Not long before I founded this blog, I went to the Maldives to volunteer for the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme. It was an incredible two weeks, learning about the great work that MWSRP does, with the nicest people both in the program and on the island. We even saw a whale shark up close on our very first day!
Near the end, the wonderful people at MWSRP asked some of us to contribute an article each to their blog.
The Whale Shark Article that Created Teja on the Horizon
Although the beginnings of Teja were in Sirsi, where I began to believe that I could influence others, the idea of doing so from a blog came after Dhigurah.
I had not written for recreation for a long time, even though I used to be prolific. It was not easy to write recreationally when you’re in a full time science job, and within a corporation. The two require two very different modes of thinking that are difficult to switch between, and I had too little spare time to feel able.
After a while, I simply never thought of writing again, even though I loved it. Not even when I became lucky enough to eventually have that spare time, many years later.
So when Alex asked around, I did not think she meant me. Surely, any one of us could write something decent.
I simply didn’t think I could, anymore. What would I write about? What was my writing voice now? So I didn’t put my hand up.
I did it for representation.
“What about your language, Nuraini?” Alex had asked then. “We don’t have an article on the site in Malay so far. You can write it in both languages.”
That made me stop short, and re-think.
I thought about my time helping Neil and Sabi as an interpreter on the Perhentian Islands. At that time, how difficult it was to call more than a handful of my people’s youth from the rural mainstream into conservation work! Even though, conservation needed them to be the primary custodians, far more than the urbanites far away.
And I knew why. I knew it was because such work was seen to be ‘stuff that white people do’, or ‘stuff that city slickers care about’. Indeed, I was the first local Malay who volunteered with Ecoteer in the Perhentian Islands.
It’s unlikely that my article on the MWSRP website would be read by many Malaysians who habitually think and converse in Malay. But suppose there was one odd, intrepid soul? What would it mean to her/him to see that someone had gone before, to see the evidence clear as day – an article beautifully written in Malay, as only a native speaker could write?
If I had not written for years, it was even longer than that since I wrote creatively in Malay. But I had to do it.
So I said yes.
Do more of what you love.
It was in writing this article for MWSRP that that I remembered how much fun it is to write. And how so very much I had missed it.
Around the same time Travelicious (now Travelista Club) began advertising for paid writing, along with guidance for how to found your own website.
And, Teja on the Horizon was eventually the result.