Sunday, April 29, 2007

In search of a better life II

A man often sometimes chooses to come here for a job stint sans family because sometimes:

1)his wife does not want to uproot herself and live in a foreign land
2)his children are going to good schools and he refuses to "disrupt" their education
3)his job does not allow for a family visa, the company wants to save some money
4) . . .

Somehow this story really depresses me. A guy had been working here for awhile, alone without his fmaily. He finally completed his contract and went home to spend time with his family.

Five days after he returned home, his five year old son passed away.

Of course I believe in predestination and destiny.

But I often wonder, how worthwhile is it for a family to be split apart for the sake of economy?

I guess for the likes of us who have enough to eat everyday, it is an issue to be pondered and debated upon.

But for those who didn't have the luxury of choice, who did it out of neccessity, what would you do?

In search of a better life I

Our waiter asked us how old The Little One was.

"Fifteen months," we told him.

How quickly time flies. She was a month old when we first brought her with us to the restaurant.

We asked him if he had any children.

"A girl," he told us. "She's fourteen now. She lives all by herself in the Ph/ll/p/nes."

All by herself at fourteen?

"Yes her mum is working here with me as a nurse. We thought that by working here for a few years we could provide her a better future. "

"With the salaries we earn here, we could afford to send her a much better school."

Obviously the sacrifice is that their teenage daughter is growing up without her parents.

Not all expats get a cushiony package. But almost all come with hope to get a better life for their loved ones, one way or other.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Decisions, decisions, decisions

Uncertainty is one word I could use to describe my current situation. Will we stay or do we move on?

If we do move on where will we be going? There was hope that it was to be Ireland. Then there was promise of Tehran. And then there's the possibility of Bahrain. Or back to the UK. Or home to KL/Singapore. Or we could stay here.

If push comes to shove, if we do move, I will. If we have to move every few months, I will.

For the longest time, I had everything I had with me in 2 suitcases. Then we had 2 mugs, 2 plates, 2 sets of cutlery and a saucepan that travelled with me. And then I thought, I was tired of living that way. I thought, finally, I wanted to live in a place that really felt like home. We got a proper dinnerware, real cutlery, that sort of thing.

Now that I had gotten some furniture from Ikea, got the carpenter to repair the shoe cupboard and hang up our family portrait, there is a possibility of moving again.

The story of my life really. We move whenever I form roots. So much so sometimes I do refrain from making friends.

All I ask is that Allah put us where ever he thinks is good for us. A place where we can grow and be happy.

Pardon me if this space will be unattended for awhile. I'm trying to make some sort of order in my world of uncertainty.

But one thing I am certain, change is inevitable and it will be good for me.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A new venture

If you asked me 10 years ago, what I would be doing in 10 years time, perhaps I would have said "Teacher" but I wouldn't have thought that I'd be a quilting teacher.

After many requests for me to have quilting class, I finally became brave enough to take the plunge. I had five students whom I charged 50 bucks each. Actually I thought that perhaps charging them 50 bucks per class might be too expensive but somehow I'm finding that I am merely breaking even in terms of operating cost.

The maid costs 15 bucks per hour, for 5 hours thats 75 bucks. I bought some snacks etc costing 65 bucks. So I made a cool 140 bucks for 5 hours of teaching and conversation. As you can tell, I won't exactly become rich doing this.

More importantly the company was fabulous. We caught up with some gossip and updates. If anything I am happy to pass on the joy of learning a new skill to the ladies. I hope they feel the same about coming to my home to learn.

Perhaps one day I'd have my own quilt shop selling fabrics, notions and everything else. Not many people make real money from selling the quilts themselves, because they do require a lot of time and effort and when you're competing against mass produced ones, theirs would be a lot cheaper no doubt. Unless I become really famous and produce my own quilt books or people will pay me big money to come and do a demonstration.

But who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I feel for her

Out of the blue we managed to talk again. Its been awhile but I know I’ve been terrible at keeping in touch.

But things haven’t been too good for her. She is still with HIM. Its her choice and its not up to me to judge. We all, individually, make our own decisions based on what we think works for us.

She has 3 young girls. Its not easy starting over with 3 young girls. I know some have done it but not everyone is as brave.

He promised to end things with the other woman. And she took his word for it.

Suffice to say, she found out later on that he actually married that woman across the border. He said he felt responsible for the other HER.

She says that she is happy that he is working abroad, out of the picture, and that he would send money every month to her bank account.

If I could talk to her again, I would ask her if she is happy with her life. I know she sticks with him because she thinks he makes her happy. Does she realize that he is the source of her grief? Does he realize that he is the source of her depression?

Personally, I don’t see why she would stay with someone who is controlling, who treats her like a door mat, who causes her grief and depression.

But I do understand why she stays with him. Because the children need their father and because it’s harder to start over looking for love.

Not many men will be interested in starting life with a 30 something woman with 3 young children.

He has systematically shaved down her feeling of self worth, her self esteem, her circle of friends, the support of family members and the exuberance she once had. He made her dependent on him. He made himself the center of the world, and she could not see the sunlight beyond his shadow.

Sometimes I feel like shaking her, asking her, why? Why do you do this to yourself? Why do you let him do this to you? And what do you think your children will get out of this?

But I know she is too fragile for those questions.

I do admire her steadfast nature and the love she has for her children.

If you are reading this, I want you to know, as a friend, I only want you to be happy. I’m not trying to jeer you or alienate you. Its not my place to judge you.

Instead I want to encourage you to make a better life for yourself and your girls. They are all that you have and they learn everything by watching what you do and how you deal with this crisis in your life.

Do not give let him control your lives. Love yourself more. You know you deserve all the love that you need and you don’t need that love from him. You can get it from you.

But the girls will need the love from you.

Take care of yourself and take this down time to take stock of your life. Your future is in your hands. The future of your girls are in your hands. Reclaim back that power before its to late.

What would you say to her?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

How quickly time flies

As the weather gets warmer and summer draws near, we often lose a few friends we've made. I made this quilt for Hassania last summer and this June will mark one year of her going home.

Just last Wednesday we drove 4 hours for the oppurtunity to meet with C & J before J flies off back to Australia the following day. At first I thought we'd meet again because she thought she'll be here till July but she decided that she isn't coming back.

For J, the 6 of us swapped blogs and promised to sew our quilts and show each other the pictures. I finished mine in time but yet to see the other blocks for me to piece them together.

J has always been an inspiration to me. I can remember the day we met as if it was yesterday. She had just moved into the compound and had shown up for the quilting class. She was very friendly and told us that she was homeschooling her children. In turn we told her about another lady in the compound who was also homeschooling and they hooked up.

J would invite me to her house to teach us how to make bread. I remember that afternoon just like yesterday. I was pregnant then, so I waddled over to her place. The ladies gave me the cushiest chair to sit on while they made hot cross buns, bagels and pseudo chinese buns.

When I wanted to try to make some bread with her recipe (I said I but my beloved made the bread really while I watched) we borrowed her breadmachine.

And then there were her entrepreneurship. She had hooked up with K to make all sorts of crafts from cards to giftbags, placemats, oven mitts and chocolates to sell.

As J's farewell present to me, she gave me her breadmachine which still sits in the plastic bag she gave me in. That with some bread improver.

Already, I know S will be going back to the States this summer. Who else is next?

And it is inevitable that we will leave one day too. The difficult bit about leading this life for me is the constant packing and unpacking and the hellos and goodbyes to friends we made. The longer the roots, the harder it is to uproot.

The older I get, the more baggage I have, the harder it becomes to move. Now there are other considerations to consider; will there be good schools? a playground or a park for The Little One to play? is the city kiddie friendly?

If anything else, I know this much is true. I know we are adaptable people, the fact that we managed to get comfortable here meant that we could make ourselves comfortable anywhere. I know we can make new friends wherever we move, some we're still in touch with while others we know are somewhere about. We will take advantage of whatever is available where ever we may go.

Most importantly, we're together, supporting each other.