I told you I started writing a novel about my aunt’s salon back in the 70s and 80s but I’m beginning to wonder if I can pull it off without producing another cliche.That era is so over-written, especially in Malaysia where people seem to LOVE stories set in that era, including ads (I mean, look at all the Leo Burnett ones) or anything remotely connected to the past. Is it because so much more seemed to be happening then, that we can’t find anything exciting to write about the now?

Granted I’m a few thousand miles away and am the last person to be writing about life back home. I wasn’t gone that long. So why is it so hard to describe what it means to be Malaysian? Or Malaysian Chinese, without sounding as if I’ve heard it a million times before?

Also, I find it really challenging to peg down what it means to be Malaysian Chinese. Almost everything I can think of is a cliche (like not being able to read or write Chinese aka being a “banana” but not really because BM is actually our first language and not English). Really, what distinguishes us from other nationalities? And what distinguishes us from other Chinese? Or other Malaysians even?

I am currently reading Elif Shafak’s Bastard of Istanbul and I envy her ability to identify the nuances of being Turkish and Armenian AND Turk/Armenian American. Do other Turks and Armenians think of her descriptions as being cliched? I wonder.

It’s sad I don’t have much to write about that I don’t think is 1) overwritten; or 2) interesting enough to write about.

This is depressing.

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