Here’s another reason to hate me:

I know awesome people.

Last Friday, when I had my wisdom teeth removed, a group of people I barely know rallied and cooked a weekend of meals for my family.

On Friday, we had light chicken calzones in a zesty marinara dip, grits and cookies and the yummiest chicken rice salad Lokes and I have ever eaten in our lives.

On Saturday, we had mega-huge enchiladas with chicken and beans, generously swathed in sour cream.

On Sunday, it was authentic North Indian vegetarian Indian dhal curry, freshly baked curry puffs and mint chutney.

On Sunday evening, a dessert of cinnamon raisin rice pudding.

As I happily spooned another helping of pudding onto my plate last night, I wondered: Does this sort of stranger kindness happen elsewhere? Certainly not in Malaysia, that’s for sure. Why? For one, we have our families. It’s just too much work to have to go through for people you’re not related to, that’s the basic mentality. Blood-relation seems to be the only valid basis to trust someone even when it comes to sponsoring a meal – (and sometimes not even that). The rule is simple. In times of trouble, take care of your own. Deny your own flesh and blood and you’ll rot in the 18th level of fiery hell.

Out here, it’s nuclear families galore. As such, a different sort of support system exists, that of neighbours and colleagues, of preschool and kindy mom friends – and, very often, even complete strangers. When my friends brought food on Friday, Lokes was a little dazed.

“Who are these people?” he’d asked, as he took in the spread, unable to fathom that people not related to us would go through so much trouble.

“Oh my God, that’s just so…nice!” remarked my sister, who lives in Australia. So apparently, this doesn’t happen very often there as well.

Now I’m not saying that strong family support is not as good. I don’t think I could ever have contemplated starting a family if it weren’t for my mom and in-laws being around. The fact is, I feel blessed to have been exposed to both cultures: People who have such solid family support that they never need to rely on complete strangers, and people who have such solid community support that they don’t have to worry about relying on absent family. Helps reinforce that with everything that’s screwed up in the world, there is still some real good out there.

And some really good cooks!