Monday, September 28, 2009

G20 Summit Simulation

Alright this may seem like a 'shocker' to some Intians but Rassyid and I participated in a G20 Simulation today. It's not that we have anything against KLIMUN...well, actually I have one thing against it. That it was held during the holidays. Yup, I'm that kind of person. Holiday means holiday. Period. So anyway, this simulation is a very simplified version. Plus, the G20 itself is made up of 19 countries + the EU, and each country sends in 2 delegates (in this simulation) so there were not many people. It kind of put more pressure on each delegate to speak up.

We represented Turkey. At first we chose Saudi Arabia but supposedly there were already delegates assigned for the country. But then today, delegates for Saudi did not show up. And so did delegates for the United States. What an irony.

And I made a new friend there. Her name is Sarah. She's from Saudi.



Saturday, September 26, 2009


Yesterday was a scary day for me, certainly. A new experience, perhaps, but scary, nonetheless.

We waited for our bus around 8 am as usual, despite the professor’s warning that buses might not run on schedule this week. We took the risk and the bus came on time. But what, or who, didn’t came on time was our classmates for the recitation class of Islamic Civilization. I was worried that the TA might have canceled the class and we did not check our emails because there was seriously nobody, even until 9! But slowly they started to appear and around 9.15, only 8 of us came to class. The first 10 minutes were spent talking about the day before: The first day of the G20. As mentioned, I went home after class at 12 pm on Thursday. If I had stayed, they said by afternoon student protestors were filling Cathedral’s lawn and police were threatening them with “If students are caught you will automatically be expelled!” I heard stories of students throwing trash cans towards police officers. And one of my classmates was chased by the police but he told them he was just returning to his dorm. Another classmate’s neighbor was detained, and he himself was stuck in the library till almost 2 am because of the protests.

Anyway, that’s not the scary part. After class ended, we did not want to go back so we decided to go to the Wal-mart at Waterworks, which is 40 minutes away from campus by bus. The bus came almost immediately so we thought there shall not be any problem. So we went to Wal-mart, bought some stuff for our house, went for lunch, and decided to catch the next bus home since Rassyid needed to catch the Jumaat prayer. Unfortunately, after waiting for almost 40 minutes the bus did not arrive. So we thought, let’s just do some more shopping rather than waiting. Around 2 pm, we waited again at the bus stop. 2.30, 2.45, 3.00, 3.15. We started to get frustrated and decided to just get on any bus that goes somewhere that we recognize. Not long after came this bus that’s supposedly going to Strip District, which we're familiar with. After about 10 minutes on the bus, the bus driver announced he’s not going through his usual route because downtown was closed and he’ll not be able to cross the river. He said the bus that we were waiting for would most probably arrive at 6 because most buses were stuck downtown. We were confused. And scared. And just blank. We did not recognize the road. We don’t know all these streets. And we’re on the wrong side of the river. Nearing the end of his route, police cars, and some on motorcycles, SUDDENLY came and blocked the road for the Tibet protestors to go through and our bus driver, who was obviously frustrated by the whole thing too, told us we would have to get out of the bus and walk to town. I was scared shit-less (sorry). Walk? Downtown? I’ve only been there once…at night! But I just pushed through the crowd and followed the flow. Nearing the bridge, we saw that it was closed. And to make things worse, there were no cars at all, only pedestrians and those on bike. And this is the center of Pittsburgh. It was like an apocalypse had just happened. And all around there were these police officers with dogs, sniffing around as if looking for bombs and whatnots. I was seriously afraid. But we continued following the rest, and then we saw more people. It turned out they closed most of the bridges but opened a few for pedestrians only.

I guess it was kind of interesting because if not for the circumstances, I don’t think we will walk on one of Pittsburgh's many bridges any time soon. But at that time I wasn’t thinking of that. I just wanted to be safe at home. In fact, I’m hitting my head on the wall right now because of my nervousness, I did not take pictures of the beautiful scenery and the Lawrence Convention Center where 20 world leaders were just meters away from me. Rassyid took videos though. Once we crossed the bridge successfully I was happy to find us on 7th Avenue. Our bus goes through 5th, so it’s not hard to find it from there. The place was like a ghost town. Just imagine KL, with no cars, nothing, but just people waiting for something to happen. Thankfully, we saw our bus on 5th. BUT. It’s not just our bus, but also ALL the other buses, in a line. I was thinking does this mean I have to walk home?! But apparently they closed the road heading to Pitt too, so it was both a blessing and a curse – I don’t have to walk, but there’s no way around it. We asked a bus driver nearby and she said just hop on the bus and wait for instructions from the police. We find 71A, hopped on, and breathed a sigh of relief.

We arrived home around 5pm.

Wrong calculation of time. Right time to be spontaneous.


p/s: I'm seriously rethinking my stand on street protests after seeing the trouble it causes to other non-political-affiliated people. It's just not worth it.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More Pictures

If you can't read the banner it says "Independence for Tibet"

Macam Hindraf nye color kan? :p

See how many police officers are around campus. There are obviously more. With police cars, and helicopters hovering above... By the way that's me in the reflection.

Just some pictures inside the Cathedral. We have no idea what it's for. But there are American and Russian flags. That's why we need to get out of class by 12 pm.

Sorry for the low quality pictures. Of all the days that I could have leave my camera at home..

Today was an unproductive day. Pinar cancelled the quiz for Islamic Civilization. American Literary class ended early. No Politics class. They might as well cancel class for the whole day... =D


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Meow in Jersey

Wee! Tomorrow my day will end in the afternoon! On Thursday I usually have a Politics class at 4 pm, but tomorrow, since it's the first day of the G20 Summit, classes starting from 4 will be canceled because they're afraid if there will not be enough buses to take students home and they're concern over the students' safety since there is a big probability that protests are going to be held, starting from tomorrow. The situation is kinda scary right now, with notices around campus reminding us to bring our ID at all times during this time. Plus police officers in a uniform of green t-shirts have been seen around campus with some on bicycles. Pitt shuttles are seen more on campus to help student get home, etc. In fact, for tomorrow, my Literature class will also end early for all classes held at the Cathedral of Learning MUST end by 12 pm. So yeah, just giving a an idea of how it is right now. The atmosphere is one of excitement, but the thought of going to the wrong place at the wrong time is just at the back of my mind.

Now just some pictures :D

Yes! Lailee is part of the PITT family too!


Monday, September 21, 2009


Wow. I made it. 29 days of fasting, not just away from home, but also away in another country.

Wow. I made it. Sometimes we only ate bread, sometimes cereal, and then there were also days when we did not wake up at all for sahur. And I continued fasting as usual.

Wow. I made it. Most days I cooked. Other days he cooked. Once in a blue moon we ate out. There was no ayam percik or roti boom, but alhamdulillah, we were able to break fast nonetheless.

And yes, yesterday was Raya and it was a new experience. No big breakfast with rendang and lemang. No posing for pictures. No nothing. Just a simple morning breakfast of french toast with a bit of rendang. Then went for the Solat Raya at Schenley Park (Yes, it's at a park). After that we were treated to real rendang by Salim and Kak Yati who were graceful to entertain us at their house.

Simple, yet that's what Raya's all about. Celebrating a month of fasting and of being grateful for all that I have :)

On another note...I have a new baby! Well, okay, WE have a new baby! Her name is Lailee, which means "My Night" in Arabic. Look at her color and you'll understand why.

That's my baby! She's only been with us for three days but I know her so well already! She's very manja. She can' be left alone. Wherever we are, there she'll be. Most of the time she's quiet except at night. She's a very clever girl. We only need to show her litter box once and she knows where to find it. I love her :D


Monday, September 14, 2009



p/s: Kepada ibu and papa, sila beli Utusan tiap2 hari mulai besok. Sekian. :p

Saturday, September 12, 2009


We had an interesting day today. Had the luxury to wake up late as it was a Saturday but not too late because we have like tons more reading to do. So anyway, around 12pm we took the bus to Forbes, more specifically to Salim's house. All of us were supposed to gather there and leave together to Mt Washington for our photo shoot of the day. What photo shoot? RAYA! So yeah, it was a relief when Shazwan told us Salim offered a place in his car. Imagine us wearing our baju kurungs and baju melayus in the bus! Well, Rassyid and I did exactly that from our house. :P Anyway, once all have arrived at Salim's house on Forbes, we drove off to Mt Washington, about 20 minutes from Shadyside.

When we arrived, I understand why Shazwan chose that location as it has the most beautiful view of Pittsburgh. Almost all Budaya members were there and we took pictures! Lots and lots of pictures :)

After that Salim sent us home but since we're already in the mood of 'jalan2', we changed our clothes and walked our way to the East Side. We just wanted to browse around a pet shop there.... But we were disappointed to find out that they're sold out of cats! :( Still in our semangat spirit of jalan2, we took the bus to Murray Ave to another pet store. And again, we were disappointed this time that we just missed it for like, 45 minutes since it's been close. Looking at the schedule thinking we have some time to kill, we walk around Squirrel Hill where the many Asian restaurants are located. Dugaan... When we were finally tired, we decided to just wait at the Bus Stop nearby.

While waiting....guess who we meet? CLAIRE! I know Claire's in Pittsburgh, obviously, and we did semi-plan to meet up one day. But of all the time and places, we met in Squirrel Hill. I was talking to Rassyid when an Asian girl stopped and turned, and asked, "Is that you Syaza?" My God Claire looks different. She looked pretty :) So we talked awhile and not long after our bus arrived.

But we did not get the chance to relax as we have to get out again after we've done our Asr prayers! Where to next? William Pitt Union, where the Muslim Society Association was holding an Iftar, especially to promote Ramadhan to Non-Muslims. It was nice to meet all the other Muslims in the Pitt community and learn of the different culture practiced during Ramadhan in their home-country. And Rassyid was happy to get a free copy of an English translation of the Holy Book.

It was funny that we being the firsts to leave, were the last to get a ride home. We were as usual, waiting for our bus of 71A in front of Union but since it's Saturday night, the bus is less reliable (which we found out later by Kak Yati). While waiting, there's this man sitting next to us and he turned his radio's volume way up and it was fun when he started dancing to Thriller. He wanted all of us to join him but it was too cold... All those American spontaneity that I saw in movies are real!

Anyway, after waiting for almost 40 minutes, Kak Yati and Salim came to our rescue and offered to take us home - just when our bus arrived! But of course we'd rather them send us by car. So here I am, tired, but nonetheless happy with the day :)


p/s: For more pictures, go to my flickr... :)


I know I made the right choice by choosing Pittsburgh. Yeah, White House won't be like five blocks away compared to the other university on our list. But it's still a good place for political science students this year since the G20 Summit will be held in a few weeks time right here in Pittsburgh. I may have sign up for 'activities' that I can't disclose here...and I'm excited!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Worth vs Cost

I can't even describe the feeling of eating Malaysian food (though at a higher price and not-so-sedap) after three weeks being here. Especially during Ramadhan. It was heaven on earth, no kid.


Friday, September 4, 2009

Introduction to Islamic Civilization

So today was the first day of the Introduction to Islamic Civilization's recitation class. Basically the recitation class splits the 200 or so student from the lecture to smaller groups of about 20 people. This is so that students can ask the teacher assistant more detailed questions without wasting too much time of the lecture.

The class started today with an introduction of each of us. I was amazed at how many of them wanting to take the subject because they're interested and not just to fulfill a requirement. Of course some do, but not most. A lot of them had questions regarding the comparison of the three Abrahamic religion, which is understandable since they're familiar with the other two, and not Islam. I was more than willing to give my input in this class.

I think, I answered the best I could to both questions raised which are:

"If at first Christians and Jews seem to support Muslims, where did the later animosity comes from?"

"Why do religions that claim to call upon peace go on and conquer places by means of violence?"

Even though I have a slight idea of the answers, I did not answer right away but waited to see what the others have to say on both subjects. As Rassyid said during the introduction, we're in this class because we want to get the western perspective on Islam. And I think I'm satisfied with what I got today.

Ms Titas, who is doing her PhD in History at Pitt, does not seem to have much knowledge on the basic of Islam, which I don't blame as she admitted that the first minute in. So, as a Muslim myself, I felt that I have to say something not to 'protect' Islam necessarily, but because I believe in what I say as the truth. Even though Rassyid said I was kind of too firm when answering, I did not mind. As we know, Islam is not something to be taken lightly. It is a very serious religion so I think I did good. I so want to be a good representative of Islam here. I really hope this class will help me.