Entry by Najwa Karim at JOHO portal
Photo credits to Xalleh Razax
My first ever entry in this awesome portal. And what better way for me to have a humble start than writing about me being a proud Johorian.
For me Johor, or specifically JB is a place so personal, so close to my heart that it is MORE than the place I'm staying, more than just a hometown. Eventhough my 'uri' was buried somewhere in Sabah, JB is the place where everything happened. Be it either significant or insignificant, JB is the place where every single molecule of my being and soul was built, created, invented, developed and even distorted. I grew up with tempe, epok-epok, KFC Holiday Plaza, pecal, gebor, air jarang and any Johor authentic word, you name it! Hehe.
I remember during my childhood years, Holiday Plaza was for Hari Raya and its kids electric car outside the complex, Kerry's for the McDonalds, The Store Sentosa for monthly shopping, Komtar was for Kebayan and Segget was for JB very own 'Hard Rock'.
When I was a jumpy teenager after puberty *ahem*, meaning my lower secondary years, the most prominent place would be... yeaa.. CITY SQUARE. Right now I don't even know how I wasted my time back then lepaking in CS the whole afternoon after school. Hah, semua baik mengaku siapa yang habis sekolah terus pegi CS with your uniform?? Haa.. jangan tak ngaku eh. Watching movies when we had the money, lepaking in Kebayan Komtar eating the scrumptious roti john (ingat tak roti john komtar?? ingat pls2!), cuci mata loitering just outside CS and using Mom and Dad's money to treat ourselves with Roibo, Vivo, Pizza Hut Komtar, McD, Roti Boy and Takoyaki. And then we walked to Kotaraya, tapi kena lalu Menara Ansar sebab nak air-cond to go to the game arcade. Looking back, I would sigh of the... I can't find a suitable word in English, but what the teenagers my age back then would say is 'agas'. Haha. I never imagined I'll be calling myself an 'agas'. Cis.
16 marks the age where I started to grow apart from JB. I went studying in Negeri Sembilan then continue for my uni years in Melaka. Staying in Melaka made me become half a betrayer to JB. I got my first (and hopefully last) disastrous heartbreak in JB so I took refuge in Melaka. I love Melaka. At that particular moment I saw Melaka as colourful, joyous, culturally enriched country, compared to JB where it was all gloomy, heartbreaking and silent. I think it was more to a personal reason why I'd rather stayed in Melaka than JB.
But then I found a realistic reason for it. The difference between Melaka and JB was that in Melaka I can easily get access to continue my passion, that is to dance (click here for details on my passion). The art and cultural movements there are so active, they drive at full speed and everybody felt welcomed to join. They have many small organizations and ALL organizations participate actively, they have shows all the time and they provide chances for everybody even the beginners. They send teachers to teach dance lessons for free in all schools. I was amazed by the effort because if you compared Melaka to JB, I believe JB has a lot more authentic cultural treasure. But then, the movement was sadly, silent, very silent.
But lately, I noticed that SOMETHING has shaken Johor, particularly JB, quite hard that some government lazy bums already feel uneasy, some sleepy organizations wake up from their sleep and some enthusiastic peeps walk out of their comfort zone to try something new and fresh.
And yes, for all of the above, thanks to JOHO. JOHO gives new breath to the lifestyle in JB. It's just been a year but the achievement and the transformation of JB is equal to 5 years of almost-immobile cultural development. The members have put their blood and guts and whatnot to make it happens. I admire their passion and persistence to save Johor from becoming CULTURALLY EXTINCT.
Staying in JB after I finished my study is such a bliss. I love JB like I never love before. I even don't miss Melaka that much and yeah, my plans to work in Melaka just vanished because I know, JB is where I belong. Hujan emas di negeri orang, hujan batu di negeri sendiri, lebih baik di negeri sendiri. I may be going away from JB again to further my study and people may say that I'm such a hypocrite by looking at my non-evident contribution to my country. But wherever I go, I love Johor. And JOHO loves Johor. I believe that Johor needs JOHO and the supporters to keep Johor alive. I support the passion JOHO tries to outlive. And for haters out there, speak only when you ACTUALLY HAVE better things to show. If not. Just sit silently in the corner you've been hiding yourselves in.
And JOHO, thanks again. Keep on rocking!