PETALING JAYA - Malaysians from near and far will join the day of mourning for the departed souls of MH17.
Avtar Singh Dhaliwal, who moved to Sacramento, California, seven years ago, has cancelled plans to celebrate his 41st birthday today to be in solidarity with fellow Malaysians to mourn the victims.
"I had booked a place and invited my colleagues and friends for a party. But since Malaysians are mourning, I have cancelled the event," he said in an e-mail from the United States.
Even though the cancellation came at the eleventh hour, the father of one said his friends were most understanding.
"In fact, they were proud of me that I have not forgotten my roots and my countrymen," said Avtar, an employee of a top US bank.
Elizabeth Tai, a healthcare worker in Adelaide, Australia, said she would tell her clients about Malaysia's day of mourning.
"I will wear black today because I will always be Malaysian no matter where I live," she said in a Facebook message.
The 38-year-old said Australians often expressed sympathy and sadness for the MH370 and MH17 tragedies when they heard where she was from.
"Here, in Australia, everyone is as shaken (as those in Malaysia) because the country lost a number of their people too. And as a Malaysian, I share their sorrow," she said, adding that she was, most of all, struck by the loss of nearly a hundred children on board the doomed flight.
Businessman Manjeet Singh Sidhu, 45, will be offering prayers with his family at Gurdwara Sahib Pulapol in Kuala Lumpur as a mark of respect for K. Karamjit Singh and other victims.
"Although I didn't know Karamjit personally, we would always acknowledge each another whenever we met at the gurdwara.
"He was well-liked by the members of the congregation and was active in voluntary and community work," said Manjeet.
Karamjit, 54, an employee of ExxonMobil, was among 43 Malaysian passengers and crew on board the Malaysia Airlines jetliner that was allegedly shot down over the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine while travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
May Cheong, 32, a journalist, said she and her family would offer special prayers for the victims in Sungai Pelek, Selangor, today.
For self-employed P.C. Choong, he and his badminton buddies would head home straight after their weekly game today.
"We usually go for a few drinks after badminton on Fridays," said the 36-year-old. "But not today. Drinking has been scrapped."
K. Maniam, 54, said no music would be played at his restaurant from 6am till 9pm today.
"On a normal day, my workers will switch on the music, especially the Hindi numbers on Astro, from 9am till we close.
"But as a mark of respect for the victims, there will be no music. We will just switch on the television to watch the live telecast of the ceremony," he said.
Others will be mourning in their own way.
A businessman, an old boy of St Paul's Institution in Seremban who chose to remain anonymous, has contributed RM50,000 to a fund set up for the families of the crews of MH370 and MH17.