It was Friday afternoon. As usual, I went to my mother's house for lunch with my kids. Four blocks away from my apartment on the outer road of Male' City, it is usually a nice stroll between the two houses.
Although highly opinionated, I have never been one to take part in political activities. I have never worn party colors or participated in any campaign events - but this Friday afternoon was different. During the short walk between my mother's house and my home, I took part in three different campaigns of three different political candidates -- here's how!
Armed with a few shopping bags and tugging my four year old, I started walking towards the east, impatient to get home after lunch. My seven year old will now be returning home from concert practice, and I had to hurry.
But the usual quick stroll was not on the agenda today, no. At the end of the first block was a campaign station of a popular independent candidate. With loud distasteful music blaring from a huge loudspeaker, the whole area was crowded with people wearing white and blue, holding up thumbs up signs made out of cardboard. Maneuvering through the crowds was a challenge of it's own, especially with a two feet tall child walking at his own pace beside me. My bulky shopping bag was no help, whacking into random people, who were fortunately too pumped up to notice. After all, the opposing candidate's supporters were passing by on motorbikes, and they had to put on a good show. Instead of anyone noticing that I was just a passer-by, one of the cardboard thumbs up signs were thrusted into my already full hands - um, no thanks.
Wondering if my face was caught on any of the many cameras in the area, I sighed with relief when I was finally able to get out of the crowd. Phew. The block ahead would be peaceful. There was a campaign station of a local political party situated on the block, but all seemed quiet on that front.
Boy, was I wrong.
As I quickened my pace, I was suddenly engulfed into a crowd of yellow. Now these people were on a mission of their own. Pickup trucks decorated with yellow flags were every where, the loudspeakers were instructing people to clear the sides of the road to park the said pickups.
It then dawned on me that the main campaign station of one of the largest political parties was on the next block, whose supporters had spilled over to that one isolated block where I was hoping to walk in peace.
I thought about taking a detour and going around the next block. Hmm, it was definitely possible. But me being the lazy person I am, I calculated the extra walking I would have to do and decided against it. I'm just going to go head and brave the crowd.
Bracing myself and taking a deep breath, I plunged myself into the crowd. I felt like I was suddenly surrounded by family and friends. Everyone kept smiling at me, thinking I was one of 'them'. I had people I had not seen in years coming up to me in that overflowing crowd and speaking to me with enthusiasm and pump. Forcing a smile, I ducked into an empty space and quickened my pace - only to realize WHY the spot was empty in the first space. The leader of the party himself was walking out of the campaign station! All eyes were suddenly in my direction, with me crossing the path directly in front of said leader, nearly crashing into him!
Fortunately, I was able to avoid an embarrassing scene, missing the said leader by inches. While I was still recovering from the shock, a man started coming after me. He wanted to offer a party sticker to my son! Nooooo!
The man had already caught my son's attention. Call me rude, but when all this was happening, I was still walking, with the kind-looking man clumsily following me, while simultaneously fumbling with the sticker sheet, trying to pry one off the paper. He was finally able to un-stick a sticker and tried to stick it on my son's t-shirt - which was coincidentally grey and yellow, which may possibly have been why the person mistook me as a supporter.
Now let me clue you in on a well known secret- my son hates stickers! Well, not exactly stickers but sticking stickers on his face, clothes, body. He hates this to the point that he does now allow his preschool teachers to give him stars! Strange, I know.
So imagine my son's shock and terror when the man tried to stick the party sticker on his shirt! Screeching like a wild animal, he pulled away quickly, dragging clumsy old me with him. Shooting an apologetic look at the people around me, I quickly ran from the scene.
Does it end here?
One can only hope!
Because suddenly, I could smell something delicious in the air.
Of course! A mighty feast was spread out on the side of the road, this time, the table creaking under scrumptious delights displaying the face of yet another candidate! Again, I was met with smiles and nods - people were assuming I was here for the food!
Embarrassed, but with my stomach rumbling, I pulled myself away from the feast with my little tyke in tow, crossing over to the other side of the road.
Phew. My comical walk home was nearly over. With the door to my house just ten feet away, I was hoping against hope that my adventure was nearly over. It was only when I reached the door to my home that I was finally able to breath easy. I made it!
My triumph was short-lived.
Because right at that very moment, my phone started ringing, with a relative questioning why I was at so-and-so's campaign event when I answered the call.
It has begun.