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Monday, 1 December 2008

The Darkest Black Friday Week

Before I start this post, I'm just going to say again that I need a camera phone. Wasted so much energy and time to fetch my camera just for this post. Please appreciate my effort and read this post carefully. And now you know what to get me this Christmas.

Don't start laughing too soon yet. This post will be a very grim one.

As you have surely known, nearly 200 people died in the Mumbai terrorist attack last Wednesday, two days before Black Friday. I watched the news in horror as I tried to swallow my breakfast early last Thursday.

But we don't have to go that far to find violence.

Last Wednesday, all University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) students received the following email.

* * *
Sent: Wed 11/26/2008 5:16 PM
To: All Students; All Staff

Dear all,

I am sorry to report that 4 of our students of Indian descent, have been attacked in what appears to be a case of mistaken identity.

Men in 3 cars have attacked 2 International students in Forest Bar with machetes and then it seems that the same three cars stopped a student car on the way to Broga and slashed 2 other local Indian students.

I strongly recommend that students stay away from Bars in the Semenyih and Broga areas until these criminals have been caught.

If anyone has any information regarding these brutal events, please contact me or Azlan as soon as possible.

Paul Boardman

Director of Administrative Support Services
The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

* * *

No, this is not a December Fool's Day joke. Forest Bar, as stated in the email, is located just 10 minutes' walk away from where I stay. And the incident actually occured at 5, in the evening.


Many other emails followed, including notices to hold an urgent meeting between staff and students in an attempt to reinforce the safety of students, notes assuring students that the security around the campus has been doubled, and updates on the injured students.

Sunday. We received the official news of one of the victims' death from the Students Association (SA) President himself.

* * *
Sent: Sun 11/30/2008 3:18 PM

Hello guys,

I regret to inform you that one of our fellow students who got attacked at forest bar some days back has suddenly passed away this morning.

He is a final year student of the Faculty of Electrical & Electronics Engineering


The Executives of Student Association is declaring 1st of Dec,2008 a day of mourning of our beloved brother,friend,coursemate and colleague and would like you to know that we have also made a request to the management to declare it lecture free day so we can mourn for him but we are still waiting for their response.

Please be informed that there will be black ribbons distributed in student association building(Main Entrance to the building) between 9am & 11am tomorrow so we can show our beloved one that we miss him and we do love him.

All clubs and societies activities/events to be held tomorrow will be cancelled and we apologise for any inconviniences this will cause you.


Douglas E.T
SA President
* * *

I arrived at school today (Monday), to find many of my classmates wearing the said black ribbons on their arms or wrists. I immediately felt ashamed of myself for picking a red shirt that day.

A representative giving out black ribbons at the SA building.

I later got one of the ribbons myself. It is not much, but I hope this means something to my fellow coursemate. He was even my senior!

White drapes were also put up at certain points of the schools, including the busy SA bridge and guardhouse.

Visitors to the SA building also paid respect to him.

All of a sudden the atmosphere around the campus changed. The birds aren't chirping that merrily. Nobody felt like feeding the ducks any more. The security guards seem less cheerful and more serious at doing their duties. Students living off campus are careful where they thread and shot backward glances every few steps. Even the clocktower's chimes sounded more like those of a church holding a funeral to me, for the first time in three months.

Even more emails were sent and received. All co-curricular activities are cancelled for 1st of December, and all academic lectures on the 5th postponed.

For all UNMC students trying hard to suppress their glee, keep in mind that the lectures will be replaced at a later date.

Anyway, let's hope that other than these trivial things such as cancellation of activities and postponing of classes and such, the death of one fellow UNMC student will bring significant and permanent difference to the campus and people around here. Changes I see now such as heightened security, more interaction between people of different races, nationalities, and religions, and greater care of one self's safety are welcome, but are they here to stay forever?

For the deceased, rest in peace. For my living friends, take care. It's a wild world out there.

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