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North East Malaysian Night 2016

Alya Omar Out and about

Every year, a group of Malaysian university societies based in the North-East get together to host a cultural event called ‘North-East Malaysian Night’. This year, the committee consisted of Newcastle, Northumbria and Durham’s Malaysian societies; a pretty big collaboration if you ask me! The purpose is to basically promote our culture to the region, and this year, our theme was called ‘Hello, It’s Malaysia!’

The main event of North-East Malaysian Night is the annual play, but a few days before that, the Malaysian Night committee had another event called ‘Malaysian Carnival’ from the 9th to the 10th of March 2016. There were various stalls set up outside Newcastle University’s student union to promote the event. It was mostly food but hey, who’s complaining? Besides if there’s one thing about Malaysians, it’s that we love food.

Said stalls sold all kinds of Malaysian treats such as Nasi Minyak (flavoured rice usually made with either butter or ghee) and Char Kuey Teow (fried flat rice noodles). There were also drinks being sold, such as The Tarik (literally means ‘pulled’ tea, made with condensed milk). While my friend and I didn’t try everything available, we decided to get cendol (dessert made from rice flour, mixed with cocounut milk and palm sugar) which was pretty much amazing.

The wet, gloomy weather didn’t seem to dampen our spirits as we enjoyed interacting with other people who were attending! And it certainly didn’t stop the ‘dikir barat’ (think of it as a call/response performance) performers from doing their thing to promote Sunday’s play.

Sunday finally rolled around, and so did the play titled ‘Mawar’ at Northumbria’s Domain, an adaptation of a Malaysian movie by the late Yasmin Ahmad, a prominent director in the local scene and who was also an alumni at Newcastle University. Set in 2006 at a Malaysian high-school, some of the scenes really brought back some nostalgia to the audience (High School Musical, anyone?) The characters were well-played out, giving us a sense of “I knew someone like that back then” whenever they got up to their antics.

Overall I really enjoyed this year’s Malaysian Night. Having been a part of the crew for the past two years, it feels different being a guest this time. Nevertheless, a lot of time and effort went into making the event. Plus it’s always nice to see some old friends again, as well as making new ones!

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