I was queried by some of my Arab students to why Malays consume rice everyday especially in the morning. They were quite an observant lot, questioning the rationale of our food intake which is dissimilar to theirs. These big guys feel that rice is too heavy to be taken in the wee hours(wee hours according to their time is between 8am to 11am)and our habit somehow nauseated them. In comparison to their appetite, the food that we take makes us look like Gorgons!
I paused(an act of transmitting a message that I am more intelligent than them)and looked outside for awhile before I continued.
My explanations quantum leaped from the early times, reasoning with them how the Malays slaved themselves working in acres and acres of paddy fields to earn a living. Naturally, they required adequate amount of carbohydrate to work under the hot sun. As rice could be found in abundance, it became the staple food for the Malay community. A necessity became a habit which later progressed to a norm and in time it was ingrained in the genes of the Malays. A word of advice to my students was not to be ethnocentric to culture or ways that are strange to them. I explained further of the geographical factors that governed each race. For instance the Arabs live in the deserts. The hardships of the dry land in many ways have influenced their personalities and even the types of clothing they wear. Food of the Arabs are ones that could survive in the extreme weather or grown in the wadi around, such as sheep and dates. They nodded their heads in agreement and seemed to understand the discussion. I was pleased to see the expressions of empathy from the faces of these tough guys. The contentment to know that I was able to impart such comprehensions of our culture and tradition was beyond the lesson plan intended that day.
As the class was about to adjourn, like always, I asked if there was anything they wanted to know or found different in this new country. One tall chap walked towards me and asked "I only have the one question for you. Why teacher here in the morning, I always see many people eat a the rice?"
I paused yet again, looked outside and instead of trying to appear intelligent, I composed the sweetest smile, picked up my bag, and headed straight to the cafe for the compulsory dose of rice. My brain needed some carbo!
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Posted by Wiz at 12:03 AM