"How about your tudong?" I asked, using the Malay word for a head scarf. "You live in this modern city, your husband is an accountant, your kids listen to iPods. Your scarf seems so traditional. Do you feel you're free to take if off and show your hair, if you want?"
"That is my own choice," she said, gently passing her hand over the scarf. "It's part of our religion, and it is the way of our leaders. I choose to wear it. My daughter's generation might have different ideas. But it makes me comfortable, so I wear it."
"And how about this custom of kissing your husband's hand?" I asked.
"This is a form of respecting each other," she said. "It's part of being a good Muslim. Doing it every day makes sure you're purged of guilt and grudges. I do it from the bottom of my heart, not that I have necessarily done anything wrong. It's just a show of respect. My husband reciprocates, but in his own way."