Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Life in a Small Town Pt 2: The Naughty Boys

The Daily Brunei Resources is one of my favourite blogsites. Mr BR is actually a high-up Brunei government official and he blogs with the intention of "helping to foster a better informed Brunei society". His posts are always entertaining and insightful - with people like him in the government, I have confidence in Brunei's future.

Anyway, yesterday he posted a relatively light-hearted entry - a list called 57 reasons why I like living in Brunei, originally written by an American expat. I was especially tickled by point number 6 i.e. giggly teenage Muslim girls with headscarves acting like giggly teenage girls all over the world.

This comment on teenage behavior reminded me about Mr K-E's experience with some Bruneian teenagers when he was working in Brunei.

Mr K-E 's office was based in an out-of-the-way shopping complex in Brunei. His office was on the first floor and there were various shops on the ground floor eg a supermarket, a DVD shop, tailor shop etc. It was quite busy downstairs but hardly anyone came up to the first floor except for the people who worked in the offices.

Every Friday, a group of teenaged boys would hang around in the stairwell near his office. They would all be dressed up for the mosque, but instead of going, they would spend their time playing cards. He used to call them "The Naughty Boys". They would sit around an old concrete bench with their bicycles lying in a pile behind them, slapping down their playing cards as if they were gangsters in a Hollywood movie.

(For any non-Bruneians reading, playing cards is frowned upon in Brunei because it is linked to gambling, which is strictly forbidden. Actually, I'm not even sure if you can buy playing cards in Brunei. So the boys were being very naughty indeed. Hee hee hee)

The Naughty Boys seemed content to spend their Friday afternoons playing cards, until one Friday in Ramadan*. Mr K-E saw one of the boys eating a large bag of crisps; waving the packet around in a "I'm eating, so what" manner. Ha ha ha! What a rebel!!!

Teenage boys seem to be the same everywhere. Anything "forbidden" is the coolest thing in the world. In big cities, rebellious teenagers are breaking into cars and vandalising public transport; in Brunei, they are playing cards and eating crisps. In a way, thinking about those boys makes me miss Brunei and small town life. Imagine living somewhere where smuggling chicken** across the border is front page news. That's my Brunei.

*Ramadan - the Muslim holy month, when all good Muslims fast during daylight hours
**by chicken, I mean chicken (the food) ....I'm not being coy and posting about prostitutes or anything like that. I am talking about Brunei after all.

No comments: