Wednesday, 6 February 2008

An enlightening beer-less encounter

I met someone for dinner just a few hours ago. He is an AZAIG reader has been asking if we could meet up for dinner of coffee. We arranged the time and venue and the place to meet was High Street Kensington. I had no clue what is in store for me.

As soon as I walked out from the station, I saw someone standing by the exit and as soon as he looked up, he asked… “Zewt?”. After a brief introduction, we left for dinner. The place to go was “Whole Food Market”. It’s a supermarket plus a food court, and the food here is mainly organic.

After we ordered our food and drinks, he generously paid for me as well and we found a place to have our meal and thus began a very enlightening conversation…

The man in question is freelance photographer and producer of the book “Malaysians”. Besides being a freelance photographer, he also runs an art gallery here in London, a venue for art students to parade their artistic talents. I think he is a man who appreciates art very much

Blogging under the nick
svllee, he is a Malaysian who has been living in London for almost 30 years now. Despite being away from Malaysia for most part of his life, he calls himself a patriot; and I can't help but agree with him, totally. I know a lot of people out there perceive those who leave the country as people who have abandoned their roots. If you meet svllee, you think have to think again.

Being in London for 30 years now, I asked why he has not given up his Malaysian citizenship and apply for a British passport? By the way, his wife is a British too. His answer was plain, simple; but yet profound. To him, Malaysia is still his home and he would like to hold on to his root. How many of us will be like him?

Not only that, he is also very up-to-date with the happenings in Malaysia. From the Bersih rally to the parliamentary leakage to the body snatching saga to the bus crash to the Lingam saga… he knows it all. Honestly speaking, I am astonished. Here is a man who probably spent perhaps only a quarter of life in Malaysia but yet still so patriotic is still so well-aware of things in the country; I am astonished. How many of us will forget about things in Malaysia after being a year away?

He sees Malaysian as a very unique ‘race’. It is not just Malay, Chinese or Indians who fascinates him; it is the “dan lain-lain lagi” (so he claimed) who fascinates him deeply. This brought about the book ‘
Malaysians’; which is a portrait of Malaysians faces, artistically snapped with caption from a professional journalist. Marina Mahathir wrote the foreword of the book. No, this is not a sponsored post.
I briefly browse through the book and indeed, there are many Malaysian faces whom I never thought will be Malaysians. We are indeed a very diversely wonderful race. Be proud of it we should.

The book is a project initiated for Malaysians. He is currently looking at producing another one, also about Malaysians. I wonder if I will have the privilege to appear or pen some thoughts there.

Svlllee is a living testimony of the saying…”you can take a Malaysian out of Malaysia but you can never take Malaysia out of a Malaysian”. 30 years in a foreign land, his most profound statement was …

“I really don’t want my country to go down the dump” (something like that…)

31 comments:

jlshyang said...

No matter where i am and how much i enjoy living in my adopted country, my heart will always belong to Malaysia.

In fact many Malaysians have resided overseas for decades but still hold on to their Malaysian citizenship and kept themselves updated with the ongoings in Malaysia.

- Ivan said...

:) It's great to know that there are Malaysians who are not only hoping for a better Malaysia, but also doing their part in making it happen.

Perhaps I'm being idealistic again - but I would still say, never lose hope. There are people who are still betting on seeing Malaysia change for the better.

myop101 said...

waah... even in London you get invites by "strangers". haha...

lucky you...:)

anyway, would a diplomat be less of a patriot when he/she fulfills their missions overseas for extended period of time?

it is time for change...vote for change, vote against BN...

J.T. said...

Hi Zewt

It sure has been a while since I dropped by here.

As of today, I am still holding on to my citizenship. I haven't decided to give it up yet. Malaysia will always be a part of me no matter where I go.

Anyway, I hope you are having a good time in London. Here's wishing you a Happy Chinese New Year.

Cheers!

Susu Kacang said...

A teh tarik encounter?

30 years is a long time, man. Missing home already...

Happy Lunar New Year, Zewt :)

sharlydia said...

hey! interesting...u've got ur fans all the way in london! haha...

anyway, GONG XI FA CAI !!!

suituapui said...

Thumbs up to this svlllee fella! But do u think it's safe to meet up with strangers??? Hey,come to think of it,when we get to meet (when u're buying me that expensive dinner u promised me), you'd be meeting a total stranger...BEWARE! Here comes suituapui!!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!

Sam said...

I've seen that book in borders! It was...pretty engaging.
Hmm, makes me wonder, it seems like msians out of msia appreciate msia more than the msians IN msia do.

elvinado said...

Wow that's so touching yet inspiring...I always proud to be malaysia. And I always have the urge to learn more and know about my own country in the past, in the present and hoping that I would be someone who create a better future for my country...This is a really nice post. Happy New Year.

alan zed said...

malaysia is always home to his heart... :) gong xi fa cai bro.

kyh said...

I've nvr called myself a patriot. In fact, I always feel like I was born in the wrong country. But I certainly will appreciate all the food, people and cultures here.

And here's wishing you a happy CNY. :)

-=SiN=- said...

For me everywhere is supposed to be the same. Different enviroment maybe, but the root remain we're Asian :)

Happy Chinese New Year, hope you find good kaki's for reunion dinner :D

PurpLe~MuShRooM said...

Wei.. I have been away for 2 yrs and I still know whats happening back home. Every morning at work, the first site that I visit will be thestar.com and second will be zewt.blogspot.com :)

I also patriotic, and I also want my country to do well. I love my country... serious. But whether or not my country loves me, is another issue.

svllee said...

Hello Zewt, it was nice to have met you yesterday! wow, never thought I would have any effect on anyone! And also nice to read your comments.

Malaysia is truly a unique nation and country and the 'Malaysian' identity can be recognised wherever one is abroad, whatever one's race is. It is a warm and friendly one mostly. The races are united by so many aspects of life even when we are quite different in upbringing and surroundings.

Life is short so its best to 'make hay while the suns shines'. I always have no problem meeting with 'strangers' as missed i would hate to have missed opportunities and friends. Strangers are friends you haven't met yet!

Hope to catch you later!

angeles said...

Enjoy the cool CNY in London! Kung Hei Fatt Choy!

U veli smart to be away from home this year.. no nid give angpao neh!! :p

Angel Eyes said...

MAlaysians will always be Malaysians no matter where they go. We should be proud of that.

Gong Xi Fa Cai to you dude!

whoalse said...

I totally agree with the "you can take a Malaysian out of Malaysia but you can never take Malaysia out of a Malaysian". I still catch up with the news back home though being overseas (this blog included, i hope)! LoL

Even though I'm overseas but I spent most of my growing up years in Penang! I definitely hold it dear to my heart! Born and pure bred Penang Kia!!

恭喜发财, 万事如意

zewt said...

jlshyang - i just had lunch with another malaysian, he said the same thing. i guess it is in our blood.

Ivan - we can continue to have hope, but we must be careful not to make hope remain as ... hope.

myop101 - haha... not exactly strangers la. i went thru his blog before agreeing of cos :P... hahaha...

J.T. - hey...how are you? thanks for the wish... yes, malaysia is indeed in our blood no matter what.

susu kacang - no teh tarik here i am afraid... mineral water only haha!

zewt said...

sharlydia - not fans la... just a friend.

suituapui - well, of cos i will have to assess the person before i meet. and just like what svllee said... strangers are friends we have not met. your dinner... where u? sibu?

Sam - it's an easy book to read as ... there isnt much to read hehe... but it's nice nonetheless.

elvinado - thanks friend. it does give us something to ponder isnt it?

alan zed - to all our hearts too i am sure.

kyh - well, maybe we all need to spend some time overseas to see the patriot in us.

zewt said...

-=Sin=- - reunion... with wife lor :P

purple mushroom - thank you thank you :) well, i know what you mean. but the thing is... we still love our country, dont we?

svllee - i like the line about how you define strangers.

angeles - shhhh..... not so loud ya...

Angel Eyes - indeed... agree wholeheartedly.

whoalse - i guess no one can take penang out of you then :)

zorro said...

zewt, good piece on a tru patriot. I was there when he launched Malaysian. Was featured lah. will tickle steven into featuring you. that's a promise....unless you refuse to pay your summons. I don't if it is from DBKL or any town/city councils in the Klang valley.

Zawi said...

zewt,
Thanks for introducing svllee to us. I am proud of him and consider him a true Malaysian. Let us strive to make Malaysia the Malaysia that we dream of and we can all proudly claim that we are Malaysian with no hint of ethnicity. Afterall who is really a Malay when a mamak, baba, pak arab consider themselves as Malays? We are Malaysians. Period.

zewt said...

zorro - hello... hahahaha... i have no summons :)

zawi - yeah, he is indeed a true patriot... and it's good to know that the malaysian spirit is very much alive.

Poseidon said...

i'm obssessed with eurasians...so i can say i'm fascinated with the 'dan lain-lain's too...

melbie said...

Reading this post reminds me of the people around me, those Malaysians who keeps on venting how they hate to be Malaysians and went on rambling about the good things the foreigners have to offer.. so sad .. and mostly it's over the priviledge the bumiputeras have here ..

zewt said...

poseidon - hahahaha... the question is... why are you fascinated?

melbie - it's sad... but unfortunately... it is also true what they ranting about. as for us.. we just have to choose what is best for us....

Poseidon said...

wow. that's an interesting question. I don't know! maybe it's because i like being different, yet acceptable and unique at the same time.

zewt said...

poseidon - hahahaha.... okok ... i believe you... really...

narrowband said...

You can safely say that Malaysians *outside* Malaysia would tend to bond closer as one unit, regardless of their ethnicities simply because they have something in common - and that is they're from Malaysia; Malaysia's their home. This will foster very close bonding and friendship among these Malaysians (and I remind you: of various races) abroad. But once everyone is home, this so-called patriotism and unity are often lost almost too quickly.

Poseidon said...

haha... okay =D

zewt said...

narrowband - to a certain extent, you have a point... but not all the time though. unfortunate to say, all those gathering i went to... i dont see any other race.

poseidon - cheers :)