A Dutch friend asked me, why is your blog called “The life of a Kwai Loh”?
Some of my Chinese Malaysian friends are a bit shocked, and ask me the same question.
Shocked, because Kwai Loh is a “bad” word :-). It is Cantonese for “Ghost Man” and used for Caucasian people, maybe because of their often “white” complexion. It is generally considered to be a slightly racist word, although not as bad as the N-word in the USA.
But I liked the sound of it, and when I was looking for a suitable nickname for my Multiply website, I thought, why not Kwai Loh? That’s how it started and when I was in Beijing a few years ago and found a shop where an old man made traditional chops, I ordered one with the two characters for Kwai Loh. He was surprised, but did it..:-) A chop, by the way, is Malaysian/Singaporean English for a seal.
In Malaysia two more “slang” words are used to describe Western foreigners. One is also Chinese, Hokkien dialect: Ang Moh, meaning Red Hair. Not really offensive, I would say.
Then there is Mat Salleh, which is Malay. Origin not clear, it might come from “Mad sailor”, referring to the wild colonial past of Penang ..:-) Quite common these days, not offensive.
I hope you will agree that Kwai Loh fits me best. Especially because, being a secular humanist, I do not believe in the existence of ghosts/spirits at all. Period. More about this topic in future posts..:-)
Talking about offensive, what do you think about this? This monkey is endemic to Borneo and you can find it in Sarawak. Official name is Proboscis Monkey.
Do you know how it is called in Malay language? Orang Belanda! The Dutch Man! That I call offensive.
And what about this. In Asia it is quite common to have a bolster on your bed. Nice to cuddle when you sleep alone. This is our own bolster.
Now, guess how this bolster is sometimes called in Malay and Indonesia language!
A Dutch wife!
I leave it to your imagination to give an explanation…:-)