Monday, September 12, 2011

Ahhh, Miri...

Let me take a moment and reverberate. Okay, so about 6 months ago we were in Katy, Texas, and now we are a ridiculously 9,000 something miles away from our hometown, New Orleans. Living in a city called Miri, in which became a city not long ago in 2005. It is located in Sarawak, 'The Land of the Hornbill" or "I give to you", located some 640km east of Peninsular Malaysia. It is bordered by Kalimantan (Indonesia) to the south and east and Sabah and Brunei to the north-east. The Hornbill bird (below) is the state emblem.

We've lived here for roughly 5 months now, and what's affecting me the most is what the kids are gonna eat as vegetarians. I haven't been successful in finding any products that are kid-friendly. Let me clarify on this a bit. There's a lot of vegetarian products. Tofu being one of them. But it's not particularly one of my kids favorite foods. Every vegetarian product I've tasted, thus far, has an Asian/Indian flare which is fine by me, but not so fine by my fastidious kids. I've tried several frozen ones, such as a product called Super Balls--an appropriate name I might add. The Asians typically add them to a soup. I decided to think outside the box and add them to a more traditional dish. Spaghetti and red sauce. Interestingly, the texture feels like some sort of extra-terrestrial material. I'd known this if I had read the first and second ingredients.YAMS and GELATIN. Consider yourself warned. Wear goggles and CUT WITH CAUTION! SUPER BALLS MAY TAKE FLIGHT! Low and behold, MY KIDS LOVED THEM! Mainly because of its texture. They had discovered its ping-pong effect as they tossed them around the kitchen floor. So lately I've been playing it safe and sticking to my kid's favorite. Bean Burritos. But there is only so many bean burritos an appropriate human being can consume. Needless to say, my four-year-old is looking a bit like an Ethiopian. Come to think of it, he's beginning to fit right in with the rest of the Sarawak Iban tribe. Just leave him in the mid-day sun for about an hour without any sunscreen and VOILA!

Now, let me discuss getting adjusted to driving on the WRONG side of the road. For a couple months, I had a driver who took me around town. I sort of felt like the CONSIDERABLY younger version of "Driving Miss Daisy," but in a taxi cab with leopard covered seats. We finally purchased a vehicle about a month ago. As far as my driving skills goes, remarkably, I'm quite good at it! I had taken safety driving courses so that I can feel more comfortable zipping through town alongside 50 something suicidal, motorcyclist with their whole family aboard.

Motorcyclists dominate the streets of Malaysia. I'm not particularly interested in racing in the Malaysia GP Moto Grand Prix race, so I allow them to zip right on by. But for God's Sake, put a helmet on that baby! Coincidentally, I still have to get use to getting in on the right side of the vehicle. I can't tell you how many times I rushed out of the house, got in my car with my keys in my hand, getting ready to start the engine-- only to have realized, I'm on the wrong damn side of the fucking vehicle. Then getting out like a jackass on speed, running to get in on the right side. You know. The side with the steering wheel?! Hmmm, I wonder why those construction workers across the street are looking at me like I'm some sort of a dyslexic, erratic, lunatic. You'd think, on days that I'm having to drive all around town to different markets, then parking and getting in and out of the car 8 or 9 times a day, just to get everything you need, (basic necessities and groceries) I would have gotten the hang of it by now. NOT!

Okay. So other than losing a significant amount of body fat, looking like one of the tribes, and driving 'Malaysian' style Oh, I almost forgot to mention! I'm having to pick up the kids from school at 11:30 AM because that's the end of their school day for preschoolers. And DON'T BE A MINUTE LATE! My child was sitting in the principal's office all alone. I had a perfectly good excuse for it, too. I think it must have been written all over my forehead or something. I'm not too convinced that children can absorb anything in such a short time. The only thing I absorb is nothing but a blink, a short coffee break, then... You get the picture. BTW, there is no need to purchase those silly colon cleansers in this part of the world. TRUST ME!

So other than those minor few adjustments, living here isn't so bad, so far. The local people here, as well as the expatriates, are super-friendly! Always smiling. Always saying hello. Genuinely good people willing to help you in any way they can. Who enjoy good company, good music and who like to have a good time with a good bottle of wine, it kinda reminds me of good ol' New Orleans, minus the three t's (traffic tickets, thugs, and the Infamous City Hall and affiliates).

As for our family, the husband and I are getting acclimated after the shock wore off of course. The children are adjusting better than we are. We now have two part-time amahs (nannieswhom our children are warming up to. Especially because of all the junk food they've been giving them.

I'm now beginning to understand what the expats are implying when I ask them, "So, how do you like living in Miri?" They mutter, "Ahhh, Miri..." What they REALLY meant to say is, "Ahhh, Miri and it's beautiful sunsets and gorgeous palm trees! If it just had a fucking one-stop shop, a pretty red building. Like, perhaps a TARGET! And for God's Sake, PUT A HELMET ON THAT BABY!