Saturday, August 4, 2012

What our history books never told us!

How many of us know the true story of how the Dutch managed to conquer Malacca? This is the based on what really happened after the fall of the Portuguese in Southeast Asia which we would not have learned from out school history text books.

The Johor Sultanate was seeking to get rid of the Portuguese to regain control over Malacca. But the admiral of Johor, Tun Abdul Jamil knew that would be difficult since the Portuguese were far more advanced than his army in terms of weaponry. The only way that was possible if Johor joined forces with the Dutch.

Johor with its European ally assaulted and wrested Malacca from the Portuguese in January 1641. This combined Dutch-Johor effort effectively destroyed the last bastion of Portuguese power, removing their influence in the Malay archipelago.

Tun Abdul Jamil was thankful to the Dutch for their help and asked if they wanted anything in return. The Dutch simply asked for a piece of land in Malacca which was as wide as a piece of dried up cow's skin. Thinking that is nothing much, the Johor admiral permitted the Dutch to take any part of Malacca that they wanted. In his mind, Jamil thought the Dutch were complete idiots for asking something like that.

But once an agreement was signed between Tun Abdul Jamil and a representative from the Dutch East India Company, the Dutch traders started cutting the piece of cow's skin and turned into a long rope. The rope was then tied from one end of the Malacca port right up to the other end of it. The great Malacca port now belonged to the Dutch.

With the port now no longer within their property, Tun Abdul Jamil felt there was no longer any need to own Malacca and thus gave the whole kingdom to the Dutch. That is how Malacca fell from one foreign power to the hands of another foreign power.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Which one is better: the macho alpha male, or the chocolate boy-next-door type?

Not too long ago, I was watching another episode of the famous talk show from Chennai, Neeya Naana, where they invite members of society from different walks of lives and split them up into two groups representing two different points of views. This episode was about which kind of boy makes a good friend and/or partner – either the Chocolate boy, or the alpha male.

One thing that took me by surprise is my stereotyping that traditional and country girls are the ones who are into alpha males, while their modern and urban counterparts are into Chocolate boys was wrong.  Both sides – the pro-Chocolate boys and pro-alpha males had both city girls and village bells amongst them.

Firstly, host Gopinath started off by asking the pro-Chocolates on what characteristics determine whether a guy is a Chocolate boy, and these were their response:
- Low waist jeans
- Neat hair style
- Shoes according to attire – with socks
- Accessories that almost look feminine
- Shades
- Friendly - wants to friends with girls
- Smart and intelligent
- Expressive, or not too reserved
- Approachable – they don’t look scary
- Thick hairstyles
- Mostly silent
- Cute smile
- Decent-looking - nice to look at
- Well groomed
- Charm surrounds their aura – the way they carry themselves
- Clean shaven or light stubbles – absolutely no thick moustache or beards

Next, he asked the girls from the pro-Alpha males’ side what it takes for a boy to be labelled an Alpha Male. This is what most of them said:
- Probably lots of piercings and maybe a tattoo
- Muscular physique and is not shy to show if off by wearing tight shirts
- Loves speeding on the road
- Big metal bangle
- Military haircut,
- First button of shirt always open
- Rowdy-like
- Always looks angry – looks fearsome
- Beard, even a little goatee
- Unshaved  (one girl said it’s sexy if he has a thick moustache and twists and curls it constantly) =P
- Scary-looking, but this still makes them seductive
- Stubborn - these girls find this sexy (!)
- Looks like an authentic Tamil guy! (This means I’m not Tamil...)
- Appears to be unclean
- Good physique – makes the girls feel safe
- Overprotective
- Nice height and huge guns
- No make-up or products on face and hair

These are also some of the names these girls give to Chocolate boys:
- Cutie pie
- Honey boy
- Chemete pasenge
- Ice cream boy
- Choco larva
- Amul baby
- Puppy boy
- Gulab jabbu
- Teddy bear

And these are what the pro-Alphas call Alpha Males. Do try to resist from laughing:
- Chilli curry (huh?!)
- Macha (!)
- Dum (Tamil for ‘cigarette’)
- Morutu pasenga (Tamil for ‘angry boys’)
- Uruga (Tamil for ‘pickle’ - I know right?!)
- Chellam poriki (Tamil for ‘beloved pervert’ – now you know how weird this is all becoming)
- Virumandi (an iconic Tamil movie character who is a country brute)

The host then went on to ask the pro-Chocolates what it is about Alpha Males that make them undesirable. Since I personally often find myself to be within a circle of Beta Males, I could easily relate to this group of girls. One girl was outspoken enough to admit that the very sight of an Alpha Male makes her want to slap them, and give them some advice on how to treat girls properly. That might have been a little too aggressive. But the next girl revealed that from her experience with Alpha Males was that they are often intimidated by strong and independent women. She personally has been called names like Queen Elizabeth for speaking English fluently by some Alpha Males. Another girl confessed that Alpha Males roughness and their piercing and tattooing make them appear like scary gangsters, immediately making them unsuitable candidates to be taken home to meet one’s parents. One girls even claimed Alpha Males used their overprotective nature as a reason to be dominating and often possessive and jealous, which make them control freaks.

When it was the pro-Alphas’ turn to speak up on why Chocolate boys are undesirable, they spared no time in pointing out that Chocolate boys are mostly hypocrites as they are often society-conscious and have to hide who they really are. I am not sure if I fit the bill to have what it takes to be called a Chocolate boy, but I know I am surely not an Alpha Male. I will never admit to being a hypocrite, but yes, I suppose I am rather society-conscious. But I have a good reason for it. Always being in my best behaviour keeps me grounded and guards my family and society’s good name. So far, I have never given anyone the reason to misjudge my parents or how they have brought me up. But does that make me a hypocrite? I am not sure.

One thing that the pro-Alphas said about Chocolates that I simply cannot accept is that they claimed that Chocolates are not protective and will run away the minute a problem arises. This is why they feel they cannot do anything with a Chocolate boy. He is nothing more than a teddy bear. A rough guy however would be daring enough to at least scare off, if not fight off whoever who is disturbing the girls they care about. Sure, a civilised and well cultured young man would not intend to be involved in something as brutal as a physical fight, but I am sure he will do anything to protect his girl. Maybe just grab her hand and run for it. Well, that is something I will do... and HAVE done in the past. Hehe...

Another pro-Alpha said that the fact that Chocolate boys are approachable is unfavourable to a girl because it gives them the tendency to be flirtatious, or even players since other girls will want to hang out with them. At this point, I almost yelled at my computer screen, “Girl! There is a difference between being flirtatious and being friendly!” But that was not all. She went on by saying that because of their urbanity, Chocolate boys suffer from superiority complex because they feel inferior when compared to Westerners who they try so hard to imitate.  And I was like, “I beg your pardon!!!” She said Tamil guys must be rough and rustic. Instead, these Chocolate boys are copying Westerners too much to the extent that their lifestyle which includes going to clubs and fornicating is damaging our tradition and religion. Ahem, hello. I have lived in England for a couple of years now and I can say I have never stepped into a club, nor have I fornicated ever. Thank you.

If you think that is all they had to say, then you are wrong. The last girl from the pro-Alphas to speak said that the reason the girls from the other side loved Chocolate boys is simply because they want a manservant rather than a friend or spouse. Chocolate boys are so soft that there is nothing manly about him. So much so that girls can easily dominate them and make these boys do whatever they want. In other words, Chocolate boys are potentially Pak Turut-type. Wow!

After a commercial break, the host asked the pro-Alphas what is it about rough boys that actually make them sought-after, despite the setbacks as pointed out by the pro-Chocolates. The first girl finds Alpha Males’ bad boy attitude sexy. The fact that they are arrogant and pull it off so well at pretending to be uninterested with girls simply makes them much more attractive to her. These girls also love Alpha Males’ courage. They are not society conscious and are brave enough to hit on girls anywhere at any time.  If their ego demands them to question something they don’t like, then they will. Also, these girls find Alpha Males to be more committed in a relationship when compared to their softer counterparts. Well, that is simply because nobody wants them, maybe! Hehe...

But some of the pro-Alpha girls exposed some parts of their upbringing and mentality that one should avoid from revealing on national TV. One of them said opposites attract. Fair enough. It seems girls are supposed to be soft and boys must be rough. It is only natural. It will be difficult for a soft girl to be with a boy as soft as a Chocolate.  Stereotyping much? As if that is not enough, she went on to say that boys must be dominating, girls must be compromising! The heck! Another girl added on that unlike Alpha Males, Chocolate boys want independent girls, who are very individualistic. This often leads to divorce and other marital problems. I was like, “Girl! Stop!” When questioned by the host, these girls admitted that their inspiration includes their own old school fathers and even punch-dialogue-talking Tamil movie heroes. No surprise there.

Tamil mass heroes who speak punch dialogues and are always ready to be involved in a fight like Simbu (pic) and Vijay are what the pro-Alphas deem the perfect Tamil boy.

Then it was the pro-Chocolates’ turn to explain why they are more interested in Chocolate boys. The girls immediately admitted that they liked boys who looked well-groomed and posh as it showed their status in society and level of education. The host was quick in pointing out that this made them appear to be rather materialistic in the sense they wanted to show off their posh friend or spouse. But the girls gained momentum by stating that this was not merely for status but for their own future and security as well. A Chocolate boy always dressed immaculately, if not stylishly and this reflected his background and profession - making him a suitable candidate to be introduced to one’s parents and take along to social functions.

Another girl claimed that all her guy friends, brothers and male cousins are the Chocolate boy-type.  Since she has grown up surrounded by Chocolate boys, she wants a Chocolate boy as her future husband too. The host then asked her, rather cynically, if her father too is a Chocolate boy, to which the poor girl fell silent.  Well of course he is no chocolate boy in today’s sense. Similarly, an Alpha Male of today would be a Chocolate boy if taken back a few decades back. Time has changed everything. If I was that embarrassed little girl, I would rebut by saying my dad is definitely a Chocolate boy based on the standards of his time, provided her dad was a Chocolate boy back then of course.

Just like the girls from the pro-Alphas, the pro-Chocolate girls are equally influenced by movies. But unlike the pro-Alphas who are affected by these mass hero Tamil masala films, the pro-Chocolates draw their inspiration from Mani Ratnam movies and Bollywood chick flicks like Alaipayuthey and Jaane Tu Ya Jaanne Naa.  I WAS WAITING FOR THIS! The Imran Khan character from the latter film is simply the epitome of the Chocolate boy character.

Imraan Khan's role as a soft spoken and patient young man from the Hindi film Jaane Tu Ya Jaanne Naa really inspired the pro-Chocolates to find friends and spouses like him. 

After another commercial break, the host invited two guest speakers on stage. Both were popular Tamil TV soap opera actresses. Each one has been married to a self proclaimed Alpha Male and Chocolate boy respectively. The one married to the Alpha Male admitted that men should be commanding as that is what makes them men. Huh? Though I might not agree to most things she said, I respect this young woman for bravely admitting on TV that rowdy-like men with one ear piercings and a simple dressing sense turns her on. That was surely a stepping stone for Indian women in terms of admitting what arouses them sexually in public. She also admitted to liking her husband for talking roughly with her, like when she addresses with vaadi and poodi, which might sound disrespectful when used on women you are not close to. To her, this simply showed there is fondness in his roughness, unlike Chocolate boys who are too reserved and often put up a fake face when with girls just to appear cool. Also, her husband’s overprotective nature proves that he will keep her alive in any situation no matter what fate shoves her way.

Then it was the next celebrity guest’s turn to put out her opinions. Having married a Chocolate boy herself, she appreciates his decency and softness even when they are both alone. She simply cannot imagine being married, or even being friends with an Alpha Male who treats everyone roughly with her under the pretext of being loving or friendly. She admits that the fact that macho men always appear unclean and often smell of sweat makes her nauseous. To this, the pro-Alphas yelled out that this very I-don’t-care-what-people-think-of-me attitude is what makes Alpha Male pleasing. Finally, the celebrity guest stated that her husband’s Chocolate boy looks reflected his upbringing and background, and he too will take care of her in hardship and in happiness because that is the very value with which he was brought up in.

Once the celebrity guests had left the stage, the host called on Dr. Shalini, a local psychologist and a regular guest on the show to explain why there are so many differing thoughts on the two different types of boys. Dr. Shalini revealed that it is in girls’ nature that during ovulation, she will be aroused and thus desire a rugged, manly boy with all the exaggerated male characteristics. However, when they are not ovulating, girls desire boys who are loving and caring, or in other words a potential father. Whatever it is, women in Asian societies still expect men to protect them and this was definitely reflected in the episode’s discussion.

Why I Will Forever Stay Malaysian

Because I have a responsibility to my nation and people. And yes, I've been told a couple of times that I sound like a moralist when I say that. So what the heck. I have moral values and I try my best to stick to them. And if that is not what a moralist is by definition, well it seems to apply for me.

So yes, I am an Indian and a Hindu, which makes me a minority in this country. And I am not denying that people of my ethnicity might not have been treated equally by other sections of society. Even our government has been humble enough to admit that during recent times. So no arguing there.

But I feel like I have been blessed that despite a rather mediocre SPM result of 7As, I was presented with not only a full scholarship to pursue an English language teaching degree in England, but also a five year contract to serve under the government. Not only was I given the golden opportunity to study abroad and gain a British university degree, but I will also have secured myself a stable job as a teacher once I graduate and return home.

I hope it's now clear why I feel like I have a moral responsibility to my nations and people. My scholarship money is not something I simply inherited from a dead rich Australian uncle, nor did I will any genetic lottery that allowed me to be born with a silver spoon in my mouth. The money comes from the taxpayers from Malaysia, including my parents and relatives. That is why, as much as I feel like a nerd for saying this, I feel like I have a duty to be fulfilled. I am indebted to these people, and forever will be.

It breaks my heart to see some youngsters who feed on the scholarship they are given, only to later stay abroad and find a job there. In most cases, like mine, they are contract bounded and have to return to serve under their beneficiary for a certain amount of time. But no! Some of these people just stay overseas to find a high paying job and it's their guardians who have to pay back their scholarship money. It amazes me how these people even sleep at night.  

And then there is the age old argument -  that we minorities are treated like scum in this country and we deserve to migrate somewhere where we will be treated as we deserve. Well, if you are the child of millionaires who funded your education overseas and you owe the Malaysian taxpayer nothing, then by all means there might be no reason for you to see yourself ever being in debt to the people. But if you are, like me, bounded by a contract, and is funded by money from the people, than your conscience should tell you otherwise.

Am I a fan of all of our government's policies? Not necessarily. Am I a big fan of our opposition? IrrelevantAm I politically inclined? Absolutely not. So why do I care so much about this brain drain issue? The reason is I cannot speak for everyone. But if you see a brighter future for yourself abroad, then nobody should stop you from pursuing your materialistic dreams. But there are contracts that are not bound on paper. Things like moral duty and responsibility are some of them. Anyone with a clear mind will know how to make the right decision.