Saturday, September 1, 2018

I Am Not Crazy, Rich, Nor Even Asian

I'm boring and poor, Asian only in flesh and blood. 

And yet, the Hollywood blockbuster 'Crazy Rich Asian' strikes a deep chord in my soul. That's because I'm surrounded by crazy rich Asians - or at least, people who think themselves as crazy, rich and Asian.

The movie is surreal, but realistic. It reflects the very society I grew up with, and can't get away from as much as I try.

Shopping

They're everywhere!

Whether in my neighbourhood hot spots, or some European city I'm visiting. There's always a Chinese contingent marching, shoving and yelling at the top of their lungs. Lugging bags, pushing carts, pulling trolleys. Man or woman, young or old, they're all in a race to grab the best bargains.

Whenever I see them clambering down some tour bus down the road, instinctively my head and shoulders slump. I'll smile sheepishly at any random stranger nearby, as if to say, "Hey dude, they're not with me, I didn't bring them here, it's not my fault!". And then beat a hasty retreat before things get ugly.

You would think that the advent of smartphones and e-commerce would stop the Asian invasion, but no, the world is worse off. They treat such technology like a radar and scanner, to find places and compare prices. It whets their shopping appetite even more. If Genghis Khan had GPS access back in the day, his hordes would have probably conquered America first.

For myself, I do keep a constant lookout for any sale going on in the city or my neighbourhood - so that I'll know where not to go this weekend.


ADIDAS - All Day I Dream About SHOPPING!!! ;)  

Food

Look, I love food. I appreciate a well-cooked dish. I'm intrigued of the cultural history behind traditional recipes. I have cravings too.

But food, first and foremost, is for my hungry stomach - and not to be paraded on social media. Just sit, eat, and walk out.

Seriously, why is there a need to share photos of what we eat with the whole wide world? Sure, it may look good, but does it taste good? Are we now supposed to judge food by its cover? And if you're really enthused about a particular restaurant, then blog about it properly (instead of posting every meal you eat outside). If you're really proud of your home-cooked dinner, then invite your friends over (instead of humble-bragging that it's your first attempt blah blah).

For some of us, food fills up half of our Instagram pages. Social media is akin to a personal diary. Imagine when you're old and looking back at your younger days...

"On 1st March 2018, I drank Milo Dinosaur at Nasmeer Mamak... Next day, I ate Korean BBQ at..."

Yeah, crazy exciting life you had there, grandma.

Marriage

I've already previously ranted extensively on Chinese weddings.

For instance, on ang pows:
"The amount of money inside the 'ang-pow' depends on the individuals. Yet, there is an unspoken rule that every guest should at the bare minimum bear the cost of one's meal, which can roughly be ascertained based on the choice of venue...
...Why throw a lavish party to begin with, if you require monetary assistance to fund it? Why does it feel like I'm paying cover-charge to enter a night-club? If I'm invited to any other party - birthday, baby shower, graduation, etc. - I'm not expected to pay money at the door. So why is a wedding any different?
The idea of giving 'ang pow' is even more mind-boggling, when I'm invited to a wedding of someone I'm not close to (see Point 1 above). Right, after years of not keeping in touch, and bam, suddenly a wedding invite via Facebook out of the blue with the implicit request for financing? Oh wait, the wedding is just three months away? I see, that means I'm on the backup list, and you're scrambling to fill up the tables already booked for guests who backed out last-minutely. Right? RIGHT?"

(I also ranted about the frivolous ceremonies, like jip san leong, that are bound to occur in every Chinese Wedding in Malaysia)

Just to be clear, the wedding in the movie was beautiful to behold. Stunning gown, nice touch with the water flowing down the aisle, and Kina Grannis' soulful rendition of 'Can't Help Falling In Love' nearly moved me to tears.

But would I pay hundreds of dollars of ang pow to attend such an extravagant wedding? Nope, no thanks.

(In the movie, the guests probably weren't obliged to give any ang-pow. Heck, probably the wedding was even sponsored by the media and brands for marketing. That's how real crazy rich Asians roll.)

After all, I can always look at the photos leaking on social media anyway.

Some Lord of the Rings theme going there (without the GIANT EAGLES)
Friendship

Ultimately, the irony of the movie is that it depicts the lives of an average Asian more than a crazy rich Asian.

I happen to know a crazy rich Singaporean. He walks into bars and clubs without queuing, the bouncers just nod and wave him through. He travels around the world. He drives a fancy car. And yet, he's polite, down-to-earth, and perhaps most tellingly, almost never talks about himself

(And he pulls this off so well because of the encyclopedic knowledge he has about everything - if you're a lawyer, he can talk about law with you; if you're into tech, he can talk about startups, and so on.)

Yes, he's very much like Nick Young in the movie. And funnily enough, his much poorer friends and acquaintances comes off as crazier and richer than him - loud, boisterous, and rude. Whilst I envy his good fortune, I can't help but feeling a bit sad to be in his shoes - how would you know who your true friends are?

It must be really difficult to forge genuine relationships, when people are just gravitating towards you to bask in your starlight. It must be really difficult to forge genuine relationships when you're a crazy rich Asian.

I No Asian

It ain't easy being a crazy, rich Asian.

I'm glad I wasn't born as one. Life would be rather boring otherwise.

Then again, I would not hesitate to marry a crazy rich Asian brainy beauty like Astrid... and stay loyal to her for the rest of our lives...


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