Assalamu ‘alaikum. I wrote this article when I was fourteen years old. Since then, my views of things, especially in regards to Islam, have changed and developed.
From Friday 13th to Sunday 15th November, my family and I enjoyed a splendid weekend break to Saint Louis in France (near the French-Swiss border) after only a week or so of planning. In my view, spontaneous trips are by far the best kind, and are often cheaper than all-inclusive trips during the school holidays, when airport queues are longer, the activities on offer are far too cliché, and having a real adventure is simply not an option.
I apologise for the delay in posting this article. Recently, I have been immensely preoccupied with exam revision, homework and coursework. Education is, no doubt, an intrinsically beautiful thing, however stress is an inevitable product of it.
I have decided to use a slightly different layout for this article; I shall share with you a handful of edited excerpts from my journal:
12/11/15: Tomorrow, at 4:00, we shall leave for Switzerland. I am experiencing some mixed feelings about this trip. On the one hand, I am very excited to learn more about another part of the world- about the landscape, customs and people of Switzerland. On the other hand, I am terrified. According to numerous online reports, Islamophobia is widely prevalent there.
13/11/15 7:18: We are all aboard the plane. Getting here has been a predictably unpleasant experience. Flying with Ryanair has, so far, been a worse one. Many of the staff members were alarmingly rude. For example, when my necklace triggered the metal detector, the woman at Security remarked, in a very impudent manner, “That’s a surprise”.
Additionally, when we told the lady at the departure gate that my aunt has severe learning disabilities, and so is unable to respond to her questions, she said, without a shred of consideration, “So what? You understand, don’t you?”.
Tutting is the language of Ryanair staff.
11:13: We have rented a car from Sixt, and are attempting to configure the Sat-Nav, whose display settings are currently set to French.
12:48: We are eating at a kebab shop- Kebab de l’Europe. Saint Louis is absolutely beautiful. Contrary to my own prejudices, the people here are so very amicable and jovial.
19:22: The ‘Aparthotel’ is very homely and pleasant.
For lunch, I enjoyed an oversized Margherita pizza. Then, for dinner, I rebelliously had a banana, two biscuits and a few brioche slices with chocolate spread, all of which I purchased earlier during our explorative walk around the town.
21:26: We have just returned from an evening vehicular cruise. We crossed the French-Swiss border and drove around Basel, Switzerland. We were fortunate enough to have seen the River Rhein- the very river that divides Germany, Switzerland and France.
For dinner, the sequel, I had noodles, which dad purchased from a nearby Japanese restaurant. I ate outside, on the balcony.
The streets of Basel are very different to the streets of Saint Louis, though both are astoundingly beautiful. The streets of Basel are a lot busier, and resemble the frenetic streets of London a lot more.
Today, it is Friday the thirteenth, but (save from my Ryanair experience) I’ve had an ironically pleasant day. Dad has been experiencing some difficulty adapting to the different road rules here. He is finding avoiding collisions with trams the most difficult aspect of driving here to overcome.
14/11/15 9:40: We are at Basel zoo. For breakfast, I made myself some instant porridge. As I sat down to eat, I noticed that my mum was watching the news on TV with a worried facial expression: yet another terrorist attack has taken place in Paris. Government officials suspect that ‘Islamist’ militants were behind the attacks. I am terrified.
Mum is fearful of the potential backlash that Muslims in France and Britain will undoubtedly face.
11:26: Our trip to the zoo was very enjoyable, though the animals all looked severely malnourished in comparison to those in London zoo. Seeing the lethargic animals made me ponder on the notion of freedom.
We are now at a Turkish restaurant- Yasar Imbiss- in Basel. After lunch, while everyone else finished their meals, I played football outside with the owner’s little son, Ali.
16:00: We are currently aboard a train, going halfway up the tallest mountain in Europe. I love train journeys, and I love mountains. My heart is content.
16:54: Earlier, Sweetie and I went hiking. It is very cold, but we are warming ourselves up with some hot beverages at a mountain lodge. The atmosphere of this place is replete with rustic charm. The sun is setting, and I honestly cannot put into words how majestic this view is.
23:01: At roughly 20:30, we returned to the hotel. I checked my Twitter newsfeed. In the wake of the the aforementioned terror attacks, some people are denigrating all Muslims!
I am absolutely, categorically in love with Switzerland and its people. Wow.