I once was introduced to a person at a college cafe. I was just checking the college out at that time. Apparently his son is studying at the college, so I thought it would be a great way to know about the college.
And this incident happened quite recently - 2009 to be precise.
"Hi, I am Rahman," I said, while offering him my hand as a friendly gesture.
He smiled broadly and looked very much a friendly and jovial person that I am not.
"Hi Rahman, my name is Datuk Seri," he said, while shaking my hand. Firmly.
I was (slightly) taken aback. I thought I must have misheard him. For sure his parents would not have given that name to him. "Sorry, I didn't hear you. The noise in the cafe a bit too loud," I excused myself.
"Datuk Seri, just call me Datuk Seri. I am the (a Selangor district) branch chairman of (name of political party)," he said proudly.
He then gave me his card. Of course he has a Malaysian name, with a Datuk Seri's title before his name, but his name is not even mouthful for me to pronounce. So I am not sure why he would have to introduce himself in this manner.
And then we moved on topics of mutual interest. As I have said, he was not brash, to be honest; he was actually quite nice as a person.
That day I left the college with a cynical smile. I would have never believed what I have heard if I didn't hear it with my own ear. I have heard many stories about the datuks and datins showing tantrums when they were not accorded proper protocol and treatment.
"Excuse me, don't you know who I am? I am Datin so-and-so!" would be a common phrase used in such incidents. Or they would give you a Muka 14. I have just heard one story last weekend while attending an engagement party in Johor Bahru.
When I was a rookie engineer at Perak Hanjoong Simen in 1986, my Korean boss told me that in Korea, if one were to climb a hill and from the top, one can see a village full of people, and if you were to throw a stone at them, he was sure it would hit a person by the name of Kim.
When I first heard this, I was tickled pink. I thought it was funny.
I guess that story is true for Datuks and Tan Sris in Malaysia. But in this case, there's nothing funny about it.