NAMES have always intrigued me just as the rich variety of food we have from a multi-racial and multi-cultural neighbourhood we call Malaysia.

I have friends who have “modernised” names while others maintain the cultural names handed down by their forefathers. I have Eurasian friends who have names that sound more “Mat Salleh” than Malaysian. Growing up in a multi-racial and multi-cultural school meant we had friends from all race, religion and culture. Most often than not, the names mirrored the rich backgrounds that all of us come from.

As teenagers, we would have some fun making jokes about how some of the names could mean something else if pronounced differently. “Cool Deep”; “Fresh”; “Banana” and so on comes to mind of some of the names I used to call my friends. These nicknames grew along the years and when we meet later on in life, we would laugh about how silly we were and how much fun it was growing up together in those times.

There used to be a restaurant – China Lanzhou Mee Tarik in Kuala Lumpur. I am unsure if it still operates. But did you know that Lanzhou is the capital city of northwest China’s Gansu province? Back in those days, we would just laugh over the name. If wrongly pronounced, it could be perceived differently.

Anyway, for me a name is just a name. We should not get sensitive about it. Take it with a pinch of salt. My paternal grandfather who operated a coffee shop for more than 50 years was called “Panjang” by his multi-racial regulars who included policemen. They called him that because he was tall and nothing else. If we start thinking too much about what’s behind a name; we might land up opening up the floodgates to many other misinterpretations from the narrow minded segment of society.

November is here. We are still waiting to balik kampong. We’ve held back on making plans to do so because we do not want to land up jumping on the bandwagon to swarm our home state with other tourists. Locals have reported that weekends are scarily jammed by tourists and have even asked us to wait a bit longer for the travel fever to ease off following the government’s lifting of inter-state travel.

So here we are, still stuck in Subang Jaya and nowhere to go for a short break. No doubt, we have many other things to occupy our time. Luckily, we have places which serve some of our favourite foods to revisit now that travel beyond the front gates of our home is allowed. We’ve made some short trips to nearby areas to catch some fresh air, change of scenery and in some cases, to check in on friends who have been isolated since the beginning of this year.

Dining out is still a chore for us. We only dare to dine in at places we are familiar with or places which are strictly enforcing the SOPs. Human beings are social animals. It is hard for us to isolate ourselves too long. To keep safe, we have to be disciplined in our personal SOPs and not compromise it even for a second. If in doubt, walk away.

With almost a year “gone” and “wasted” battling the pandemic which brought the country and world to its knees, it’s now time to gather our thoughts and make plans for 2022. What would we want to do in the New Year that we didn’t get to do this year? Perhaps we had plans which we had to put off this year because of the pandemic? Is it time to take it down from the shelf, blow off the dust and start working on it?

I have started planning and making resolutions on what I want to carry out and achieve in the New Year. Nothing is carved in stone as yet but it’s on the drawing board. Execution will depend on many factors and situations. It’s never too soon to start dreaming and finally waking up to do what’s doable.

Here’s wishing our Hindu readers and friends a HAPPY DEEPAVALI and a safe and productive month ahead for everyone else. Let’s get moving Subang Jaya!!