Sometimes I wait months for an interview to come together. Other times, an interviewee responds in record speed. That was the case with Ken, a Malaysian businessman I met through a professional online network.
Prior to talking with Ken, I spent some time acquainting myself with this fascinating country. Proud of its diversity and strong economy, Malaysia is also rich in natural beauty, with stunning mountains and the breathtaking Batu Caves.
Regarding the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, I learned about the jewels of the city: the Petronas Towers. At one time, they were the highest buildings in the world. Today, they are regarded as the tallest twin towers in the world. Constructed of reinforced concrete, the towers rise 88 floors above the city, or 1, 483 feet into the air. Housed alongside the staggering structures is the Suria KLCC shopping center, which contains 300 shops, an art gallery, an underwater aquarium, and a science center.
Lastly, I learned about Malaysia's obsession with the world's stinkiest fruit: durian. The smell is so foul, it isn't allowed in airports, taxis, hotels, restaurants, or other public places. Those who love it, seek out the many popup durian stands throughout Malaysia and Southeast Asia. I'm told the inner fruit is creamy and sweet, like caramel.
Ken and I met through a professional online network. He eagerly agreed to participate in this project.
Thank you, Ken.
Ken is the manager of a creative production company that specializes in 2d/3d animations. Additionally, his company is occasionally involved in the events industry.
Born in Kuala Lumpur, Ken has lived in Petaling Jaya all his life. When he isn't working in his studio, he enjoys playing basketball, futsal, and jogging.
My Conversation with Ken
Please look out a window in your home and describe what you see.
Some small plants, telephone wires. and cars.
Which languages do you speak?
English, Chinese, Bahasa Melayu (official Malaysian language).
What is the most unusual or unique thing about where you live?
We have lots of Durian stores and bridal houses.
What would you like the world to know about your country?
We are a multi-racial country.
What is a myth or stereotype about your country that you would like to correct?
We have a proper city and with beautiful infrastructure. We don't live in the jungle
What is your favorite time of year in your homeland?
We celebrate many different festivals! Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Hari Raya and Christmas too. Every race will have their own traditions to fulfill during the festivals, and every race has their own unique traditional ethics to practice during those festivals.
If I came to your home for dinner, what would you serve me?
Because I am a Malaysian Chinese, I will serve you Chinese food.
Please share the name and occupation of a person from your country whom you admire or are inspired by. Describe why you feel this way.
Tony Fernandes, because he is a successful entrepreneur which have businesses in multiple industries. And he is somehow related to Richard Branson one of my favorite entrepreneurs too!
What brings you joy?
What frightens you?
What does your country do well? What could it do better?
Malaysia has well-developed air and sea connections among Asia countries. Internal travel in Malaysia is easy as the network of highways (North-South Highway) is well-structured and maintained. For air transportation, more than 25 major airlines service the international airport (KLIA and etc) throughout the nation. Following by sea lane, Malaysia owns seven international ports (Port Klang and etc) that provided with advance harbor installations.
I believe if the country have less corruption, the country can do better.
What is your opinion of the United States?
Huge. A land which created many successful individuals in the business industry.
What would you like to say to the American people?
I love Hollywood and the celebrities. If there’s a chance, I hope I can go there to meet some of them!
What song and/or book from your country is an accurate representation of your culture?
What ONE word best describes your country/culture?
Thanks so much for taking the time to read Talking to the World.
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When I'm not interviewing people for Talking to the World or working on personal essays, I'm spending time writing novels. My first one, Maelstrom, is about a WWII Navy photographer stationed in Iceland. My second, Just Beyond the Timbers, chronicles the cultural history of Native American and pioneer women in early Iowa. You can read more about my novel writing process on 3 Writers in a Cafe Every Friday, another ChicagoNow blog written by me and two other novelists.