I (TP) had a nice experience at the library today. I have become buddy-buddy with some of the security guards there, since they see me often and I’m tough to miss. They love to ask me questions like "do you like the food here?" and "do you get many chicks?" They seem to believe that the food has to be too spicy for me, and that I’m only here to meet exotic Malaysian women. (The local term for a woman who goes for Western guys is ayam, which literally means "chicken". Sort of like "chick.")
At any rate, every couple of days the librarians and/or security guards lead a group of Malaysian high school students on a tour of the library. They show all the new books, the computers, all the normal stuff. For some reason, the groups are always gender-segregated, with the girls and boys taking different tours. Today, my friend Mohammad the security guard was leading a tour group of about 30 girls from Terengganu, a heavily-Malay state in the north of the Peninsula. This time, instead of just leading them past where I sit and allowing them to gawk at me as they stroll by, he led them over and asked me to give a brief description of what I was doing there. I was taken by surprise, but happy to help; he was proud to show me off, his very own Malay-speaking foreigner. So, I gave them a little run-down of what I was doing there–reading about Malaysian politics, which is very confusing for a Westerner (lots of laughs) and trying to learn more about the country. Then I told them that the Universiti of Malaya library is the best library in the country, by far. This is certainly the truth, but I got extra bonus points as Mohammad smiled proudly and said "see, I told you so!" to the girls. I asked if they had any questions–the only one came from a shy girl in the back who asked how long I had been in Malaysia. They were amazed to have come across a Westerner who speaks Malay.
Then it was picture time. Just about all of them had cameras, and just about all of them wanted a picture with me. So they took about 20 pictures, and am now immortalized in these girls’ picture albums as that crazy Westerner who they met at the library.