I had lunch with a German colleague of mine. I laughed when he mentioned, “OK laa.” I immediately responded with, “So you’re speaking like a Malaysian already.”

Then the following conversation started. Disclaimer: these are not the actual words exchanged but inspired by true conversations in recalling a true event.

TG: Zidni, let me tell you a story. Last week the two cops pulled me over because I crossed over a solid line. But everybody was doing it.
AZ: Whoa, how did that go?
TG: Well, I wanted to step out of the car but they asked me to stay inside and just roll the windows down, and so I did.
AZ: OK, then what happened?
TG: They asked for my driver license. I said I left it at home. The cops thought that was quite an offence. I told them, there’s higher risk of losing it if I brought it with me, so that’s why I left it at home.
AZ: Then, was there any other documents you have with you at that time?
TG: I showed them my foreign assignment and passport, but the cops were still mulling over what to do with me. There were going, “so… how do we this. What should we do about you…”
AZ: Well, that sounded like they were waiting for…
TG: Then I handed them MYR50 to settle it. After that, the cops went *shooop* (real sound effect), their expressions bloomed in happiness! They even held other traffic to make way for me to back off a bit before joining back the main road.
AZ: Omg!!! So the guys want to make quick bucks of a Mat salleh? (TG understands this local term for expat/foreigners)
TG: Well, it’s not everyday they see an expat driving myvi.
AZ: LOL. Omg. I am so not proud of that at all. Malaysian cops shouldn’t behave like that.
TG: I told you that story, because you mentioned blending in Malaysia. That was a classic example, of really, really tuning into it. [pause] So the cops here are underpaid, I guess? (At this point, I sense that a German friend of mine is diagnosing the economics issue in Malaysia.)
AZ: Cops, teachers, doctors… (in my mind: enforcement, education, health care) I am so against those who claim that we’re a developed nation. In reality, we’re way behind other developing nations!

After that, he bought me a cup of Haagen Dazs and asked, “Zidni, did you know that this ice-cream has no German origin whatsoever? It was named to sound European…”