It is a not a big secret that a hungry Malaysian is an ugly Malaysian. Add the opportunity for free food and you will get ugly and brainless Malaysian.
(It was almost like this when it comes to free food in Malaysia – desperate people rushing to grab on whatever is there . Image source: here)
I attended a wedding last wedding and it started at about 7 in the evening. 15 minutes into the wedding, my son nudged me and with a very soft voice, informed me that he was hungry. I looked at the buffet table which was a long way back in the wedding hall and immediately I knew that once the word “Dinner!’ is sounded, there is going to be a load of hungry piranhas heading towards the buffet line. From my current sitting place, I am probably going to be standing at the very end of the buffet line.
So, anticipating the long queue, I decided to inch closer to the buffet table and position myself strategically so that when and where a buffet queue starts to form, I will be standing nearer to the front line. I was not alone – another 20 or so people were doing the same. As everyone knows, an Indian wedding is not a so straightforward ceremony – there are too many procedures and rituals to be done.
So, by an hour later, everyone in the wedding hall looked very hungry. The more composed, educated ones remained at their seats and patiently wait for the actual dinner time. The more desperate but educated ones simply inch nearer to the buffet table but remained focus on the actual wedding (we just do not want to look too obvious). The really, really desperate and selfish ones simply walk to the buffet table and start helping themselves with drinks.
Once one thirsty guest takes the first cup, it did not take long to get a small queue started and when one old Chinese lady suddenly appeared with a large tumbler and started to fill up the iced orange juice, I knew that things will only get nasty.
The time was getting dangerously close to the actual dinner time – the bridegroom ties the “thali” around the bride’s neck and suddenly everyone knew what that meant – time to attack the buffet table. Thankfully I had made the right move and suddenly found myself at the front of the queue with my son standing in front of me in the line. There were some people started to jump queue and immediately shouts of “get in line”, “you don’t know how to queue ah?” and “please queue – there is enough food for everyone” started to emerge in the atmosphere around the buffet table. There were plenty of pushing as well – my son was almost got squeezed by the crowd.
The good thing was an orderly queue started to form despite the frequent queue jumpers. Just when I was about to touch the large rice spoon to scoop the briyani rice, the same old lady appeared and grabbed about 8 empty plates and started to distribute to her family members. Those younger ones of that family perhaps knew that it is not right to jump queue, walked to the end of the queue and started to line up for their turn. The older ones was a different story all together!
Oblivious to the people who been patiently queued up, they just tried to push the people away and grab the rice. I keep saying to them to queue up and there is enough food but they must have been too hungry to listen. One or two older ones were luckier – I decided to give way and allow them to grab the food. Perhaps they must eat something at particular time or they might die of hunger. The rest – I just pushed them back, (I could have ignored them but I just hate queue jumpers) which worked except for one determined lady.
Finally despite trying to be courteous and diplomatic to this lady (she is someone’s else guests), I had enough when she started to push my son rather rudely. My remark “tak pernah makan nasi kah” (never eaten rice before?) must have knocked some sense into this lady. As almost everyone started to look at her, she stopped and decided to move away until I have taken my food.
I got enough for my son to eat his dinner and enough for me and my wife to have something before the end of the ceremony. My mom and my aunties stayed on at the table until the crowd got lesser uglier. True enough, by the time we left the wedding hall, there were still plenty of food on the buffet table. Those who were not desperate earlier took their food very leisurely and even had time to choose the right chicken piece for their plate.
When it comes to Malaysians and free food, it is no longer the expression “a hungry man is an angry man”. The angry ones would be the one who had to fight off the queue jumpers, cutting queue and pushing just to grab on the free food.