Thursday, July 15, 2010

An eye-opening experience

July 10 weekend

It never cease to amaze me how people from co-called 'similar' backgrounds in terms of background, social status & education, can be so very different when it comes to thinking. Our politicians are great examples. You wonder if they even have a brain when they come out with ridiculous statements.

Siok Hui forwarded me an email about a permaculture workshop on sustainable living, natural medicine & self defence. It's a 5 day course but for those who can't make the stretch, there's an option to take it over 5 weekends. I opted for a weekend as it would go well with my permaculture farm in Lenggong I'm writing about.

The ultimate objective of the worskshop is to build an Islamic sustainable eco-village. The organiser assured me that non-muslims are welcome but I must dress appropriately as it was held at Yayasan RASMA in Dengkil, some Islamic institution or community or something. No jeans (it's tight??!!). Fair enough. I wore a baju kurung.

We were to meet at the Bukit Damansara mosque to carpool and I was given the contact of a very well spoken guy. Meeting this guy was the start of an impression that left a bad taste in my mouth.

This guy was smartly dressed in slacks and shirt. Carries himself very well, distinguish-like even. He carries an American & NZ passport. As I was on assignment, I naturally extended my hand for the customary handshake which I regretted immediately. He politely rejected my hand and left me hanging with my outstretched arm in the air and a puzzled (and offended or indignant) expression on my face. I understood immediately. My mind understood but my pride and self worth did not. I won't lie. I WAS offended. I only experienced this once at a friend's wedding where the guy salam all the men and ignored the women.

Women were to go in one car, men another. Not wanting to cause a scene, I nodded my head to the rest of the men (Hell, I learnt my lesson) and hop in the women's car.

Most of the participants were foreigners, white men and such. The speaker Shaykh Hassan Henning Pedersen is Danish but lives in Jakarta. Some had jubahs, complete with skull cap & beards that you normally see middle easterns spotting. One Malaysian women was completely veiled, with only her eyes exposed. I didn't dare shake anyone's hand and I was wondering if the speaker thought me rude or approved of it. I was to interview him after all.

Danish speaker Shaykh Hassan Henning Pedersen

The workshop content was quite interesting and I did learn a thing or two. Shaykh told us to grow our own wheatgrass which I intend to do. You can get the seeds from Pure Life in Plaza Damas. Its website even has instructions on how to grow it. You can harvest your wheatgrass in 7-8 days. Is that cool or what?

Except for the occasional reference to religion which made me slightly uncomfortable as I can sense they are very passionate about the subject, the workshop itself was not too bad and the people were nice. They are all very engaging, highly intelligent and well educated. Although I did enjoy the content, I doubt I would be going for another as the environment is just not sustaible for me.

Those interested in the workshop happening from 26-30 July at RM700 per person can contact Latifah at 0176631562 or

Participants at the workshop

1 comment:

  1. Hi Julie,

    First, thank you for covering the permaculture course in somewhat positive light aside from the anti-Islam undertone.

    I am sorry that you were offended that I did not shake hands with you at Bukit Damansara Masjid. It was not meant to be personal. It is my Islamic value system, and if the Malays haven't been practicing their values, then shame on them as they are comprising their value system and non-Muslims will continue to misunderstand them. I would rather please my Almighty Creator, Who has set some rule on mingling with women outside the family.

    That in essense raises the position of women in Muslim families, and makes them secure. You just need ask how insecure non-Muslim females feel when their partners flurt with other women.

    Lastly, as a reporter you command a lot of influence in today's society, therefore, you should exercise restraint in judging people on a first interaction.

    By critisizing me you have given me too much importance that I do not look for. You should ask my friends how I shun limelight. I would rather be remembered as a person who helps and concerned about others. Thank you.

    Please feel free to visit my blog to get to know about me. Thank, Saeed


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