Saturday, July 4, 2009

So white I'm clear

Yesterday I woke up, made my morning Starbucks coffee, and got ready to go to work at my unpaid internship with a non-profit alternative news website. Sadly, I live too far from work to ride a bike like I do in Ottawa, so I take the monorail. I selected The Low End Theory from my full, illegally downloaded discography of A Tribe Called Quest albums to listen to on my full-sized iPod. Both at my flat and at the office, I'm the only white person around, which is totally adding to my authentic cultural experience abroad. So different from last year when I took a year off to backpack and just hung out with other tourists - erm, "travelers."

Sadly, this also means I'm of limited usefulness as a reporter since I don't speak Malay - but I'm totally trying to learn it. I even listened to an online audio lesson the other day. Saya tidak boleh bahasa Malaysia. That means I don't speak Malay. Being a vegetarian is also infringing on my cultural experience, as is the fact I just can't bring myself to eat with my hands yet. Good thing I eat fish and have a "what I don't know won't hurt me" policy - which I've been told is very Muslim of me.

I set up an interview for an article I'm writing about spaces for indie music shows in Kuala Lumpur. I take notes in an ordinary spiral notebook because I wasn't able to find any moleskins before I left.

At night, I went out to a gay bar with some people I met last weekend - for research purposes, of course. You see, I'm making a radio documentary for my Master's research project about gay communities in Malaysia and how they have a vibrant, open presence here despite international impressions about the legal, religious and cultural environment. Finding subjects - and an internship, and a place to stay - was surprisingly easy: I met them all on Facebook before coming here. Isn't the internet spiffy?

Today I think I'll finish season two of The Wire. There's gotta be somewhere I can find a pirated copy of season three around here.

So that's 20 "Stuff white people like" posts that apply to me. And I bet I missed some. Should I kill myself now, or later?

3 comments:

Teghan Beaudette said...

I interviewed Lander the day before he went on Conan to promote the book. It is hands down the funniest book I own. And I wouldn't enjoy it so much if every single one didn't apply to me.

...did I fuck up that double negative? Ugh

Claire said...

It was the fact that I've even been embracing the more obscure ones lately that inspired this post... like "promising to learn a new language" and "public radio." Also, this project involves a lot of effort to NOT be that guy who acts like an expert on somebody else's culture.

Teghan Beaudette said...

I absolutely love talk radio (NPR!). You'll have to let me know when your documentary is done and where I can hear it.