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Thursday, April 20, 2006 

Made In Manchester

How do you go from a somebody to a nobody in a matter of 13 hours and 32 minutes?

No, I am not talking about getting burnt in the stock market crash.

No, I am not talking about gambling your life savings away.

And no, I am not talking about losing your loved ones.

How do you go from a somebody to a nobody in a matter of 13 hours and 32 minutes?

How do you do that?


I just went to Manchester.

When people ask me, “How was Manchester?” I will reply, “Cold, like her people.”

Funny how the way I see people of other race and religion is different from how they see me. Racism is soooo last century. But sadly it still exists. Haven't anyone watched Crash?!

I solemnly swear that I will refrain from calling caucasians mat sallehs, gwai loh or gwai por. I will not shorten the word Bangladeshi to Banglas, Indonesians as Indons, Indians as kelings, so on and so forth, harmless as it may seem. It really is not funny when you are at the receiving end, what more if you are in a foreign country.

My first encounter was at the airport. All of my colleagues and clients (caucasians, malay and chinese) made it through the immigration check point effortlessly. It has to happen to me lah.

The immigration officer (I should have taken down his name for future “reference”) eyed me suspiciously and we had 10 minutes of meaningful repartee. I noticed he spoke, he pronounced each vowel with extreme care for my benefit. I can see his tonsils from the way he stretched his lips.

Immigration Officer: Your first time here miss?
Bonnie: No. My second, actually.
IO: Can I see your passport?
B: Of course. *dig, dig*
IO: You are here on holiday or work?
B: Holiday.
IO: Alone?
B: With my friends. *hand gesture to all who were waiting*
IO: How long are you staying?
B: 10 days.
IO: You planning to go back?
B: Of course! I bought my return ticket.
IO: Can I see it?
B: Here you go, you pompous arse. (gotcha! I made the last bit up!)
IO: Did you buy this ticket? Did you pay for it?
B: Abuden? Of course!!!
IO: Where will you be staying?
B: I don’t have the address, but it’s in Manchester lah. *hollers to my colleague, Ms. J.

*1 minute discussion between IO and Ms J. Bonnie meanwhile crosses her arms and rolls her eyes*

IO: Okay. You can go.
B: *$@#&!!!

What do I look like, a chink prostie or a guerilla?! We came in a group of mixed race and religion. Surely that must count for something, no?

Okaaay..I thought maybe I shan’t tar everyone with the same brush although that left me with a nasty taste in the mouth. Maybe that was just one asshole who fought with wifey in the morning hence the first class treatment.

2 days later, Ms. J and I ventured into Old Trafford stadium as she was keen to visit the Manchester United store. As we were chatting and strolling, 3 caucasian dudes walked towards us with a cheeky, “Hi!” I smiled but didn’t say anything in response. They walked past us and retorted with an audible, “You dark skin!”

My smile froze on my cheeks and I didn't know how quite to react. Ms. J continued chatting as she was oblivious of the nasty exchange.


I wondered what triggered off the uncalled-for racist remark.

Was it my clothes? My smile? The unrequited greeting? I wasn't wearing my Sunday best nor was I in the friendliest of moods, but surely that wasn't offensive as heck?

Whatever it was, there were only 2 of us gals against 3 fat arses in a foreign country. So I did a Johnnie Walker - shut my trap and kept walking.

When God showed me the ugly, He also showed me the beautiful.

Those 2 incidents aside, I also encountered some nice people as well. Like the friendly waiter at the Chinese take-out place. And the gentleman who helped me with my luggage on the Virgin train. Or the elderly couple who took pictures of me and my friend, Ms. A. Some treated me with thinly-veiled contempt and others with extreme kindness.

England's quaint little villages can be one of the most beautiful places on earth provided if her people are just as beautiful. I have not seen all of England yet, but I hope someday I will.

So there you go. The good, the bad and the ugly.

Funny, I never got that when I was in England. Manchester included. England being England is very multi-ethnic and cultural, but you are right, in more ways than one, racism exists. To think that they are all used to different kinds of people and such.

Oh well. It's THEIR issue. Not yours.

racism is about the feeling of superiority of one race to another. What really upset me is not being treated bad by others, it is the feeling of inferiority towards one's own race and culture, especially in a young culture like us Malaysian.

Seen people refuse to admit of their own race? pretending to be some mix blood? Chinese who refuse to wear chinese? Malay who refuse to eat Malay food? Indians who refuse speak indian?

OR, easiest way, when you were in a foreign country and you met a person who you know is a Malaysian. Chat up with him a bit, then suddenly pop this out: "Hey you really have a Malaysian accent, You r a Malaysian?"

Most probably you would have offended him already.

Chill, be a Malaysian, a Chinese. And most importantly, be proud about it. Nobody can do nothing to change that.

Verne: It's only my issue when they are racist TO me lah. Otherwise I don't bother. Thanks for dropping by! :)

Clyde: I'll slap the next Malaysian who went abroad a few years and claim they forgot their mother tongue.

people closer to london are not so crude with their remarks. As you go up north the racist remarks and actions become more outright. I used to get called a 'stupid chink' sometimes.

I was relaying my experiences with someone and she told me her father got it worse, Her father, Indian by birth, was an eye surgeon in Manchester. He offers free surgery to the poor but when he steps out into the street, people would yell, "Go back to Pakistan!"

That explains 2 things:
1) Stupid people exist
2) Stupid people don't know their Geography

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