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He kept these thoughts to himself and never shared with |
anyone. He would soon learn the numerous business
and cultural differences in this foreign land, working in a
corporation governed by foreigners unlike his own kind.
Teak’s family arrived in Ipoh with barely any money or
anything remotely valuable. Their prized possessions
were the sacks on their backs with just a few pieces of
linen clothes bolstered by their tenacity for hard work.33 Zhū Pearl
Teak’s father, not knowing anyone in Ipoh saw
him quickly making friends around his local shack
his family now called home. His neighbors were
mostly low level laborers at the tin mines and soon
one kind Samaritan offered to introduce him to his
supervisor. As this supervisor also made his way
up the hard way, relying on no connections at all,
he empathized with this eager looking man, albeit a
bit weary looking and told him to come to the mines
the next day. Through sheer tenacity, hard work and
resilience, Teak’s father was able to keep his role
and even became the head of the other laborers.
Teak’s father was often reminded by his peers to
be courteous and respectful towards his British
bosses. These Anglo-Saxons were observed to
be strict, even intimidating if the situation arises.
There was one incident when members of a highly
feared triad attempted to extort them for ‘protection
money.’ Not only did these Colonists refused to kowtow34 Jasemin Sibo Sībǎo
kòutóu to them, they threatened to call up the local
authorities should they not leave their site immediately.
So, imagine Teak’s father’s delight when one day
when he was toiling under the scorching hot sun;
someone tapped on his shoulder and offered him
a drink. When he turned around, he saw that it
was one of the senior British managers holding
out a cup of iced water with a grin on his face.
“Should I take the cup?
Will I appear disrespectful if I drink it in front of
him or will I offend him if I refuse his offer?
Is this a test?”
“Not to worry my lad, I have seen how hard
you have worked. I appreciate good and
honest workers. Go on, take the cup.”35 Zhū Pearl
As Teak’s father gulped down the cool water and
felt his scorched throat moistening, he suddenly
felt an unusual kinship between him and this regal
looking foreigner with kind eyes and a warm smile.
These two comrades, who had left their Motherland
in the same year in 1934, and arrived in this strange
town called Ipoh, soon found themselves immersing
in a totally new vocation, working under British
Colonial heads, and ultimately trying to forge a
new future for themselves and their families.