Saturday, July 28, 2012

London – The Brief Stay

When I was awarded a scholarship to study in the US it was simply a dream came true. Since in secondary school (in the 60’s) I was fed with so much information. The day I landed in the States I was really in another world. A door was opening. It led to another door. Then to another window. An alley. Every possible opening for me to traverse freely. My world was a bigger sphere. I was seeing the world in perspective. A spectrum of colours. Sounds. Patterns. It was so diverse that with only profound understanding I could manage to value it. There was no norm. No undue generalisation. Everything simply converge on me. The lone traveller through time and space. For 18 months I was sampling a different life altogether. At the end of my stay another opportunity was opening. I could really go back to Malaysia through another route. I could go around the world. A simple talk. A simple enquiry. Fanally a frequest was made to the Stedents’ Department at the Malaysian Embassy in Washington. My request was accepted.

I went to US through the Pacific. Passing through Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. I came back through the Atlantic. I was to be in London. Wow! What a dream. Superb. Iwas really elated. Very much excited. My! London was my childhood dream. Much said by elders in my family. The capital city of the British Empire. The love and hate of many nations. My world was to be complete. It was better  than Magallen who failed to complete his endeavour. Sadly he was killed in the phillipines. I feel I was the second Malay to traverse the world after Panglima Awang. A Malay worrior said to have married  Magallen’s sister, Marriam. It was just like a time capsule. Maggalen traveled by sea. It took him many months and maybe years. It took me a few hours. Indeed London was a brief visit. Just like a dream. Nobody would have believe it without some of the pictures that I had taken. The still photos depict images at a point of time. I was there. My family was there. To my chldren it maybe a too distant memory. Yet if it was a legacy, my sixth daughter was in Lancaster for her study until 2010. Her dream came true.

London was only for five days. Yet I was in many places.  My last day in London was the first of Eid that year. We made the best of it. My wife cook the best dishes. My friend, whose apartment we stayed, enjoyed the food. A different mood altogether. Celebrating hari raya with the only family that I have. In london of all places. No Eid prayer. No friends’ home to visit. No people visited us. We were completely cut-off from the other Muslim community around. In fact no other Muslim realise our exsistence. Well, we got used to such situation. Made ourselves at home wherever we were. Life is such. We cannot depend too much on normal situation. The unusual always knock on our door. We have to acacept the fact that everything is not in our way. There must be limitation along the way. Learning to accept is a medicine in itself. Soothing and relieving any misgiving.
That afternoon we marched to Hethrow Airport. Seven of us. Bags stringing averywhere. Could be extra baggages. When we checked in the lady attendent ushered us to deposit our bags to be weighed in. With all our heart we almost threw every bags available. I learned another facet of Western culture. They adore children. They may not like to have any, but they like children nonetheless. Seeing my five children they gave me all the apathy if not sympathy they could give.  Our bags was their concern. I on the other hand took that opportunity to relieve the burden of carrying them. Real life saver. I was in distress. Somebody answered that call. Just be patience. Help will come around. For the last time I scanned around the airport. It could be my last encounter of its kind. There could be no second time.

Stepping into MAS was a feeling of home. A young steward wished Selamat Hari Raya. A joyous moment. I was away from home for sometime. This is almost home I said to myself. Hari Raya indeed. There was ketupat and rendang. Hari raya on board. I was home on national carrier. The pride of the nation. Selamat hari raya was aired. Back to Malay music. A welcoming home journey. The plane landed at Frankfurt in Germany. Pronouced as Frankfut. I could not believe the vastness of the airport. When the plane landed it traversed through junction after junction. At every junction it stopped. Then I noticed a plane zoom by. My! This is an airport or a highway. International airports in other developed nations are so huge beyond imagination. Frankfurt is a testimony of that.

A sample of the desert was my next stop. It was Dubai. We landed around 7.00 am. But the temperature was already soaring. When I stood near the glass panel, I could feel the heat. I had a different perspective when I went for my haj in 1999. My desert experience was different. It was February. Makkah and Medina was cool. Far cry from the tempreture dreaded by many others. Thus travelling had given me alot of different perspective. Seeing was believing. Experience of a life time. All those are still vivid in my mind. A memory lasting forever. There is still a strong urge to travel again. To a different environment. Different experience. I could share them with others. My eyes, my ears, my nose and my innate feeling. InsyaAllah. Allah permits.

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