Monday, September 26, 2005

To tell or not to tell

A new lady in our midst. Just happens that she is recently married to a man some years her senior. But she has not realised that there are vultures about. Vultures prying her privacy and then piecing it off to the others.

Details that should only be kept between man and wife is suddenly known by several people and before you know it, everyone will know.

Should I tell her to be careful to whom she tells her personal details to? But perhaps she would learn about the people around her, herself.

I have a personal policy of non interference. But she is a nice and friendly person, and I cringe to think that some people are capitalizing on her naivety.

Why oh why do I bother myself with these things!? Tsk Tsk Tsk.

Stay away! Often they’d just shoot the messenger.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Chinese Whispers

We had a conversation with another couple yesterday about societal pressures of being married couples without children. For some reason, other people think its their god given right to probe into our personal lives with the excuse of being concerned for our lack of having children.

Why should they be concerned when we are not concerned? Or perhaps being concern is merely an excuse to be nosy? Are we anomalies because we don’t conform to the Malay norm of having a child within the first year of being married?

We managed to trade stories of how other people have tried to probe into our personal lives in a sneaky manner, by asking the other couple about us. Couple X told us of how various other individuals asked them if they had sought medical help to help them conceive. Then the conversation progressed to the question if they knew why we don’t have any children. Hmph! They might as well ask us how often we have sex and what sexual positions we practice!

So we told couple X that we too have heard stories about them. We never asked them about it before, or talk about it to them because we felt that it was far too much information than that was necessary for us, it was none of our business and it was a hurtful thing to ask anyone because it was a very personal issue. But somehow the opportunity came out while we were having a heart to heart talk.

“B mentioned to us that you guys tried IVF and was unsuccessful.”


I could see Mr X’s face change. His jaw almost dropped to the floor.

“Just to get the record straight, we have never tried IVF in our lives before. What happened was I met Mr B and we were just talking about the exorbitant medical costs in the country. And I guess it was my fault because I mentioned that another couple we knew was comparing the huge difference in the cost of IVF between Malaysia and here. I never said anything about myself having done it or even considering doing it.”

“But well how the story came to us was like it. Mrs B asked me if I had met you guys, and told us in the same breath that you guys had tried for IVF and was unsuccessful. Of course, then I didn’t know you guys very well so we never said anything about it because seriously, it was none of our business.”

More than anything, the conversation illustrated to us how an innocent conversation can be twisted and misunderstood. And worst still, it could spread into a vicious gossip that was totally untrue and unkind.

Sometimes its issues like this that makes me just want to isolate myself from interacting with the Malay community. For whatever reason, topics like this would be of no interest to my Western friends.

Malas tul kekadang, cerita sebenarnya lain tapi bila sampai ke telinga orang ceritanya jadi lain.

Friday, September 23, 2005

What is it about men and cars?

Just recently we sold off our much loved 4x4. My beloved’s answer to the question, “Whats the best feature of your car?” was “The fridge. Its equipped with a fridge to cool off my drinks.”

But alas, the good times had to come to a stop. About a couple of weeks ago the car simply just died on us. Disappointed? Of course, but we have had many good times with the car. Went to umrah quite a few times. Drove all the way to Makkah and Madinah with his parents in that car. Not to mention numerous trips to Bahrain.

To illustrate my ignorance about cars, when I first moved to this country I remarked to my beloved, “Wow the roads here are very smooth! I don’t really feel the bumps at all.” Little did I realize much later when I took a ride on another friends car that our 4x4 had a very good suspension system, rather than the roads being smooth.

Surprisingly many friends (even family back home) were surprised to hear that we sold off the car. Some even offered to buy it over from us. The problem with the car was its transmission, a new transmission suffice to say would buy us a new compact size car. We had the option of buying a second hand transmission for the car which would cost only a fraction of a brand new transmission, but who’s to say how long the second hand transmission would last? And what if we sold the car to a friend and the transmission dies on them again in the next few months? We don’t want to deal with any of those issues. As it happens the second hand parts dealer offered to buy off the car when my beloved brought the car in for repair.

Now that the car is sold, we rented a mid size Corolla to get around town. And I tell ya, there is such a huge difference as to how people react to us! Because of the numerous terrorist/bomb threats in this country, there is a checkpoint for all cars before entering the underground car parks of the major shopping centers. In our 4x4, they normally just check the engine, peeked at the boot and waived us through. In our rented vehicle, they actually made us wind down the window (no powered window! Yikes!) and asked us where we were going. “Going shopping of course,” we answered. But seriously, does it mean that in a smaller car, now we’re considered less worthy of shopping at the Mall?

But I have been digressing, now with the option of buying a new car, my beloved has spent many many many many hours devouring car magazines, car related websites and talking to petrol head friends, discussing the many virtues of various cars. Suddenly he has a valid excuse to go out gallivanting with his petrol head friends at the local car souk or the various car dealership to test drive the cars. Its amazing how guys, whom otherwise he’d only have exchanged 5 words with, become good friends when it comes to trapezing round at car junk yards and car souks!

And its amazing how his male friends would have a long list of suggested models and even the “going rate” price of the cars readily stored in their head. And many more who volunteered to accompany him to test drive various cars! (I suppose its a bit like women and shoe shopping.)

If you’re wandering why there is an absence of women interest in cars in this part of the world, well we’re living in a country where women are legally not allowed to drive. In fact I sometimes think women are not even allowed to think (but that’s another gripe altogether.) If previously, a couple would go out together to test drive a vehicle, its something that is not done here. No women is seen at the car souk or even the computer souk. One brave woman who actually had the guts (or didn’t know any better) told us how she was stared at, as if she was an alien creature from outer space when she is seen at those areas.

For now, I have to content to temporarily being a “car-souk widow” while my beloved goes to the car souks in search for his new toy. For once I am glad that we’re living here, where petrol is still cheaper than buying water.

As long as the passenger seat is fairly comfortable for long drives, and makes me think that the roads here are reasonably smooth, I’d just have to sit at home and gripe a bit more on my blog. J

If I could choose any car I want, I think its would be the H2. Where else can you afford the petrol for this mini giant anyways? Or have the roads wide enough to accommodate the car. Better still have the H2 attached with mini missile for you to fire on cars that annoyingly try to do a U turn at the traffic light from the right most lane. (It’s a left hand drive here.) I bet the 14 year old drivers would think twice before cutting in front of us while we’re driving at 120 km/h.

I first saw the Hummer in Calgary about 11 years ago and was instantly in love with it! Of course the original Hummer looks nothing like the H1, H2 and H3 now, but even then I knew that it was a car I would want. Perhaps if we forget about owning our own house, and resort to living with our parents for the rest of our lives, eat 2 packs of magi and drink tap water everyday, my dream can be a reality. (Or find a rich footballer to marry me.)


But a girl can dream can’t she?

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Personality test

Main Type
Overall Self
Take Free Enneagram Personality Test

Scale (|||||||%) results:

Enneagram Test Results
Type 1 Perfectionism |||||||||||| 42%
Type 2 Helpfulness |||||||||||||||| 62%
Type 3 Image Focus |||||||||||| 50%
Type 4 Hypersensitivity |||||||||||| 46%
Type 5 Detachment |||||||||||||||||||| 86%
Type 6 Anxiety |||||||||||||||| 62%
Type 7 Adventurousness |||||||||||||||| 66%
Type 8 Aggressiveness |||||| 30%
Type 9 Calmness |||||||||||| 50%
Your main type is 5
Your variant is self pres
Take Free Enneagram Personality Test

Type Five
The Investigator

Lefthand (male):
Enneagramfree enneagram test

Righthand (female):
Enneagramfree enneagram test

The perceptive, cerebral type. Fives are alert, insightful, and curious. They are able to concentrate and focus on developing complex ideas and skills. Independent, innovative, and inventive, they can also become preoccupied with their thoughts and imaginary constructs. They become detached, yet high-strung and intense. They typically have problems with eccentricity, nihilism, and isolation. At their Best: visionary pioneers, often ahead of their time, and able to see the world in an entirely new way.

Profile Summary for Enneagram Type Five

Healthy: Observe everything with extraordinary perceptiveness and insight. Most mentally alert, curious, searching intelligence: nothing escapes their notice. Foresight and prediction. Able to concentrate: become engrossed in what has caught their attention. / Attain skillful mastery of whatever interests them. Excited by knowledge: often become expert in some field. Innovative and inventive, producing extremely valuable, original works. Highly independent, idiosyncratic, and whimsical. At Their Best: Become visionaries, broadly comprehending the world while penetrating it profoundly. Open-minded, take things in whole, in their true context. Make pioneering discoveries and find entirely new ways of doing and perceiving things.

Average: Begin conceptualizing and fine-tuning everything before acting — working things out in their minds: model building, preparing, practicing, and gathering more resources. Studious, acquiring technique. Become specialized, and often "intellectual," often challenging accepted ways of doing things. / Increasingly detached as they become involved with complicated ideas or imaginary worlds. Become preoccupied with their visions and interpretations rather than reality. Are fascinated by off-beat, esoteric subjects, even those involving dark and disturbing elements. Detached from the practical world, a "disembodied mind," although high-strung and intense. / Begin to take an antagonistic stance toward anything which would interfere with their inner world and personal vision. Become provocative and abrasive, with intentionally extreme and radical views. Cynical and argumentative.

Unhealthy: Become reclusive and isolated from reality, eccentric and nihilistic. Highly unstable and fearful of aggressions: they reject and repulse others and all social attachments. / Get obsessed yet frightened by their threatening ideas, becoming horrified, delirious, and prey to gross distortions and phobias. / Seeking oblivion, they may commit suicide or have a psychotic break with reality. Deranged, explosively self-destructive, with schizophrenic overtones. Generally corresponds to the Schizoid Avoidant and Schizotypal personality disorders.

Key Motivations: Want to possess knowledge, to understand the environment, to have everything figured out as a way of defending the self from threats from the environment.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

When life don’t go as plan II

I met E a few days ago. She is half the woman she used to be. She shrunk from a size 16 to a size 10. But I don’t envy her diet plan. A huge dose of heartbreak and a side of pain. She was selling off some of her treasured fabrics. She has decided to suspend quilting for now. Got herself a new job teaching English and taking computer lessons at night. She is starting to plan for a new future, a future she didn’t anticipate or plan for.

“You know my sister asked me how come I didn’t put some money aside for myself. But I told her I didn’t know this was going to happen to me. I didn’t plan for this. So now I will send all that I make back to the States.”

What she said just set my mind racing. Do we or should we plan for these sort of things? Some women do keep a separate account from their husbands and keep their own income for themselves. What about the housewives? Some ladies I know draw an allowance from their husband and they can choose to spend that allowance in whatever way they choose.

I once heard a couple bickering, “You nak TV in the bedroom ke? Nak TV from the bedroom beli la from your allowance. Or I potong je from next month’s allowance.

Potong dari allowance? Tak nak la. Dah lah allowance kita sikit.” (In a high pitched voice.)

Errkk not the sort of conversation you want to hear.

I do admit that I started our partnership that way. Part of our prenuptial agreement was that I will have some money set aside every month in my own account in my own name. In my case, I had put it in a fixed deposit account that was automatically renewed.

Then came a point when we needed to pool our funds together to buy our dream house. He told me that I didn’t have to put in that money I had put aside for myself. But I insisted. Because it was a dream we shared and I wanted to contribute as much as I could.

Now, after that conversation with E, I had to think again, was it a wise choice I made?

Things are always OK when the relationship is nice and rosy. But what if something that you don’t plan for happens?

Another lady I know who lives in the compound, is given a fixed amount by the husband as an allowance for her to spend on the household. Apparently she has been siphoning some of that money for herself. Spent a little less on the household so she could save some for her to send back to her family.

Surely what she does is her own business. But children will notice these things and may act out accordingly. Apparently her children are always hungry and often goes to the neighbours for food and snacks.

Back to E. I asked her what her plans are for now. At first she said she just wanted to pack her bags to leave. She told her husband that she wanted to return to the States, after devoting 22 years to him and the children.

“What was most hurtful to me was that he didn’t even try to ask me to stay. He just said, well if you want to go, just go. I just realised there and then that the door for reconciliation was shut firm, tight. And I was devastated.”

“But for now I have to decide how I want to lead my life in the future. I can just stay here for my children, so I can be here with them around them. Because if I pack my bags to leave, I may only see them once a year, if that. And that’s too much for me to bear.”

“Of course if I stay here and devote myself to my children, I will not have the opportunity to find love for myself. So I have to weigh my love for my children and my need to find love for myself, because their love fulfil only a certain part of me.”

“So right now I just have to improve myself and start planning for the future. I will need to support myself so I am taking steps to enable to do so if or when I return to the States.”

I am sure the women with their own careers think that these women, who left their careers to devote themselves to their husband and their children bring this sort of issues onto themselves.

Are we wrong to choose our family over our career?

Frankly, I don’t know the answer. We all make our own decisions based on what we think is best for ourselves.

Of course some people will say, “Why do you think of such things? Why do you bother yourself with these things? Its someone else going through a separation, not you. Your husband loves you and is devoted to you, so why worry about these things?”

Why? Because I believe in learning from what happens to the people around me. Because I do not want the rug to be pulled from under me.

And of course you hear and read stories all the time, of husbands who abandon their wives in search for someone new. Husbands who confess that they are in love with another woman. Husbands who think that its their god given right to subject their wives to the misery of sharing.

But through the blog world, I have read the stories of women who managed to rebuild their lives after a broken relationship, and that is inspiration to me. One of them in MakAndeh. But she had kept her job all along.

What about the rest of us who are or has become housewives? Should we all start opening a separate account?

I do hope that the husbands realize the sort of sacrifices we had to make to become housewives, and not just discard us or take up a new bride whenever they just feel like it.

Of course I do accept that sometimes, some of these things are fated and predestined. And Allah will test us in ways which we think we can handle. Its through our tests and experiences that we grow as a person.

For E, I wish her good luck and I hope she will remain strong.


If my postings sound somewhat neurotic these days, I do apologize. Just that I have been around friends who had bad luck recently.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

When life goes don’t go as plan …..

Some of us work hard to save up for our nesting egg, our retirement. Some choose to work abroad, where hopefully salaries are better so one can save more for the future.

But what if you never really do reach your retirement? What if your time runs out before that?

A few days ago, H called to me tell me that F’s husband was in the hospital. He was in coma. He had just undergone a heart operation and he slipped into a coma after the operation. And yesterday H called to to say that F’s husband passed away the day before. H herself was in a fix, her husband is away on a business trip and her younger daughter has just been admitted in hospital for high fever.

H and F have two things in common, alone in a foreign land, without their husband, facing uncertainty. Of course for H, it’s a temporary thing. He will come back from his business trip.

But what about for F? What happens now? She and her husband are from two different countries. He’s an Egypt|an while she is a Morroc@n with a Swed|sh passport. Last I talked to her was before the summer holidays. She had invited us ladies from the cooking class to her house for lunch. She served us cous-cous with lamb and lots of other things. She told us that she and her husband was building a house near the coast in Egypt somewhere. Her husband will work here for a few more years to pay off that house.

Her story is not different for many of us here. We came here to save up for that dream retirement house that we would otherwise may not afford if we stayed where we were.

But what happens if we don’t reach till retirement? What happens if things don’t go as plan?

In this case what do you do as a wife, a woman, in a foreign land, without the help and support of your family, having to face the death of your loved one? Who helps you make the arrangements? Where do you choose to return? Where do you go from here?

I had to ask myself, if ever, nauzubillah, I was in F’s shoes. What do I do? Where do I go?

Of course many times I have been asked, where is home for me? And honestly I cannot give you an answer. Home is where me and my beloved live, so right now home is here where we are. We did set up home in UK but now we have no ties there. No paper to say that we can live there permanently. So I can’t say I can call UK home.

Then there is my birth country of course. Where the rest of my family is. But since my mum has passed on, aside from my immediate family, I no longer feel strong attachment to that place. True it’s the place I grew up as a child, but every time I returned, its so different. Many things changed and I am no longer able to recognize the place. And the mindset of the people is somewhat different from what I have became. The never ending kiasuness and the fast paced rat race is just too much for me.

Of course there is KL, but if without my beloved, I don’t have real ties to the place. Yes I do have friends there but it might even be too painful to stay there, at close proximity to his family.

I pray that I will never be tested the same way. Because I would have to start on a clean slate.

A friend once told me that I think too much. I give too much thought and plan for things in the future that most people don’t even think about. Or at least she didn’t.

But I have been caught off guard once. Having a parent passing on at the age of 49, before she could have a taste of her retirement, made me assess some things in my life. And my only way to deal with that is to devise my own contingency plans. So that I know, if this ever happens to me (God forbid), I have given some thought to it, and have an idea what I want to do about it.

Not that life always go the way you plan it. Judging from my own past experience, it never really does.

Once again in my life, I feel displaced.

Please sedekah Al-Fatehah for F’s husband.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Entries long overdue

Once again I fail to update my blog. Just that so many things have happened lately, so many topics I wanted to blog about just didn't get round or have the time to put my thoughts into words. Will ruminate over them and perhaps but something up in the near future.

Re-reading my own meme was somewhat weird. Perhaps it sounded like I was bragging but I thought it was a fair representation of a life being full of ups and downs. If I sound like I am a spoilt person leading the high life, it actually isn't true at all. Just that we're masochists preferring the road not travelled.

If you guys think my life is interesting(Lollies, NurElsa, Atiza), let me assure you that it is also full of dull moments. Perhaps I just choose to highlight and embrace the interesting parts. You might go to sleep reading about what I ate, what I did do and what I didn't do, especially now. :)

Babe please don't feel like that, life is such that different people take different journies in life. And we all make decisions in our lives base on what we think is right for us. Of course sometimes there is also the element of fate. But there are many things I had to forgo living this life. For example the nonexistence of a career or even the oppurtunity to further my studies. But I am also a believer in being a student of life. For me, I guess the world can be my classroom where I can roam to further improve myself. The downside is, you won't get a certificate when you graduate or pass a test. So it can be hard convincing your employer to employ you base on a nonextistent certificate.

Well I did once upon a time thought about writing my experiences which is why I started this blog in the first place. Whether it will materialize into a book, who knows. I am not that vain to think that people will be willing to buy my book to read about me. The fact that I have some readers to my blog is surprising to me.

Kieli, Ana, Makcik-San, don't worrying about not wanting to accept the baton. I just thought that it would be interesting to read yours. :)

Atn, yes dear you said it right. Nikmat is different for everyone. And I always believe that Allah is always fair, that you may get more of something and less of something else. Which means that in the end, we all get the same things, just in different areas. And the trip round the world is just a dream for now, whether I actually get to actualize that dream, well only if Allah permits it.

And everything in life comes at a cost. Mine comes at a cost of stability and predictability. May sound exciting but it hard to plan for the future. And living with uncertainty does get tiring after awhile.

KakTeh heheh yes good ol' Sainsbury. I do miss it quite a lot! I bet the strawberry season is now over and the apple season has started.

And now I will start blog hopping, something I haven't been able to do much lately.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

I was tagged!

The process of recalling the past can be a challenge. I did have to think somewhat long and hard tracing back where I was, what I did. Time does fly and somehow my past experiences have made me the person I am today.

20 years ago, 1985

The year I sat for that all important exam. I was a pure nerd. Spent most of time doing mock exam questions and watching the 3 pm Mandarin TV drama serials. Somehow managed to pick up Mandarin from just watching those TV series.

Stayed at home pretty much most of the time. I wasn’t allowed out to play with the kids in the neighbourhood (perhaps that’s why I have very limited social skills.) My life was generally school, home, school, home with tuition sandwiched in between. I remember looking out at the window a lot, watching the kids playing at the play ground.

Did well enough for my exam to be accepted to the best girls’ school. Went downhill from then on ;)

10 years ago, 1995

I was in Canada, in my second year of University. I had fought very hard for the opportunity to go to University. I had to seek up a bank loan to pay for my fees, spent one year literally in tears because my parents didn’t want me to study abroad. (One of the reason they said was that we couldn’t afford it. But I refused to accept that as an excuse.) Doing research without the internet then required a lot of leg work then. Remembered going to all sorts of study fairs and even opening a book which listed the different Universities in Canada. Wrote to all of them, asking them for prospectus etc. Finally shortlisted five Universities where I thought I could afford the fees.

But finally here I was all alone in Calgary, realizing that its hard work being in University. For someone who didn’t know anybody or anything about the place I moved to, everything was a new experience and I was on a mean learning curve. Being a self sponsored student meant that funds could be short at times. Had to take up part time work on top of the student workload.

Nothing I knew before prepared me for the cold winters in Canada. I knew it was going to be cold but –20oC cold? Learnt how to cook for myself as well, and doing the laundry etc. I wasn’t spoilt at home but Nenek did the cooking all the time and suddenly I realized that I had only myself to depend on, either for success or for my failure. No more excuses, no more denial.

Did manage a trip or two to the Canadian Rockies courtesy of my more street savvy friends.

Lived in a 3 bedroom apartment with 2 other students. Between managing household bills, late rents, assignments and housemate problems, I guess I learned to be independent quite quickly.

Got my driving license. Big deal for me because I came from a family of non drivers.

Also had my first heartbreak. Didn’t get out of bed what it feels like a week. Had to seek professional counselling because I was simply falling to pieces. I wasn’t going to class, I just wasn’t doing anything. But I would not let a bastard of a guy breaking my heart make me lose my track.

5 years ago, 2000

At the beginning of the year, we were living in Singapore. Had to fly home in a hurry from Hong Kong the year before, due to my mum’s passing. Stayed in Singapore for a while to try and settle some things for my siblings. Somehow the experience of sorting out a dead parent made you grow up quite quickly, whether you are ready or not. I just realised that I had to shoulder some of the responsibilities when I realized that my dad could not handle it. He was too busy grieving himself. Her passing was a shock and was unexpected but I just had to shoulder on.

What do you do with her old clothes? Keep them in the cupboard untouched? I gave them away, much to the chagrin of my dad and my nenek. Its not that I didn’t honour her memory but I felt that it would serve a better purpose when someone else could make use of them. Its not that I wanted to erase her memory from the house, just that we needed to declutter and move on. Surely its not her worldly possessions that she left behind that would remind us of her, but the memory of her should already be in our minds anyways.

Perhaps having been away helped because I could distance the possessions from the memories.

I remember getting restless, had the opportunity to visit India. Saw real poverty for the first time in my life; people sleeping, eating and cooking on the streets. Saw a street urchin washing her clothes from the liquid flowing from an aircon vent. Learnt to appreciate the value of running water, modern plumbing and my life in general.

Later that year, we moved to Jakarta. A drastic lifestyle change for me, suddenly we had a driver and a maid. I didn’t know how to deal with that sort of luxury. As much as I was beginning to enjoy it, I realised how temporary and surreal it was.

Life in Jakarta was generally good. But I had the burning desire to move on.

3 years ago, 2002

With the big 30 looming, suddenly there was a compulsion to look at “What I want to achieve by the time I was 30” list. Had always imagined myself living in an old English cottage with fruit trees at the back and a Continental car in the driveway. Wanted to live and travel in Europe.

After being hospitalised for an unknown disease, realized that life is too short to dwell on the small stuff. Got the opportunity to move to the UK. Hated it at first but learned to adjust to the lifestyle there.

Wanted to fulfil that dream of being a home owner meant that we had to pinch pennies. Also had to weigh my priorities in life. Had to choose between pursuing a Masters Degree or becoming a home owner. (Money don’t grow on trees for us!) I opted for the latter because I simply hated to pay rent. I thought if we waited for a little bit perhaps I could avoid paying the foreign student fees. But somehow things didn’t work out that way. We had to move on before I could realize that dream.

In life we win some, we lose some.

But funnily enough, when you have certain dreams or visions in your life, I realised that sometimes when those dreams or visions are fulfilled, its not quite the way you had imagined it to be. It was hard work achieving for our goal and it was much harder work to maintain it.

The apple tree I so wanted in my backyard became a little bit of a nuisance. Don’t quite like green apples so much and didn’t quite get round to making apple pies and apple jams. Most of the apples were rotten anyways by the time they fell from the tree. And we were too short to pick the apples off the 100 year old tree.

The strawberries we grew, after all the hard work, only managed to sample 2 strawberries. The rest of which was eaten either by the slugs or the squirrels.

Having a lawn meant that we had to mow it regularly and protect it against weed etc. Spent many afternoons working on my garden, on my roses, my lavender and my herbs. Gardening can be hard work!

Saving up for the house also meant that we could not really afford to go for holidays, or eat out or shop frivolously. Every penny had to be accounted for.

But that’s life isn’t it?

Last year, 2004

Another year, another move. In my preparation for my move to the Middle East, I thought I should take the opportunity to travel a bit more.

Went backpacking round Europe with a friend round Germany and Italy. Had wanted to go backpacking all though my 20s but either didn’t have the opportunity or the cash.

Came back and did my TEFL certification. Something that I said I had been wanting to do, but thought that it was money that could be used elsewhere in the house.

Still no sign of my visa and so decided on an impulse to backpack in Japan. Had a wonderful time. Realized that I could live with myself if I had to. I can survive being alone and I can make friends along the way if I want to. Perhaps this makes no sense to some of you but after living with someone for awhile, you tend to depend a lot on each other, sometimes even fusing into one. (I know some people are going *uwek* *uwek*) I learnt on this trip that I can be resourceful and receptive. I am happy in my own skin and my own company.

Finally the visa came through and it was time for me to move on. Had a terrible culture shock upon moving to S@udi Ar@bia, especially an independent woman who is accustomed to having her own freedom.

Also went through a little bit of spiritual awakening. Not really due to the locals, but more due to geography. Performed my first umrah, with great trepidation of course. But I thought it would be ironic that I visited the Vatican earlier in the year and didn’t take up the opportunity to visit Makkah as soon as I could.

Lived through various terrorist threats, racism and the world as I know it, against the world which the locals here view it. Funnily enough encountered more racism here in the land of the Muslims compared to when I was in Europe or Japan. Learnt the huge discrepancy between culture and religion especially when it comes to this region. Used to think that the holy land is filled with holy and pious people, only to find that contrary to that, its no different from the rest of the world.

Had to re-examine my own values, my own direction in life and my new dreams. Had to reassess what it means by being a Muslim. Perhaps you can call it a soul overhaul.

Next year, 2006

My life has been filled with many surprises, many of which was unplanned, so who knows what will happen next year. Will I still be here? Will we move on? If so where? Living in one place too long somehow makes us restless, so I won’t rule out a new project or a new plan or a new dream.

I hope that we will eventually get to pay off one of our mortgages. Its been taking us ages to finish paying off this one, and somehow when we come to a point when it almost becomes a reality, something happens and somehow we didn’t quite achieve this goal.

We had always planned that as soon as we finish off paying for that mortgage, we will take a round the world trip. We’ve been meaning to do this 3 years now but I have been putting it off since I felt that it’s a priority to pay off the mortgage rather than travelling round the world. Plus I want to be travelling with some of the load off my shoulders. In the meantime, its another dream we have yet to fulfil.

I realize that life is about going through some tests. Hopefully the tests make us stronger and wiser. Although we do have some things easier compared to other people, there are some things which have been harder for us. For instance the uncertainty of being a contractual employee and moving from country to country, depending on where the contract is.

10 years from now

Where do I see myself 10 years from now? Who knows. Perhaps we’ll be back in Malaysia by then, unless we decided to settle down elsewhere. More importantly I hope that I will still be happily married with my beloved.

I hope we’ll be in a more secured financial position. By this time I hope to have paid off all our financial liabilities. Aspire to be debt free by this time.

At no matter what age I am I hope to live each day with no regrets. I want to be happy with myself, grateful of my achievements and lead a contented life with my loved ones.

The baton came from Leen and to whom should I pass this one? There are some bloggers whose blog I have been reading and I am very interested in reading how they see themselves, their past and their future. I hope to pass the baton on to MakAndeh, CikKieli, Atiza, Elisa , NurElsa, Ailin, KakHalela, PokKu and AnaSalwa. Actually errr I want to add more but I don't know if they'd have the time to accept the baton. But if you are please please please feel free to accept the challenge.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Sorry its been awhile

I would like to apologize to my dear blog friends who came to visit my blog. Its been a while since I last updated. Its partly due to my network that didn't work too well and me glued to the TV watching the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

On top of that we are hampered by some car problems. Its nice to own a nice car but it sucks when it comes to repairing it when something goes wrong. Yes I am horribly depressed at the moment!

But life is about tests right? Sometimes you get some and some times you have to pay out some. *sigh*

On top of that its September and my neighbours and friends are back from holidays so I had a jolly time catching up with them.

I have been tagged by Leen and has been drafting my entry for that. Insyallah if my network permits I will be posting it up soon.

Once again, I apologize for not updating and reading the other blogs, Insyallah will get round to surfing the cyberspace again soon :)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Back from Bahrain - Day 1

We've been talking about getting a break for the longest time but he hasn't been able to take a break from work. Finally a window for a one week vacation and we thought long and hard of the places we could go. At first we wanted to go to Egypt to see the pyramids, but being a puteri lilin, I didn't fancy standing out there in the desert in the summer heat. Then there was Dubai, but its peak period and it costs an arm and a leg for the airfare. Of course we could have driven to Jordan or Qatar.

But in the end it was a bit of a hassle getting the exit visa. Yes being part of the slave labour means that you need a special visa to be able to get out of the country and come back in again. We preferred the multiple entry one which meant we could come and go as we please (if and when we can get our hands on our passports that is) for the next 6 months. But The Self Assuming Powers That Be told us that we could only be given a single entry one.

He was pissed off. Just better paid slave we were really. With extra perks. But ultimately they are obsessed with control. He had to have some words with his non local superiors to sanction the multiple entry visa.

Anyhow, got the visa midweek and a plan for Bahrain. Was joined by another High Paid Slave and we took off Wednesday morning. Since he forgot to borrow the r@d@r detector, he has to obey the speed limit. But somehow we got a ticket. Apparently because the piece of paper that states that the car is yours is expired. But we figured he got flagged because he blew his horn at a lorry that was drifting into his lane as the lorry was overtaking a police car. Oh well at least it was a ticket and not more hassle.

Normally we would stop at Al-R@ashid M@all in Khob@r for breakfast, but we decided to go straight to the border this time round. Can't wait to get out and wanted to make sure we avoid the Wednesday border crossing crowd.

The first sign of difference was seen at the immigration. The guy actually said, "Have a nice day!" and smiled too! Whoah! A sure sign we're in a different country!

The sea was aquamarine and beautiful. And we were hungry. I suggested that we have lunch at the Blue Elephant. I've been wanting to try the Blue Elephant since I tried their restaurant in Dubai. We wanted to lunch there on a previous trip but somehow we couldn't find the time. So it was the first order of the day for this trip.

And the food was soooo delicious. Perhaps I just miss some home cooked food. I know its not quite Malaysian but its an excellent and very authentic Thai meal. A tad on the extravagant side but we're on holiday right? :) They even had fresh coconut juice! BHD2.10 ++. I know its too much but hey, they had to fly the thing over.

However what floored us was the cost of their water. They had special still water imported from Norway that cost BHD2.1 for 80cl. Yikes! And we needed 2 bottles for the three of us. Will have to devise ways of smuggling our own water if we’re dining there again. We even took the empty bottles home. You would if you had to pay RM21 for a bottle of water won’t you?

It was a beautiful restaurant nonetheless. They gave us a cosy table with a view of the sea. The restaurant was built in a traditional Thai wooden house. I could smell the salty sea air when we stepped out of the car. A huge change from the dry, land locked desert air.

And it was fascinating to see a group of people having a business lunch. The men were all wearing dark suits, and when a woman colleague showed up, the men all stood up and shook hands with her. Something we have not seen for a long time. Another female business associate showed up. She was wearing a scarf, full suit and beautiful make up. Both of them were gorgeous successful looking women. One carrying an LV while the other carrying a Gucci bag. Perhaps you think I am weird for admiring these women, but after so long just seeing black shadows as women, its very refreshing to see them at business lunches, dressed in colourful clothes, having a civil business interaction with their male colleagues. And its wonderful not to need to see men wearing long white dresses at the table for once. I have no problems with men wearing long white dresses, don’t get me wrong, but its just refreshing to see dark good looking suits, alongside colourful women’s clothes for a change.

Suddenly colour was back in my life. Not just an array of black and white. (With bits of red checks which they wear on their head.)

After lunch we decided to catch a movie. In fact, we caught two movies. We called the hotel to inform them that we would check in late.

We tried to smuggle in some Dairy Queen ice cream into the theatre but was caught at the door! Haha! Of course it was silly for us to try to sneak them in a plastic bag that said “Dairy Queen” on it. So we had to eat the ice cream outside the theatre. Serves us right for buying one M and one L ice-cream! But the men managed it just fine. The men took great pleasure in showing the empty cups to the ushers. But the ushers were in a genial mood and waved them into the theatre.

We had some quick peeks into Marks and Spencers, Debenhams and the Radio Shack. The boys had a quick peek in ToysRUs. These shops are available where we live but somehow the whole mood is different in this mall. The girls are so pretty, all dressed up for Wednesday night. I found it very fascinating that many chose to wear the abaya even though its not compulsory in this country. But their abayas are very beautiful and very well cut. Some are decorated with elaborate crystals, others with embroidery. Quite a few of the women wear their abayas without a head scarf, showing off thick illustrious hair. I was just so fascinated. They are beautiful and more importantly, they look happy and smiling. And better still, they do not stare! And some even smile back at you when you smile at them.

Even the men are well behaved. They don’t stare at you with that lecherous look that you often get in the city we live. Sometimes they give you a glance but they don’t stare. They quickly look away politely. And there was a bounce in the way they walk. Perhaps it’s the music in the Mall or perhaps they just look happy and jovial.

At 9:30 we decided to call it a day. We needed to check in the hotel anyways before they decide to give away our rooms. It has been a long day but we were not complaining. We were having fun.

After checking in, we decided to walk over to an Indian restaurant just at the back of the hotel. We joked about how the cost of the whole dinner was less than the 15% service charge+tip that we paid for lunch at the Blue Elephant.

After dinner, the boys walked over to the Ferrari Showroom at the corner while I browse in the Supermarket. Nothing much really just some Actimel and Laban to ease my digestion after some capati, Naan and Keema.

I remarked to the men how, after living in R!y@dh, I get very suspicious of men when they smile at me. There I was in the supermarket and was served by an Indian guy who smiled at me. And I could feel myself coiling up, building up my defences in response to his smile. My immediate reaction was, what does he want from me? Is he trying to be fresh with me. But he quickly gave me my change and I was off. None of that “How are you sister? Where are you from?” I smiled at him as I left the shop. Just over a year and my view of smiling men has changed.

I kept reminding myself that people are just more friendly here. I am back to a land where I can smile and my smile would not be misconstrued as flirting or suggesting a hanky panky. I smile because I am happy and they smile because they are happy too.

I slept smiling and contented that night.


Sorry I don't have any photos. For some reason I forgot to bring my camera along for my road trips. This will mean that I have an excuse to go again next month right? ;)