When we were staying at Fairview Guesthouse in Kuching two months ago, I struck up a friendship with Annie who runs the guesthouse because she's so friendly and nice. She told me she'll look me up when she visits her daughter here in December, and hopes that I could bring her to my parent's orchid farm.
While I was looking forward to seeing her again, I wasn't quite sure if she meant what she said. To my surprise, she contacted me when she arrived and we had a great time yesterday. She brought along her husband, brother and sis-in-law.
I notice something about Malaysians that I find quite lacking in Singaporeans. It is something intangible yet quite visible when you're in their company. I've met many people in my life but when I'm with my Malaysian friends, I feel extremely comfortable and at ease. They exude warmth and sincerity and still have that Kampong spirit in them.
Spending an entire morning with them at the farm was so enjoyable. They weren't afraid of getting their shoes muddy nor were they bothered by mozzies and the heat. Our conversations revolved around plants, fruits and the good old kampong life instead of achievements, exam scores and possessions . Their knowledge and humility impressed me even more when I realised what high fliers they are when we've said our goodbyes.
In the course of our conversation, I lamented about the stressful environment the kids in Singapore grow up in and what they said was quite enlightening even though it shouldn't come as a surprise. "Singaporean kids are famous for scoring well in exams."
How true! It's front page news today:
Singapore students shine in international benchmarking tests - Singapore students remain world beaters in mathematics, science and reading, according to the results of two international benchmarking studies released on Tuesday with youngsters across the academic streams chalking up higher scores than their predecessors.
I don't know how to react to this. We are a nation of smart people but what about our EQ? Do we leave behind a favourable impression when we meet our foreign friends or are we smart but competitive and maybe even quite complacent?