Remnants of Empire

We’ve had a good couple of days.  While interviewee confidentiality means that I cannot discuss precisely what we’ve been doing, suffice it to say that we’ve had a great introduction to the Malaysian upper classes.  It’s very cool to see how these folks have really taken over from the British colonial administration in many of their education, mannerisms, and lifestyles.

This is best visible in the locations where I have been meeting people.  Kuala Lumpur has a series of clubs whose histories stretch back to the British colonial era.  The best known one of these is the Royal Selangor Club, right in the middle of town, which is right next to the field where the Brits used to play cricket (and which is now Independence Square).  Another famous one is the Royal Lake Club, which sits several kilometers from the Royal Selangor Club in KL’s plush garden district.  I hung out there for a bit today, and really got a glimpse of what it must have been like in the early 1930s to be a British colonial administrator.  I had coffee by the pool, and watched bunches of fifty-somethings walking to the squash and tennis courts amidst the big old palm trees and the humid, just-not-quite-refreshing breeze.

And again, while there were all sorts of Feisals, Lims, and Anandas at these clubs, no one spoke anything other than English.  And this wasn’t Minglish, full of little Malay suffixes, this was The Queen’s Own.  I also noticed that there were no headscarves in evidence, even among the employees.  This probably reflects the difference between this old guard of established fortunes and the new Malay middle classes.

Now, if we can just finagle a sponsorship…