THE wife and I recently moved to Australia. It was a difficult decision seeing how we had practically lived our entire lives in Malaysia. But a decision was made nonetheless, after a series of long, honest discourse.
We both had job offers from reputable organisations, making the transition from one country to the other a lot less difficult.
Whilst a series of memorable events have since taken place, I vividly remember my first day at the new office. I spoke with purposeful clarity, enunciating every word to at least appear comprehensible.
“You swallow your words lah hubs. Mat Salleh won’t understand wan. Speak clear clear k”, my eloquent wife reminded, in perfect Manglish, prior to my leaving for work.
And so I did, with horrible futility. I kept getting asked to repeat my words almost everytime I spoke.
I kept telling myself, I wouldn’t have trouble with communication. English is the same everywhere. Accents vary but essentially, the words are the same. Or at least, that was what I thought…. till I got to Australia.
Close to the end of my very first work day, a couple of the guys came up to me and asked…
“Hey mate, you free this arvo for a piss-up?”
I stared at them blankly for at least 15 seconds. I don’t know what was said, but what I heard was an invitation to release some avocados into a pool of urine.
Seeing how they were at least 10 years younger than I am, I thought this must be some nu-skool after-work activity that I am completely unaware of. I didn’t know what to say. I mean, there were a lot of questions in my mind…
“Whose piss are we using?”
“Are avocados so cheap here, people are chucking them into pools of Number 1?”
One of them saw me struggling with comprehension and offered a response. “Hey bro.. we asked if you would like to have a piss-up this arvo. That means beer this afternoon. It’s an Aussie thing. You’ll get used to it”.
I nodded my acceptance to the invitation. As we trudged along to the pub, I was hit by a sudden overwhelming sadness…
Avocados weren’t nearly as cheap as I thought they were.
* This is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.