Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Malaysian Indians: Definitive Definition.

An ad agency babe whom sometimes I freelance with gave me a buzz and mailed me a query on a Deepavali ad layout they have been working on. The note from the client goes:

“Check the word 'Hindu' coz I believe should be Indian friends.

Hindu is only targeted to Singh/ Punjabi?”

It’s mind-boggling because the ad clearly belongs to a Malaysian company and I wonder which cave the knucklehead has been living in and how long since his ancestors stopped evolving. But then, there might be more of them and I guess it’s my duty being a Malaysian born of Indian extract to define what a Malaysian Indian is.

But before that I need a few drinks first.

Phew. Anyway, Malaysian Indians are also known as Indian Malaysians as they are born in Malaysia but are of Indian origin. For example, my grandfather is from Kerala, India, who left his family and joined the Indian national army (1940s) and got himself here, married my grandmother, sired my father who sired me, who at this very moment is annoying you with grandpa stories.

Malaysian Indians, henceforth to be known as MI (I know, it’s also acronym for Mission: Impossible, but we were first, Tom) are mostly Hindu and the Hindus don’t always go to the same temple, they go to 3 billion temples in the country (including the little altars by trees). Apart from Hindus there are Punjabis who are Sikhs who goes with the name Singh a lot and have for long time suffered from the butt end of Sardharji jokes. Then, you have the Christians, but wait! Not only there are MI Christians, but they are divided by two main denominations, mainly the Catholics and the Protestants. The latter is further divided by the Methodists & various organisations with titles like Church of Heaven’s Gate or something. Then, there are Buddhist MIs, Baha’ian MIs and I am not sure, but the possibility of Scientologists and some could even be members of the Raëlian cult. There are of course, atheists, agnostics and freethinkers among them. Also not to mention lawyers who are often associated with different animal category altogether, namely reptile.

That’s religion. What about the language MIs speak? Well, majority are Tamil speaking folks, and some who call themselves a Tamil can’t speak one and when they do attempt to speak you feel like slamming them with folded chair. Then, there are the Malayalees, the Singhalese, the Tamil Ceylonese, and despite the fact that the three names rhyme, put them together they will not be able to understand each other even with sign languages especially as it might end up showing only one finger. The descendents are all from southern part of Indian, and I’ve missed Telugus whose language sound like Tamil amidst crunching Murukkus.

Then of course there are those who’s descendents from other part of India, namely the abovementioned Punjabis, Gujaratis and Sindhis and possibly Bigfoot seeing that the latter is supposedly tall and hairy too. Okay, I was kidding. A word about Punjabis. They are often referred to as Banggali here by other Indians, which really miffs our turbaned friends. Banggali is a modified version of Benggali, most of whom populate Bangladesh and here in KLCC during public holidays. Punjabis should be correctly referred to as Bhayee.

Now, let me go to politics. There are various parties representing the Malaysian Indians. There used to be a party called Malaysian Indian Congress, which was “killed” at the previous election and are now populated by Zombie members. They are still active for no apparent reasons but to be object of hatred by the entire Indian communities in Malaysia. Its president is so reviled that mention of his name, most MI’s would want to spit at both of your eyes, and yet he has been the leader of that party for more than two decades. That’s Malaysian Indian for you.

As to other parties, to make my job easier here, let me hijack a posting from my brother’s blog.

With the formation of Uthayakumar’s PAHAM (Parti Hak Asasi Manusia), Indian Malaysian votes are bound to be split further in terms of political allegiance. There are already substantial Indian Malaysians in MIC, PPP and Gerakan in BN, BN friendly IPF, MUIP, HINDRAF offshoot MMSP while also increasingly in PKR and DAP in Pakatan Rakyat and not to forget PR friendly PSM.

I suspect my brother did heavy boozing after writing that post, poor guy. Don’t laugh, that is a very serious post and I too have gone cross-eyed reading those acronyms. But the MIs, who are already divided by religions & languages swear their allegiance to any one of them…most of which are led by lawyers by the way. Of course there are some like yours truly who would rather impale ourselves rather than associating us with those knuckleheaded parties.

Let’s move on to the cultural side. Each languages mentioned above have its own cultural legacy, be it traditional ones and modern ones. Festivities celebrated differ depending on the religion and language. The most interesting is the date for New Year, whereby Tamils, Telugus and Malayalees all have different ones. The Sikhs celebrate Vaisakhi on the same day as Tamil’s New Year, but you still call them Bhayee (okay, enough Bhayee ribbing, you should actually call them Banggaali).

Speaking of culture, the Tamil films (from India) rules supreme here. Well, not supreme but sometimes the collection is on par with Hollywood and Hong Kong films, considering that Indians are only around 8% of the total population and the Tamils are only part of that. Anyway, the Tamil films screened on both big & small screens all over Malaysia serve as important source to credit anytime someone, usually lawyers or politician or both gets jumpy about the high crime rate among MI’s.

So, I have covered roughly all you need to know about MIs. We are a nice bunch of people, keeping our head down, living a regular life, occasionally getting water cannoned and tear gassed for supporting organisations that last as long as a dung beetle, but nice nevertheless, being a good citizen of Malaysia. Unless, of course, if we’ve just watched a Tamil film….

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Grouch, you forgot that there's muslim MI's too.. haha..

Rakesh Kumar said...

But...never mind. Thanks for the reminder and for reading :)

ஜோ/Joe said...

As usual ,excellent post with lot of humour :)

Yeah ,You missed MI muslims ,But i can guess why :)

Rakesh Kumar said...

Thanks for reading, Joe. Well...you probably know anyway...:)

Yoganathan.N said...

Thalafanz said...

//they go to 3 billion temples in the country (including the little altars by trees).//

Banyaknya...

//Well, majority are Tamil speaking folks, and some who call themselves a Tamil can’t speak one and when they do attempt to speak you feel like slamming them with folded chair.//
Agreed... I come across these kind of cockroaches most of the times...

//there are the Malayalees, the Singhalese, the Tamil Ceylonese, and despite the fact that the three names rhyme, put them together they will not be able to understand each other even with sign languages especially as it might end up showing only one finger.//

lol lol lol

//Telugus whose language sound like Tamil amidst crunching Murukkus.//

Hahaha

//We are a nice bunch of people, keeping our head down, living a regular life, occasionally getting water cannoned and tear gassed for supporting organisations that last as long as a dung beetle//

lol True...

Good post bro... Really enjoyed reading it... Thumbsup

Rakesh Kumar said...

Thanks for reading, Yoga. Hope to see you here more often. Noticed that you do update yours...will visit it time to time.

Anonymous said...

love, love, love..LOL!

Snuze said...

Here via your comment at Helen Ang's blog. Love the post and here's hoping that you'd write moar!

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