Friday, 26 October 2007

Excuse me, are you Muslim?

If you are bored in Singapore, just leave your front door open. I'm sat reading the paper and a polite, well spoken chap pokes his head in and and asks if I am Muslim. Racially, I'd guess he was Malay, but don't quote me - I not great at splitting Malay, Indonesian and Indian/Lankan.

I rather queered the pitch with my "I'm sorry?!", he repeated the question and apologised for intruding but my "Why do you want to know?" was enough to trigger his graceful exit.

I read a few weeks back about an English family that moved from Singapore to KL. Predictably, they were extolling the cheap housing, open spaces and laid back lifestyle. Lower salaries were acknowledged but the fun started when they moved into their house. Like all Malaysian houses, every window has grills or bars for security. Pah! says the Brit, "get them off, I don't want to live in a gage". Their first burglary was 3 nights later. Mind you, that's a story that writes itself. Note, while it might have been his Malay neighbours, I hear that the locals always blame foreigners (code for Indonesians) for the persistently high burglary rate.

The better part of his KL move was that a few days after moving in, he was visited by the religious police. Three polite and well-dressed guys turn up and an inquire whether this is a Muslim household. Apparently, they are looking for unmarried Malay couples or other such improper domestic arrangements. Such poking around by "mosque-affiliates" is illegal, but is tacitly tolerated and anyway, they were just saying Hello to the new neighbours, right?

So the poor chap who visited me may have been looking for a handout, checking my 'domestic' arrangements or just visiting his neighbours to wish them well. Who knows but I'm kicking myself for not finding out.