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  • Writer's pictureChloe Lau

Cultural Difference

Being in a multiracial country, I was fortunate enough to be given opportunities to photograph babies from different races. It also means that I am invited to different people's home to experience the difference in culture first hand. Having spent majority of my adulthood in a different country, I came back to Malaysia seriously lacking in the friends department. Sure, there are acquaintances that are from different background, but to be invited to one's home, that's a pretty intimate thing imo.

I remember one of my very first paying customer were an Indian couple from Melaka. Mummy reached out when baby was almost 3 weeks old, because they also do a version of confinement which means baby isn't allowed out until after a month old. So when she found out that I can do an on-location photo shoot session, she was pretty pleased about it.

Baby S was and still is the baby with the most flawless skin I have photoshoot, he was 3.5 weeks old by the time I have got there, HUGE baby. couldn't fit into most of the things I brought along, but we made it work.

Because the shoot took longer than anticipated, grandma had insisted I stay and have lunch there while they try to sooth baby a bit more (bath, milk and cuddles) before we continue with the session. My first home cook Indian food, YUM!

Being a curious kitten, I also went peeking after my meal at how the baby was bath. That's when I found out that, amazingly, how different people with different cultural background do things differently. After the initial water clean, baby was wipe down with this yellow paste all over, including his face. I asked Grandma what the paste was and was told that it is a mixture of different herbs which has a cooling effect on baby ( Unverified, but I am sure this is the reason why baby's had picture perfect skin) then at the end of the bath, they wash the baby with cold tap water!

They told me to anticipate a wail from baby, and he did not disappoint. I mean, think about those cold shower we as an adult take, the wail we do when we first step into in knowingly. Understandably, the little one would not have been too happy about the the shock of cold water. LOL.

But it make so much sense though, modern research had indicated cold shower is much better for your health than a hot/warm one. So starting them young make sense to me... But i shudder to think about the repercussion I will get from my very traditional Chinese mum, if I tell her I would like to wash my newborn baby with cold water, more likely she will declare I am not of sound mind, and take over the child's bathing routine for the "wellness" of the baby. Haha.

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