I had a chance to pass by the labourers and workers waiting for the travel agents to pick them up. For a moment, I thought if this is my chance to see real milita. (for years, I had spelled the word as 'Malaysia' when it really was militia - the men in dark gray shalwar qameez and peshawari chappal carrying big guns. I was told when in first grade that their uniform cloth comes from Malaysia and so the force is called as 'Malasia walay'). The security personnel on the other counters, meant probably for visitors or may be aothers except workers category, were nicer and wont at all fit into my definition of security or police.
There were long queues of people and would get longer and longer with each minute as a layer of people would be added to the zig-zag path leading to the counters. As I made it out of the airport TI was greeted like , "I am gonna kill you, you made me wait for so long" by an Egyptian foundation student who had traveled around 21 hours in multiple flights. He fell asleep in minutes as we started for the 3-hour drive to university with Mr. Hiduwan from UTP. All the way, I kept him busy in answering my questions all the way.
After an hour of so, I began to feel like I am missing something here, I could find on roads in Pakistan, what it was, definitely the beautifully decorated trucks saying 'Tere Yaad Aye Teray Jaane k Baad'. All of a sudden, it appeared as if there were going to be a traffic jam. Hiduwan predicted it would be an accident on the other side of the road. People are too curious, he continued, to see what happened until the persons and the vehicle is carried away, so an accident is the only option he felt could slow down the traffic. He told me about the Malaysian oil company Petronas, if the company collapses, so does Malaysia, and the various local car brands like Proton. My calculations, in Pak Rupees, revealed cars here are cheaper but not the way, friends as in US are.
For once I could not believe my eyes, but it happened again and again. Women on bikes, were to be seen all along the highway. That's the norm, Hiduwan corrected me, equal rights, equal opportunities for all. Lately, I found women would work in all sectors just like men including office jobs, running shops, police or whatever it is. As we entered the university, a vast mosque with a dome and a sort-of-lake on two sides welcomed us. I came to learn that the people here don't hesitate in having one, two, any number of "Jamaats" after the first one. The warden at the hostel was playing football but soon returned to hand me the keys to my room. I bade Riduwan with "Terimah Kasih". I had met more number of Pakistani students here than I had even expected could be found here at Universiti Teknologi, Petronas, before getting the keys.
That was my first look at Malaysia.
I am learning new things each day but some of them have already gone old. Probably, this is how it goes.