Thursday, August 13, 2015
This would be my second time driving a car in the US - in California to be precise.
Just like when I was in Canada for three visits. In Ontario, to be precise.
It is left-hand drive in both countries, in case you didn't know.
To be honest, it had been and is pleasant driving in both places - in Fullerton-Anaheim-Placentia (Orange County, Southern California) and in Toronto-Kitchener-Mississauga-Waterloo (Ontario) because basically motorists are not crazy, demented or/and mad. Particularly in Ontario.
In Mississauga back in 2010 when I first visited my son, Adel - I was honked at only once for blocking a lane I should not have been in. But ever so lightly honked.
In Anaheim in January this year, in an Asian neighbourhood - a motorist honked at me because I was driving a little too slow on a fast lane.
Yep, forgot the fast and slow lanes here are in reverse. But heck -- that happens in Asian neighbourhoods. Asians! Sheesh -- what do you expect?
And yesterday when returning back from Farina's place - at the traffic lights as I was making a turn. That was and is still puzzling. Was I driving too slowly? Perhaps. Still -- just a single light honk. Not the rabid crazy Malaysian honk.
It is funny but I am quite nervous driving here and in Ontario because (generally) people are just so civil.
So used to the madness in KL? Perhaps...
Here, I worry - am I driving too fast? Am I turning too quickly into the next lane? Am I stopping too abruptly?
And the most recurring habit -- driving too far right in the lane. Something that spooks both Adel in Canada and Farina, here in Orange County, Southern California.
"Mummy, mummy ... you are too far right.. ", Adel used to say to me back when I was driving us around in Ontario. He was more nervous than me. Then , I got nervous.
Here, hardly five minutes in the car and on the road, Farina said "ikut kiri ikut kiri, Kak Ena". I thought , at first, that she meant for me to keep to the left lane because i needed to make a left turn.
Then...aah. I was too far right.
I have until the end of the month to remember to "ikut kiri".
And if I forget, this will be the song with only two words that either Farina or Shaira will be singing to me as we cruise around the neighbourhoods of Fullerton and Anaheim or the Santa Ana freeway -
"Ikut kiri ikut kiri ikut kiri" ...
I would usually react rather insipidly because firstly I'd be at home and spending in Ringgit and no reason to be needing to convert currencies and secondly, this came as no surprise.
This time, though, it is different because I am now in the US with my daughter who is studying here. I am concerned. Worried over what is to follow.
Early this year when my daughter came here to continue her American degree program at California State University, the exchange rate was hovering around RM3.81-82 to the USD.
Before I left on Aug 10, it was 3.86.
Sure, this will hit me as a parent with a daughter in the US.
But I have to say that I am a little fortunate because I actually was prepared for this.
Last year when preparing my daughter's departure to the US, I opened a foreign currency (USD) account back home so that any fluctuation in rates will not affect me. Yes, thank God, I did that.
Nevertheless, the concern is real.
But, we've been through this before. Thankfully, our prime minister then , Datuk Seri (now Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad handled it brilliantly, confounding all and sundry by imposing capital control and we not only survived but overcame it all.
We could have gone the Indonesian way if we had submitted to the IMF.
Most Malaysians who experienced that will never forget those trying times.
I do feel for those who are supporting their children's studies in the US. It will hit them, if it has not already.
I remember years ago when the exchange rate between the Ringgit and Pound Sterling began to make a sharp increase, some parents were forced to end their children's studies in Britain. Their kids had to return home.
I can only pray that we will overcome - yet again another trial and tribulation. How, I don't know -- I am no economist. But I was not born yesterday. Isn't this a cycle? Malaysia is not alone. So whether global forces will come together to bring stability back or for our prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to come up with a brilliant plan -- time will tell. Let's hope it will be soon.
We will see ...