Match made at the dinner table
I always thought matchmaking happened only to Indians, Nigerians or Chinese from the Ming dynasty. But matchmaking is well and alive for the 21st century Malaysian Chinese.
Tonight is my cousin’s pre-nuptial dinner. If you like, it is a stag-do, but with your extended family. Friends and relatives from all over have flown in for the dinner party at Grandfather’s – Singapore, Jakarta, Tokyo, Brisbane, Johannesburg, Boston.
All the success stories from abroad are home, a perfect time to be compared with cousin so and so working in a New York investment bank. Or the one who is a journalist in Johannesburg, or the one who’s a successful software developer in Seattle. Or the doctor in Melbourne, or the property developer in Singapore, the list goes on.
All the good-looking, racially-mixed cousins are also home. We eat under a marquee in the garden and talk about university in America, Chinese surnames on white faces and how Americans don’t understand the Aussies.
Cousin A is telling Sis and I about medical school in Brisbane, but I can’t understand his accent either.
“Ha?” I ask.
Cousin A repeats himself.
“What did he say?” I whisper to Sis.
“What? Don’t me ask me that in front of him, what’s wrong with you?” Sis snaps. Sis doesn’t seem to have a problem, having studied in Australia herself.
Not Chinese enough
But before I know it Uncle A is asking me to help “introduce” his son to my sister. It is important to reiterate that these are relations not by blood, but by marriage. “Let them sit together,” he says. “You have to help me!”
I laugh, but beneath my laugher there is an awkward twitch. Clearly, this uncle whom we have known since young, is very fond of my sister and I. He seems to think Chinese girls like us will make good wives to his wild-partying Aussie son that he reckons isn’t Chinese enough.
As Sis and I drive home, we cannot stop laughing – laughing at how I simply cannot understand an Aussie person, and what a perfect candidate Cousin A would be for her (oh yes).
Then we go home to check his Facebook and couldn’t stop laughing even more. Family ties, cultural background and geographical location are just not good enough excuses to put two people together.