View from my sewing room
Lollies’s comment yesterday and Atenah’s blog entry made me think a little bit more about myself and my blog.
Perhaps I am terrible. I often use this blog to purge my misery, my unhappiness or things in general that was bothering me . I also practice a lot of self censorship when it comes to expressing my happiness and pleasures in this blog. Why? I am very careful in trying not to portray myself as showing off. I don’t know why, self promoting is not my thing and sometimes when I do, unintentionally, I literally get slapped right back in the conversation. With words of course. Suddenly I find people getting threatened by me or they’d dismiss me as a show off. Perhaps its my tone? Or perhaps it’s the things I talk about? So in the end, I make myself sound like a negative whiner. [But this can be another blog entry altogether.]
Anyways I was digressing. Yes I whinge too much. I whinge about feeling trapped and being oppressed as a woman. But I should be lucky that we came here by choice and that when we feel that we have had enough, we can move on. And yes, I shouldn’t complain too much because we came here by choice. We came because of the attractive package that they offered us. Accommodation is provided, as well as air tickets. There are no income taxes to pay here. And compared to Malaysia, the salary here is very attractive indeed. (They take into account that most families here are single income families anyways.) We don’t have to pay the normal utility bills and we enjoy the perks of living in a compound. If a light bulb goes off, I just needed to call the maintenance people and someone will come to fix it. Ditto if I have plumbing problems, and when there was a problem with my phone line, a guy came to fix it within 30 mins of my call. All this would have been different compared to my life in the UK. A plumbing problem could be very expensive and it took 3 days for the NTL guy to rectify the phone problem. So yes, life here is generally good.
I had to do all the cleaning and cooking while we were living in the UK. Eating out at Malaysian Hall was considered a treat. We could not afford much else because either it was not Halal or the bill would be exorbitant. Here, we can eat out fairly easy and we can better afford to eat out at nice restaurants. Imagine a buffet dinner at the local Four Seasons Hotels cost RM130+++ per person. Less than £20. To eat out at a similar establishment in the UK would cost us £100. Can’t afford that.
And cars are more affordable here. And petrol as well. We drove a £400 20 year old car for 2 years. Now we have a 2 tank SUV. And we finished paying it off last month.
And here I could hire a lady to come and clean my house every week. Something which I definitely could not afford when we were living in the UK. I also get to take quilting classes, yoga, hire a personal trainer, all which were out of reach for us financially when we were living elsewhere.
To answer your question Lollies, there are some pleasures here, namely eating and shopping. Life can generally good, as long as we ignore the small issue of women not having freedom. So we end up gaining lots of weight here. But of course, there is a gym in my compound, another facility which if I wanted to use in the UK would have cost us £45 a month.
I guess what I am saying is, Allah is fair. Life is fair. We will always gain some and lose some. There will always be both good sides and bad sides, no matter where in the world we live in. There is always a price to pay for everything. In my case, the price of living in comfort is my freedom. How long can I stand it? I don’t really know. Our main aim when we decided to come here, is to pay off our mortgages, go to Hajj, repair our souls a bit more and learn more about our religion.
Yes I have to wear an abaya when I go out. But wearing an abaya brings both good and bad. I don’t have to worry about co-ordinating the colours of my clothes under my abaya, and I have, gone out to the shopping mall in my pyjamas. However, this is a terrible habit as I found myself forgetting how to “dress” when I don’t need to wear my abaya. I found that all my clothes are unsuitable to be worn for non abaya environments. Short tight baby Ts, tight fitting pants. So I needed a separate wardrobe for when I go to people’s home and I would need to remove my abaya. And since shopping is the main preoccupation, why not. Shopping wise, its pretty good here. Almost everything can be found here, all the big names are sold here; Saks Fifth Avenue, Harvey Nichols, Debenhams, Marks and Spencers, Laura Ashley, Mothercare, etc just to give you an idea. And the prices are attractive too, especially during the sales. They are really at half price. Compared to Malaysia where there is a hefty mark up on the prices of items on the above mentioned shops, there are no taxes here and what we pay here is comparable to the price we’d have to pay at any high street shop in the UK.
And friends who have children did say that this is a good environment to raise their children. We live in a fairly closed and safe environment, so parents needn’t worry about the safety of the children so much, there are hardly any mugging, no kidnapping, no child rapist spying on children when they play, no paedophile lurking trying to lure your children to deflower them, no mad drunken driver to run your children down when they play at the park.
To sum up, yes we are living in a gilded cage. And yes, the longer we stay, the more our wings are clipped and perhaps we may forget to fly. But for now, at least we have the key to our cage. Until we have had enough or when a better offer comes, we’ll sit in our gilded cages and sing some songs at the Mall. (Especially when the SALE sign is displayed on the window.) J