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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thread 6

Adventurous stories from Agustinus Wibowo, a backpacker who travel around Asia, which share on www.kompas.com I posted this amazing travel into thread series. I have to translate from Indonesian to English and hopes remain the originality. Happy Reading.

Above Firdaus Land (Pakistan)

Suffering frozen in Karimabad is useless. In this place Al-Malik find himself that he is looking for. He also can find society as an Ismaili.

Al-Malik called of his intention to move from this motel because almost all motels were as cold as others. Even Hunza Darbar Motel that charged 40 dollars per night has not electricity for heating. There were no planes to Islamabad, because of bad weather in winter around the mountains that wedge thick snow was really danger for flight.

Of silence in Karimabad, we went down to the village at the foothills, Ganesh, as like Hindu God’s name. Residents in Karimabad all Ismaili, only a few hundred meters only in Ganesh village lived Syiah population. Grandfather Haider was actually Syiah, but Al-Malik had thought he was a Ismaili. I let him stun with his own euphoria.

We rode Suzuki car to reach next village, Aliabad. In Pakistan, ordinary people used to call car base on the brand. The Suzuki car has size as small as pickup. If it is not enough, seat inside usually the passenger will sit, stand or hang around at back of the iron vessel. Female passengers usually sit separately from men passengers, although in this place the rules are not too tight like in other parts of the Pakistan.

We visited a social organization called Hunza Resources Education Project (HERP), which promote educational activities. There were more than four thousand students and hundreds of teachers. Alex, an English girl, has been a volunteer in Hunza for 18 months.

What makes her choose Pakistan and stay in this isolated village ? "I don’t choose Pakistan, but Pakistan does" answered her. But Alex was not happy, I can see that from her face. “It is very boring” said Alex with glassy eyes seems to cry. "This village very beautiful, where you can find many friendly people, isn’t it ?" asked Al-Malik. "Yes, I know. But who is strong to stay here in long time ? Quiet, cold and remote. Tourists love to come here only in summer, it just for a short period of time. Stay here for many years …. ? I don’t think all those strong”. I saw her smile in sadden. “Ashamed !” said Al-Malik when we left HERP "She shouldn’t come here if she doesn’t like. No one force her to keep her stay here even no people in this village ask that. You know what ? she is paid for this !"

His proud about a place which Ismaili majority live was step out after Alex explanation that said it just was a quiet, cold and boring place. What make Al-Malik didn’t like to Alex was just from her less strength to be a volunteer in Hunza. In fact, the foreign volunteers come to a place like this was also not a bad thing at all. Alex received salary every month, but as a human who dedicate and sacrifice for the environment also need socializazing didn’t it ?
Education in Hunza valley was not bad at all. Literacy in Hunza Valley nearly 100 percent, whereas according to UNICEF data in 2005 only about 50% of the population in Pakistan can read and write, 68 girls from 100 girls in Pakistan were still illiterate.

"In the 1960s, Pakistan is a developing country," said Hunza Public School and College, "and again that even Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, still more backward. But now ? We left behind whereas educations in Indonesia keep mowing. What is the reason?. That time one city only has one madrasah, but now there are thousands of madrasahs”.

Madrasah in Pakistan according to head of school was source to teach islam religion only there were no mathematics earth science such as geography and biology.

Madrasah was being greater today than before when the leaders did much compromise in order to preserve their power. Religion is used for politics commodity that make Pakistan weaker.

The head of the school continue to praise President Musharraf as a leader of the secular people who was not reluctant to go to villages to provide counseling even many times he was attempted to murder. I don’t know much about the latest political in Pakistan. As I know he was a controversial president, many people hate him inspite of many people love him.

Al-Malik was very satisfied with the results for our trip today. There is excitement that couldn’t count. Time brought him as Ismaili people to a variety of social organization in Hunza so I could see he smile brightly because he fond his another identity beside an English Man.

"Don’t be shy if come to England and contact me, I will help you" said Al-Malik In a flash he receive many email address from villagers who interest to make relationship with him. At night Ismaili congregation in Karimabad invites us. Today is Thursday, time to pray in Ismaili mosque. Pray Concept for Ismaili was to build relationship between human to God, don’t need to see people even no speaker to load adzan, they worship in silence swallowed that encircle giant mountains.

When home, he was so happy. "I get the most honors from the Ismaili community," he said while hw was showing a hat with a flat roofed pakkol plumage swell in one of the ends, "This is gift for the most honored guests only. Village elders even dance traditional Hunza dancing, they are encircle the loop, clap hands, such as hawk. But, honesly, is not my favorite dance".

There was no limit for pride and exhilaration, because he found his faith community. At the end of the story Al-Malik whispered to me "Maybe next time I should stop talking that I come from London. Perhaps, I just don’t want them using me because I’m a English”.

That's identity. Some people are crazy because they haven’t identity. There are people who have much identity they are free to show their identity. And people who interact with each other handle the identity, interest adjustments, and then find a new identity-identity that never find before.

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