When I was growing up, I wasn’t allowed to call things weird. Especially if I wrinkled up my nose and said it dripping with disdain. That was the case when the family would be invited to a large 12 course Chinese meal and the foods that were served passed beyond the normative range of an American Born Chinese kid. Picture a large platter of fresh sushi on ice with two lobster heads as the centerpiece. Now imagine a 14 year-old getting freaked out because the decapitated lobster head facing him just moved its eyes to watch me eat its flesh. My mother was quick to point out, the meat is “so fresh!” That just wasn’t good enough for me.
Weird is part of being a TCK
Now the tables have turned and I’m the parent, and my children are the third culture kids. They are finding things new and different and weird in this land of Penang. There are new customs, new festivals and holidays, new foods.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, third culture kid, let me recommend the book Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds by Pollack and Reken. A TCK is a person who grows up outside their parents’ home culture. Expat parents should get familiar with the challenges and benefits that comes with being a TCK. More resources below.
But my point is, I’m having to hear from my kids that things are weird. I’m not entirely comfortable to say that they need to stop. I think we just need to redefine the term.
Let’s take the wrongness out of weird. Let’s remove our egocentricity and see things from another perspective. And now we realize that weird can mean different, without being bad. An egocentric person would consider anything outside of my personal frame of normalcy to be wrong.
With this simple tool of allowing for someone else’s normal we take the first step towards living cross-culturally successfully. We can go into these cross cultural situations and think, “that’s different, but I might like it.” You can also give yourself (and your children) permission not to like it as well.
I’m finding that this new sense for the word weird to be freeing. We are now free to experience the weird and look at things that are different. We can keep our judgment to ourselves or to be discussed at home.
Now conversations can be like “Wow that’s weird.” “I know cool huh?”
More TCK resources
Read at least one book about TCKs to familiarize yourself with the issues.
Participate in a twice monthly twitter chat under the hashtag #TCKChat (1st and 3rd Wednesday, 10am and 10pm). For those of us in Penang that’s 11pm Wednesday or 11am Thursday. Send me a message @livinginpenang and I’ll show you how to participate in a twitter chat.
This came in from the US Embassy Kuala Lumpur.
The U.S. Embassy in Malaysia is pleased to announce that a Consular Officer will be traveling to Penang to provide limited service in the area on January 28 2015 from 9am to 12pm. During this visit, the officer will be able to provide notary services and take U.S. passport applications back to the Embassy for final processing. Appointments are required. Please email [email protected] to schedule your appointment. We will provide information on the venue and required fees for each service when we confirm your appointment.
Are you as excited as I am? The World Curry Festival will be coming to Penang Jan 30 to Feb 1, 2015. For the last 5 years this has been a British event. The aim was to establish Britain as one of the curry capitals of the world. It’s true too. Recently I hosted two families of Britons at my house, and as a joke I googled traditional British recipes. Chicken Tikka Masala came up as the third search result.
For this 6th annual festival, they are taking it international, to Penang. Curries from everywhere, not just Malaysia, will be represented. It will be part of the Penang International Halal Expo and Conference.
- Gala Dinner
- Curry Master classes
- World Curry Festival Cooking School
- Street Food
- Market Stalls
- Pop Up Restaurants
- and more to be announced
World Curry Festival on Social Media
Event, Food and Drink Tags:
Every year, the Tamil harvest festival, Pongal, is celebrated in January. It is a four day festival that dates back over a millenium. There are celebrations going on throughout Malaysia for Indians. This year, it is scheduled for 14-17 January.
Penang has one of the best places to experience Pongal festival. It is at the Sri Veera Kaliamman Devasthanam Temple. The temple is located in Gelugor, Penang. The temple has been the focal point of Pongal festival in Malaysia since 1975. Another place to go is the Sri Mahamariamman Temple on Queen Street in George Town. This is the oldest Hindu Temple in Malaysia.
The word pongal in Tamil means “to boil” or to “to boil over”. The timing of the festival is to coincide with the harvest for rice and other cereals, sugar-cane, and turmeric (an essential ingredient in Tamil cooking). This begins the traditional month for large expensive family celebrations like weddings.
The Pongal Festival continues to be an important part of Malaysian Indian culture. It keeps them connected to their South Indian roots and traditions.
In Hindu temples bells, drums, clarinets and conch shells sound out to mark the joyous festivities of Pongal. Sweet rice is cooked with fresh milk in new clay pots until they boil over. This symbolizes an abundant harvest and prosperity. Some of the rituals performed in the temple include the preparation of rice, the chanting of prayers and the offering of vegetables, sugar cane and spices to the gods.
The Pongal Festival is a time for Tamil families to get together, time for reunions. Old grudges have to be forgiven and forgotten. Reconciliation is supposed to rule the day. Love and Peace are the central themes of Pongal.
Have you been to the Pongal Festival? Please share your experiences below or on the Facebook page.
It really isn’t my fault. The information on the web, and even from locals on the street say that December used to be a Durian harvest. So I posted about Durian’s second season. An excited out of town friend sent me a WhatsApp message saying he was in town and read my post. He invited me to go get some. So my one daughter who enjoys Durian, and my friend, and I went into Balik Pulau looking for a Durian stand… and there were none.
Chee Cheong Fun
Chee Cheong Fun is also known as Steamed Noodle Roll. It hasn’t topped any list (that I’ve seen) of Penang foods to try. And yet it’s a yummy local favorite. My gluten-free expat friends love it because it’s a rice noodle dish that they can eat. So let’s explore what Chee Cheong Fun is.
Americans take note
There is a new online appointment system for the American Citizen Services unit at the US Embassy in KL. The new system kicked in at the start of 2015. This is for non emergency services. Those include
The exact procedure is on the Embassy website. Also included is a list of things you can and cannot bring in. Finally there’s a link at the bottom to the online form that you can fill out to get an appointment. There’s also a online form to fill out to cancel your existing appointment.
You can also contact the American Citizen Services section during normal business hours. Phone: 03 2168 4979 or 4997. I’ve found that they are very responsive on their email line [email protected].
I’m excited about the change. I think this will speed up the wait time when we go to register our next baby’s birth.
Anyone used the new system yet?
Wan than Mee. It’s been my go-to Penang Hawker stall lunch for the last few months. Wan Than mee and an iced coffee for RM5 can’t be beat. So what is it?
Wan Than Mee soup style with a cup of iced coffee, RM 5
It’s been some time since I wrote an update about how it has been going having a Labuan Offshore Company. The first one was my How to article for incorporating a Labuan Offshore Company. And I wrote one about Why you should have a Labuan Offshore Company.
I’ve reached the end of my first two years of my work permit and it was time to renew. This is the work permit visa that is pasted into my passport and the dependent passes that are pasted into the passports of my wife and children. And here’s what happened. Read more…
Documents, Labuan Tags:
The Ministry of Education released the 2014 Malaysia School Holiday Calendar. These should be pretty definitive, but please note that these dates can change. This list plus the public holidays calendar should help you in your travel planning.