My first ever encounter with the people of their kind was in Sydney, Australia. It was Ramadan, and I was with the Purnomos, our Indonesian friends in Sydney. It was a case of where to break-fast-dunno-so-how-about-Uighur-food? And the ok-Uighur-sounds-exotic. And there we were, in the Uighur restaurant in the city.
The restaurant was full. There was a sign which says ‘Muslims who are fasting, break-fast at HALF PRICE’.
But it was not the sign which attracted me and left my mouth gaping. It could jolly well be the enticing smell of the roasted lamb, but it was not. It was the people. The waiter, waitresses, the cooks–practically all the Uighurs working in there. They were so, hmm how do I put it? Beautiful. The kind of beauty I can just sit and look at their faces for hours, especially the women –and I am a woman!
So that was my first encounter with these silk road people and yes, I was ‘jakun’. But their rosy cheeks, slanted but naturally coloured eyes and ash-brown hair and rosy lips…it was like I was in a doll house cafe served by nicely crafted dolls. Anyway, the restaurant was full and since it was near break-fast time and they didn’t have the heart to turn us away, we were ushered to the back room where the staff normally breaks their fast. They cleared that room for us and we ordered the extremely delectable Uighur Cuisine, while enjoying the Uighur’s hospitality, which was marvellous. The waitresses wore interesting looking hijabs and they spoke in an strange albeit unique language to one another, but to us in Aussie twanged English. And they wrote our orders, and the bill in Arabic.
The past weeks of news have brought upon this remembrance of that one night of my encounter with the Uighurs. The plight of the Uighurs in China is sad and nervewrecking. As far as the Muslim world often pray or make issues out for those in Palestine/Afghanistan/Pakistan and what have we, the Uighurs, are probably often forgotten as the people of the same faith as well.
And for that, I feel for whatever they are going through right now, that they shall be remembered in our prayers together with whom we care about and are fans of, and yes– Yasmin Ahmad included.
A piece of Uighur