Two years ago I tagged along with my friend's club and went camping. I thought it was a typical jungle hiking expedition. You know, the macho bonfire-guitar-maggie-sardine-mosquito kind of camping.
But it wasn't.
The club was a religion affiliated club. I won't say the club's name because curious googlers might end up in my blog when googling this club's name (and will get me in trouble). Before going in to the jungle, the club leader recited a 5 minutes doa to 20 fellow trekkers. 10 girls and 11 guys. The guys were either over or ill prepared for the 3 days 2 nights camp. The girls donned very inconvenient tudung labuh and carried with them heavy kitchen tools like spatulas, woks and large pots.
Long story short, the camping trip was not fun at all. It may be fun for them but it wasn't for me. Personally, camping for me is all about enjoying each other's company and doing unconventional activities like talking about life while gazing upon sihouttes of canopy trees, enjoying the zen of things and you know, just surviving.
The fellow trekkers spent their whole first day setting up an elaborate camp, cooking for a kenduri and clearing the forest. The night was spent praying and performing tahlil from maghrib to 11. The girls, haha, that's all they do, talk and cook, talk and cook. But mind you, these girls are 'religious' girls from a mostly sekolah menengah agama background. I couldn't even talk to them without having them fix their gaze at a nearby tree. Annoying but precious little gems. We were also seperated from sight by a long ass curtain made out of rolls of tikar.
I frowned at my friend when the camp leader announce the day's activities. My eyes stung a "I thought you told me that this is going to be fun!" look. The following day was spent walking around the jungle, swimming at a nearby river and helping the girls set up the kitchen. It was quite fun but the thought of the following night planned activities left my easily excitable soul jaded.
Before dipping into the river, the leader said a few words of caution "Kalau nak buang air kecil atau besar, beringatlah untuk mintak kebenaran dulu ye."
"Macam mana?" Everyone looked around. What? Did I ask a taboo question?
"Brother, anta tak pernah ke hutan ye? Takpe, ana tunjukkan. Senang saja, sebelum buang apa-apa, sampaikan salam dulu macam Assalamualaikum Datuk... Nenek... Ana mahu buang air kecil di sini. Jangan apa-apakan ana dan keluarga ana. Jangan ikut ana dan rakan-rakan ana. Lindungi ana daripada kesulitan hutan... haa macam tu."
"Datuk.. Nenek..." I paused for a while. "Macam tak kena lah cara tu. Tak boleh ke baca doa masuk tandas dan langkah kiri je?"
"Anta rasa cara ni salah?" I can tell that the camp leader was putting on a tolerant mask. The tolerant mask is usually used when confronting non-believers, sceptics etc. The mask bears a put-on smile, porcelain cheeks and a pair of stinging evil eyes.
"Nak tahu tak kenapa kalau ada insiden petir, mangsanya mesti orang melayu?" The floor was silent so I continued "Sebab kita panggil jin-jin hutan Datuk Nenek. Bila ada petir, petir tu sambar..." I waited for someone to answer.
"Jin." No one answered. "Petir akan sambar jin. Bila ada ribut, lintang pukang la jin mencari cover. Tetiba dorang teringat, dorang ada cucu manusia yang panggil dorang Datuk Nenek... Dorang pun take cover dekat orang melayu macam anta. Tu lah sebab dekat Malaysia, orang melayu je kena sambar petir."
I was anticipating smiles but everyone looked at me grimly, like I did something really really bad. I looked over at my friend just to make sure. He was shaking his head.
With his tolerant mask still on, the camp leader said rather animatedly "Seronok betul kisah anta!" He turned his back on me and walked on. "Mari berwuduk semua, Zohor dah masuk."
I put on my What Did I Do Wrong? mask.
While walking to the river, my friend pulled me to stay back. "Ish Afiq, ko janganlah cakap benda macam tu lagi kat sini. Bahaya! Nanti benda buruk akan jadi."
I sniggered. "Ko la satu! Ko kata camping ni seronok. Cam taliban je aku rasa."
"Ko ni tak faham lagi! Inilah camping cara Islam. Kita orang Islam kenalah ikut camping cara Islam!"
"Ye ye.. " I put on my surrender mask. Whatever.