By SHARMILA NAIR
IT IS hard to believe that the year is coming to an end already. It seems like only yesterday everyone was making resolutions for 2011 (how much do you want to bet that most of us are still carrying that extra 10kg we swore to lose then?).
Well, if you’re going to beat yourself up for not hitting the gym regularly, don’t. It’s not your fault, really.
It would have been really difficult to focus on something as trivial as losing weight when in reality, the world was going crazy all around us throughout the year.
So many big events happened in 2011, some more memorable than others but they all, nevertheless, changed the world.
Who can forget the many times Mother Nature shook the Earth to remind us who really was in charge, and how death grasped precious lives before we got to say our goodbyes?
Natural disasters changed the world, literally, too, but there were other events that blew our minds.
We had young people who let their voices be heard, which in turn toppled regimes and brought dictators to justice. There were people who fought for their rights, while some, fought for their lives.
It would be impossible to list every life-changing event that happened throughout the year, but here here are some of the events R.AGE readers picked as the most memorable stories of 2011:
A ferocious tsunami caused by one of the deadliest earthquakes ever recorded slammed Japan’s eastern coast in March, leaving thousands of people dead in its wake. The magnitude 8.9 earthquake caused a 7m (30ft) tsunami and was followed by more than 50 aftershocks for hours – many of them bigger than magnitude 6.0.
People were shocked at the enormity of the disaster which they watched unfold via Internet. It was also through the same medium that the world encountered stories of the Japanese as they pulled themselves together as a nation of cultured citizens and persevered through the hardship with dignity and pride.
Joanne Chua, 19: I was in Sapporo (Hokkaido Prefecture), Japan, when the tsunami happened. I encountered only small tremors and was thankfully unharmed. I was among the many travellers who were stranded at the airport but after realising the magnitude of the disaster, everyone was too glad to be alive to complain!
What impressed me the most was how the Japanese exercised patience, tolerance, discipline and remained calm in the times of chaos.
A royal affair
On April 29, the world came to a standstill as London hosted one of the most extravagant weddings of the century – the marriage between its prince and a commoner.
Like they did for his parents’ wedding, people around the world watched in awe as Prince William exchanged vows with his bride Kate Middleton at the Westminster Abbey in front of distinguished guests from all over the world.
Millions of people tuned in to watch the wedding, which was broadcast live across the globe. It was also during the screening that most people were introduced to the other Middleton girl, Pippa (or her behind to be more specific!).
It cannot be denied that while the wedding was all about William and Kate, it was Pippa who stole the show in her form-fitting Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen bridesmaid dress which even prompted some fanatics to start a “Pippa Middleton’s A** Appreciation Society” on Facebook.
Vijaya Latha Ananthan, 23: It really was a beautiful wedding ceremony and I really wished that I was in London to see it happen first hand. However, I was equally happy to watch the ceremony with my family and more importantly feeling motivated to workout after seeing Pippa Middleton in that gorgeous dress.
Death of a legend
It was no secret that Apple innovator Steve Jobs suffered from a rare form of pancreatic cancer and that his death was imminent. However, when the news broke that the genius passed away on Oct 5, the world couldn’t help but mourn the loss.
Steve was not just a pioneer in computer technology, he was also the man who singlehandedly changed the world with his innovations.
Saren Rajendran, 21: Steve Jobs pioneered a facelift to computer technology, making the existing interface more efficient in ways none have ever imagined. When he was around, autumn was the time every Apple fan awaited (as that was when news of the latest Apple products would be announced). Will we have the same excitement for 2012? That’s the question mark. Steve Jobs is a true legend of innovation. Most of them were just manufacturing computers, he made it better!
This year marked several events during which people fought for their right to speak up and be heard. In January, the youths of Egypt took to the streets to demand the resignation of their president Hosni Mubarak, which eventually took place in February.
The revolution was sparked by the success of the Tunisian revolution that resulted in the overthrow of their long-time president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Even the Libyan youths joined forces to bring down the dictatorship of Moammar Gadaffi, who was killed by rebel fighters in October. Meanwhile, Syria is currently in the midst of its own political uprising.
Closer to home, the Bersih 2.0 rally took place on July 9 and the demonstration, organised by Coalition for Clean and Fair Election (Bersih) was to push the Election Commission of Malaysia to ensure free and fair elections in Malaysia.
The rally was deemed illegal by the Government but nevertheless, about 150,000 Malaysians took the streets of Kuala Lumpur to exercise their freedom of speech.
Nathalie Annette Kee, 16: 2011 was the year of democracy. From Libya’s uprising to our very own Bersih 2.0 rally, the people have discovered a voice they never knew they had. As a student, I feel that this is very relevant because youths have played a vital role in these movements.
Certain parties may have expressed deep disapproval but such is life – constantly beset with challenges towards a fair and just society. A society in which everybody, regardless of age, has the power to exercise their respective rights – including freedom of speech.
Uniting the nation
People may make fun of football, citing it as just a game in which men and women run after a ball. The truth, however, is that football is a game that unites people regardless of race and religion, and is capable of uniting a nation more easily than any other event could.
The Malaysian national football (both senior and junior) teams have been performing wonderfully in the last couple of years and everyone has taken notice of their formidable front.
When the visiting English Premier League teams – Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal – played friendly games with the national team in the middle of the year, the Malaysian boys did their very best to uphold the nation’s pride.
Last month, the Harimau Muda team added another feather to their already decorated cap after winning the gold medal at the 2011 SEA Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Phyllis Ho, 18: I’m not a football fan but during the recent SEA Games, I found myself constantly on Twitter for updates about the football match between Harimau Muda and Garuda Muda. Looking back, that was the time when the whole nation came united together to support our national football team. It is very heartwarming to know that, and let’s hope that our national football team will take it to the next level in the future.
End of a saga
Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger said their final farewell on the big screen this year with the release of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part Two in July.
The eighth movie, based on the best-selling books by British author J.K. Rowling, is the final edition in the highly-successful franchise. The movie made over US$80mil (RM250mil) in the opening weekend alone and grossed over US$1bil (RM3.2bil) worldwide since its release.
Aishah Madinah, 16: The one event I was looking forward to this year was the release of the final Harry Potter movie. As a kid, I grew up with the Golden Trio (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint) and along the way, developed an unconditional love for the brilliant creation that author J.K. Rowling had produced. There were plenty of heartbreaking scenes in the film that contributed to the tear-shedding but what really hit me was that it would be the last time I’d sit in a cinema and watch a Harry Potter movie.