's Thailand and Malaysia's south of Thailand-a peninsula, and here's Singapore. I think it is called Malasie in French.
FG: Oohh...Malasie (pronounced just as the word Malas-and sie (die in Chinese)-haha-is she insulting someone that if u r malas, u die?)
FG: What other languages u speak?
Me: Malay, English and Chinese.
FG: Wow, 3 languages ( I know, I know, hidung kembang now)
PD: What Chinese dialects do you speak? My mum ( her mum is Malaysian Chinese; she is celup one lar, but celup that kind 99% Mat Salleh and 1% Chinese lar) speaks Mandarin and Hok...? Hokkien?
Me: I speak Mandarin and Cantonese.
PG: My mum speaks English!
Verdict of the story: Nobody gives a damn where is Malaysia even though we have the 2nd tallest building in the world, our 'proud' heavily protected-power-window-not-functioning Malaysian car, and not to mention those Datukship records-swimming sea lar, climbing mountain lar etc... Thailand they know, Singapore they know. But Malaysia-hmpphhh...bye lar. It is also true that their travel wish list or 10 places to go before I die kind-of thing will definitely include Thailand's exotic beaches, Singapore ethnic modern city but skip Tanah tumpahnya darahku.