Friday, August 24, 2007

Q: What's the most common answer to questions in Malaysia?

A: Tak tau.

Yep, thats it. 95% of the time when you ask someone, you'll get a "tak tau" (I don't know) in reply. However, since Malaysia is a diverse country,
sometimes you'll get a different answer than the standard "tak tau". These range from "donno" to "wa em chai", and... errr... hm... does anyone know what 'I don't know' is in Tamil, Punjabi, and Dyak? Anyway, its a little better than the generic "tak tau", no?

Or perhaps not...

That's the answer I got from the staff at a bookstore, where I went to get meself a sticker of a Malaysian flag for my car window. As you know, this 31st would be Malaysia's 50th year of independence (its debatable with the other States of Sabah & Sarawak). I didn't want those cloth flags with that plastic mast you stick on the outside of your car. Those eventually break off at freeway speeds... thanks to the cheap plastic and weathering of the sun and rain. Any unlucky motorcyclist or pedestrian will then get a Jalur Gemilang smack in his face at 100kph.

The flag stickers on the other hand are supposed to be placed on your back winscreen, very much like your Road Tax sticker. Those last much longer, and the color doesn't turn from Red, White, Yellow, & Blue into Diesel Exhaust Grey.

The bookstore didn't have any on sale, so I asked if they knew any other place that did.

"Tak tau", came the reply.

Now, this bookstore was in the same building complex as 'Giant', which is a massive megastore like Wal-Mart, Makro, or Tesco. Just like Wal-Mart, 'Giant' sells almost anything, although unlike Wal-Mart they don't seem to have firearms and ammunition in stock. Surely they could've asked me to check out Giant to see if they have what I wanted...

But all I got was a "tak tau". Ah well...

Anyway, Giant didn't have those stickers, although I saw tons of those small car-flags for sale at RM3.50. I guess I have to improvise then...

A small cloth flag 5X7 inches, a penknife, and a roll of cellotape. Pasted to the back of my rear windscreen... and... problem solved.

But did I desecrate the flag by using my penknife to remove it from the mast?

I tak tau.