Today was the RHB-Horwath 2009 Budget & Tax Planning Seminar at Sunway Hotel, and it was possibly the most unproductive day I’ve ever had on this job. Never mind that I was there as their emcee; I did nothing but introduce speakers and then sit off to the side like a log for at least a good forty-five minutes in the hypothermic ballroom, unable to feed myself because I didn’t want to be undignified and fight through the 500-strong crowd to get to the food, and when I was able to find time to eat there wasn’t any food left. Fortunately I was able to amuse myself at one point…
Stranger: Hi, I’m Craven, from Microsoft. And you are…?
Me: I’m Sandra. (and then, unable to resist…) Craven as in Underworld Craven*?
Craven: (laughing) Yes, something like that. Are you from Horwath?
Me: No, I’m from RHB.
Craven: Oh. (looking down at the Mentos box in my hand) Be careful with that.
Me: (alarmed at implication towards potentially negative side-effects of overconsumption of Mentos) Why?
Craven: Well, there are some Malays here today. You don’t want them to see you eating.
Me: (relieved and amused) Ohhh… it’s all right; it’s so small, nobody will notice.
Craven: Oh. (pause) So you don’t actually fast?
Me: I do when I feel like it. I try not to eat in my office so that my colleagues walking by won’t look at me like I’m a leper.
Craven: Wow, you’re quite bold to be eating in public.
Me: (bored with charade) OK, my name is Sandra. Do I really look Malay to you?
Craven: (completely thrown) Oh. OH. I’m so sorry! I really thought you were Malay; you don’t look very Chinese. As for your name…
Me: You’re not the first. I’ve already been advised never to leave the house without my ID this month.
This was the first time I had ever strung someone along with the whole racial insinuation. It was quite amusing, but I really do wonder why those around me think I look Malay, especially after two people I was introduced to on separate occasions all in the same day did the salaam handshake with me.
* I refuse to believe the man’s parents saw fit to name him Craven. The names people bestow upon themselves these days…