Lakshmipriya was born and raised in Perak, Malaysia and currently lives in London. Previously a Human Capital Consultant, she has worked in Malaysia and Dubai. She recently completed her PhD in Cognitive and Organizational Psychology in the UK. She has co-authored a book on talent management and is currently working on a paper that investigates the influence of sex differences when perceiving people. When not absorbed in academic research, Lakshmipriya enjoys Netflixing and cooking.
Finding the Malaysian spirit, and food away from home
In the past month, I visited three Chinese/Asian restaurants and was pleasantly surprised to find the servers Malaysians. The first was a waiter in a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. As always, I asked for extra chilli oil because the food is never spicy enough for my Malaysian palate. He then asked me if I was from Sri Lanka. When I answered “No, I am from Malaysia”, he looked surprised: and said “eppadi iruke tangachi” (how are you, sister in Tamil). Not a big deal really … and yet it was. It was someone from home.
Turned out that Eddie was a Penangite who has been working in London for five years. He introduced me to three other waiters/waitresses who were all from Malaysia. When I asked him how he likes living in London, he said he missed his family back home, but he is paid well here and is training to be a sous chef in the same restaurant. It felt really nice to meet a fellow Malaysian unexpectedly. He even gave me a 20 percent discount on my meal.
My second encounter with a fellow Malaysian unsurprisingly revolved around food as well. The venue: An eatery called ‘Basil’ in Tooting. I saw the owner, clad in tudung and she seemed so much like a Malay – I had to ask the inevitable. “Are you Malaysian?” It was a gleeful “Yes.” We conversed in Bahasa Malaysia for the longest time ever. It felt good. The lady was from Taiping and had been running the business for a long time. She filled my food container with so much of food that it was difficult to shut it close in the end. I promised to return to her shop and to bring more friends to eat there the next time.
Two days ago, my cousin and I went to Borough Market near London Bridge for a quick catch up. As we were scouting for a good place to buy our lunch from, we saw a place that sold Singapore Laksa (which tastes exactly like curry mee in Malaysia) and Rendang and I insisted that we try their food. As the waiter was packing the food, once again I had to ask THE question: “Are you Malaysian”? Much to my delight, Jin Hoong answered in the affirmative. He was from Ipoh and has been operating a food truck for the last 7 years. He threw in some dumplings for free with the food I ordered. I believe he was as elated as I was to meet a friendly Malaysian!
While there are plenty of Asian restaurants here, finding these new Malaysian ones was a delight for me. It was also inspiring to see so many Malaysians not only making a living here, but thriving as well.