crushes of motivation.

one Thursday evening, over tea and biscuits after our tuition, my student Dasha asked me:

"Aini, can you come to school tomorrow?" (our sessions are scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursday weekly)

"no I can't. I had something planned. why?"

"i want to come to school tomorrow. so i have to find something to learn, and someone to learn from."

"you like learning that much, huh?" (seriously i was getting a bit impressed :P)

"haha. not really. i do like learning, but actually "someone" will be in school tomorrow. *grin*"

"ahaaa... panyatna! i understand. motivation, right? i was like you when i was in school. *grin*."

so since i wasn't free on Friday, she went and asked Katya, our administrator.

"Katya, can you help me with my biology homework tomorrow? i need to look something up on the internet"

"well I'm free now. let's do it today"

"no, I can't do it today.. I.. er.. I forgot my textbook! so can you help me tomorrow?"


LOL. yeah. a girl's gotta do what she gotta do. i think we girls would understand, the length we'd go for our crushes. and sometimes, we get something out of it. like some educational stuffs from school for example :D

a bit of motivation can do good!

not that i'm having any at the moment.


goodnite then. ta!

Happy Earth Day, Earthlings!

Buds of Spring.
Thursday, April 22nd 2010. 15:30-ish
cool, damp, gloomy Russian spring afternoon.
took these fotos along Ostravityanova Street. opted to go home on foot instead of taking the bus,just to enjoy these buds!
hope it translates in the photos! :)

Happy Earth Day, Earthlings!



the Moscow Metro can be a very predictable place. you know that when you go to a certain station at a particular time, there be a "traffic jam" just to get on the escalator. or you know exactly where to stand on the platform before you embark a particular wagon (head/middle/tail) so that you will disembark at the destination at the very precise spot, i.e. closest to the stairs for the line change.

Muscovites would be able to fathom what i was saying in the previous paragraph, but for the others, i know, it's complicated. hehe. anyway, point is, it's very reliable, punctual.. and other than suicide bombings (i know, stale news) it's pretty much predictable.

but then, the people who ride the metro are not. Moscow Metro can take up to 10million people a day, and each commuter are different, to say the least.

for example, one day i was shown the middle finger by a man, and the other, surprise, surprise... i was given a rose.

LOL. so much for a self-esteem booster for lil' low me.

ok fineeee. cut me some slack. i know i'm not the kind of girl people would fall in love at first sight. or the kind who people actually take a second look at when they pass me by. like, seriously, i have a mirror, and my phone's screen protector is reflective so i know very well how do i look like. (LOL). and i can actually count the very few times i was given flowers. (my parents included). so saddd, i know.

so anyway, i was on the trolleybus on my way to the metro station after class when i noticed a man. seemed like he was looking at me. i had my sunglasses on, so i was looking at him looking at me as well. no, not cute. if he was cute i'd tell you straight away. (LOL). was telling myself not to perasan the whole time.

then the bus stopped at the metro, and i took off and walked towards the station, and went to the platform to wait for the train (max waiting time 2:40mins). suddenly the same man approached me and said something like "на памьять/for remembrance" and gave me a rose. (sempat lah pulak kan beli!) GASP. i was like, "eeerrr, thanks". we stood like that for maybe a whole minute then i thought i'd be polite and ask him his name. "Sergey". (nama takleh nak ruski lagi!! kahkah). then the usuals, he asked me where i was from, how long have i been living in Moscow etc.

the train came and i entered the wagon, and he followed. okayy...fine... then he took out his mobile phone and asked me to save my number in his phone. remember my rule #1: never give real number to stranger you meet on a public transportation. so i gave him a fake number!

i knew it was coming: he called the number i gave him! and he was like... "quick, check your phone, i'm calling you now".. i panicked but showed my coolest face and pretended that my phone is lost somewhere in my bulky bag.

and was saved by the bell! the train stopped at a station (albeit halfway through my journey home) so i simply told him that i had to get off the train, and we'd contact each other later (LOL).

okay maybe that's mean of me but then again i just watched The Lovely Bones, and A LOT of CSI. i don't want to be in a missing person's list, or police statistic. these days women and especially girls just can't take chances like these. he might have the purest of intentions, but maybe he hadn't.

this has nothing to do with him not being cute enough. but then again if he's cute enough he wouldn't have to go giving flowers to random girls. random girls would be drooling over him instead!

anyway Sergey, if your intention was good, i pray for the best things going your way. if not, i'm glad that i took off (and pray that we won't meet again!)

ok fine. this post is so vain of me. bagi chan lah pliz!

pitchy monkey.

mungkin sayalah kera sumbang itu.

i am this person: just when someone takes a step closer to me, i would back off ten steps. i am not talking about love, i'm talking about life in general.

i wonder if it's distrust that's making me build these walls. perhaps it is fear of rejection. but if it's fear of acceptance, then i'm more screwed that i think i am.

i don't know if i have always been this way but lately it's becoming more imminent. at times, even the thought of going somewhere with someone gives me the feeling somewhat equal to a burden. like a social responsibility of some sorts.

most times i don't bother asking, out of fear of getting the answer "No". like not asking people out, so that i don't have to hear them say "I made other plans". i no longer look forward when people say "let's do something tomorrow" because i've had my fair shares of "sorry i had to cancel because suddenly i have to go somewhere with so-and-so (<--usually a guy, once it happened when i am already getting dressed)". i even hesitate when making a phone call, in fear of hearing "I can't talk right now". at some point it gets so bad that i think more than ten times before asking to borrow something, just in case that the person would say "sorry, I don't have it".

so i made this cocoon around myself. i'm just tired of putting myself in a position where i'd expect to be treated nicely, or make people feel obliged to treat me nicely.

i am so screwed. but better than a heartache?

i have no idea.

"Я не хочу с ними ехать!" - I don't want to go with them!

two weeks after the Black Monday, i guess it's too soon to assume that things have cooled down.

for the past two weeks, i made a "fashionable" decision to keep the hijab away for a while and surprise, surprise: i missed it. people have always been curious over the fact that how and why our heads don't feel hot when we wear the hijab. get this: caps are much worse. at some point i think my brain went hypoxic.

true, these past couple of weeks i have to admit that i feel more confident wandering around the city, both on the public transport and on foot without the classical hijab. nobody stares, people at shops seems more friendly, the policemen/women pretty much ignores you. (trust me, the militsiya's are EVERYWHERE nowadays. in the metro stations there are even announcements saying that if you see "suspicious" people, you should report it to the police immediately. one day i even saw policemen casually buying Kartoshka with guns hanging from their shoulders)

boy i miss being the attraction! (LOL.)

so today some friends and i decided to go to Arbatskaya for a weekend stroll. i thought yea what's the fuss.. if anything i'm not alone, my friends will be there with me so i thought it'd be okay to wear the hijab. and the hijab, i wore.

i contemplated taking the Red Line at first, but then compared to the Orange Line it is more convenient to get to Arbatskaya from my flat in Konkova so we took the Red Line.

the train stopped at Park Kultury (site of the "Ter-Act", as Russians call it) when a a young lady, and a few others stepped into the wagon. a man suddenly grabbed the girl's hand, pulling her out of the train while shouting:

"я не хочу с ними ехать! я не хочу с ними ехать! я не хочу с ними ехать!"
(I don't want to go with them! I don't want to go with them! I don't want to go with them!)

as if pointing his index finger towards us wasn't enough to show his anger and disgust, he then used his middle finder.

the train door finally shut, but in the loudness of the sound that the train made, i could very well still hear his shouts.

the feeling: indescribably humiliating.

you know, the saddest thing about what happened is that normally you can afford to be angry at people who humiliate you IN PUBLIC. but in this case, you just can't. it doesn't seem quite fair, for some reasons. i am in no way related to the terrorists, but for all I know, that man might've lost someone he loved in the Park Kultury blast. and one thing i know about grievance is that it makes you feel better when you can put a blame on something, or someone.

these days trust is a rare thing. the only mutual thing is fear.

we all have the right to fear. during this hard times, i realized that we can't really blame them for being judgmental and full of suspicion. a day after the blast, i went into the train and saw a Muslim lady, a hijabi to be exact, sitting in the wagon. the seat next to her was ample. i was still wearing my hijab that day. usually here when Muslims see each other we'd at least smile and mouthed the words "assalamualaikum", but guess what. since the incident, the distrust is not only inter-religious, but also interpersonal.

i sat next to the Hijabi. we didn't look at each other directly, but only with the corner of our eyes. i was thinking "what if she has a bomb?" and i think she might have been thinking just exactly the same thing.

what has the world come to?

I can only pray for strength, and endurance. for at least a few more months.


define yourself.

i was taught,that when giving an attribute to myself that i have to be a Muslim first, before any other. a Muslim, a Malaysian, a woman, a daughter etc etc.

always, a Muslim first.

easier said than done.

living in Malaysia, where the majority of citizens are (i hope, insyaAllah practicing) Muslims, sometimes one gets too accustomed, comfortable even that at some point religion becomes tradition. when we speak of Ramadhan, we easily think of food bazaars, and Eid becomes a day when culinary skills and fashion sense is most crucial than any other. the hijab becomes a uniform, something you wear to fit into the Malay society. Baju Kurung is worn on a Friday because it is a Friday. i shamefully admit, that i too, am one of those people guilty of the above.

in other sense, as much as we are surrounded by each other, we forget to feel that we are Muslims first.

it was year 2002, when Islamophobia was spreading in our world like a pandemic. i was sent to Germany, and was the only one of two hijabis in the whole group that consisted of various nationalities from Europe, Asia and Africa.

for the first time in my life, I was to embark on a journey that would educate me like no other. for a month, i was a Muslim first, more than i'd ever felt prior to that. in a local newspaper article, the journalist wrote about me, "...als ein muslimisches Mädchen, trägt das Kopftuch." (as a Muslim girl, [she] wears the head scarf). barely sixteen, i didn't quite understand the curiosity and fascination about the piece of cloth covering my head. but people were labeling me, and somehow the label helped me remember who i am and who i should be.

then i began to appreciate the things that are so easily ignored back at home. like scanning through the menu for something i can actually eat. usually they are confined to the appetizers and desserts section. i can recall eating tomato soup for dinner, and eating Apfelstrudel for lunch while Reka, the girl from Hungary was munching on buffalo wings in front of me. and that was when i befriended Sanyukta, a girl from India, who is a vegetarian :)

somehow i think it prepared me for six long years in Russia.

one thing i can say is that, sometimes less is more. during the six (at certain points agonal) years, i find the Ramadhans the most meaningful. i have never felt that way, not in my 17 years before coming to live here in Moscow. food was not the main course, and the relief and serenity is indescribable, when you come to realize that fasting is not about not eating and drinking.

and if Moscow has educated me other than in medical field, then it has certainly taught me to defend my religion to almost everyone i became acquainted with, non-Muslims (and sometimes, sadly) to Muslims alike.

it taught me to wear my religion with pride, hold my head up high, keep cool and put up a straight face when people sneer and jeer.

my hijab defines me as a Muslim, it puts a label on me, it reminds me of who i am and how i should behave.

this is definitely a very hard and emotional decision to make, but due to rising and alarming circumstances in Moscow right now, i decided to lay low and wear a cap and a scarf around my neck instead of a hijab. thanks to God, the weather is still cold and i can cover up as much as i can with this new "style". but i still wear my normal hijab in class, the cap is only for the metro and the streets :)

it doesn't mean i'm defeated, it doesn't mean i give up. i don't know if people actually agree with my decision, but with the little knowledge that i have, i believe that my religion is more flexible than it is confined to just one interpretation. and there are more than one way to cover myself as a woman, one just need to have some creativity.

i am just taking care of myself by avoiding unnecessary attention towards myself, understanding the overwhelming fear that is surrounding us and considering the fact that i am a helpless woman who commute alone daily, sometimes coming home at night. i too, am scared as much as everyone else. perhaps even more.

i dream of the day when i get to wear it again. without fear, with pride.

so help me God.