So, what are you?

I’ve done it before. I was just hearing about it the other day of how people ask someone what they are, and what they actually mean to ask is what race they are. Generally, the answer to that is, “I am Bruneian/Malaysian/American/Singaporean/Indonesian” and the list goes on. Then, they correct themselves by saying, “No, I mean…what race are you?” Some people may find this annoying (I wouldn’t go as far as offensive, unless you think your own ethnic group is offensive…), and some just gladly answer without the need to go into a debate/argument on the posed question.

I asked that question, today. I didn’t think I would ask in that way, but I did. It was during lunch with a colleague I barely knew, and I asked him, “So, what are you, actually? You speak Chinese but I’m sure you’re mixed as you don’t look Chinese” He looked at me, suspiciously, “What am I? I’m Malaysian” We shared a laugh because we both knew I knew that. So, he told me he’s a Sino-Kedazan. I felt like an idiot after. Why did I pose such a question when I knew better not to? I studied Sociology for many years, for God’s sake.

Alas, I’m not perfect. And my colleague was nice enough not to cop me out on this. And he chose not to get into a debate on my question.

Many people argue about to not differentiate one another by categories such as race or nationality but I think it would be difficult to practice in the long run. While we differentiate between the upper class, middle and lower class, there will always be some sort of segregation in societies. I can’t say that this is true, generally, but it is true to an extent.

In segregation, there is ignorance, too. Let me share with you this experience I had. This isn’t the first time, but the previous time it happened was when I was still in high school. So, to have experienced it in my adult life…is something to think about:

Person #1: Ey, Emie, kau Muslim kan? (translation: Ey, Emie, you’re Muslim, right?)

Me: Eh, bukan lah. (translation: Eh, nope.)

Person #2 to #1: Tapi ia urang Melayu. Bukan Muslim tapi Melayu. Urang Brunei bah. (translation: But she’s Malay. Not Muslim but Malay. She is Bruneian.)

At this point, they started to talk among each other and I couldn’t butt in. I was gonna correct them but I didn’t. I saw no point as I corrected her the first time she asked me. Obviously, she seemed to have forgotten or ignored my correction. Hmm.

What struck me the most is the, “she’s Malay, not Muslim but Malay. (because) she’s Bruneian”. This saddens me.

But, not too sad. I associate myself with my ethnicity i.e. Iban. But, I seem to only associate to it by name because I don’t speak much of the language, I don’t practice much of the customs (except for Gawai), and I don’t even know much about the traditions. Now, that is sad!

Having said that though, I am Iban-Bruneian. There were times when people questioned this; “Ah so you’re from Sarawak? What? How can you be Bruneian?” LIKE REALLY?!

I was born and raised here. I speak Bruneian. I eat ambuyat. I drink Tuak on special occasions. I visit my dad’s longhouse sometimes. I celebrate National Day by praying for us. I wear a headscarf to Malay weddings sometimes. I get defensive when my foreign colleagues say that Yasmine would be a boring film… Haha.

BRUNEI: indeed a land of unexpected treasures.



Heritage vs Culture and between Love and Trust.

Below is the exact post I have on my Facebook:

After the wedding reception, I went to the after-party at my friend’s (i.e. the groom) place and his family was all there. He’s mixed Berawan and English so can you imagine the crowd?

I got to taste Tuak Berawan-style and it was less lethal than the Tuak Iban. Lol and I even got to dance their traditional Berawan dance a little as a mark of respect. It isn’t that different to Ngajat Iban.

It was nice to be in touch with a heritage that’s similar to mine…celebrated and respected. Didn’t think Miri could surprise me this way.

Brunei, could you?


The solemnization ceremony between Jeff & Lydia that afternoon was emotional and beautiful; what more held on the beach! :) Reception was a bit more systematic, but I guess I’m speaking from a non-relative perspective. The after-party at Jeff’s was great! ;)

But there is that downside about weddings for me. People already finding their additional happiness in someone else who makes them better.

There was a moment that I managed to witness when Jeff cups his wife’s face in his hands after she took a shot of an alcoholic drink that his mum offered her. She doesn’t usually drink so I’m guessing Jeff was saying “well done, love, you did alright :)”. They shared a moment of re-assurance and inter-dependence between each other. Like, awwww. Ha.

What is your favourite wedding moment?



Can I just share that I’m coming to my 4th month of self-employment? It’s unnecessary information but it’s new to me. Haha. I’m self-employed because I do graphics/music editing, cooking and finding what it is I aim for my future. I didn’t take a break after my undergraduate so it is only fair that I rest and sit down to really think things through before making that decision. The decision to make or break my career. Which I’ve yet to confirm. I’m learning things along the way, too. About possibly starting a business. About side incomes through watching the market. Things like that. I still do networking here and there – brush up my communications skills. Haha, so it’s not all that bad in self-employment.

I’ve been discussing with a friend of mine about American politics and general current affairs around the world. The society he’s grown up in is very different to that of mine, so it was quite intriguing to listen to his perspective on things. What more with the advances in technology, the time differences between us do not deter us from sharing our opinions and insights on world issues. This keeps my sociological interest alive! Heh. culturally, we are very different, but as time goes by, we are not that different, individually. It’s funny how our friendship started…with a simple question about one’s country then boom. It makes me wonder about cultural differences not completely influencing our individual selves. Or that maybe we don’t really have cultural differences…just different perspectives? Something like that. This diversity is all too interesting, though. Life is interesting. Heh. God, I miss uni!

I love this quote by the great Stephen Fry,

The human cultural jungle should be as varied and plural as the Amazonian rainforest. We are all richer for biodiversity. We may decide that a puma is worth more to us than a caterpillar, but surely we can agree that the habitat is all the better for being able to sustain each

The world’s an amazing place to explore. Hence my desire to travel. Or to network. It opens up your horizons and the possibilities of many things. Ahhh :)

Chase your dreams, me lovelies.