Friday, February 29, 2008


What is wrong with that word? It used to be alright to use it to mean moving in a group. My mother used to go on a rombongan to Kuala Kangsar in the 60's. I used to go on school rombongan to visit educational places. Nowadays that term has a different connotation. That's what I just realized what a BIG mistake I made. I supposed I could have been forgiven by using that term since I belong to that generation that the word rombongan means something exciting to do with your friends.

I was in transit at Inchon, Seoul recently. We boarded the flight that was heading home to KLIA. Flights on the code sharing, called sky team. I was on Delta from Atlanta (DL), and there were passangers on MH and KE whom actually were sitting on KE aircraft KLIA bound.

I guess I was the only one who originated from Atlanta, GA and terminate at KLIA. When we boarded the aircraft, I could hear a familiar language spoken. Unmistakably, it was my mother tongue that I missed a lot. I was excited to talk to these group of people whom themselves sounded very excited with their trip to Seoul. They were loud and talking about their shopping etc. Some were even talking about making a similar trip to the US namely NYC.

In my excitement meeting this group, I turned around and asked in a very friendly manner "You all ni mai rombongan ka or ikut rombongan?" Then to my utter disbelief, everyone went silent. I did not know what I said that was so wrong. I thought these ladies were rude, they did not answer my question. I thought they did not hear me, I stood up and turned and asked the same question again to give them the benefit of the doubt. Again nobody said anything and I noticed nobody looked at me. Then I was confirmed that orang melayu memang rude.

I only learned later that the term rombongan is only referred to those group travels synonymous with makciks on a bus or coach trip. How out of date I am with my language. I supposed I have offended those ladies making their overseas trip sounded very kampong.

You learn something new everyday, don't you.