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.


mum said...

Ja this G20 ni for how long in Pitts ?? After reading yr blog im worried about you n rassyid. After this jest stay home until G20 is over. Your safety is more important than anythng else......remember dont be at the wrong place at the wrong time !!!ok dear......

ChEsZa said...

dah habis dah :) 3 days je. thursday till saturday. now obama sume dh balik, xde helicopter bising2 dah :)

Anonymous said...

i heard the news on TV..there wuz riot in Pittsburg..i was thinking, Syaza&Rassyid r r they,what r they doin' at the moment..
btw,mintak2 la both of u selamat..ya, like Mak Zan says Syaza,your safety is more important than anything else..
Always TC..insyaAllah selamat sume ye(^_^)


ChEsZa said...