Being skeptical

I am a skeptical queen.

Whenever someone approaches me and try to sell an idea, I will be the first to list a long roll of why it would not work, and reaffirm the often-not-very-popular notion that every idea is fallible. To me the concept of an ‘idea’ is cheap, until it is being executed and achieve its desired affect.

So yesterday was one of the days when the execution of an idea first make known to me in 2005, was presented right in the face. Last year, SJ, a friend who had also made Canada her home, was the first to tell me how exciting it was to be involved in the first Canadian Islamic Cultural Expo in downtown Vancouver. It sounded exciting too – the idea of showcasing what Canadian Muslims are about – specifically the diversity of their different cultures via their countries, is enticing. But, I was skeptical.

When I arrived in Canada this year, I was quickly introduced to the organisers to help them out. I went for the first meeting, and keep abreast of their email exchanges. It was not long that I began to compare notes.

Almost fresh from helping out at another similar expo in Singapore (one that showcased the different Malay-Muslim organisations in Singapore), I had a scoreboard of standards that I am used to in how Singapore executes an idea. There, there will be committees and sub-committees, and then more sub-committees. Every sub-com has a task force of its own, and everyone has to deliver or risk meeting the axe, or worst – being known as the unreliable one.

With all that in my head, I was not very impressed with the fluid way the Canadian expo was being organised, or so it seems. I forgot, that the difference between the Singaporean and Canadian guys is money. The Singaporeans were paid (a handsome sum of money) to organise their expo, while the Canadians were lending their time and energy in kind. They all have full time jobs, and yet work tirelessly to present a much-misrepresented dogma to the Western world.That is, a tough call.

I chose to be involved in the event yesterday only within what I consider a minimal level – handling the press and filming the event for the organiser’s documentation. I hired a small crew with the small budget that the organisers can afford, and with the help of another journalist, YT, we started filming our interviews.

In between the hectic day, I noticed there were tonnes of visitors from both the Muslims and non-Muslim crowd. Some came with dogs, and it was a sight to see a man reading intently the 99 names of Allah in one of the tents, with a beautiful dog sitting quietly beside him. No one looked at the man differently, or try to get him out of the way. I even got to know Rica, a gorgeous-looking Husky. This is Vancouver after all, diversity-extraordinaire and where discrimination is a bad word.

It happened that yesterday was the day when an anti-US lobby decided to hold its street demonstration. So for a while, we had groups of Frankestein-looking men sauntering into the expo, to depict the victims of war. It was a sight – in between hijabis, men with dogs and curious visitors, we had ghostly characters weaving into the crowd. I wished they stopped by the Muslims and Science tent though.

Amidst my own skepticism, the event was a success. Every single media was there to cover it, and yes, it left me busy. Almost headless, I must say. But beyond the colourful cultural displays of every country, the myriad of visitors and the information about Islam being disbursed, I was struck by the sincerity of the volunteers who made the event happen, regardless if they do it well or not by whatever standards.

I was glad I helped out even at the last minute, and now, I must say I was proud yesterday I made Canada my adopted home.

PS: Remember the posting when the Canadian Anthem in an ice-hockey game recently made me cry, and feel oh-so-very-kelong towards beloved Singapore? I found the video online,and here it is. You will know why I end up screaming ‘O Canada we stand on guard…for theeee!!!” loudly with the crowd. The only difference is, I was in my living room.Damn.


  1. raimie: I dont think it will, as this expo is a Canadian Muslim expo – one which showcase the colours of the Canadian Muslim community ( The expo is organised entirely by volunteers.

    But it would be a great idea to hold an international expo,a travelling one – but of course this would need a sound business model to fund it.

  2. Such event is soo cool!! Kalau kat Singapore ni cuma expo perkahwinan and makanan halal….very the par se. Anyway, just got your blog addy from binilukman….so suaku la…

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