Saturday, August 02, 2008

Disposable income vs quality of life

It comes to THAT time again when our feet get itchy and restless. Perhaps its because we could not find a way to escape the heat except at the malls that we aspire to be some place else, much greener and cooler.

We have been here four years now after all. Many asked us how we managed to survive here this long. Truth is that I have learned to love my life here. I shall not lie and lament about how it irks me that women cannot drive or that mutt@was could be a nuisance. I am lucky that the means of transportation is available to me. Granted that its not cheap but I really don't see why other people are complaining when the cost of taxis everywhere else in the world has sky rocketed. I remembered stepping in a taxi in Singapore and before I could even tell the taxi driver where we wanted to go, the fare was already close to $10. And that was after waiting 25 minutes in line!

And I've learned to avoid the mutt@wa lairs. I cover up when I am outside and go to areas where I know I will not be harassed. I've had an encounter or two but it has been fairly decent because I've learned how not to attract attention to myself.

I no longer find it strange that we eat in isolation and even draw the curtains at our "booth" at the restaurant and embrace the privacy of eating sans prying eyes.

Perhaps the fact that the above doesn't bother me means that I am accustomed to life here.

AT the same time, I am also accustomed to our purchasing power here. Enjoying 3 teapots of Galler hot chocolate counts as a pleasant treat. (Of course I didn't drink all 3 teapots alone!) My DH now has a bad habit of choosing items of clothing for the Little One without checking out the price tag first. Tsk tsk! A huge no no in our life past!

I remember the looks my in laws gave us when we only drank at Starbucks in KL. I mean buying drinks for 4 adults at Starbucks could be equivalent for a week groceries for some. I still get that bit! I am not out of touch that way. But the way we see it, we live far away from our families and civilization as we know it, so that we can enjoy the little luxuries in life.

I am grateful to Allah that we have it good here. Our accommodation is catered for. With no worry about water or electricity bills. Petrol costs almost next to nothing, (Less than 10 p), much cheaper than bottled water. The pool is just steps away from my back door, the playground 3 minutes away and I can have domestic help to help me with the household chores and babysit if the need arise. I know we have it good.

And not paying taxes is a big plus. I still remember how painful it feels to see half of our hard earned salary siphoned off to subsidize the single mothers and pay off other people's medical bills.

Then again, there is another part of me that wants more. More to life than that of shopping malls and coffee mornings. The ability to upgrade myself, my mind, my horizon.

I want a better education for my child. Where she is taught by trained and passionate people who truly care and inspire. Not just by some people who see the nursery as a money making opportunity. An acquaintance was truly surprised how much the Little One's fees would be for Montessori school next year. Are you ready for the number? Sr15,900 plus SR1,500 non refundable registration fee. Thats USD4,639 or MYR15,132 or SGD6,370. Surely a handsome sum indeed elsewhere too!

I know I have taken as many opportunities possible to better myself. But there are still some areas I would like to pursue to expand my horizon. Early childhood education for a start. Alternative medicine is another.

I want to be able to bring her to wonderful museums with beautiful paintings and/or artifacts that may interest her. To give her a wide range of life experiences, to see all sorts of different things in her own eyes.

I do miss the ability to walk down to the cinema and watch a movie. Or be entertained by a good musical or show. Or simple things like trying the clothes I want to buy before buying them and have the luxury of interacting with a sales woman who may even recommend me some other clothes that may suit me, rather than be served by bored men.

I want to be able to do more things as a family together. Simple things like going to the zoo and amusement parks for instance. I still don't appreciate the value of men or women only days at the zoo. Which is why we don't go unless its a school trip of some sort.

Then again, I suppose, having a bigger disposable income means that we could afford a few foreign holidays in a year.

Perhaps the answer to my own quandary is that its all about compromise. Life is about making compromises. What would I consider as the important aspects in my life that I am willing to forgo other bits of it?

What is my compromise for living here and what else would I have to compromise for us to move and live somewhere I want to live?

Despite my quandary, I am very grateful to Allah for giving us the myriad of experiences he has given us. And yes we are lucky in the sense that we are in a position to choose where we would like to be and where we would like to go. Alhamdullilah.

I am also very grateful that DH is as willing to travel the world and always found the ways and means of doing it.

In that sense Kakteh, I guess I feel that my glass is half full. I always do wish that it's full to the brim that its overflowing but I must always remind myself how lucky I am that it is half full.

And Ghazali, apparently sometimes the decision is made for us by our Almighty ;) Good luck to you, may your family learn to love life here as I do.


Kak Teh said...

SF, somehow something directed me to yoru blog as I was in the midst of doing something else - and lo and behold, second last para, you were speaking to me.
Alhamdulillah, life has been good to you. I was just looking at my tax deductions and am nearly in tears.
London is expensive - stay where you are. It is also getting to be so dangerous. My Taufiq just went out and I have already made several calls for him to come back. I am sure you noticed/read about crimes on the increase here - am so worried. Take care.

Nazrah said...

sunflora: thank you for this post.i have been dreading my return to dusty dubai.i needed something to reassure me that i actually have a good thing going.thank you for reminding me to count my blessings.

life is actually harder in SG.i must redha with rezeki. Alhamdulillah.

Swahili said...

Funny,we have been talkin about moving the whole of today and heres your entry.Is it the time of the year when one gets restless?

i want better schools. One that i dont have to pay (yes that same figure you just quoted) which quickly in my head tally to a year of tertiary in Sin.

Apart from that, Ive learned to reda with the (many) inadequency here.

a malaysian in riyadh said...

Salam Siti
Arman will sit for his UPSR in a month's time. He did quite well so far .. hope he can sustain it. In the most recent trial exam, he came second, sandwiched between an Indian and a Chinese. A truly muhibah achievement. After that, our feet will get itchy and restless as well ....

Elisa and family came over the other day. Kirim salam to DH and kisses to the Little One. Thank you for your endless hospitality while we were there. Hope we can all meet again, wherever that may be.

Abu Arman

anasalwa said...

I guess that is the reason people say home is where your heart is. The important thing is you're happy with your family.

Sunflora said...


Glad you're settling in nicely and you'd be in vacation in no time at all.

Malaysian in RIyadh (Abu Arman),

Lama tak dengar khabar berita! Thanks for dropping by. I am sure Arman will do well for his UPSR. How is Aina, the Mrs and little baby?

Insyallah we will meet again, yes its just a matter of where ;)


You said it right :) Home is where the heart is.

Ghazali B Abd Aziz said...

SF ...

Have passport will travel .. tell it all ...

Saya doakan agar your perjalanan di restui Allah dan diberkati Allah ... and Saiful career terus berkembang and di berkati ...

Semuga The Little One , Amelia, menjadi anak yang solehah ....

As for me ... this is not my final derstination ... I still wanted / hoping to be in UK hehehehheee

Sunflora said...

Tuan Haji Ghazali

Amiiinnnnnn. TQ. So if I don't see you here we meet in UK?


GUiKP said...

Arman made us proud today with his UPSR achievement. Thank you for your vote of confidence, and for the link. Azura jeles (in a good way of course) bcos you're so slim and superfit now.