In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
"Anyone who obeys the Messenger has obeyed God..." (Nisaa 4:80)
1. Perfoming 'solat jemaah' (mass prayers) at Kempegowda International Airport
WHILE travelling home on the Manipal-Mangalore-Bangalore-Kuala Lumpur route not long time ago, we (myself, my wife and my in-laws) had no choice but to perform our 'jamak' (combined) 'zuhur' (afternoon) and 'asar' (late afternoon) prayers either on the plane or at Bangalore International Airport.
For the readers’ information, beginning December 14th 2013, Bangalore International Airport was renamed Kempegowda International Airport in honour of the City's founder. Bangalore is currently the capital of the Indian State of Karnataka.
By the way, who was Kempegowda? He was a feudal ruler under the Vijayanagara Empire and lived between 1510-1569 AD and was successful in planning and building the city of Bangalore (renamed Bengaluru in 2006). He is also noted for his societal reforms and also contribution to building temples and water reservoirs in the city.
What amazed me when I was sitting and staring at the huge roof top of the airport was how it was fitted with many sky light glass (translucent coverings), thus tapping light inside the building. Perhaps it was their way to save energy; they too might have installed solar panels. The harnessed solar power could have been a major supplier of electricity for the airport.
It is a well known fact that airports in India are increasingly looking to solar power. After Delhi International Airport Ltd announcing recently that it had set up a 2.14 MW solar power plant, Cochin International Airport Ltd has said it too has set up a 1 MW plant.
Though the plant at Cochin Airport is up and running, it is yet to be formally inaugurated. And airports of Bangalore (Kempegowda) and Hyderabad are also keen on tapping solar energy, with Hyderabad closer to a decision for a 5 MW system. Unlike Delhi airport’s solar plant, the 1 MW facility at Cochin is spread over three locations within the airport, part of it on rooftops.
Perhaps our airport authorities could learn something from them, tapping the rich source of solar energy...and perhaps also the use of natural sunlight during day time.
Back to 'our solat' story; during our journey we met and were on the same plane with seven young Muslim Malaysian girls who were studying medicine at a college in Mangalore. At one corner of Kempegowa Airport, we blocked the area with our bags; and behind the bags we performed our prayers. We did it in two sessions because we needed someone to guard our bags. Oh, it was such a feeling; praying in the open; not in a 'surau' or a 'masjid' as we did back home!
2. No-honking zones on the rise in India
During my travel on the roads in India, it was common to see the words 'Please sound' and 'Please horn' at the back of vehicles especially trucks, lorries and buses. And 'true' to the words, honking on roads was the norm in India. It was like a fiesta when 'almost everyone' honked their vehicles. To the Indians, 'that trait' was 'nothing to ponder over' but to outsiders like me, it was a 'nightmare'!
At almost all Indian towns I had gone, all types of vehicles such ox-carts, rickshaw, tuk tuks, bikes, scooters, cars etc, made their way as 'they liked', but what surprised me was that there was almost an absence of policemen (if they were present, they were seen chatting but not controlling traffic) and there were so few collisions. Indian drivers seem to know how far they can push in front of others without colliding with one another.
It is said that Indian drivers need only three things: good brakes, good horns and good luck. Horns are regarded as essential, thus blaring is 'a must' on Indian roads! And at times you come across herds of buffaloes and cows on the road in the middle of a city. And it is hard to come across traffic lights even in the city!
Nowadays, more and more Indians are doing away with the 'honking way of life'. In several cities they have 'no-honking' zones such as in front of public institutions such as schools and hospitals. Indians have realized that honking in those places could affect health, work and concentration of people.
Indians roads 'are bad' and their drivers ways could made outsiders like us 'have heart attacks' but the irony of it is, accidents seem rare in this part of the world. Perhaps, we could learn something from them...
3. Being thrifty the Indian way
While in India, I found out that Indians valued 'every source' available to them. For example all sections of a coconut tree are used to the maximum - coconut husk is used to make brushes and veins of coconut leaves are used to make brooms.
Food is very cheap in India (compared to our Malaysian standard-lah); a bar of chocolate snack (Tofi-Luk) my son in Manipal usually bought was only 10 rupees (about 50 sen); thus it was not surprising that for our family of five (myself, my wife, my in-laws and my son) could have a 'grand' lunch or dinner such as having lamb chops and chicken tandooris at only 1,400 rupees (around RM70)for the whole meal.
When I got accustomed to the 'Indian way' of living, I found out that the locals could buy slices of bread (not a loaf of bread), one or two potatoes, one or two onions (not a kilogram), three eggs (not a paper crate of 30 eggs) with a few rupees on each item.
They seemed to buy items to be cooked for that specific time only; they finished off the food and for the next meal, they would buy another set of fresh items. Nothing would go to waste! Perhaps they too do not need to have refrigerators!
Well, to me, 'these Indians' were superb in being thrifty; perhaps our Malaysian housewives should learn something from them. From my own experience, the fridge in my home would at almost all times be loaded and heaped with food items such as eggs, vegetables, fruits and all sorts of drinks and they would sometimes go rotten after a long period of time and would have to be thrown away.
What a waste! And more importantly, what our religion teaches us about 'this' - "Eat and drink; but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters." (Qur'an 7:31)
Perhaps we could learn something from the Indians especially during these hard and trying times.