It is humbling to be in a country where you are the foreigner, the visitor, the one looking like no one else around. People stop me in the street, just to ask me where I’m from and why I’m here. They are always so polite and truly interested, they really can’t grasp why anyone would travel so far just to come to Malaysia. And then we talk some more, about the weather, the food, the children. Children stare at me and can’t quite understand what I am, I am so white compared to anyone they have ever seen before.
Of course there are other foreigners here but not around Taman Sri Lambak where we live or Kluang, the bigger city about 11 kilometers away. I saw a white man in the supermarket, we waved at each other. That is how few white people you get here. In Kuala Lumpur it is of course different, there you have loads of tourists and people working in the city for some big company. But still people would stop us just to look at our children and me and ask where we were from.
I am a social person, sometimes a bit too much I guess. I love talking to people, and I guess that is one reason why I have fallen head over heels over this wonderful country and its people. I have had long talks with people in the shop, people that I probably will never meet again but that doesn’t matter. The thing that matters is that here, people truly see each other and have time for each other. Sure, the smartphones are here too, we see families eating in restaurants with a phone in one hand and fork in the other. No one talks, everyone tap taps away on the teeny tiny shiny phones. But they are few and far between. Here, family is the most important of all, everything else comes after it.
In the last few days we are feeling the distance from our own family. Back home my husband’s older sister has been through hell. She was attacked at work and is now in intensive care in our local hospital. The attacker used a knife to her throat and it was very close to ending very badly. Being so far away at a time like this is very surreal, it is hard to believe that it has happened and to her of all people. And in Sweden, a country that used to be known for being such a safe and lovely country. The times are changing and fast. Sometimes I don’t feel like I belong anymore, I am beginning to turn into that cranky old lady who complains about how things are not as they used to be.
But things are not as they used to be and I guess that is a curse and a blessing all mixed together into something we call the present. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow hasn’t arrived. Let’s do our best to make today a wonderful day. Hug your loved ones, help a stranger cross the road, give a hungry man a meal, just do something. And put your smartphone down, it won’t kill you.