Monthly Archives: February 2014

In Alifushi Island (Day 1)

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We arrived in Alifushi Island at around 11:30 AM on Thursday 20th of February. The first thing I wanted to know about the Island was if they had any cafés so that I could go and have some breakfast after the long journey. I came to know that the island had four cafés, of which I visited all with the exception of one, during my three day stay.

That morning, I had breakfast in “Bite” Café. Located near the harbor, it is the café most easily accessible by travellers who are new to the island of Alifushi. I had the local Maldivian breakfast of ‘Roshi and Mashuni” along with a black tea. I was able to get to know some of the inhabitants of the island in about the forty five minutes which took for my breakfast.

From there, we had a man who helped us take our luggage to the house we were staying in. He placed all the bags in a cart and headed to our “home” in Alifushi Island while we began the task of shooting the documentary.

We headed to the Island School as the school sessions in Maldives usually ends at around 12:30 PM. We were fortunate the session had not yet ended; we were able to shoot the students and teachers while they were executing their respective duties. The two story school was like a ground scattered with buildings.

There were about five buildings located inside the school ground. One holding the school hall, the other holding the staff rooms, two buildings occupying the classrooms and the other building was just recently inaugurated by the Ministry of Education. Higher Secondary grades were introduced in June 2013 with single session being introduced just last month. I met a lot of student, teachers and was also able to speak with some of the Heads of Departments and the Principal of the school.

After completing the task in the island school and having lunch at “Bite” Café, we headed to the area with the boatyards. (Did I mention the Island is famous for its skilled workers in the boat building industry?) Entering into the boat yard of Maldives Marine Services, I was flabbergasted, at loss for words, totally dazed by the size of those boats being built in a single yard.

The boats were enormous, some ranging from 120 to 180 feet. There were about 6 to 8 boats in that single yard, all in different stages of constructions. Several employees of the company were at work, including a generous amount of Maldivian youths, which is a scene rarely seen in the capital, Male’ City.

Our tasks for the first day in Alifushi Island settled at around 6:30 PM. After an hour or two in our “home” in the island, we headed out for dinner. This time, it was a new café by the name “Mahlabiyya”. By the time dinner was over, I was too tired to roam around the island. Nonetheless, I could not stop myself from visiting some of the island shops on the main road, “Ameenee Magu”. A two story business outlet called “Two O Two” happened to be my favorite.

And then I faced the daunting task of sleeping alone in a strange island. I began missing my mother, my two little sisters and brother and my boyfriend. I forced myself into thinking happy thoughts, about the new people I would meet on the coming day, the new experiences I was going to have on the island over the phase of the next two days; and I fell into a dreamless sleep.

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Journey to Alifushi Island

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This weekend I visited Raa Atoll Alifushi Island on a work trip, accompanied by a cameraman. We were there to make a documentary about the island and I made use of this opportunity to meet new people and share it with the different communities around the world.

The journey to the island, in a speed launch of the Jazeeraa Ferry Services took about five long hours. I am not accustomed to travelling for long by sea and it was a whole new experience. There were times when I felt nauseous but all in all, those five hours I spent in the ferry with about 10 more people proved to be a gateway which revealed the hidden beauty of Maldives.

After travelling for about 4 hours, we reached Raa Atoll in the Northern region of the country and began making stops in several islands; however, I am not able to recall the names of all the islands. At first, we made a stop near an island with few infrastructures. A huge proportion of the island must have been trees and vegetation. Then we stopped at an island with a harbor which will be best designated as unusually vast for an island in the Maldives. The next island must have been Dhuvaafaru. New housing infrastructure was ongoing and I’m assuming this island to be Dhuvaafaru as the island is being reconstructed by the government after the Tsunami which struck Maldives in late 2004.

We made a few more stops and finally reached our destination. The first impression I had of Alifushi Island can be best described by the words, “Wow”. I was fascinated by the beauty of seeing both infrastructure and nature being present at the same levels. The island was developed; there was no question or doubt about that. But I had a feeling that the island people had a belief of conjoining development and nature together.

Getting off the ferry and onto the jetty, two huge flags waving in the air caught my sight. These were the flags of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), soaring in the air, side by side, a momentous symbol representing the unity among the island people despite their political differences.

The Woman with the Beard

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“I couldn’t take the stares from strangers so I’d lock myself in my room. It got so bad that I just didn’t want to live anymore”  – Harnaam Kaur-

Suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome, 11 year old Harnaam Kaur would lock herself in her room, trying to protect herself from the mockery, when the first signs of facial hair began to develop on her body. Soon the stubbles grew into a beard and the hair began to spread to her arms and chest. She would cut and shave the hair, trying to save herself from the negative comments and to some extent the death threats she began receiving.

Now a 23 year old woman, Harnaam Kaur is determined never to cut her beard again and to love herself for who she is. Recently baptized as a Sikh (a religion which forbids cutting hair), Kaur says she feels more feminine and sexy, loving herself for who she is. Even though, at first, her family was opposed to the idea of keeping the beard, with support from her brother, Gurdeep Singh, Kaur has been able to overcome the challenges that posed along with her controversial decision.

Working as a primary teacher at the local Sikh Primary School in Slough, Berkshire, England, Kaur hopes women all over the world facing similar conditions will find confidence from her story. She has begun uploading videos on Youtube, to share her story, despite the numerous death threats she still keeps on receiving.

“I want other women to find the strength that I have. If I had any message it would be to live the way you want – it’s your journey and it’s your life.”

Jiddu Krishnamurti

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Jiddu Krishnamurti, an Indian born on 11th May 1895 is renowned for his advocacy towards a radical change in the mankind.

“What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.”

His teachings did not focus on religion or philosophy, but emphasized on the things which concern us in our daily lives.

“In oneself lies the whole world and if you know how to look and learn, the door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give you either the key or the door to open, except yourself.”

He spoke on the individual’s search for happiness and security while living in the modern society, with its corruption and violence.

“If we can really understand the problem, the answer will come out of it, because the answer is not separate from the problem.”

Krishnamurti taught us that religion, country and politics are the reasons that bring about division and conflicts of war.

“All ideologies are idiotic, whether religious or political, for it is conceptual thinking, the conceptual word, which has so unfortunately divided man.”

He reminded us that before being a Muslim, Hindu, Christian or Jew for that matter, we are all human beings and that should be our first and utmost priority.

“In obedience there is always fear, and fear darkens the mind.”

He taught us to communicate with the superficial and that human beings and nature could co-exist in harmony alongside each other.

“When one loses the deep intimate relationship with nature, then temples, mosques and churches become important.”

His teachings, besides being relevant to the modern age, are timeless and universal.