Monday, July 05, 2010

The Malaysian Pizza Hut Experience

Last night we were being picked up at the train later than usual, so we had time to get off the train at an earlier stop to have dinner. We stopped at KLCC, a large mall, to eat at Pizza Hut--our weekly American indulgence after eating Asian food all week.

The sign was familiar and the table and chairs were typical, but there the similarities to American Pizza Huts stopped. Our server was a Muslim girl who had on the Pizza Hut uniform, shirt and pants, but her head and neck were covered with a black tudung, the Muslim headcovering that clearly distinguishes the Muslim women from the Chinese or Indian women (or Americans!)

We have also seen Muslim women wearing the burka, such a complete covering that there is only a slit for her to see out. This is quite disconcerting, especially in a restaurant where she must lift the flap on the front to slip her food up under it and into her mouth.

So our server was a very efficient young Muslim woman. The menu featured pizza with prawns, so we passed on that to get one pepperoni and one veggie. From the menu and from what we had been told locally, we knew that the pepperoni was beef rather than the forbidden pork. Since Malaysia is officially a Muslim country, pork is found only in some Chinese or Indian restaurants marked "non-hallal."

Each table had a buzzer on it with buttons marked Call, Bill, and Cancel. Kinley and Knox, of course, vied for who would get to push the buttons. Since it's an American restaurant, I asked if there were free refills. "No, no refills," she answered. She'd obviously had that question before. I ordered "Diet Pepsi," and when she read back our order, she said, "Pepsi Light." You'd think I'd know how to order my diet soda by now!

As we ate, more people arrived. It was around 8:30, but we've noticed that families eat much later here than in the US. All the other women in the room were wearing tudungs. Most of the men were dressed in a typical American way except for one who looked like Osama Bin Laden and was dressed in white with a Nehru collar. He did help the children with their food. We felt it inappropriate to take a picture, but I did take pictures of shops selling the tudungs.

There were two precious little girls dressed to match that looked about 8 and 10 years old. Their headbands matched their outfits and they looked so cute. But it bothered us to think that soon they will have to cover their heads and retreat into a world that thinks less of them than of men. (Though Muslim women do work here in restaurants, banks, retail, etc., still wearing their tudungs.)

Eating pizza in a room full of Muslims was quite an anachronistic experience for us. As a result, I think we all felt even more determined to spread Jesus here. We cannot teach the Muslims, but we can reach their Chinese neighbors and hope eventually they, too, will know the truth. Jesus is Lord!

1 comment:

supermomdoesn'texist said...

Wow...such an interesting experience. I find it funny how the American-chain restaurants do differ dramatically in customs and even tastes abroad, but what a dose of culture shock!! Especially the women who can work but still must be covered, how sad...