Monday, April 25, 2005

Open minded – accepting a new paradigm

As a new baby in the most successful multinational oil company of Malaysia, I would like to express my greatest gratitute to PETRONAS, for not just giving me the oppurtunity to be part of the organisation, but also sponsored me a valuable four years studies in Australia. A good friend of mine, an Australian, back then asked, “Kima, what is the most valuable thing you’ve learned in Australia?”

At first I was wanted to answer the geology, and the technical knowledge I acquired at The University of Queensland. However suddenly I’ve realised that I’ve learned something more than that, something that has tought me to be a different person, something that has make me grow, something that always inspires me. “Being open minded,” I said.

Living in a small town in Perak, and spending most of my teenage life in boarding school, I’ve never been exposed to the real world, excepts from the magazines I read. With this background, I was afraid of culture shocked that I might get especially when I go to Australia at an early age of 17. On top of everything, I was afraid of being one of the racism victims by carrying the most noticeable religious identity – the hijab.

However in Australia, I got a very warm welcome from the Aussies in general and my lecturers and coursemates in particular. Despite the major difference in appearance that I have, they view me the same as the others. Someone that come to the university to learn and grow. Some of them had never seen a person covered from head to toe before. But, these people continue to accept me the way I am, and supported me to achive our goal. They even supported me when the September 11 tragedy happened.

Open minded is generally defined as accepting people’s differences. However, somehow this definition has been a little bit violated in Malaysia. Most people when we say about open minded, they immediately sees the west. A lady, who dress in a nice taylored Christian Dior suit sometimes potrayed as an open minded person, compare to a lady dress in baju kurung with well covered tudung. To a certain extends, a man or a lady who refuse to shake hands with different gender suddenly being said as a “traditional conservative” person.

In this globlalised world, we’ve been exposed to different types of cultures, both religiously related and not. As a member of a great multinational oil company, I presumed, most of us would love to make our own decision. Furthermore, our career is in our hand, so we are the one who will shape it, and we are the one who will be accountable for it. Giving the power, of making choices I would also like to make my own choice on everything including my career.

One of it, I choose to follow what my religious have thought me to do. However, I was shocked when some people said other people could have been humiliated by me because I’ve refused to shake hands with them(men). My intention in the first place is making a choice, and stick to it. I was surprised to hear that citizens who live with me in the same country would feel humiliated by my actions. I was stunted to know that an open minded person feel humiliated with my actions.

The last function I attended in Australia was my Graduation Day. Prior to that, an administration officer ask whether I want to shake hands with the Chancellor or not. On the day itself, I didn’t shake the Chancellor’s hand. I feel respected and honoured. However, I miss this feeling eventhough I’m in my own country of birth. Why people feel humiliated while what I was trying to do is being myself? Why can’t people accept me the way I am? Why if an Indian says I could not eat meat another Malaysian wouldn’t feel humiliated? Why if a Malay says I cannot touch dogs, no one would feel humiliated?

If I can shake men’s hands I’ll shake them all, and hundreds of time. But I can’t and I choose not to. Why can’t I be respected for my own choice?

Nurhakimah Mohamud

Friday, April 01, 2005

Whenever you call

Love wandered inside
Stronger than you
Stronger than I
And now that it has begun
We can not turn back
We can only turn into one

I won't ever be too
Far away to feel you
And I won't hesitate at all
Whenever you call
And I'll always remember
That part of you so tender
I'll be the one to catch your fall
Whenever you call

And I'm truly inspired
Finding my soul there in your eyes
And you have opened my heart
And lifted me inside
By showing me yourself undisguised

And I will pray for you each day
Comfort you through all the pain
Gently kiss your fears away
You can turn to me and cry
Always understand that I
Give you all I have inside

P/s dedicate to huda and all the girls in brisbane