Another Kind of Narc

My eyes! My eyes! Okay, it’s not that dramatic. My eyes just don’t want to stay open. I feel like the narcoleptic Argentinian in Moulin Rouge. You so know that I’m playing “Come What May” and singing along to both Satine and Christian’s parts even though we’re well into “quiet time” here at the Peej. We could be heroes! Oh yeah. Mmmm…Ewan as Christian. Yummy.

Ohlala, the mere thought of that movie brings back a flood of good memories. I’m getting goosebumps! It’s a sign that I need to get back in contact with my RVC homegirls. I’ve been especially bad at keeping in touch with the Ismaili divas. Ferm-dawg and Ro, where you at? Ramadan Mubarak!

There’s the perfect segue into Weird Manifestation of Latent Homesickness #963: the missing of the Jewish high holidays.

In a recent e-mail to Mike, old friend and amazing resource I included a quick, “Happy Yom Kippur.” I don’t really know why I wrote that since I kept silent on Rosh Hashanah and did not forget that Yom Kippur is a solemn day of atonement. I guess I was afraid of coming across as an asshole by saying, “L’shanah tovah.”

How can wishing someone a happy new year come across as asshole-y? Obviously, you haven’t been reading long enough or else you’d know that my logic is messed up! Somehow, after many years of “Gung Hay Fat Choy!” from freaky dudes with yellow fever who, um, wanna get freaky with me, I thought that an old friend would be like, “Dude, what’s up with inappropriate use of your bad Hebrew?”

Anyway, I did not get chastised by Mike (duh!), but did get a small Hebrew lesson. Yay.

I guess I realise that I need to work out my feelings on cultural intelligence, sensitivity and ignorance. The inconsistencies in my logic and feelings have got to go.

My panties get tied into really complicated knots when other exchange students are stunningly ignorant of all things Asian. As much as it disappoints me to see Westerners unapologetically embarass themselves, I have to remember that some of the people I love and respect by home would likely give rise to the same kind of disappointment. I just know that I would cut them a little more slack. Or would I? I mean, if they were compelled to study in Singapore, couldn’t I hold them to a higher standard of cultural sensitivity and historical awareness?

I was mean to a friend after watching the brilliant Stanley Kwan film, Everlasting Regret when she said something along the lines of, “I didn’t know that Shanghai was so influenced by Art Deco.”

My little almond eyes were bugging out as far as they could (which obviously is not very far) when I sputtered, “Waaaaaaaaaaah? How could you not know?!”

Matt, my favourite Aussie and travel buddy, was equally incredulous, though more tactful in conveying his dismay. While Robert, the ever eccentric German with the Scottish-tinged accent from his studies in Edinburgh, spouted off some statistics on Art Deco architecture and artefacts in Shanghai.

Matt, Robert and I knew that our friend’s innocent declaration of ignorance was loaded. It meant that she probably knew little about the Opium War, the 1842 Treaty of Nanjing and the treaty ports and their legacy.

My poor friend countered with, “Well, they only taught us European history in school.”

This fact was acknowledged by another friend and Brit along for our night at the cinema.

Reeling, I could only get out,”But, but, but…what about universal pop culture? Aaaaaaah…the Shanghai poster girls…”

I knew that I was becoming a bit condescending and incoherent, but I couldn’t get these words out of my mouth: “Isn’t colonial history part of European history?”

We cleared everything up a few days later. I know that I overreacted in this particular instance, but there are plenty of other times when I don’t know if I should be holding my tongue. But what good is repeating, “The war happened over here too!” over and over again?

Aiya, why got to be so confusing one? Wah lau eh, this gimme tau tiah only, man. I’m going to sleep.

One Response:

  1. momolo Says:

    Isn’t colonial history part of European history?”
    i like that line!

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