Friday, October 28, 2005

Eid Mubarak

The exodus have begun. Some friends had flown home. We would have flown home too if we were going back to KL this year.

And the Eid wishes has started coming in. I was surprised at first, thinking it was too early, but I suppose no Hari Raya songs are being played over here to remind me that Eid is just within a week. We're still receiving iftar invites so somehow I am still stuck in the Ramadan mood.

Tried to make plans to go for umrah after Eid. Looks like we may not have the chance this year. Hotels were either fully booked or quoted exorbitant prices (RM4,000 for a room which was previously RM200!). Flights are full too. Insyallah, if Allah extends us an invitation, we will go after the Hajj season.

Anyways I would like to wish my kind friends Eid Mubarak. And I would like to sincerely aplogize if I have offended you in any way either through my words or my actions.

Enjoy your Eid with yout friends and family and to quote a song which I forgot the tittle, "Ingatlah kami yang di perantauan." or something to that effect ;)

Selamat Hari Raya, maaf zahir dan batin.

And to those of you who have sent me the wishes, thank you and I wish the same to you too.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Impatience and night turning into day

A few days ago, we went to IKEA and drove home at about 10:30. The highway was extremely busy because it was peak shopping time. Behind us were cars. One car in particular keep on flashing his light and blowing his horn at us. What can we do? The traffic light was red and there were lots of cars in front of us. And then he had a bright idea, he decided to drive on top of the pavement. There are hardly any pedestrians here anyways, so perhaps he thought that the pavement was an extra lane for impatient drivers like him. Just then the lights turned green and it was our turn to move. The impatient car on the pavement however was stuck, because there was a huge cement pillar round the corner and he was stuck behind it. And the rest of us refuse to allow him to cut in.

So much for refusing to stay in queue.


The inability (or refusal) of the locals to queue is legendary. A friend related to us how one afternoon he was queuing up to buy some food for iftar. Then came two local men, both refusing to queue, both went directly to the front of the queue. So the men in the line asked them why they didn't join the queue like everyone else. The local's answer was, "But I am fasting!" He was indignant that the rest didn't see things from his point of view. But he seemed oblivious to the possibility that everyone else in the queue was fasting too!


One reason I love it in B@hrain was that when the locals here try to cut the queue there, the locals there refuse to serve them and ask them to join the back of the queue. Somehow they get away with it over here.


A friend told me how she called the hospital to make an appointment to see a physiotherapist at a local hospital. The operator asked, "Is 1 o'clock Ok ma'am?" "Sure," she replied. And so the operator repeated, "So ma'am you can see Dr X at 1 am on 28th October," and put the phone down.

1 am?? Who makes appointments to see Drs at 1 am? Apparently here they do!


Another friend related to me how she received a phonecall at 11:45 pm from a hospital confirming her appointment with the Dr the following day. 11:45 pm? Is that considered a decent time to be calling people up?


Just over a week and hopefully things will turn back to normal.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Sick of eating out? How about burnt boiled eggs?

One of the main difference since we moved here is that we eat out A LOT here. Partly because we can afford it better here and partly because its all Halal here. I think I will be hard pressed to name fast food places we have not sampled.

I have been somewhat on strike during this ramadhan. Have not done much cooking myself. Partly because the shops are opened odd hours and partly because I am too "weak" or more likely I've just been too lazy. The first week was mainly Arabic fare. You name it, we had it, Chicken Kabsah (Nasi Buhari to the rest of you), Mande lamb and chicken, various grilled meats. etc etc. Then there was a surge of Chinese food. Went to about 3 different Chinese restaurants. Had roast duck, roast chicken, wantan soup, fried wantan, Scechuan beef and tofu. Then we had rounds of Thai food. Tom yams, beef salad, prawn salad, squid salad, green curry, deep fried fish in hot sour sauce, Kai Lan etc etc etc. So finally yesterday my dearest declared that he doesn't want to have any Chinese or Thai food for awhile.

I have been somewhat out of character myself since this Ramadhan. I actually made sambal belacan! 3 jars full thank you very much! Beloved says he can count on his fingers the number of times I actually made sambal belacan since we've been married! Told you honey, I tak pandai sangat masak-masak Melayu ni hehehee.

Just the other day I managed to burn my WMF pot! (Ni macam hint nak periuk baru sebenarnya maklumla Port Store ade sale :P) And what was I cooking? I made fish head asam pedas, with the last remaining leaves of my Kesum leaves. This being Ramadhan, with the smattering of iftar invites, the Asam pedas was reheated, placed in the fridge and reheated again for three days in a row. On the fourth day, I reheated it on the stove and somehow forgot all about it. Suddenly, the smell very similar to Ikan Bakar whiffed into the living room. Hmmm wonder who is grilling fish? Then I saw the smoke! Oh dear oh dear! My now very "kau" and very mesra asam pedas is smoking in the pot! I turned off the stove and opened the pot. All too late now, its all blackened. Too burnt to be saved! *sigh* So much for my asam pedas!

And my burnt pot? Well I left it soaking in the sink for 3 whole days. And finally, thank god for the creation of Bicarbonate of Soda I managed to scrap most of the burnt bottoms off!

Hmmm I really should have a list of things I have sucessfully managed to burn over the years! I assure you that I am capable of even burning boiled eggs. I burnt some paus while attempting to heat them up in the microwave. I now have successfully burnt asam pedas. Also managed to burn some pulut hitam.

I guess what I am saying is, I am very good at burning things! Its a skill I have perfected over the years!

So honey, if you don't want to eat out anymore, what about burnt toast or burnt maggie? Heheheheh. Sabar bang sabar ni bulan Ramadhan ;)

How about Japanese food? Shall we go to Tokyo Restaurant soon? I've been salivating since reading KakLelaHiro's buka fare :) Nak Ikura, nak unagi, nak udon, nak zarusoba nak tenpura. Semua nak!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Which direction do we go?

Its that time of the year again. Contract renewal time. Its the time we get antsy. Will we be staying or will we be packing our bags to go?

J told us that she will be moving out of the compound in 3 weeks. I was very sad at first, and my reaction was the same as Ely's, "Why is it that the nice people go away, and the trouble makers get to stay?"

Our quilt sewing group is getting smaller. Alice, was given 14 days notice to pack her bags and go home. She is back in the States now. And now J, they're moving out because it was contract renewal time and they decided that they want to move to a cheaper place to save more money. At the end of the day, despite what people say, the truth of the matter is, we are all here for the money. Sure, some say they like the sun, some like the lifestyle, other even venture into liking the culture. But the main driving force has got to be the economics of things. And whats the point of being out here if we don't save enough, pay off our debts and build for the future?

As for us, well we decided that perhaps we want to stay here for awhile. We may move compounds but perhaps try to live it out here if Allah determines that our rezeki is meant to be here. To Him I have to put my trust. In my prayers I always asked him, that if he thinks that its best for us to be here, please make us feel happy and peaceful here, and if he thinks that our rezeki is elsewhere, please show us the way, make it easy for us to make our decision.

Perhaps some will call it Blind Faith. But I do believe in both freewill and predestination. We have the free will to do good or evil, but a lot of the paths in our lives have been predestined. Perhaps it may not make sense to you, but somehow the idea clicked on with me.

My beloved has been buried under work lately. Didn't even have the time to come home for iftar. SO much so we had to cancel our plans to fly back for Eid. Funny thing was, the HR dept made such a fuss when he told them that he was cancelling his leave. HUH! We would love for him to go on leave, thank you very much! Did they think its great fun to cancel a holiday? So he had to get his Manager to talk to the HR manager about the leave cancellation. A lot of times, I don't understand how people think in this country. Their manner of reasoning is just so different. The HR manager made some noise about "Whats the point of making leave plans when you don't adhere to them?" What about project deadlines? Well whatever.

Its the weekend and he is working through all weekend. *sigh* Nak rezeki Halal la katakan. What about those people who report to work at 11 and leave at 3 because its Ramadhan?

To each his own I guess.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Om Ali (Ali's mum)

One tradition here is that people are addressed according to the name of their first born son(who could be your 13th child). For instance if you first born son is named Ahmad, the father will be addressed as Abu Ahmad and the mum will be addressed as Om Ahmad. Which I guess further reinforces the cultural need for sons.

So what if you don't have a son? Either you keep on trying until you get one. Or they'd ask you what you think you'll name your son and address you accordingly.

But anyways I am digressing, Anasalwa asked me about Om Ali (Egyptian equivalent of bread and butter pudding), which she said she wasn't very familiar with so I looked in the net for some info and recipe. Sorry Anasalwa, I haven't actually gone round to making it myself because I somehow feel that middle eastern dessert is somewhat sweet and rich, plus its so widely available here that I am not inclined to try it myself. (I bet I will feel different once I move ;)

I poached this recipe from the net:

Om Ali
Origional recipe submitted by Nancy Girgis

It's an Egyptian dessert that contains phyllo dough or puff pastry, milk and nuts. Use any kind of nuts that you would like and eat it with a spoon. Legend has it that Om Ali was the first wife of the sultan Ezz El Din Aybek. When the sultan died, his second wife had a dispute with Om Ali, resulting in the second wife's death. To celebrate, Om Ali made this dessert and distributed it among the people of the land." Original recipe yield: 8 servings.

Image taken from here (Sorry I am unable to view the site myself from here. Its banned and I don't know why.


* 1 (17.5 ounce) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
* 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
* 1 cup chopped pecans
* 1 cup chopped hazelnuts
* 1 cup raisins
* 1 cup flaked coconut
* 1 1/4 cups white sugar, divided
* 4 cups milk
* 1/2 cup heavy cream


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish.
2. Place the pastry sheets in the baking dish and place the dish in the oven. Watch it closely. When the top layer turns crunchy and golden, remove it from the oven. Continue until all the sheets are cooked.
3. Preheat the oven broiler.
4. In a bowl, combine walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, raisins, coconut and 1/4 cup sugar. Break cooked pastry into pieces and stir into nut mixture. Spread mixture evenly in 9x13 inch dish.
5. Bring milk and 1/2 cup sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Pour over nut mixture.
6. Beat the heavy cream with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread evenly over nut mixture in dish.
7. Place dessert under oven broiler until top is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

One of those nights

Perhaps I had too good a night last night. Was invited to dinner which consist of lauk ayam perchik, gula kan masin dan terung, daging kering dan chill kicap, pecal, sambal belacan, with desserts, sri muka, pengat pisang, Um Ali, murtabak dan berbagai lagi hingga saya tak dapat nak list kat sini.

Came home at about 11 pm, got in bed, could not sleep until sahur time!! Now I am groggy and my body is aching all over. My eyes were closed but I simply could not doze off. I thought I wanted to get up and sew since I could not sleep but I couldn't haul myself out of bed either!

And how my whole body is aching. Can't seem to move from my bed but can't sleep either! must remember not to drink tea after iftar! I know I cannot drink coffee after 2 pm! But now no tea either? I did have a cup of chamomile tea before tucking into bed but it didn't seem to kick off.

Not in the mood to explain prepositons but I already cancelled class once, so I dont want to cancel it again! I am begining to become quite unreliable! And I musn't use Ramadhan as an excuse!


Sorry to disappoint Atiza, Nef, Angel Eyes, Mobilemum & KakTeh. Yeah MM when I was talking to Kakteh earlier, I thought I would be gong back for Raya. Got those tickets booked and all, but errr circumstances has made it such that it would be too short a trip and I thought it will be better to postpone it to next year. Plus I haven't spent a Raya here, so will year will get an idea what's it like. Kakteh yeah Insyallah one of these days hopefully ade rezeki we'll meet up either in KL or London.

MiV nasib smalam saya dapat makan murtabak! Yummy! I had 5 pieces I think!

Trust, sini takde freshnye :(

Elisa, check your email :) Kalau sudi sila datang :)

Atiza, tu la kan unfortunately these things do happen. its not that I am saying "men are evil heartless creatures," its just that I feel for the women in that predicament. :(

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Berbuka puasa dan Tak Balik Raya

Wah melilih air liur baca juadah berbuka teman teman bloggers semua.

Hansac, was it telur ikan terubuk masin? I think I have 3 more pieces deep in my freezer which I am rationing very, very strictly. That with my last ikan terubuk masin which an aunt has very kindly flown to us from Sarawak. (Alamak come to think of it that ikan masin is almost 1 year old. Simpan dalam freezer dah 1 year old pun OK kan? Sayang la nak makan, susah nak carik!)

No caviar is not as cheap as you think it is. And being land locked, toksah kata telur ikan, ikan pun kekadang tak best.

Mr Hobo, hmmm but surely where you are the food is not too much different from Malaysian food (if you are where I think you are.)

MadnessinVain, tak jelak ke have the same thing twice? Or perhaps you are showing what sort of loyal man you are ;) Untung la siapa yang kawin dengan you nanti.

KakLela apa yea nama kuih tu, kuih takok? Huwaa sini daun pandan pun takde nak cari! Kalau kat London kuih takuk tu boleh jugak beli. Masa kat Dubai saya ingat lagi, beli kuih tu kat Blue Elephant Thai Restaurant, tak salah RM20 untuk 4 biji! Ingat Blue Elephant kat Bahrain ade jual, rupanya takde. Huwaaaa kalau takde daun pandan tak samalah rasanya kan? Ade recipe? Heheheh.

Lollies sedaaaaaap. Wahhh camni leh bukak kedai ;) Leh buat business frozen murtabak for Ramadhan or even anytime.

OITT ATIZA! Hang ni nak torture saya yeaaaaaaa. Sampainyer hatiiiiiii. 19 items pulak tu! Ishhh Isshhh. Anta kejam! Hehehehe laaa I mana pandai masak lomak chilli api, how about you masak I makan ;)

Ah Wong ah, lu ah ni semua lu punya pasat tau! Heheheh lu sulah buat saya dan ramai teman teman blogger saya melilih air liur tau. Dulu saya ingat ah, ada this uncle ah juat popiah basar kat belakang TMC kat Bangsat. Itu uncle punya kedai ah, tak berselera lor bila saya tengok tapi ah bila makan manyak sedap tau! Saya tak tau la kalau itu uncle masih jual itu popiah basah atau sulah letire.

Nasib baik ahh sini ada air tebu. Saya customer setia kat satu kedai air tebu kat M@kk@h. Compulsory tiap kali gi sana saya order air tebus satu small cup RM5! Sini juga ada juat tapi itu area mau pigii manyak susah woo jem lasyat.

CN in Kota Bahru! Wahhh untungnya! Weh saya cuba nak chat dengan CN kat YM la tetapi selalu takde depan pc! Selamat berpuasa!

Elisa, tu laa pregnant tak pregnant pun I rasa susah la kat sini nak carik Malaysian or even respectable Asian food :( Seriously, I think masa duduk kat London dulu I tak rasa so deprived macam ni. Kalau rindu rindu Malaysian food boleh pegi Mawar ke Malaysian Hall ke or even go to Chinatown or Oriental City to get the ingredients. But here! Sigh Cubaan betul! I guess this is my first full blast Ramadhan here as well, last year we were in KL for the early part of Ramadhan and in London for the end part of Ramadhan. Just had effectively one week of Ramadhan here.

About being innovative tu la, I agree with you. I never did make my own fish balls until I moved here. But somehow using Hammour for fish balls is not too nice. I also tried with red snapper pun not as nice as fishballs back home.

I nak makan fish ball noodle soup! And nak laksa kerang! Sini takde kerang!

So what else have you been craving for?

Leen wahhhh saya pun ade one pot of asam pedas di dalam periuk di dapur. My daun kesum came from Pasar Kajang, February this year, and I was rationing my use of them. Sedih betul tengok the daun kesum like ranting-ranting kering keluar from the freezer. Kalau kat Malaysia dah lama dah buang daun kesum tu. But since its impossible to find here, dah kering macam mana pun pakai juga :(

Wah wah wah CK sounds like a feast! I think dekat J pun ade ade pasar Ramadhan dulu. Ramadhan Kareem to you too. Hope you’re feeling better.

Hari ini ada orang sedekah nasi putih, with ikan goreng and kari ayam. Ulam timun and sambal Belacan! Makan sampai berpeluh tapi yummy sedapnyaaaaa.


Tak Balik Raya

Bag dah keluarkan dari storeroom. Barang ada yang dah di beli. Takde apa sangat, just some sejadah for family, some Ajwa dates in case they run out of stock and some saffron for friends. Ticket dah book untuk 26hb on Emirates. Nasib ticket belum issue pasal kami tak jadi balik!

4 tahun tak balik raya, I am used to this.

Friends I would have to apologize. Can’t make plans to meet up because unfortunately we won’t be in KL anytime soon. Hopefully next year!

Elisa kalau nak gi Emb@ssy to celebrate raya with other Malaysians sila la datang ke R|yadh. I promise you sini you don’t need police letters or exit visa ;) A mere 4 hours drive! And 11 hours more brings you to M@akk@h.

Anyone wishing to send me duit raya ke, kuih raya ke, baju raya ke, I will accept them ;) Heheheheh.

PS I tak beli baju raya kat sini, just abaya Raya. Hopefully I will come round to blog about it.

PPS Its 1 am and I am about to go out grocery shopping. Kedai masih buka!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Ramadhan buffet

Last weekend, we went for a Ramadhan buffet at the local 4 Season’s Hotel. According to a friend we have to book a table early in Ramadhan before they get fully booked later in the month. At Rm144, I thought that it was somewhat steep but well since it was a gathering with some other Malaysians, I thought why not. Bila lagi nak pergi. Three years in London and I didn’t get to go to any iftar buffet.

But seriously I am beginning to doubt the value of iftar buffets. Afterall, how much can one really eat all at once especially since one have been abstaining from food all day? But anyhow it was a HUGE spread. There were about 4 soups to try from (I only tried the chicken soup) and there was some Asian dishes, Arabic dishes and Italian dishes. Then there are different salads and an array of sweets, both the Western and the Arabic kinds.

After the azan, I had a date and the soup, then we proceeded to perform our Magrib prayers. When we came back I had some salad, a spoonful of different types of rice and dishes, a small portion of pasta. And I was full. Tried some desserts and took photographs with the other ladies while trying to finish off my two scoops of ice cream.

Once again, I forgot my camera. The ballroom was decorated Arabian style with Bedouin tents. The ladies went crazy with the picture taking, which started BTW after most of the locals have left. Knowing that they are not very happy to have their pictures taken, especially when their faces were not covered, we took great care not to offend them. (There have been cases where people were beaten up for taking pictures of uncovered women.)

But what was really nice was that we managed to catch up with the other Malaysians here. Found out who was going back for Eid and who wasn’t. Most of us kept out abayas on throughout the dinner because all the other local ladies kept theirs on, but after most of the locals left, some of the ladies took their abayas off while taking pictures.

What was interesting for me was to see some of the more colourful and latest abaya design worn by the local women. Judging from the lack of staring, most of the local ladies are either well heeled, well travelled or perhaps come from other countries in the region. Even the men were somewhat more polite. Perhaps it was because they knew we were Malaysian. Somehow Malaysians are held in higher regard here, thanks to our dear Dr M.

There were also a few Malaysian chef working at the hotel. I teased them about not serving some of the normal Malay dishes. “Eh apsal takde laksa ni? Popiah basah ada? Mee goreng? Kuih lapis?” They just smiled at me. They were very busy making sure that the dishes are constantly topped up. I asked one of them if he had eaten yet and he said he only managed to break his fast with one glass of water. He told me he spent 2 hrs that afternoon doing up the fruit arrangement centrepiece. I wonder what’s it like to be working around food all day, cooking while fasting. But I guess they are used to it.

We left at 8:30 pm, giving us enough time to arrive at the shops just as they opened. The Ramadhan sale is also on full swing.

So if you are going to the pasar Ramadhan this afternoon, could you please buy for me some popiah basah (I blame WongAhBeng for reminding me of the deliciousness of this kuih), kuih puteri salad, kuih lapis, laksa, nasi kerabu, yong tau foo, air cincau, tau foo fa with the gula melaka and ayam perchik. Just to name a few. I won’t eat all of them at once I promise.

I must say I am tired of eating Kabsah and mande. And please, if we’re meeting up if/when I return to Malaysia please, please, please (I beg you) do not suggest that we have dinner at an Arabic restaurant! (Hahahah someone thought that it was cool to have iftar at The Sahara Tent last year.) I want some Malaysian food which I don’t have to cook myself!

Ishhh tengah puasa ni asyik bual pasal makan pula!

What did you have for iftar yesterday?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Ramadhan Kareem

In Ramadhan, night turns to day and day turns to night. First is the confusing shopping hours. The shops are closed in the mornings, (some open from 10- dzohor) then they will open from 3 – 5 pm and then they will close again and reopen from 9 – 2 am.

Its like a ghost town in the day. The inhabitants probably dozing away. Even office hours have been adjusted, from 9 – 3:30. There is a huge traffic jam between 3 - 4 pm. People rushing home for iftar.

We went for dinner after magrib the other day, the roads were empty! As empty as it can be. After having some dates and performing our magrib prayers, we left for the restaurant. There were hardly any cars. It was amazingly empty. We had our dinner at an empty restaurant. Apparently the crowds will only come after 10 pm.

My beloved and I never did go round shopping for cars before. We either bought cars that friends sold to us or just borrowed or rented. So this is our first car shopping experience, and guess what, people test drive cars between 9 pm to 1 am here. I guess its apt because the traffic is really crazy around that time. Plus, for reasons unknown to me, they have car sales in Ramadhan. Perhaps it’s a local custom to sport a new car for Eid hehehe. A friend got pissed off because he bought his car 2 months ago and found that the same model has reduced in price by 20K this Ramadhan. Imagine that! Perhaps they were just trying to boost car sales during this period.

We are still at quandary about which car to buy. Obviously the ones we want are slightly beyond our budget. I let him do most of the choosing. I think he is having fun with the process of looking for a car. Comfort for long distance is important as we hope, Insyallah, we will get to make trips for umrah in the chariot.

I have more Ramadhan stories to tell, but can’t get round to putting them into words.

Wishing everyone Ramadhan kareem. May we all benefit from this month. BTW, just to share a hadith I learnt recently, a hadith sahih, if you feed the people who fasted in the day, then your pahala is equivalent to the pahala of the person who fasted. So let us all take the opportunity to be generous this month.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Widow

She stood at the door to greet us, her face gaunt and pale, especially in contrast to her black attire. Her normally lovely curls is hidden under a black head scarf wrapped tightly round her head. The smile I normally see on her face was not there. I was just so shocked to see the transformation in her.

The last time I came to the house, she was the gracious host who fed us cous-cous and an array of Moroccan food. Today, she is a widow, still grieving for her husband who departed suddenly. I gave her a peck on each cheek, asked her how she was and she answered calmly with Alhamdullilah. But the lustre in her eyes was missing.

The house was as pale as the owner. The last time I came, there were colourful paintings on the walls, beautiful artefacts and exquisite carpets. But its all gone now. All packed away. Even the house was in mourning, a reminder of the loss that the family has just experienced.

Another lady was already there. We exchanged pleasantries and sat down. They were mainly speaking in Arabic, my friend H, Fatma the bereaved widow and A, her friend. They apologized to me for mainly speaking in Arabic and occasionally provided me with a condensed translation of the topic they were discussing. I didn’t mind it so much. Gave me more time to observe them, observe her.

I was still in shock. I saw her before she left for her summer vacation. She looked young and happy. And now aged and bereaved. She has lost a lot of weight. With no make up, she was still very pretty, her skin fair, but I see the wrinkles forming.

Death can really age you. Makes the young grow up quickly, and the adult, age in no time. She has an eight year old son. I asked her is the son was away in school and she replied yes with a small smile. It was obvious that he was her only consolation at the moment. Her only joy.

She offered us Morroccan tea and some sweets. We allowed her to pour us some tea. And she offered us sweets. Sometimes the conversation goes on full swing, sometimes there is just silence. And sometimes there is a rapid exchange between H and A, while Fatma keeps quiet with her eyes down. I have a feeling she was really not there with us. Lost in her thought.

A few times, the telephone rang. Friends and acquaintances calling her, asking her if she was doing allright. And her standard answer was, “Alhamdullilah.” Perhaps saying, I am as good as I can be. I am still here. Praise to Allah.

H and A talked a little about death of spouses. Normally, if a husband loses a wife, he would get himself a replacement in no time. But if it was a woman who lost her husband, somehow it takes much longer for her to heal, or if she ever finds a replacement. With a limited vocabulary in Arabic, I couldn’t and didn’t interject. I just listened and observed. Frankly, I didn’t know what exactly to do or to say.

And then her late husband’s boss showed up. She excused herself and opened the door. We exchanged pleasantries. She excused herself and ushered him into a smaller reception room to discusss some logistics with him.

She wants to say here for another year, at least to give her son some time to adjust to the change and the loss. If she withdraws him from his friends and his school here, and bring him to a different country, the might just crumble under all the changes. He needs some form of stability.

In her absence, A brought us up to speed with Fatma’s current plight. It would have been impolite to talk about it in front of Fatma. Apparently her late husband has grown children from a previous marriage and her husband’s estate in now put under a trustee’s care. The trustee was her brother in law, whom she was not very well acquainted with. Her bother in law wanted her to return to Egypt with them, but she declined. She wants to stay here for a year before returning to Sweden where the rest of her family lives. She was afraid that her son will be taken away from her if she brings her son to Egypt.

In the meantime, she could not get access to his bank account, it has been blocked. So how will she live now? She can’t really get gainful employment.

Dear Fatmah, may Allah give you strength and guide you for the days ahead. May He makes things easy for your and for your son. May He give you good health and peace of mind. May you find happiness again soon.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

What my mother taught me

While doing the previous entry, I was stumped at the section “7 physical traits you look for the opposite sex.” For some reason, I didn’t have any. Am I blind? I asked myself? Do I really not care? Would I really say “No” if Brad Pitt proposes to me?

I remember asking friends, particularly those who have not found their mate, what exactly they look for a man. And one friend’s answer just floored me. “He must be tall,” was the first thing that she said to me. Tall? Is that really important? I just didn’t really understand that.

Then I remembered the time before I left my homeland to study abroad. Many people, including my mum’s friends, and even the Singseh whom we often patronize, told her that her daughter would come home with an Ang Moh as a husband. It really puzzled me why these people would jump to such conclusion. So I asked my mum, what she thinks I should look for in a potential husband. Does it matter that he is Malay? Would she accept if it was an Ang Moh?

The first criteria she told me, was that her future son in law is a good Muslim man. She said, it doesn’t matter what race he is, as long as he is a good Muslim person. I did ask her why. She said, “So he knows what is Halal and Haram, and the religion prescribes the roles of the Muslim husband and wife.” I did ask her if he has to be born a Muslim man, she said, “Not really. But are you confident enough that you have the knowledge to guide the other person in the religion? If he has the inclination for the religion himself, then that’s different. But if he is merely converting just to marry you, then that’s something else.”

So I did go away, had one or two non Muslim boyfriends. And somehow things didn’t work out. One said he was willing to convert but did not take any serious step towards learning what the religion was all about. The other well, he was a recent convert to Chr|st|an|ty himself.

Four boyfriends later, I found someone whom I thought I could share the rest of my life with. So I told my mum. And this is what she said to me,

“Whatever your choice is, its for you to decide, because in the end, its your life. However, you have to think long and hard and make sure by embarking on this next leg in your journey of life, that your life will be better.”

“I always believe that whenever we move on in life, the next move should be better than the previous place. If being married to this person is a move that will make your life better, then it’s a worthwhile move. But if your married life will be worst than your single life, then perhaps you should reconsider your decision. So think long and hard before you decide.”

Whoah! What does she mean by “better move?” So I had to do some soul searching myself. I had to ask myself what “better” means to me. Is it being economically better? Physically better? Geographically better? Emotionally better? Which criteria was most important for me?

More importantly, how would I know what the future will hold for me? How would I know that my life will be better?

So I had to ask myself, what is important to me in my life? I decided that happiness is very important to me. What’s the point of having loads of money when one is miserable and have to share your husband with 3 other women? Or have a rich husband who don’t really care about you, but only of himself? Or have a good looking or famous husband whom many women were trying hard to get their claws on him? What if he’s so engrossed in himself or his work and has no time for me? Whats worst than being single and alone is being married AND lonely!

What do I want in life? What makes me happy? I had to ask myself long and hard. Did some soul searching, and asked him some questions about his views on things.

And if anything, my mum has taught me a few things from those conversations. That I am responsible for the decisions that I make in life.

Whenever we are about to move to a different country or a different contract, I often ask myself, will the next move be better for us compared to the current life we are leading?

She has taught me that in life, in everything, we do have a choice. And we are personally responsible for the choices we make for ourselves.

I guess if or when the time comes, I would pass her wisdom on to my child(ren), especially to my daughter when she tells me she has a candidate for her husband.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Tagged again

I've been tagged by MobileMum and here's my list of 7s. Its awfully boring but here it goes:

7 things you plan to do before you die

1. Go tandem parachuting somewhere (hopefully before I am kerepot)
2. Visit Alaska in the summer
3. Return to Canada and travel coast to coast in the summer in a motorhome
4. Do a round the world trip
5. Take a ride on the Orient Express
6. See a little of Africa and mainland China
7. Visit Al Aqsa mosque in Baitulmuqadis, see a little of Iran hopefully before the US armies get there first

7 things I could do

1. Be a better person, a better Muslim
2. Go to Makkah and Madina more often
3. Build up my retirement plan
4. Live each day as if it was my last day, but plan for the future as if I would live forever.
5. Work harder at learning Arabic
6. Make my beloved happy and give him lots of hugs and kisses
7. Take care of my health

7 celebrity crushes

I don’t seem to have very many celebrity crushes. Sorry.

1. Michael Palin – and this man has travelled!
2. Sean Connery

7 often repeated words

1. What goes around comes around
2. You teach other people how to treat you
3. Only you are in control of your own destiny
4. I love you
5. I want to be with you always
6. Thank you
7. Alhamdullilah

7 physical traits I look for in the opposite sex

For me, the true measure of a man is not how he looks but how he holds his word. Thus I don’t look for any particular physical traits.

7 traits I look for in the opposite sex
1. Loyalty
2. Wisdom
3. A good Muslim
4. How loving and caring he is
5. A self made reliant person
6. Sense of adventure
7. Good sense of humour

7 tags to go to

Any 6 volunteers???