Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in another (what I would call) Chinese gorging fest. In simpler words, let's just call it buffet.
But this was no ordinary buffet. It is an annual fixture that most Sri Paandi fans are familiar to but for those without a clue, Sri Paandi, a Southern Indian food restaurant, offers free food on every Deepavali morning... something those slant-eyed, keen-nosed and sharp-eyed Chinese would not want to miss in their relentless pursuit of 'priceless' luxuries (fuck off to those who think I don't like Chinese people. I was at Paandi's too!).
Well, as one might've imagined, at a typical buffet, hordes of Chinese would mosh their way towards the first sight and scent of food, much like how the Chinese foot-soldiers would overwhelm their enemies to defend their palaces. At Paandi's, add the word 'free food' into the equation and you'll get utter chaos. Human chains as far as the eye can see (OK, this is pure exaggeration but from where I was sitting, its pretty close to the word). Chains branching from every food dispensing counter; thosai counter, curry counter, beverage counter, and the plate washing station as there were insufficient plates.
Hundreds of hands, mostly yellow-skinned, chucked damp plates at the faces of the Indian waiters (whom are the celebrated ones if one might forget) asking/ requesting/demanding for (more) thosai, roti canai, idli, curry, dhall, tea, coffee with no courtesy of a smile, a simple thank you or a wish of 'Happy Deepavali' in return. Yet some of the Chinese there expected butlering services; complaining about slow waitering when the waiters were outnumbered 20 to 1 and requesting for utensils when they can eat with their hands (since its Deepavali and its an Indian restaurant mah!).
But what pains me most was an elderly Chinese lady, waiting in line not far from where I was. and, when it was her turn to be served, she asked for some thosai, of which, the waiter duly served. But she stood there for a bit, her eyes hovering over the steaming thosai on her plate before looking up at the waiter and asked in thick Chinese accent, 'Huh? This is thosai ah? You give me thosai ar, you sure ar?'.
Sigh. That incident underlines how disconnected some Chinese are with non-Chinese traditions and cultures. It underlines how proud and, to an extent, ethnocentric some local Chinese are. These are the same bunch of Chinese who believe in eating only Chinese, that Chinese restaurants are the cleanest and that other restaurants like the Indian, the Malay, and the 'mamak' restaurants are sub-standard in terms ingredient, quality and cleanliness.
And these are the same bunch of Chinese who choose the worst day to visit a non-Chinese restaurant, when the quality and cleanliness pales in comparison to other days. They would flock to Sri Paandi in groups of families and extended families, willing to squirm their way through crowds of sweaty bodies, using partially washed utensils for some mere meal, which they cannot name, and which, would cost them less than five ringgit.
Man, am I proud of my people or what.