Ever since I became a volunteer with the Buddies Society of Ipoh, it became apparent to me that quite a number of people don’t seem to know the difference between Buddies and Buddhist.
The first time, after I was newly confirmed as a Buddy, and my number was written on our brochure at the HIV clinic (at that time we didn’t have any hotline number yet – so we put down the personal hand phone numbers of a few of our volunteers), a call came in from a Chinese lady, “Allo… ini Buddhist ka?” It took me a while to comprehend that she was trying to get in touch with Buddies.
There were quite a few occasions when people would pronounce the word as Buddhist and I’d have to correct them and say Buddies. After a while I didn’t bother to correct them anymore.
Initially when we were just a wing under the Perak Family Health Association (used to be known as Family Planning Association), the name was just Buddies of Ipoh. I wasn’t a member then. In 2004 when we decided to stand on our own as an association, we registered with ROS using the same name. But the ROS insisted that the name SOCIETY must be included and so we finally became the Buddies Society of Ipoh.
With the word Society included, more people thought we were the Buddhist Society. The chairperson then was a Chinese lady, so I guess it was even more believable.
But imagine the looks on people’s faces when they saw this mak aji beginning to represent the “Buddhist” society.
Once I attended a meeting organised by the Pejabat Kesihatan Daerah. The chairman was noting down the attendance and read out the names of agencies/organisations to check if there were representatives. When he came to the name of my NGO, he mentioned, “Persatuan Buddhist Ipoh”, and this mak aji selamba-ly raised her hand without saying anything. He looked at me, then back at the list, then he said, “Oh maaf, Persatuan Buddies ya, bukan Buddhist.” Tau pulak sebut betul-betul without having anyone to correct him!
The next meeting organised by the Pejabat Kesihatan Daerah, the Chairman didn’t bother to call out the names, so I was spared from having to get funny looks for representing “Buddhist”. However, a doctor who was sitting beside me, to whom I gave my card to, suddenly became quiet and only after a few minutes, gathered some courage to ask me…
“Ni sebut macam mana ya?”
(I heard a sigh of relief from her.)
Doc: “Saya ingatkan Buddhist!”
Me: “Kan ke lain ejaannya?”
Doc: “Ha’ah ek, ya tak ya juga.”
Aduh, and to think that she’s a doctor!!
And how can I forget the time when I went to represent Buddies to receive a cheque from HRH Raja Nazrin. The emcee had (as expected) used the wrong pronunciation during the rehearsal. Fine, so I told another officer the correct pronunciation and this officer went to tell the emcee. But the emcee insisted, “Tulis sini BUDIS, bukan BADIS.”
Adoi, cakap orang putihlah yeop!
It’s BUDDIES, the plural for BUDDY, okay? Go to citcat.com and the translation is RAKAN – which is what we do – we become buddies to HIV infected/affected families.
And yes, I am a Muslim. DUH!