Sunday, July 30, 2006

One of those weeks

No Elisa, I'm not going anywhere.. yet. Just having one of those weeks when I feel sick and tired of this place. The heat is unberable, I feel my skin being seared by the sun's rays. The dryness makes my skin so dry that I get paper burns just as I run my fingers on the detergent box. I feel so trapped indoors. I want to go out but there isn't many afternoon buses because most of the inhabitants of the compounds are away on vacation.

Everyday seems just like the day before. Like Ground Hog day but a much more mundane one.I feel like leaving, going off away elsewhere where I can do what I like, anytime I want without fear of being harassed and contrained by the weird shoppings hours and being so dependent on my dearest when I want to go out.

So I guess I just have to remind myself that someday when I am no longer here perhaps I will miss this place. You guys are lucky there aren't any traffic jams over there. Traffic is horrible here!

I know I am complaining that I feel trapped here but I know when I leave I will miss compound life. If I have any problems, any pipe leaking, the aircon filters need changing, the lightbulbs need to be changed, any machinery breaks down, I can just pick up the phone and call maintenance and before long a guy will come and fix it up and I can just tip him RM5 and he'd be so happy. And the pool is just 5 steps away from my backdoor. And when I'm too lazy to cook I can just call the restaurant and the food will be sent to my doorstep. yes Alhamdullilah to all that. I know I will miss all that but at the moment I am just errrrrkkkkk feeling so trapped! You know like one of those hamsters with a beautiful cage with all sorts of activities!

PS wahh isn't Al Zamil a wonderful place!!! I can spends hours and hours in there! The one here is only about 1/4 the size of the one in Al khob@r!! I am sooooo envious!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Somedays I miss...

Walking along the Thames in the summer.
Sitting at the Starbucks near the Clink,
reading the papers.
Or sleeping at the Tate modern.
Comfortable couch on the second floor.
Having lunch in the church yard
Sitting and waiting on my favorite bench
Undisturbed and not harassed
Feeding the ducks my stale bread.
Walking to Waitrose, in time for the mark downs.
Dinner was whatever that was on discount that day.
Trout, organic salmon, scallops, monk fish
BBQ under my apple tea.
The smell of freshly mowed lawn.

Walking along Causeway Bay
Past the cartoon knick knacks
Buying Seconds at my favourite shop
Where the cashier actually smiles
Buying fresh Tofu at City Super
Taking the elevator down to Jusco if I needed anything
Staying home when there is a typhoon signal 8
Taking the boat for fresh seafood
The feel of fresh clay in my hands
Molding, kneading and shaping
I will always remember those steps
Up that Hill in Central
To The Workshop

The gurame at Pondok Padzi
Having a driver to shuttle me around
Lawry’s at Plaza Senayan

Looking at the Lake that changes color
Depending on the season
Hiking and walking amongst nature
Driving and feeling in control
Feeling cold and the snow

The smell of Laksa in Sogo
Making me hungry even though I’ve just eaten
The Bento boxes at Miyagi
Appointments with Danny
Being pampered at the twins
Pasembur for lunch
Buying roses at Pasar Malam
Seabass steamed

Going to Mustafa at 2 am
Buying tau fo fa and mee rebus
At the market
Hanging out with my girlfriends
Walking in the underground tunnels
Browsing in Spotlight
Ordering Iced Milo in MacDonald’s

One day I will miss this place
So I might as well enjoy and savour what I have.

Friday, July 28, 2006

2 hellos and 3 goodbyes

While at the Mall the other day I decided to have some sushi. The waiter casually asked if I was from Mal@ysia. I said yes I was and asked if they had any M@laysian staff. Turned out there was a M@laysian cook. The waiter persuaded the cook to say Hello to me. To my surprise it was Nizam. He's been here for 6 months now and has decided that enough was enough and he wants to leave the country. He can't survive here any longer he said.

"I just wanted to perform my umrah and since I did that already, I think its time for me to leave." He told me.

"Why don't you perform your Haj as well?" I asked him.

Thats another 4 months. Seems like eternity.

Hello 1 - Goodbye 1

Ix called me to asked me if I heard that DN was leaving. What? They are my neighbours and yet I didn't hear anything about it. DN just came back three days ago and they are leaving next Wednesday.

Apparently DN's MIL persuaded them to return. Her MIL was nervous about the goings on in Leb@non. DN's husband got an oppurtunity to return and so he said yes and tendered his resignation here. He's only been here a year, and she 8 months.

He told his employers that he simply could not adjust to life here. And DN told me that he was sick all the time.

Perhaps it stems from being home sick.

Hello 1 - Goodbye 2

Nia is leaving for good. The packers are coming next Saturday.

I will lose my gossip pipeline. Not that I miss the gossip pipeline part but she has been a very good neighbour. She understood when I needed to hibernate and left me alone. And when I was ready to get out, she'd keep me updated with the goings on. She's one of those people who has all her cards out in the open and she keeps it very real all the time. And I like that.

I don't like the pretenders who try to put a nice and smiley face in front of you and say all sorts about you once your back is turned. But its her time to move on. She's been here over 7 years and she is looking forward to the move. And I am happy for her.

Perhaps I will visit her in R@bat or P@ris one day.

Hello 1 - Goodbye 3

Met Tina at a friend's house. It looks like we expats have a checklist of questions we ask each other when we meet.

1. Where are you from?
2. How long have you been here?
3. How long are you planning to stay here?

Tina told us she's only here for the job although her position back home is still open for her when she gets back.

For us, Q1 is easy enough, even though people do get confused sometimes. Q2, is rather straightforward also I am surprised at how long we have been here. But Q3 is rather complicated. We've been asked that so often and yet we don't even know the answer. I have come to say:

"It all depends on the Allmighty's will. If he decides that we could stay here we stay. If he gives us oppurtunities elsewhere we'll move on."

My dearest sometimes say, "Depends on how the day in the office has been. When things are going smoothly its okay, but when the politics gets too frustrating I just feel like moving on."

Only time will tell.

Hello 2 - Goodbye 3

Thats just for this week. Its tiring and sometimes sad but that's just life I guess.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I should always keep my mouth shut

So when I was asked by Elaine how is Nia, I casually answered she is OK except her husband is away again on a business trip. He's gone to Berlin this time round apparently.

"But I don't think its a business trip arranged by the office." Elaine told me.

"Well I don't know I thought it was for work." I replied. (In my mind thinking huh? whats that all about?)

"I think its a personal trip or a very short trip." Elaine told me as a matter of factly.

Ok I thought. Big deal. Its none of my business and I only mentioned it because Nia told me and I didn't quite bothered to get the little details as to why and how long etc he was going. Its none of my business anyways.

You see Nia's and Elaine's husbands work in the same office. The wives used to be quite close and were often in touch with each other. I have been hibernating lately so I didn't know that things have changed between them.

Somehow the puzzle pieces were put in place for me by Nia on a different afternoon.

"You have to be careful with Elaine and her husband. My husband told me that they can't be trusted. He stabbed by hubby on the back...."

Erkk how was I suppose to know that Elaine was fishing for info from me and that things between the two hasn't been brilliant? Both of them obviously haven't touched base with each other lately.

And why is that I get myself into such situations? Why do I answer other people's queries innocently only to find out that the information that I give out is used as incriminating evidence?

I should just hibernate back in my cave again!

This is why I dislike it when someone else ask me about another person. Because inadvertently I apparently add fuel to fire or divulge information that was not supposed to go to the other party.

From now on, I will try to keep my mouth shut. If anyone ask me about anyone else, my answer would be... errr I don't know ... I know nothing. Really. Nothing!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Thanks and now I'm hypo

Ladies, thank you for your kind wishes.

CK I am no longer hyperthyroidism but instead I now have hypothyroidism.

Its the effect of the medication. My level is now below normal which means I am gaining half a kilo a week. I feel cold all the time. etc etc etc. So I am kinda better already hehe.

Elisa I do like your suggestion getting some more fabric will make me feel better. Unfortunately I haven't been able to do any sewing since I've been off the steroid. And mee kari with kerang? Wow! Hey do you have kerang over there? None here unfortunately.

Lollies dear, don't feel so sad. Well I suppose I've had six years since I lost my mum. And yes I agree that behind every dark cloud is a silver lining. I just couldn't help laughing a little at myself, (tu lah doa mintak kurus lagi! Nak kurus tak perlu excercise tapi makan banyak ingat senang ke?) just that if our parents have a pre existing condition and if its something that can be inherited, we have to be vigilant and take good care of ourselves.

So if my clothes were loose then, now they are beginning to feel tight again. For some reason(actually I read its possibly the side effects of the steroid which the Dr said will take some time to wear off) the weight gain is centered on the center of my body ie stomach. I am just grateful that I can still fit into my baju kurungs because I truly cannot be bothered to have to make new ones.

As Atenah said before excercise, excercise, excercise. Sigh. But going to the gym means I have less time to spend in front of the PC! (Is that a good excuse or what?)

KakLela belikan Pak K jubah style apa? S@udi ke Emiriti? Style S@udi color dia macam baju Melayu atau berkolar macam kemeja. Kalau style Emirit leher dia macam baju kurung johor.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Conversation with God II – Living with Hyperthyroidism

Be careful what you ask for.

I take a personal approach when it comes to having a conversation with my creator. I often believe that he will give us what we ask for.

So after some weight gain, I asked him to please, please make it easier to slim down after my bout of weight gain. Please make it easy for me to return to my previous weight.

Of course I didn’t think much of that conversation again until much much much later.

Almost miraculously, I lost all the weight I gained. Well I did kinda lose it all magically but at a cost of course! I contracted hyperthyroidism.

At that time, I didn’t know I had hyperthyroidism. I was just feeling hot all the time. It was winter and everyone else wore jumpers and sweaters while I could stroll outside in my T shirt. But it got quite bad when I felt hot just being in my own skin. It was most uncomfortable. And then I had some itchyness. I thought it was just my eczema acting up due to the weather. But my shins and ankles were itchy as well. And I had headaches that wouldn’t quit. I had a headache that continually pounded on the left side of the head. And my heart was beating very fast, so fast that I can feel it myself.

And I was losing half a kilo a week. After about one and a half months. I began to suspect that something could be wrong. You see my mum died at age 49 due to hyperthyroidism. So I knew that this disease could run in the family. She lost quite a lot of weight and had heart palpitations. Unfortunately she saw a cardiologist about the heart palpitations but didn’t see an endocrinologist to get her hyperthyroidism diagnosed. She died of a thyroid storm. It was preventable but it was just too late. And it was entirely possible that I inherited this disease from her.

But there was one side of me that was very happy with the weight loss and wanted to lose more before seeing any doctor. So I did my own research first. With Google, anything was possible and information could be obtained at one’s own finger tips. And I had all the classic symptoms except for the goiter:

-I had a sudden weight loss even though I was eating a lot and was always hungry.
-Had the tremors and the trembles. My legs practically shook by themselves.
-My heartbeat was rapid.
-I was always nervous and was easily irritable
-I was always tired. My fatigue was just puzzling me.
-I was feeling hot all the time.
-My legs were weak. I had difficultly climbing the stairs and even onto the car.
-And I had difficulty sleeping, even when I was exhausted.

So finally we decided to chew the bullet and see a doctor about my condition. At least we can rule it out, I said. If its true I have it, we can begin treatment and if I don’t have it, we can rule it out and find out what is exactly wrong with me.

I called a friend in the medical profession which department I should ask for when requesting to see a doctor. And she advised me to ask for the Endocrinology department. We called a local clinic here and asked to see a Doctor from Internal Medicine.

Then came the day for me to see the doctor. I explained to her that I suspect that I have hyperthyroidism and that I wish to do the blood test that will determine if I do or do not have the condition.

It was all explained to me as my mum laid in a coma in the ICU 3 days before her death by the husband of a friend of mine who was a Thyroid Specialist. And I will remember that conversation I had with him just like yesterday.

“Just a simple blood test will tell us that your mum had hyperthyroidism. And hyperthyroidism is a very treatable disease. There is medication for it. But once you get a thyroid storm, it could be fatal.”

So I knew too well that if I chose to deny myself of treatment, I could follow my late mum’s fate.

Now the Doctor whom I came to see was skeptical at first. She asked me, “What makes you think you have hyperthyroidism?”

“I lost a lot of weight lately, I feel hot all the time. I have a headache that won’t quit. My heart is beating very fast. My hands are shaking. And my mother died of it.”

“Its quite rare for people to die of hyperthyroidism,” she said.

“Well she was not diagnosed and therefore was not treated for it. And she died due to a thyroid storm.”

The doctor examined me a little bit. Checked my neck for a goiter. Asked me to stretch my hands in front of me and saw them trembling. Listened to my heart. She then filled up some forms and told me to go to the lab to do a blood test.

And then I was told that I could return to discuss the results of the blood test the following day.

I guess people deal with difficulties in their lives differently. For me, the sooner I know the better. I like to make an informed choice about things. If I know it’s a problem, then its easier for me to deal with it. I just need to weigh my options, the pros and cons and also the consequences. My MIL however thought that it might comfort me to say. “Ah you probably don’t have it. It’s probably not a problem.” Which in turn perplexed me further. Because I know there is something wrong with me. And if I don’t know the cause then I’m even more upset and worried. What if its worst than what I think it is?

My hubby, thank god, was as practical as I was. He was very supportive. In fact if he didn’t urge me to see a doctor, I might have waited a few more weeks so I could lose some more weight. I was losing at the rate of a pound a week. So much so that my clothes were all getting too uncomfortably big for me.

When we saw the doctor she told me that my levels were off the chart. The range for a normal person was 12 – 22 while mine was more than 100. How much more they don’t know because they could only measure up to 100. In the meantime, I was told to do a scan to check my thyroid gland so the next cause of action could be determined.

After the scan, she told me that I must start treatment right away and prescribed me with some medication which she warned me, would be hard to get here and I should buy them whenever I can get my hands on them.

How does it feel contracting the same disease that that claimed my late mum? Well apparently this is not the first time when her history is replicated on me. I do hope that I live longer than 49 though. Because if I don’t, I have just 16 more years to live.

Please God, I hope you will give me a long life full of happiness and good health. I hope I will always have faith in you and be a good servant to you. May I grow old with my hubby and have a happy family. I am always thankful and grateful for what you have given us and hope that you will continue to bless us with good fortune, comfort, happiness, good health and wealth both in this life and the next.

So I must be careful what I ask for in life.
Because sometimes the creator grant my wishes.
Just not in the way I imagined it to be.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

One morning with half a dozen of S0uth Afric@n women

I’d have to admit that the African continent has been the continent I haven’t had the opportunity to visit and learn about. My curiosity about Africa was stirred few years ago after reading “The Poisonwood Bible” but I still haven’t had the chance to visit the continent.

Last week my friend J@ckie invited me over her place to do some beading. I’ve been over to her place before for a quilting session so I thought it was interesting that she decided to do some beading instead. How did I know J@ckie? Well she used to live in my compound and was good friends with J0y. They both did quilting with me and we sometimes hung out doing other stuff like bread etc. J@ckie and J0y decided to set up a business selling their handiwork and I was so excited for them.

Somehow hanging out with J@ckie and J0y makes me feel “normal.” You see because we are quilters, we love our handicraft and more importantly we are hoarders when it comes to handicraft supplies. We just love collecting fabrics, other craft supplies and books. People who don’t understand what we are about just don’t get it. They pass comments like, “Wow that’s a lot of fabrics you have.” Or the have this look on their face when they see our stuff. But hanging out with J and J, somehow its different because we all try to boost us stock, exchanging info on where to get more supplies etc. We try to eliminate “gaps” in our stash and we love all sorts of plastic boxes to store our treasures in.

Anyways I am digressing. Once I sat on the table with the five S0uth Afric@n, I had to retune my ears. I know I understand English and understood that they are speaking English but somehow the sounds came out all different and there were some words I could not recognize. And although there were six of them, all six of them had very different accents and through the course of the morning I realize that they came from different parts of S0uth Afric@ which also meant that they had very different experiences growing us. Names of places very alien to me came up like C@ape T0wn, Durb@n, Pret0ria, south versus North. I never realized this when I hung up with J@ckie all this time because her accent was rather well, normal. I guess that’s because she has an English mum and all. One of the ladies was born in Bell@russi@ so she had a very strong Russi@n accent. Another was of Indi@n Heritage.

I picked up new words like rednecks (which I think meant white people) and braai (meaning BBQ). And then there are lots of “Yaaa” all round. And “dolls” as well.

F/f/ our beading instructor for the day told us a story of how she was discriminated when growing up. Because she was the minority redneck in an Afrik@@n community, she said her school bus will drop her and her borthers off 20 km away from her home and she would need to walk the whole 20 km back home, compared to her Afrik@@n counterpart who was dropped off just outside their compound. She admits that she cannot speak Afrik@@ns and when she did try, they would laugh real hard hearing her speak.

Apartheid, Nelson Mandela and that sort of thing was just news in the TV for me but somehow hearing these ladies and their conversations brought some of that into flesh and blood for me.

But of course, my husband the cynic-realist would put things right immediately. When I told him that evening that I spent the morning with half a dozen S0uth Afric@n women he asked me,

“Just out of curiosity hon, out of the six women you met, were any of them black?”

“Errr nope of course, they were white except one of them who was of Indi@n heritage.”

But I think J@ckie mentioned something in passing to me before. That one of the reasons there are so many white S0uth Afric@ns here is that, aside from the fact that the money here is attractive, they are finding it hard to find jobs back home because they were white. Any available jobs would be offered to an Afrik@@n first.

Reverse racism I guess. But then again, surely there is no such thing as reverse racism. Racism is racism. It’s the prejudice of members of one race to members of another race.

And it seems no matter at which part of the world we are, racism and prejudice does exist. One way or another.

Along with poverty and hunger, I hope we are able to eradicate racism as well.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Mee Kari

Dear Blog,

My husband thinks that this is blog worthy! Yesterday, I made some mee kari. Why is this blog worthy you may ask?

1. I havent cooked anything for the longest time ever.
2. If I did cook I seldom cooked kari.
3. And More seldom that I cook with santan. (except that kuih bakar ;))
4. It was my first attempt at making mee kari.

Now where I come from, I never did eat mee kari when growing up. The first time I tasted mee kari was from the Mak Long's (hubby's) house for one Raya.

However, just a few weeks ago we went to Kak Pip's house and she made for us some mee kari which was yummy! Dengan tak malunya saya makan 2 kali! Once during lunch and one more time during dinner and would have wanted to ta pau more home but was rather too embarrassed because she had her son's friends over that night.

Since Kak Pip has flown back to KL for her vacation I surfed some recipes on Looked at the different recipes and different ingredients, took a deep breath and then warned my hubby.

This will be my first time cooking mee kari so I hope you'll understand if it isn't as nice as Kak Pip's.

My ingredients:

1 red onion
1 stalk of frozen almost dried out bunga kantan
1 frozen and very hard galangal
A few frozen kaffir lime leaves
some garlic
1 pack of small diced lean beef
about 4 table spoons of Adabi Kari Ayam & daging
(half used to marinade the beef)
1 cube Maggi chicken stock
1 cube Maggi Tamarind stock
1 pack of Rasaku Instant Kari Ayam
1 can of coconut milk aka santan

2 stalks of lemongrass fresh from my backyard
1 pack of frozen deep fried tofu

For garnishing
some cut chillies
Beansprouts which I didn't find and replaced with thinly sliced cucumbers


Heat some oil in the pot. Fry the thinly sliced onion until brown. Add in the curry powder, thinly sliced bunga kantan, the gelangal and the lemongrass and fry until fragrant. Add the marinated beef. fry for 2 more minutes then add some water. Add the Rasaku mix. Add the tamarind and chicken cubes. Add the kaffir lime leaves. Let it simmer for a while.

When water starts to boil, add in the coconut milk and turn down the heat. Let it simmer until the gravy thickens.

Salt and pepper to taste.

I used fresh yellow noodles. Here its made by a F/lipina company and the noodles are called milky. Otherwise I believe you can use spaghetti.

wallah! Sunflora's mee kari is ready to be served.

If you're wandering what brought this on? I had origionally intended to make some laksa. I had a conversation with Atenah a few weeks back about eating laksa with half cooked kerang (my mouth is watering just typing this) and has been thinking about it since. And then MedameRosse was telling me that she made some laksa Kelantan. Whoah!!! I've had th craving since.

So, no laksa for me yet. Just mee kari :)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Is it time for change?

Oleh katak yang dah lama di bawah tempurung mewah. Ribbit ribbit.

This summer marks my completion of my second year here. It’s only been two years but it feels like a whole lifetime to me. To my own surprise, I’m feeling very much at home in this city I used to loath. And the thought of moving is just daunting.

My beloved said something the other that stumped me.

“Being in this country is turning you into a woman whom I didn’t marry. We need to get out of here soon.”


Well I was an independent person who was happy and perfectly capable of doing things by myself. I could live and travel alone and survived. At 21 I flew to a country I have never been before and knew very little about (there was no internet to do your research then) and didn’t know anyone. And I survived.

But since living here, somehow the outside world is beginning to be frightening to me. I needed to be chaperoned even when I go shopping or risked being harassed.

Just the other day I went to purchase some scarves with two other lady friends. And I really thought that the salesman was behaving inappropriately. Was it because our face was uncovered? Because we smiled? I was quite sure he wouldn’t behave that way if my hubby was around.

And what is most distressing for me, is that I am beginning to think that the rest of the world will behave that way. Just the thought of moving away was distressing to me. Oh dear what happened?

Is it true they say that once a bird lives in a cage, it will never fly away? Even if you leave the cage door open? As long as it is kept well fed?

Has living in a gilded cage clipped my wings?

Its been a very very long time since I drove. Don’t even know if I am still capable of driving! I am so comfortable wearing the ab@ya now that somehow the idea of not needing to wear one is too chaotic. (The result of wearing my nightgown underneath the abay@ for too long.) The last time I shopped for clothes for pleasure was in B@hrain and that was close to a year ago!

(Ok I did some handbag shopping here. And groceries. And quilting fabric.)

Perhaps it is time. Time for us to move on. Or at least, to get out and see the outside world a little bit. To see what the outside world is like. Full of colours and respect for women.

Bila oh bilakah?

Monday, July 03, 2006

The exodus has begun

The weather has been unbearably hot. I tried taking the bus to a new Mall the other day and ended up with a terrible headache. With temperatures close to 50oC the days are long and dry, and the nights just somewhat bearable.

Almost everyone has gone! We were meant to fly off last week as well but couldn’t make it given the circumstances. Z just told me the other day that it was impossible to get tickets to go back to Malaysia. The only option she had was to fly with Air Lanka. Emirates has imposed all sorts of taxes on their tickets adding a whopping RM1,000 to the cost of their tickets. But that didn’t deter people from flying with them. They are still fully booked.

We did think of going someplace near, perhaps to Dubai but as N told me, its so expensive, I just needed to add a few hundred Rms and we could go to Cyprus.

Even the Holy City is busy and crowded at the moment. Friends told us that the Hotels are fully booked.

Reading Elisa’s I want to go somewhere reinforces what I have been feeling for the past few weeks. I haven’t left this country for almost a year now and its been 18 months since we went anywhere. Yes we too wanted to visit the pyramids and take a cruise up the Nile.

One of these days I hope we can go somewhere. Soonish. We have postponed that round-the-world trip too many times that perhaps I don’t see it happening in the near future. Its not his fault, he suggested that we do it a couple of times already but I the practical side of me told him that I’m not comfortable spending the money on the trip when we have a mortgage to pay for.

And there is always that Should we go for *a nice long holiday* or should we *go home to visit our family and friends*?

Ahh the economies of limited resources!

But I guess this time round we would have to go home. Whatever it is, I too look forward to go someplace but here.

For now, I just have to appease myself by looking forward to the SALE season here.