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December 21, 2016

Our Christmas in a Muslim Country

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – The weather is far from frightful. It is in the upper 80's with clear blue skies. Nights have been cloudy and warm.


There is no sign of the monsoon which was supposed to start about a month ago. We did have about a week of rain back in mid-November, but that was it. We do have January and February to go through yet.


The fruit season is in full swing. Everywhere there are roadside stands selling Durian, the King of Fruits. The other day, I asked Dzul (my son) where he urinated in the house. I told him I wouldn't be mad. I just couldn't find the smell anywhere!


Turns out my neighbors were eating this "King of Fruits." I also asked if Suriani (my wife) had left the gas on. Here, the stove is hooked up to those canisters you usually use for outside grilling back in the States.


I checked all the valves and looked around outside in the hallway. Same strong smell. Same thing, the neighbors were eating Durian. The smell is like that of an outhouse after somebody had really used it. However, here it is loved by all except me. I have forbade it in the house. If Suriani wants to eat it, she can return to the kampung and enjoy it with her family.


There are many more shopping malls then when I arrived here eight years ago. I really don't understand how this small population can support them. However they keep opening them up.


This month, they are decorated with fake Christmas trees, wreaths and other reminders of the festive season. There is no Santa Claus as that is a foreign invention. Christmas carols blare from loud speakers. It is quite amusing to see Muslims dressed in their hijab getting their pictures taken in front of one of the decorated trees.


The Muslims are extremely tolerant, not like the rabid wild-eyed creatures in the Middle East. The malls change with the holidays, the next being Chinese New Year.


Dzul wants a toy robot for Christmas. Yes, I have introduced my customs to the family. The problem is finding one. We search through three malls near to us and no luck. On Monday we will have get a taxi and go further afield.


He also asked for a junior Scrabble game, which we immediately found, and a computer. Never mind that. He can use one of the two iPads or main laptop we have.


We will also pick up some minor gifts for him. I asked for a leather sling bag. The cloth one has about had it.


Our friend from Indonesia is coming for lunch today. Suriani and her friend Siti are making a beef curry and fried veggies.


The curry is hard to make. First you have to go to the jungle and find the spices. Then, you go to the Indian store and find other spices. Then you cut up the meat and marinate it. Then you cook the whole batch for a long time, or when it's time to go to bed. The marinating part was my idea because the meat here is so tough you have to chew it with a knife. Then you serve it over rice.


I hope you guys have a very Merry Christmas and hold your loved ones tight. I will certainly hold mine.


Merry Christmas!!!!!


...Life is good. . . . .


Woodsboro - Walkersville Times
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