Sunday, January 30, 2005

A huge NO for speed-dating

It seemed like a good idea at the time: friends covering speed-dating event for the paper, Cayce joins in the fun. But little did I know that it would turn out to be one of the worst afternoons of my life!!

From the very second we stepped into the boat, I knew it was a bad idea. Because it was almost Valentine's Day (not for a couple of weeks!! I guess the organizers were needlessly optimistic), they had the bright idea to decorate the small boat with bright!red!heart-shaped!balloons!! Of all sizes! Including balloons that said "Happy Valentine's Day!" "For My Lover" Everywhere you turned, Valentine's Day decorations were an assault to the eyes. While there was no sappy Valentine music, they made up for it for chinese techno music (feng tau?) which in my humble opinion, is the worst kind of music in the world. I hate it, I really, really hate it.

As people slowly trickled in, I thought to myself, this is a really bad idea, but tried to make the best of it by talking to one of the female participants. She initially wasn't so keen for me to sit at her table, as she asked worriedly, "is it allowed?" What? We're not allowed to get to know the participants of the same sex? Ridiculous! But I won her over with my charm and friendliness (he heee) and we passed some of the time, chatting.

We had to wait for over an hour for a couple of guys who slept in. I felt it was really inconsiderate for them to hold most of us up and perhaps the organizers should have thought of a contingency plan for late-comers.

I was really concerned when the room filled up and I could tell that all of them (excluding my friends) couldn't really speak English. I know, some of you are thinking - that's a harsh judgement to make, how do you know? You just KNOW. It's a Malaysian thing - I can't explain it without sounding rude. Anyway, I was also the only non-Chinese participant. No problem for me usually but it can become a problem when the rest of them could speak only Mandarin/Hokkien. Most of them couldn't even muster to speak Malay! Huge problem for me.

For "Bachelor 1", he could neither speak Malay nor English and I, Mandarin - so we sat there, facing each other in miserable silence. It was so embarrassing - especially the part where he had to give me a rose (???!!!) and apparently, "say something nice to make the girl happy!" - he ended up standing for the longest time, while the rest of the guys presented the roses to the girls, sat down and started chatting. I had to motion to him to sit down. He gave the rose to me silently, and we tried to communicate but quickly realized that it was fruitless. I was so embarrassed that I felt on the verge of tears, and I seriously contemplated on leaving. Seriously, I took one look around the room and EVERYONE was speaking in some Chinese dialect (mostly Mandarin). What the hell was I doing there??? The guy didn't look too happy either. Needless to say, it was the most uncomfortable, LONGEST six minutes for the both of us.

Bachelor 2 wasn't so bad - we spoke in a smattering of English and Malay but it was also so painful because we had nothing in common. I was grateful though that we were able to communicate so I smiled all the way through (and continued on for the rest of the event - you had to find the humour of it all). It was so bizarre though because ALL of the guys didn't understand what I did for a living - despite explaining it both in English and Malay. I should have just said that I was a teacher, and be done with it. After all, I just couldn't see myself hanging out with ANY of them after the event, even as just friends. The conversations were incredibly painful - and I'm someone who usually likes to talk!

There was this one guy though who had a reasonable command of English. He said the usual stuff I hear whenever someone finds out about my work ("but you're not afraid of the jungle? leeches? why not??? you're so brave" - me: why?). The conversation led towards the past tsunami disaster and we talked about how animals could sense an impeding nature disaster. I was thinking to myself, "ok, this isn't so bad" until he said seriously, "... just like the Red Indians!"

Right.

Next.

Apparently, he was quite taken by me (hee hee hee) because before his time was up, he handed me his card, and pointed out his cell phone number and e-mail address. Myself, I just couldn't see myself seeing him again because we didn't really have anything in common, he made the Red Indian remark (and didn't stop there, let me tell you), and he wanted to know what religion I was, which I felt was really unnecessary at this point. I told him anyway and he was so excited that we were both Catholics (me lapsed) and that "we" attended the same church - I told him that my parents went to St. Joe, and expectantly waited for him to pick up the clue - he didn't. He was just happy to meet a fellow Catholic (lapsed).

Tarlia made an astute comment: "I think the guys are intimidated by us". I could definitely sense the immediate shyness once they sat in front of me. I guess it didn't help that whenever my friends and I were together, we spoke in confident English, which usually intimidates locals who don't speak it as well. My friends, while Chinese, were not having a good time either because some of them don't speak Mandarin fluently and anyway, the gulf between us and the rest of the people was so wide. We didn't have anything in common with the rest of them, including the girls. We were seriously out of our element. I had questioned the guys and all of them had heard about this event through the Chinese newspaper. This was really unfortunate because it was especially billed as an ENGLISH-speaking event. I naturally wouldn't have signed up if I knew that it was going to be mostly Mandarin-speaking. The organizers mostly spoke in Mandarin themselves! Naturally, I expressed my unhappiness with the organizers later on, and while they were sympathetic, one of them actually told me, ".. but this isn't meant for you to find a boyfriend".

That's not the point!!! Aaaahh!!!...

(anyway, if so, why all the hoo-ha about Valentine's Day??? - we were given heart-shaped Valentine's mugs at the end - ahhh!)

First of all, I went for this, NOT thinking that I would find a boyfriend - sheesh! I just saw this as a fun avenue of meeting new people. I would be happy with the event nevertheless if I could actually communicate with most of the participants.

They offered me the next social event for free (sigh, I would have been happy with a refund instead - false advertising!!) and I told them that I would only consider it if they could guarantee that most of the participants had a very decent command of either English or Malay. Otherwise, it's a waste of time. It's not being snobby because anyway, I'm sure I've wasted the guys' time as well. We were completely in different mind-sets. I don't know how speed-dating is conducted in other areas but I would have expected that the organizers would have been more savvy in forming groups. I think in this case, they were just happy with whomever signed up, and they didn't care whether the participants were incredibly mismatched. Most of the men were working in blue-collared jobs, and could barely speak in English or Malay. I was seriously out of my element and I'm sure they weren't happy with me either. I mean, most local guys here, even with a college degree and being "white-collared" are already intimidated by my job. They can't understand it and they don't understand me. How could I expect a Chinese-speaking mechanic (there were a lot of mechanics!!!!) to understand me either??

Anyway, it would be nice to meet a local guy with the same mind-set but it seems so unlikely as the years pass. Ah well, I'm grateful for everything else in my life: loving (yet wacky) family, great friends, work I feel passionate about, my dogs, travel, etc.. Anything else would be icing on the cake.

21 Comments:

At 9:48 PM, Blogger Resurrected said...

Now, that's scary. To think that I nearly went for one. Don't they have err, fluent English speaking only gigs? The least they can do (the organisers) is to make sure of the general 'compatibility' of the participants. But I think the thing I signed up for (but it was cancelled) should be ok as it was organised by and at this decent hangout.

And you want guys you can't intimidate? Me! Me ! Me! :P

 
At 10:36 PM, Blogger sativa said...

I really felt sorry for those men who attended the event. I'm sure they felt out of place - you can see it in their eyes. Nevertheless, they try to be pleasant and make the best of the situation without offending anyone. I guess that's one good thing about it.

Well, at least we have something to laugh about when we look back at this end of this year! :p

 
At 11:11 PM, Blogger Bertha said...

Sorry to hear that it was painful. But you're right, the organisers should have refunded you, or at least, make better arrangements with how groups were formed!

 
At 7:41 AM, Blogger mac said...

*Laughs*

This post is too funny. I feel sorry that you ended up with a roomful of "typical" Kuching men.

And Feng Tau music for a social gathering ?

This is one of those things that I can't understand about people around here. I mean, is it SO hard to get easy listening, non-intrusive, elevator music ?

As a male who lives in Kuching, I feel sorry for my own kind.....

Better luck next time.

 
At 7:48 AM, Blogger Gette said...

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said we got the scrapings from the bottom of the barrel. I don't remember if I mentioned this but the organisers were virtually pestering me to help find more people because there were not enough (although they skipped around answering my question of "How many?").

I just remembered that in their last event - a dinner - they HAD a requirement of the participants being degree holders. I think in order to get someoneanyone! for this one, they had to turn a blind eye to certain things. *cough*

Valentine's day make crazy monsters out of everyone?

 
At 10:02 AM, Blogger Froot said...

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At 10:27 AM, Blogger mac said...

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At 10:28 AM, Blogger mac said...

You know, I think the organisers should leave out the word DATING from the event.

"Dating" strangers is scary to most people and it sounds so formal.

Or maybe that's just me.

 
At 11:58 AM, Blogger Cayce said...

Thanks for all your comments, guys..

Resurrected, I still believe that there are witty, great local guys out there (whether they're single or not is another matter!) but I guess speed-dating is not one of the avenues to meet them. Like Mac said, I think a lot of people are put off by the word "dating" and think of it as something more serious. The guys I met on Sunday definitely thought it was more of a match-making event rather than a fun social thing. I felt so sorry for the small dude who drove all the way from Jong's crocodile farm (don't ask) thinking that he would find his match. Ultimately, the blame rests on the organizer's shoulders.

Sativa, you know, I think we were more out of place than the guys because seriously, as a group, they pretty much fitted in, including the girls. Sure, they looked uncomfortable, but mostly when they sat in front of us! It was so humiliating because with all the decorations, and the HUGE PUSH for Valentine's Day, it felt like a match-making service. I was so embarrassed that I wanted to cry (wait, I said that already).

Bertha, it would be great if we got a refund!! But I don't think they would, aside from offering the next event for "free". Well, I think I might give it a shot, as Tarlia mentioned how the past events were better organized. But only if my gal-pals were coming along! I guess on the light side of it, we bonded over the trauma, and had such a good laugh over it. My favourite part was hanging out with you guys - and I don't have to fork out money to do that!!

Mac, my man - it would have been better if you were there - at least I would have gotten a decent conversation!! We should meet up sometime, and gripe about the local opposite sex (ha ha) - Marita was suggesting that.

Froot, yes, our man Sunday was the prime beef. Hunk of burnin' love. I feel for the other girls who happily ticked YES on his box.. little do they know... anyway, why is he still single?????

 
At 12:05 PM, Blogger Cayce said...

oh, and another thing - I'm only 5'4" and with heels, I was seriously towering over all the guys, except for Tall Drink of Water Sunday. I don't mind short guys, but they also got to be ok with my height and the fact that I have all these nice shoes with heels that I'm not going to ever give up for a guy because that's just crazy talk!

he hee

 
At 2:58 PM, Blogger Dee M said...

I don't mind speed-dating and it's not because I am looking for a potential partner.More like,meeting new people and the fun of it.But one in Kuching,as you've written here,I have my doubts and would probably rather not go for any (here that is).

Reading this is funny....Hehehe...I can imagine all of you there.

 
At 4:01 PM, Blogger Cayce said...

you know, Dee - if I were you, I wouldn't go for it either. The organizers might mean their best but I felt that they were patronizing towards us - it was just very... LOCAL.. if you know what I mean. It could have been organized so much better, if they had the right mind-set. I was told that they did but I'm not convinced! Seriously, save your money and join a society that has like-minded people...

If I learnt something from this, I feel it's really not worth my while meeting new people through this sort of thing. Chatting with people of all sorts, no problem - I can do it blind-folded but honestly, when I come out from the conversations exhausted because it's all stupid, superficial talk - it's not worth my time and money. And I'm someone who's usually invigorated after meeting with people - but it has to be like-minded people or rather, people with substance and their own opinions.

I'm beginning to realize why I enjoy - and seek out - to meet foreigners e.g. Daniel, Lets, and Erik. They stimulate me in a way that most locals can't/don't.

 
At 6:28 PM, Blogger Gette said...

One of the first things I said to L & S was that some people will be put off by the word "dating". It wasn't such a big deal because to me, it just a more casual word for "appointment". It wasn't such a big deal to them either because they think of it the same way. But to other people out there...

I do like the concept of speed dating versus "join a society with like-minded people" because in the latter, there are other factors to consider. However, I'd be more interested in merging the two - like call together a meetup for people who like English movies & books and create a situation where they'll have to talk to everybody participating for at least 6 minutes. In large groups, quiet people like me always end up listening to the chatty ones dominate the entire conversation. After a while, going out to "meet people" become pointless.

 
At 10:42 PM, Blogger Nick-ed@keksilang said...

*Laughs*
HAH! Mechanics?! I'm sorry but i just can't stop smiling and laughing at futility of the genral population of Swak ppl (me being one of them!)
Name's Nick, really enjoyed this post and the Crushes post.
Am going to add your link to my blog:
http://keksilang.blogspot.com

*burst into fits of laughter*. Again.

 
At 11:43 PM, Blogger Cayce said...

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At 11:53 PM, Blogger Cayce said...

Tarlia, I agree - quiet people get the most out of speed-dating.

You know, it just occurred to me that shy people here would be attracted to speed-dating for the same reason.. which.. doesn't quite work for me lah.. :P

I think large groups of "same mind-set" do provide avenues for chatting with people - it's really up to you what to make out of it. Anyway, at some point when you feel that there are people dominating a large group, turn to the person next to you and pretend it's a speed-dating event! ;-) One thing I have noticed about the groups organized here of "like-minded souls" is that there is a tendency of the group letting others dominate. It doesn't have to be that way - break up into smaller groups, etc..

Keksilang - welcome!

 
At 12:33 AM, Blogger sativa said...

cayce: yes, i very well know that we ARE out-of-place there. what i was trying to say in my previous comment was that both parties are equally at a no-win situation but tried to make the best of it anyway. so sad. a complete waste of time for all.

well, maybe except for the rest of the girls (who are not from our group). they were extremely smitten with Mr Popular Sunday. hehehehe...

 
At 8:25 AM, Blogger joey said...

Speed Dating. This is the first time I've heard about this event.

Feng Tau music for the event is definitely a NO-NO.
Organizers should know better.

I'm sure there are great guys some where out there in Kuching.

 
At 2:27 AM, Blogger [The User] said...

Great story. Speed dating sounds to me like just about the worst idea I can think of.

 
At 4:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was searching for speed dating in Kuching and your web page popped up. I have friends who attended some of the sessions and they had great fun. I suppose you have to go with an open mind to make new friends. It looks like your mind is closed and despite that your "claim" that you are so highly educated and perhaps sophisticated.

My friends got to know doctors, lawyers, engineers in the events they joined. In fact, one of them is going steady now with one of the participants.

I'm sorry that you didn't have a great time at all. Better luck next time then.

 
At 10:26 PM, Blogger Cayce said...

It's funny how people think they could immediately judge you based on a entry you've written. Dear anonymous commenter, if you had read that entry carefully before jumping to conclusions, you'd realize that my BEEF was that NONE of the participants could speak a common language fluently with me!! After all, even to make friends, you *need* a common language to start off with.

Who the fuck cares that they're not doctors or lawyers or whatever?? Did I state that I only wanted to date professionals? (did I even state that I went to this event looking for dates? UGH!)

Oh wait, you're making the assumption that *only* professionals speak English. Hello - this is Kuching, where English is spoken on the street level. I've had many wonderful conversations with *non-professionals* who speak good to excellent English. And forget English! They could barely speak Malay, which *is* the national language of this country! So much for nationalization.

It was clearly the organizers' fault (and why do I get this strong feeling that you're one of them or at least associated with them??? So many friends attending these events eh?) for setting up an event where they knew that all the male participants could only speak in Chinese. And they had met me too, and knew that I *didn't* speak any Chinese dialect. Clearly TERRIBLE organizing on their part. I don't blame the male participants at all, although I also do think that if they live in this country, they ought to have a decent command of either English or Malay to communicate with the other races. It's just common courtesy.

 

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