Mexican, Truly Malaysian

The World Cup is a cauldron of nationalities, mixing up people from all over the world (including one or two from countries that didn't even qualify), that it's sometimes hard to tell who is who.

Of course, if they're wearing a flag, then it's a little easier. However, a lot of people wear Brazil who don't actually come from or live in Brazil.

The other way is to listen to what they speak. I can discern between Mandarin, Korean and Japanese. I'm not so good between Hungarian, Croat and Russian. But I'm relatively quiet when I'm alone, so it's hard to tell that way.

Finally, you can just look at a person. Tall blonde girls are obviously Swedish (obviously). Fresh-eyed perky ones are American. And dark, shortish, scruffy guys like me are going to be Mexican.

I'm beginning to lose count how many times people have called me Mexican, or more generically, spoken Spanish to me.

I do try to correct them, but do they know what Malaysia is? Thanks to our country's efforts at promoting tourism, I had nothing to fear.

At Leipzig, after the Iran-Angola game, a whole group of guys waved at me. "Hola!" they shouted. "Mexico!"

"No!" I shouted back. "Malaysian!"

"Malaysia? They not in World Cup?!!"

Yeah. Thanks for reminding me. Again. I am stressed out enough that our national team is so bad that it struggles to beat Hong Kong and Palestine at the best of times.

"No, they not here for World Cup, but I here for World Cup!"

"Ha ha! MALAYSIAN!" Finally. When you're with somebody who is clearly worse at football than you are, it is easy to be magnanimous. They launched into a chorus, to that famous English tune, "Here We Go".


And then, to cap it all of, "MALAYSIA, Truly Asia!!!"

Thank you very much, Tourist Development Board.

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posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2006 - permalink
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