Minor things that grate on my nerves

I used to be easily annoyed. Now, as I got older and more mature (keh keh keh) I find that it is harder to get annoyed. I usually shrug and whisper “whatever” whenever some folly of humankind impose itself upon me. As an adult, I’ve learned to live and let live. Mamposlah orang nak buat apa, why should it bother me. Right? However, there are some things that really make me want to pull my hair out.

(Note: these are minor things. Major things that piss me off belong to another entry altogether.)

1. Students who want to “get into top universities” but ask me stupid questions.

Every other week I get an email that goes like this:

Dear Mr Ramly,

My name is so-and-so and I am a very awesome student, and I would like to apply to MIT and do a triple major in Nuclear Engineering, European History, and Evolutionary Biology, with minor in Art Theory and Classical Greek. Now can you tell me whether I need to take the SAT exam?

My answer: 2 seconds on fucking Google, Einstein.

My friend Nathaniel Tan (a Harvard graduate, and currently an interviewer for Harvard applicants in Malaysia) says it best: “If you cannot find the answer yourself, they you can’t go to Harvard”.

By the way, my name is Suhaimi and not Ramly. Ramly is my father’s name. I don’t care that orang putih use first name-surname system. Here in Malaysia, Malays use patronymic system, which means that my father’s name is at the back.

So it is Suhaimi (on first name basis) or Mr. Suhaimi (if you want to address me politely), not Mr. Ramly. Ada paham? If you are a Malaysian you should understand Malay names, no bullshit excuse accepted. Do you call the current PM Dato Seri Razak?

(Of course if orang putih makes this mistake, it is ok.)

2. People who introduce themselves as Haji so-and-so or Hajah so-and-so, and feel offended when they are not referred to as Haji or Hajah.

Me (first time meeting someone): My name is Suhaimi, here is my card.

Haji: Oh, thanks. This is my card.

Me (looking at card): Hmmm…Encik Shamsul, what does your company do?

Haji: *ahem* HAJI Shamsul.

Cheh, riyak nak mampos.

I know this is a minor point, but in my family it is a big deal. Let me tell you a story. I used to draft letters for my father because he doesn’t use Microsoft Words. One day, I drafted a letter for him, where I put Haji in front of his name. Then I printed the letter. When he looked at the letter, he told me that he won’t sign the letter and then he crumpled the letter and threw it in the rubbish bin. I had to edit the letter, and delete all the Haji. Then only he signed it.

The title Haji is unnecessary. If you say otherwise, then you are wrong, for a very simple reason: none of the original Muslims (i.e., companions of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w) who performed Hajj ever titled themselves Haji or Al-Haj.

“But Suhaimi,” you may say, “it’s not a religiously mandated title, but it is a sign of respect in our society”. Fine, if it is merely a sign of respect, then let it be so, and nothing more. I routinely call elderly people Haji or Hajah as a sign of respect. But, demanding people give you respect and acting offended kononnya tak dapat respect, is stupid and smack of arrogance.

3. People (usually old friends) who ask me out to lunch or dinner just “to chat” but actually want to sell me something.

Grrr…assholes. Look, I am a businessman, and I do deals and negotiations and sales and meetings all day long. When you ask me out just to chat and hang out, it makes me happy. There are few things more enjoyable than spending time with old friends gossiping and reminiscing about the good old days — away from my daily business.

But you MUST spoil it by taking out a catalog, or pulling out a proposal, or telling me about a “new, irresistible business opportunity”. Listen, if I want to do business, I’ll do it in the office. I am not a bisnes kedai kopi guy. I do proper business: black & white, brick & mortar punya business.

If you want to do business, or have a business proposal to discuss, please say so upfront. Let me know beforehand if you just want to lepak lepak or if you want to do business. Don’t tell me you just want to have a chat and then suddenly shove a “business proposal” to my face. That shit pisses me off.

4. Men with weak handshake

It is courteous to shake hands firmly. I am surprised that most people still do not know the proper way to shake hands (I am talking about men). Men should shake hands using one hand only. None of the two hands bullshit like artis2 bersalam waktu malam raya di Tv3. And you don’t need to pump your hand vigorously; a brief, firm grip will do. Also no need to afterwards bring your hands towards your mouth or towards your chest selepas salam…ala-ala perempuan melayu yang ayu…kekeke

A man’s handshake tells a lot about himself. If his handshake is weak and soft, then that person is indecisive, doubtful, effeminate, or all of the above. On the other hand, a firm handshake tells me that the person is confident, strong and competent. Bear this in mind the next time you go for a job interview.

I don’t know about females, I don’t shake hands with them. I think it might be different; Malay women I see always shake hands in the gentlest way possible, not gripping each other’s hands but rather softly rubbing each other’s palms or sometimes only the fingers. Salam macam nak tak nak jer. Perhaps a woman’s handshake is the opposite of a man’s handshake — the softer the better. I don’t know.

5. People who speak English with horrible grammar, but trying too hard to sound like American or British accent.

Hahahahahahahahaa…ok to be fair, these people don’t really grate on my nerves, but they tickle my funny bone…hehehehee keh keh keh

I think these people are the funniest creatures to watch, much funnier than a group of farting baby pandas. It’s hilarious to see these mat saleh celup struggling to roll their R’s and blunt their T’s and inserting “like, like” every other sentence (hohohoho…macam valley girl lah konon) while butchering their grammar real bad. Manglish pon manglish lah, janji ada slang hollywood. Lawak giler.

Usually yg macam ni ialah graduate oversea yang tak bergaul dengan orang luar sangat (banyak lepak dengan orang melayu di kg melayu) so the only thing they pick up from their time there is the “sleng” and not the proper way to communicate. Ye lah, nanti balik malaysia boleh show off “sleng” baru depan mak bapak.

I, too, butcher grammar all the time but I never had the pretention to speak in any Western accent. I speak like a typical malay, just like an Indon speaks english in Indon accent, a Chinese speaks english in chinese accent, a Frenchie speaks english in french accent etc. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. What you should be ashamed of is trying too hard to mimic American (or British) accent and FAILING HARD.

Accent comes from lifetime immersion — if you get your primary and secondary education in America or UK or Australia or someplace like that, or if you work long enough in those countries (I am talking 20-30 years. 2 bulan intership tak kira) then you might acquire some natural accent. Even then the accent comes after you get the mechanics of the language right: idioms, grammar, syntax, enunciation. Laaaaaaaaaast sekali baru dapat accent. Bukannya tengok filem dan MTV tetiba boleh cakap sleng mat salleh. Kekekekeeee…


One Response to Minor things that grate on my nerves

  1. Mat says:

    indeed, the 2nd comment shows how obsessed are some of our people with titles (Datuk, etc.)…why do we need others to pronounce our names too long, anyway…i agree with the 5th statement that slang requires time & perhaps, exposure for it to develop naturally

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