Tuesday, February 08, 2011


Never would have I imagined that a trip with so many trials- less than half of the activities went according to plan, most of which were spent in a 5-room flat with 11 other fellow travelers- would turn out to be one of my best winter holiday experiences ever, if not the best. And I owe that mostly to the persons I shared my moments with- my amazing friends, old and new, and the wonderful ‘ustazs’ who went to great lengths to ensure that we felt as much at home as possible. Only Allah could justly reward them for their kindness and sincerity.

My heart felt unusually heavy when it was time to leave this place, the land of the prophets. Perhaps it was because of the state of the country when we were leaving. This might sound lame, but I could quietly feel the air of revolution surrounding us, and even though most of the time we were cooped up in our flat knowing less of what was going on outside than the rest of the world watching the news on tv, the atmosphere was somewhat different, the kind of which I would not feel if I were back in my hostel in Russia, or home sweet home in Malaysia watching the news on tv; to actually be there was an altogether different feeling.

It angers me to read some of the news about the situation here, especially by the Malaysian media (but I have lost my faith in them ages ago, so no love lost there). Yes, the situation here is very serious, but why must these people emphasise on unnecessary details to appear more dramatic? People like drama, that’s why, and the media are playing by it.

When we went to the airport 2 days ago to confirm our tickets, we were interviewed by a couple of our media journalists. And the questions always revolved around the fear of what was going on at the moment, whether we slept with knives and sticks or not (ok I made this one up)- nothing which actually required us to think, like what were our opinions about the issue at hand, or what solutions could we offer to the problem, or what could we learn from this experience. Now who would want to listen to that, huh? Haha. At one point I did tell the journalist off (politely) about their inclination towards drama, which had had parents and families in Malaysia in a frenzy (that was probably why the interview didn't get published ;p).

When I read an account of a local student that she felt like living in Palestine, I couldn’t help but cringe. Firstly, has she ever lived in Palestine to know how it felt like over there? Secondly, knowing the media’s ‘dramaphilic’ attitude, they would definitely use that as a headline and everyone in Malaysia who trusted the news with undaunted faith would be under the impression that this entire nation was a warzone. So I say, why the need for drama?

Another account mentioned about the ‘scary’ route to the airport where there were many ‘askar dan perusuh yang bersenjata”. Soldiers with guns? That’s like doctors with stethoscopes. Perusuh? Rioters? These were people who gathered and marched peacefully to claim their rights after decades of oppression by a dictator’s regime, and you associated them with violence, which, by the way, only occurred when initiated by the police or the dictator’s ‘third force’. They were not the dangerous people here, so to be clear. Everywhere we went, they showed us the 'peace' sign. Why were they armed on the street? Because when the police stopped working, lootings were rampant, and the people took it upon themselves to watch the streets. They patrolled the city day and night, and it was heartwarming watching their spirit and determination as we walked past them on our frequent trips to nearby shops. Sure, they were holding sticks from woods and steel, but they were not going to hit you with them (unless you hit them first, that is).

All in all, I had learned a great deal out of this experience. Every moment was a treasure- from the visits to amazing places to the 'bedtime activity' to the 'rooftop activity' to the flight delay! hehe. I would like to thank my friends again, especially my two closest companions who were by my side practically 24/7 during the whole trip- and I apologise for any wrongs that I made. Let's go again to complete this journey, ok! :) I wish the people good luck, and that a new era will begin in the country- one filled with freedom and justice. And let us all turn to Allah, for He holds the key to our every detail in life, and only through Him shall we attain success.

Written on the plane from Cairo to Moscow, 5th February 2011.