Relationships are complicated enough, but what’s it like when both sides are of different races?
Mixed relationships are nothing new in Malaysia, since we all have at least one friend who is of mixed parentage. So what is it like dating someone of a different ethnic background at this day and age?
1. "Being able to try traditional Portuguese and Indian homemade food at each other's family gatherings" - Surain Calven and Diandra Nunis
Both Surain and Diandra got super excited when we asked them about the favourite part of each other's culture, "THE FOOD!"
Surain has never had Malaysian-Portuguese food until he first attended a family gathering at his fiancé's place. "My favourite has to be the Debal Curry (aka Devil's Curry)! And the chilli pork," he said. Diandra also loves the home-cooked Indian food served at Surain's family gathering.
The pair didn't go into details when asked if they've experienced any racial stereotyping throughout their six-year dating period. However, Diandra did mention that she would voice out if someone had did that to her fiancé. She explained, "I'm not one to just keep quiet on stereotypes. I respect everyone has their own opinion but I do tell them that it isn't always true, and you can't just stereotype someone based on their ethnicity, just in case they can't see it from a broader perspective."
Surain also added on to that, saying that we should respect each other because each ethnic group has their own set of traditions and beliefs. And it's the diversity in race, culture, and food, as well as unity that the couple loves about Malaysia. "Nothing makes us feel more at home than to see unity among Malaysians," they said.
2. "It's just like any other relationship. Our different races don't really play much of a part in our relationship" - Eugene Chang and Sherilyn Deva
Both Eugene and Sherilyn's families are very supportive of their relationship when they got together a little more than a year ago.
Sherilyn is of mixed parentage (her father is of Indian-Peranakan descent, whereas her mother is Chinese-Ceylonese) so her dating someone from another ethnic group didn't come as a surprise to her family. Eugene's family, who are Malaysian Chinese, did not object to it too. In fact, they love having Sherilyn over for Chinese New Year, which she found exciting.
"Although I am Chindian, I am more in touch with my Indian side and we don't really go all out with the Chinese New Year celebrations. So it is interesting to learn about the other half of my heritage through him," she said.
For Eugene, it was an eye-opening experience to celebrate Christmas with Sherilyn's family. "Since she is a mix of different culture from Baba Nyonya to Indian and Sri Lankan, it's quite nice to see the way it all mixes in her family from the way they talk to their choice of food."
When asked about what they love about Malaysia, both agree that it's the mixture of languages, culture, and people that makes this country beautiful. "Malaysians are friendly and we are to a certain extent, very homely people. We can go overseas for studies and as soon as we meet a fellow Malaysian there, it is as if we have been friends for years."
3. "Doing Deepavali with Prem's family, then Gawai and Christmas in Kuching at Kara's" - Prem Shanker and Kara Simon
"We don't need to fight when it comes to celebrating festivities. We get to be at my house for Deepavali and Christmas at hers," Prem said. He also mentioned that another thing he loved about being in a mixed relationship is that he gets to learn a new language. In this case, it's Bidayuh as Kara is of Bidayuh-Chinese descent.
For Kara, it's the vibrant celebrations and great food she tried at Prem's that really excites her. She also mentioned that the fact that they're from different ethnic backgrounds never made her think that this relationship is in anyway 'different' from everyone else's. "When I think of our relationship, it being an interracial one isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. I’m in a beautiful, healthy relationship with a wonderful man who respects me and supports my dreams is all that matters to me."
Being stereotyped based on their race is nothing new for the couple, especially for Prem. In situations like these, Kara would "always stand up for Prem and try to get people to put themselves in his shoes".
But they treat these as isolated incidents, which doesn't affect their love for the country. They told us, "We love that Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures and there’s always something new to learn about a different culture. Also, as foodies, Malaysia is definitely the best place to be, especially since food is available 24 hours!"
Not just these couples, but Malaysians in general are blessed to be able to enjoy the best of both worlds (or more) because we're such a diverse country
We get to go to so many open houses to celebrate different festivals, enjoy the best dishes from each culture, and even learn from one another. And the best part is, we're all able to put aside our differences and embrace unity.
To celebrate the mix of diverse cultures in Malaysia, Guinness launched three limited-edition bottle designs. Each of these bottles are inspired by the traditional art styles of various ethnic group, such as the Peranakan tiles motifs, East Malaysian tattoo art, and Bornean fabric patterns.
It also fuses images of animals iconic to Malaysians and Guinness into the design: the hornbill and leatherback turtles that represent Malaysia, and the bulldog that is a symbol of Guinness.
These bottles are specially designed for Malaysia so you can only get them here. Get yours now while stocks last.
Learn more about Guinness' limited-edition bottles here