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Salam Ramadan from the Maple Leaf!

Hey, I guess it has been waaayyy too long since I last updated. Happy Ramadan to fellow muslims around the world.

So, in keeping with this month of abstinence and reflection, I suppose I shall write about some introspection of a year so far in Canada. All this while I have always been writing about what I do, and I haven't written anything much about what I think or what I feel. So, for a moment, let's just forget all the snow, and cute blond guys and worms I've ever seen.

All my seniors are going back to Malaysia after they've graduated, I think most of them have already returned to Malaysia. I guess the self- reflective mood got rubbed off onto me as well, and it made me think, if I were to be in their place.

Four years abroad can change a lot about a person in many different ways, depending on how they shaped their experiences, whether or not they branched out or remained in their select groups. Experiences can change the way you view life as well, and it sometimes conflicts with the values you were brought up with.

I don't even know where to start, a lot happened, and I suppose, a large part of my worldview could have changed.

Let's start with the easy lessons that I learned:

1. I learned that dental costs can cost a bomb and I have to take care of my teeth more properly. and blond Canadian dentists are not only hot, but they're really gentle. Even though you didn't feel a thing (due to the anaesthesia), the dentist would apologize now and then. I just love the service here. I remember walking out of a government clinic with clothes soaked with saliva, but I came out of the campus clinic high and dry.

2. It is important to watch my diet and regularly take fibre. As a result of that, I am now an avid fan of spinach and tomatoes, and I learned how to make sayur masak lemak for that cause.

3. I learned that it is important to keep the bathroom clean. Plunging the tub and pulling out mounds of hair and goo isn't fun. There was so much hair I thought I was tugging a person's head through the sinkhole.

4. It is important to be systematic even in throwing out the garbage. due to carelessness, I had to handle a bagful of maggots. It was a nightmare, I swear. So now, I separate my organic waste (cooking materials, food leftovers, etc etc) from the non-organic ones, and keeping the garbage tied up at all times so the flies won't get inside.

5. It's really important to keep track of where your money goes. Ingat banyak lagi, but before you know it, it's gone.

So I suppose, those had to do with housekeeping that I finally realized the importance of it until I got here.

So, for the more "deeper", "philosophical"stuff that I was thinking about, kind of came from the thought of not being home in Malaysia for so long and coming back, feeling estranged from your own kin and your own country. You find that you've changed in certain ways that makes you not recognize what was once familiar and the people you come back to also feel the same way about you.

Let's give a really trivial example. Let's say before you went abroad, you were completely fine with not cleaning up after you eat at a restaurant in Malaysia, and when you  returned, you look around you and you feel disgusted that people don't clean up after you eat, and you find that not holding the door for someone to be really offensive.

Now, let's take that deeper. When you were in Malaysia, it was okay to publicly call Jews infidels, or to diss gay people, but all the while when you've been abroad, such actions could send you to jail, and deep down inside, you know it is morally wrong to behave in such a way. Imagine yourself being disgusted with the ways Malaysians behave which you yourself have once behaved that way.

When you make known of how you really feel to the people around you, the typical response would be, "Yeah, you've been away for quite some time, you don't know what's going on." or "Yeah, you've been conditioned by the society that you lived in overseas." "dia dah liberal dah. duduk dengan mat salleh." or worse, "The Western culture has tainted your values. You are now their sympathizer. You don't understand what's going on in this country anymore." or "You're just too "foreign" to be able to relate with us or for us to relate with you now."

I don't fear alienation. At some point in my life, I kind of grew up being the "odd one", or being "subversive" to the norms and sometimes the one having the weird way of looking at things. What I really fear is my distaste developing into hate and the unwillingness of returning. Day by day there seems to be a lot of things that I dislike, and for some reason, this place has grown on me. And it's not because of the golden-haired boys alone.

I don't like to sound whiny without constructive action. I guess that's what I learn to. Even though you're stuck on one thing and it sucks, you can't really mope about it because you've got a lot of other things to do. So you really don't have any other choice but to move on.

I suppose I didn't really get into detail how my worldviews have changed, there's a lot really, I just don't have the right words to say them with. Kind of like some snippets of what I have in mind,

1. Videos such as this:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6E9NcbVa4FU

I know, as a regular muslim Malay person in Malaysia, at a sight of such videos/articles that are labelled "Save our ummah", "spread this to our brothers for the love of Islam", one is compelled to share such things and feel panic rising. Our faith is in danger. For some reason, in my mind, I don't think this is the way to go. From the standpoint of muslims, yes, it might feel devastating, but what if a Christian sees this. How would they feel ? Will they not feel that they are made the antagonist in this video ?

I prefer a world where religions coexist peacefully, rather than one in which is homogenized. It's not possible to convert everyone to the same religion. Instead of one trying to dominate the other, why can't we try to understand each religion and find common ground? For some reason studying about other religions as well as my own, somehow makes me feel closer to God rather than being in an exclusivist community.

2. I don't like this "us" versus "them" mentality. I see people getting emotional over protests and all, for women's rights, gay's rights, muslims rights. It's not that I don't think that they shouldn't stand for their rights, but I feel protests further create the divide between the protestors, and the people they are protesting against. After all, is it not human nature to be defensive when one is attacked ? How are protests able to achieve understanding when both parties are adamant at being at each other's necks ?

3. Gays. Transsexuals. It is wrong. That, I will not argue from a religious standpoint, but I do feel that they deserved to be treated as humans. They are not to be shunned nor condemned. Whatever sin they commit, it's between them and God. After all, siapa kita nak halang rezeki orang lain.

I know my thoughts seem very incoherent and this piece isn't really well written. I just had to get these out. I felt that I've held them for a bit too long, and I haven't updated for a long time, as well. So I'll leave you with this thought.

Perhaps people these days should use more language of love and compassion rather than of contempt and discrimination.





Comments

Akmal Farhan said…
Sangat tertarik dengan pandangan kam terhadap isu-isu berkenaan islam dan protest.
imran said…
“There is dignity in your being even if there's indignity in what you're doing.” — Tariq Ramadan

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