Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tan Sri Dr. Jemilah Mahmood

She's back in KL (from New York City) for the conference.Dato' Shahrizat was right to say Dr J look younger and radiant.Working for the United Nations must have given her much joy.

I just had to go up to her and shake hands with her after her inspiring talk. One lady mat salleh who moderated her talk said she'd attended so many women's conferences but Dr J's accounts of relief work gave a different perspective.One UN rep spoke earlier with much pride how she managed to get Afghan women to take off their burkas and partcipated in women's projects.But Dr J in her session related how she and team gave free scarves/headcovers to Afghan and Acheh women knowing they'd never go out to get their food ration, health kits without their headgears...it shows how Dr J is respectful and mindful of local cultures and not imposing "UN values".

I'm glad she's in UN making noise for women.Made some important contacts at the conference and I am all set to combat the street kids' problem in KL.

I was so tired after Solo and Islamabad trips (mana ada rest) that I went for a quick spa after the conference at the hotel. Syoknya...I wish the lady went beyond the agreed 50 mins body massage.

Nik's away in Kuantan.It's a busy household.Wife's in, hubby's out.Daughter is also out.I need another child.Pls send one from the sky! (can I order via the net?)

Monday, November 29, 2010

NIEW Women's Conference: Displaced women

Was at Mandarin Oriental to attend NIEW conference on displaced women.Much of the discussion centred on refugees.There are 43 million displaced people around the world, 2/3 are women and children (subject to all sorts of abuse).An eye witness activist from Liberia related a story how a senior UN Peacekeeper paid for sex of some of these young women they were supposed to protect.Like in many war zones, UN peacekeepers are also rapists.I felt like throwing up hearing these stories.

The prob is it is not enough to educate women of their rights.Men need to be educated too and trained to be more gender-sensitized.I like the story of an Achehnese activist who related their approach working with the ulemas to work on their men (if it came from the women, the men would quickly dismiss them as agents of the West).That was a smart move.

There are 90 thousand refugees in Msia.The government does not recognise their existence (according to one activist, the government criminalises refugees...hmm..a bit exaggerated I think).Tapi I also think the street kids are also a great concern.Is anyone looking into this issue?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pakistan trip: Part 3

The flight from Islamabad to Karachi was delayed (apparently another plane exploded!).I had no bodyguards on this trip home (my CEO friend, the UMNO boys, semua takda to help carry my bags...).Anyway, Dr. Adnan was still around and dia pun tolong tunggu I when I had to leave my bags to go to the Ladies.Not a good idea to travel alone like this.

Karachi Airport was bigger tapi the shopkeepers suka tipu! Can you imagine nak beli pad pun kena bargain? From Rp880 to Rp500? I just walked away.I don't think I'd like Karachi (if the airport people were already that dubious).Airport security was really strict (the strictest of all 3 airports: Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi).

It was quite sad to leave friends made in Islamabad (even the foreign speakers were chummy).Did I tell you I was on Pak TV? :)) The news producer promised to send me the footage or put the interview on You Tube.Bahaya tu.

I'm glad to be home, though.There has been little rest since beginning of this year.I am amazed at how busy I was this year (more travels than before).Let's hope no more travels till the end of the year.But I have 2 more seminars/workshops this month.Yakult!

I will blog some of my conference findings esp on Maria's presentation on Chinese women's mosque and female imams in China.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pakistan trip: part 2

me and a pakistani artist at the Lok Virsa Culture Village, Islamabad

I survived the cold last night.They fixed me a big heater in my room..you know how hospitable our Pak brothers and sisters are.When Dr Maria Jaschock (Oxford Uni..she's sharing the same apt as me) said she didn't have a wardrobe to hang her clothes, they brought a wardrobe in! (tengah malam).

Tapi pagi tadi I could not figure out the hot water system so mandi sejuk nak mampus...
My paper went early in the morning (sharing the session with Maria and Prof Anis, now a Rector of a new private uni in Islamabad). Lepas tu TV Pakistan interviewed me.Wah..tak tau la I provocative ke tak on issues on terrorism/extremism and women in parliament/cabinet.

Bestlah kat sini.The Malaysians I met on my flight pun sgt2 interesting (Zain, a CEO of an agri-biz was very articulate) Budak2 UMNO Sabah tu pun baik tolong carried my bags and took care of me sepanjang journey.I think Tuhan tolong temukan mereka! So grateful!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Greetings from Lahore-Islamabad

Faisal Mosque, Islamabad

My Lahore key room

I'm back in one of my favourite countries - Pakistan.

Flew to Lahore last nite, slept over at a beautiful transit hotel with some assistance from fellow Msians onboard ...

alamak..i finish nanti..guests.on borrowed pc.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Greetings from Kuching

Well, it's 45 mins to goodbye Kuching.Am at the Golden Lounge Business Centre trying to kill time after eating non-stop since yesterday.What a lovely weekend: suite room at Hilton facing the river, flying Business class, makan tak berhenti-henti...Z kat rumah tak tau buat apa dgn Bibik! :))

I have always loved this city.It's a crawling city...pleasantly so.It's modern and yet traditional.I bought a pair of nice shoes yesterday with Patrick (who took me around shopping for terubok, telor ikan, dried shrimps, this that...oh! he's such a gentleman and a truly kind person.He gave me a nice briefing of Kuching's history.Simply fantastic.).

I'm in Kuching playing wife to Nik for his office function (accompanying his CEO who is in town for the state's annual dinner).I am in awe of Tan Sri and his wife (pasangan secocok..Puan Sri is so elegant).You'll understand why EPF bagged all the top awards in the country for excellent services etc. if you study the man behind EPF (and hence, the people behind EPF..even at State level, they bagged top awards for excellent service and performance).Tan Sri in his speech said it was not him or his top 20 people in top management but it was the hard work and commitment of everyone at the organisation: from cleaners to drivers to janitors to everyone.Oh wow..but I think it has also something to do with monetary rewards (for performers they get up to 10 months' bonus..kalau tak silap 10 months).I wish we had this at IIUM.Hahaha.

Anyway, after the dinner, Andrew (one of the Board Directors) took us to his place for durian session.Am not much of a durian person but I learnt the different tastes of durian last nite and the petua how to wash your hands after eating durian so that your hands don't smell (turn over the kulit durian and run water through it and place your hand under the water). Ini petua isteri Andrew. :)

This morning Nik's officer took us to the pasar cos' I wanted to bring home some laksa Sarawak paste, nanas pound/sarikei, etc.Found them all.Oh heavens! Nikmat Allah mana nak kita kufurkan!

I must return to this lovely city for the Rainforest Jazz Festival next June.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Korban and sifat syukur

Actually we should have longer break over Raya Korban..this is the real raya ibadah (3 hari buat ibadah korban?). I'm disgusted that the government is not thinking over this...in the past yes..we thought Raya Haji is just for orang naik Haji.But if we are truly progressive, we'd learn by now that Raya Haji is raya yang kita perlu tunjuk tanda kita bersyukur sebab kalau tidak, ada je anak kita yang akan kena sacrificed tiap raya...but no! Allah is merciful...Dia benarkan korban anak diganti dgn binatang ternakan.

Indeed this is a raya of gratitude.Let's show it! Lebihkan sedekah.

My mom is hospitalised again.Very2 cemas cos' she was bleeding non-stop on her fistula (not done well).We thought it was time...but alhamdullilah after today's blood transfusion, she seems stable.We'd spend our raya at the hospital tomorrow.I bought satay so that she and my sister can eat for breakfast tomorrow morning (we'd be going a bit later after solat raya so it's good we gave the satay tadi malam).My sister sleeps over tonite at the hospital.I gave her Z's sleeping bag.Kesian but I tak boleh nak sleep atas cold floor.Penat after 3 days running around.I also have a bad backache..was thinking of seeing Eric tapi lain pulak jadinya (pi Shah Alam with Sabariah cari ustazah for my mom)

It's malam raya. I wish everyone a blessed one. For those who can afford it, make it a habit to ber-korban every raya haji.The joy is different from raya puasa.

** nota kaki: pagi raya masa semayang Raya, Nik and I tertinggal songkoklah, kain semayanglah..so we turned back to collect our prayer stuffs (terok punya nyanyuk!).Just in time for the prayer.The Imam said if people who could afford to offer their korban but didn't do, they had no right to celebrate Raya korban (from a hadith) Yikes! Nasib kita buat!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Obama in Jakarta

even with this face, he looks hensem

Oh man...we are all in love with the US President!
We didn't get to meet him (Melani did cos' he went to speak at her uni in Jakarta and Melani had to rush back from Solo for the occassion.I must ask her if she got to shake hands with Obama)

I heard part of his speech on Indonesian TV (at the airport lounge in Solo). Oh man...this guy does not pretend OK? Can one fake real joy returning to a childhood path? His radiance and happiness is real and that makes him more adorable.Hahaha.I want an Obama teddy bear! Hee hee.OKlah..and a Michelle female equivalent to place her side by side with Obama. What a loving couple.

Obama said this, "Saya balik kampong nih!" How the crowd cheered! He spoke in rural dialect! That makes him even more adorable.

Why do stupid Americans reject him as a leader? They cannot fault him for sins done by Bushes.I hope he will bounce back and will win another term.

My paper was well-received, alhamdulillah.Many interesting and apt questions.I enjoyed them all.We agreed to collaborate on bigger projects.Harriett (the other keynote speaker) was happy I raised the importance of liberal education again.She said I'd nominate you as the world's Emperor.Hahah.Dia memang funny.

I met many real nice people at the conference.Munir from India is another unforgettable character.He didn't sleep all night cos' of his Merapi anxiety.I said Munir, you are going to die out of fear not Merapi! Anyway, I hope they will all get their flights home, safe.

From Solo to Jakarta

Merapi hot clouds in Solo (where planes dare not fly)

" Saya balik kampong nih"
(Obama in Jakarta)

great friends on escape from Solo: Jay, Elizabeth and Susheela

I'm just tired, OK? (at Soekarno-Hatta Airport, Jakarta, waiting to go home)

Beautiful Sari, my Solo friend

Munir and friends in his session

Harriett (from Florida)

Greetings from Jakarta where Obama just left (we missed him by a day!) More on him in Jakarta later.

My paper was rescheduled to the 2nd day cos' the other keynote speaker was not able to fly into Jakarta and I had been requested to speak in his slot. Not a problem with me cos' had I spoken on the first day with the other 2 keynotes, we would not have so much time for Q&A.

Then I found out from Air Asia website, my flight home on the 12th would be postponed to the 15th! I was really depressed..it meant Merapi was getting worse (when perhaps, airlines were cancelling flights due to economic reasons and not safety but we don't really know)

Anyway, I was so grateful there were 3 other fellow Malaysians (on the same flight as I was from KL to Solo and we met at Solo airport and chatted..hi gals! They are Susheela, Jay and Elizabeth ~ all academics from 3 different unis)

I am grateful to all 3 cos' they were very smart and quick to fix the stranded problem.Soon after they sat in my 'keynote' session, they started looking for ways to get out of Solo! And I will remember this for the rest of my life: they included me in their 'escapade plan' and we managed to fly to Jakarta on Lyons Air yesterday (soon after lunch).While it was sad to leave our Solo friends (the nicest people on earth! very refined people), it was important to return home safely cos' Merapi was unpredictable.

We just flew to Jakarta and would think of getting another flight to KL from there.It was a right decision (Elizabeth was the smart one to not rush and buy tics from Solo..Airliners and agents were making 2-3 times more profit cos' they knew people were desperate to get out) At Jakarta Airport, we checked with Air Asia if they could re-route us ...yes they could! No charge. Alhamdullilah, we saved RM1000! Jay said we'd get up at 3 am to see if we could leave on the 6 am flight.We did, begged that they'd allow us on the flight but fully booked (we slept at the Airport Hotel..shared ramai2, 2 beds)

And now we are enjoying our foot reflexology at the airport while waiting for our flight home.I hope no more cancellation.The clouds do not look so good and MAS and other international airliners are still not running.

It's been like living in a war zone for spoilt KLians like us but hey, we made and met great people!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Syukur alhamdulillah!

Kepada Allah yang Maha Sempurna ku panjatkan syukur akan berita dari Gombak...kata Dr Haslina yang ku izinkan membuka surat dari MSD: permohonan jawatan Professorship diterima.Takbir! Semoga ini akan memudahkan usaha membantu yang memerlukan dan saya mengucapkan terima kasih kepada semua yang memberi sokongan all my life as a teacher, academic/administrator at IIUM termasuk students, rakan2 kerja termasuk Bosses yang sentiasa memberi galakan walaupun kadangkala saya agak mendesak tentang sesuatu isu yang I'm passionate about. Bagi yang mendoakan, terima kasih.Hanya Allah yang membalas jasa anda.

Kpd keluarga esp. suami yang setiap detik solat tidak putus2 mendoakan, thank you Abam!

And now, my concern is for a safe return to KL! My paper is tomorrow morning.We had a good discussion with Melani and Harriett tadi pagi.Besok kita tambah lagi cilinya.Hahaha.Atas semangat diskusi, dong.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Greetings from Solo

Solo cuisine

with key guests at Goela Kelapa Restaurant


see my name on the bunting?


artistic looking ceiling of the conference hall

cantik betul

I flew in this morning direct from KL (Air Asia). If Tony Fernandes is reading this: hey man, do something about the Air Asia Airport.It stinks! (my first international flight with Air Asia).When you fly cheap (I just wanted to fly direct from KL to Solo which is only 2 hours away on Air Asia.If I took MAS..lama la pulak via Jakarta..change flight...yawn...fly over Merapi..maybe..), expect cheap things to happen.

Anyway, it was an on and off thing with me and Solo.Yesterday and the days before, all airports to Indonesia via KL and Spore were closed.I thought I'd not be able to make it to Solo today.Merapi was still erupting wild.The family's concerned, friends thought I was crazy to go when people were trying to fly out.Obama postponed his trip, what (but now he's coming home again on a 24-hour visit. Oh Ba-Ma, please fly to Solo! Hahaha)

I was nervous all the 2-hour trip.I saw clouds..though not dark, were thick.I was very2 quiet although the 2 passengers next to me were chatty (one was trying to sell some direct selling products! Duh! I got suspicious when he said he had lived in KL for 12 years and often flew back to Indonesia..but later, I wonder why he asked me to fill his immigration form.At point of being asked, I thought he was illiterate and since my life was hanging on air..I thought I'd do some nice charitable things... just in case...so I filled in not only his form but also the lady's next to him! She was genuinely illiterate..a returning maid...going home for the eid)

Sari and Yuyun met me at the airport and took me to lunch.Both of them were educated in Australia so we connected well. :)) Then met up with the other people.We went to visit a pasantren said to have initiated by Bashir (yup, the one accused of JW Marriott bombing). The students were involved in Merapi community work.I wanted to donate some money.Then we went to visit another NGO...the members were also doing shifts at Merapi (they helped bury some 64 dead bodies today).What is nice to know is Mercy Malaysia and Malaysian Global Peace are among the most active NGOs at Merapi.Mercy takes care of medical needs and Global Peace takes care of water supply (their engineers have their hands full here).One guy asked me if I wanted to join their next trip to Merapi (only 2 hours away).I looked at Sari, signalling "Do you want to?" Hahaha..she gave me a quick no.

I love Solo, folks (I love anywhere!) but honestly, this city has character, is very clean (there's this guy..the wali kota... who has changed this city within a short span of time..I'll get his name tomorrow) and very, very modern.It's a commercial centre with lots of foreign investors coming in to invest (no wonder Air Asia has faith in making Solo as one of its stops).It's livable with lots of culture and history.Lots of things to do and see.I have not stopped eating too.I just had dinner with guests from the US and India and met some old friends based in Indonesia (like Melani, based in Jakarta but who I often meet abroad in conferences..last was in Seoul).

I hope my stay will be safe and I'll fly back to KL without any 'adventure'.They are afraid that there'd be a huge flood cos' the rivers are clogged with muds and deposits from Merapi.

Please pray for me.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Al fatihah

Z is home for the Deepavali weekends and text-ed me earlier to say her college friend, Shazwan, who collapsed during their 7.5 km marathon and went into 2 weeks' coma (his kidneys failed and was on life support) finally passed away yesterday at 4 pm.

I don't know this boy.Nor do I know his parents but I felt saddened by the news.I wanted to visit and meet the family even while Syazwan was still in the hospital.Thought of doing that today.

But alas!

So we visited the jenazah at around 9 pm last nite (thanks to Badri who gave us directions on the phone).There were so many visitors (mainly his friends...they all took turns sleeping at the hospital when he was in coma).

Before I met the parents, I thought what kind of parents who would be so patient losing their first child who was bright and kind like this (he was a JPA scholar about to leave for the UK soon) and my prayers went for them (that God will give them strength to go on).

I finally met the parents.A picture of calm and patience.The father especially was all smiles as he received visitors and thanked them.Such iman! The mother too was calm although she broke into tears when Z said some nice things about Syazwan (why did she have to say more than necessary to a mourning mom?!)

Allah loves Syazwan more and we pray that he is placed in jannah.Al fatihah.To the family, may Allah give them internal peace and grant them patience.Amin.