Monthly Archives: July 2012

60th chattering

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Another milestone, my 60th chattering today after almost 8 months of blogging! Time for me to take stock, and look back at how it all started. There were many contributing factors, but as I went along, I realized that my main reason for blogging was to re-discover myself; my thoughts, feelings and emotions. If you hover over my Gravatar image on the right, you will find my name and the caption ‘Born and bred in the East, now living in the West. I’m neither here nor there, a mere traveller passing through this brief life’. This statement was not originally invented to draw people’s attention to my blog. I happen to feel as such most of the time, kind of trapped in between the two worlds I’ve occupied, the East and the West, and I’m neither here nor there!

Let me give you a simple example. Each time I’m about to land in Kuala Lumpur after my 12 hour direct flight from London, I would look down at the lush tropical landscape below and feel tears of happiness in my eyes. Images and memories of my loved ones would fill my heart and head, and for the few weeks I’m there I would totally immerse myself as the Malaysian that I am, living the current lifestyle there, which was very familiar to me once. But after a while I would get this niggling feeling that things don’t seem quite like they used to be, my reactions and feelings towards life there have somewhat changed too. And I’m not quite like my family, relatives or friends anymore, I’ve become a different person. Then back on the plane to England, where I would be crying my heart out, leaving everything behind again. I get quite emotional the moment the plane takes off, wondering when I’ll be back in my homeland, when I shall see all my family and friends once more. After 12 hours I’d be gazing over the evergreen landscape of England, and the pretty neat rows of houses and River Thames in London. My heart would skip a beat, remembering that this is home now, where my beloved husband and children are, where the rest of my life now lies. I would feel extremely relieved when I finally touch ground, back into their loving arms (I normally stay longer in Malaysia, hubby would return earlier to work)!

For a wee while afterwards however I would miss my homeland and everyone there tremendously, but slowly I would settle down into my familiar routine and meet up with my British counterparts, and I would eventually recover from the emotional rollercoaster I experienced. Nonetheless, after 16 years of living in the West, I have to say this transition phase has become a little easier, and I believe it’s because I finally feel a sense of belonging where I am now, I actually feel part of the British Asian community here in England. From the way I dress to the food I eat, right down to the way I think and speak, I have adopted many of the values of the Asians living in this country. I feel happy as a British resident, like the rest of my family (hubby and children) who are British born and bred. And all the people I know here (in-laws, friends and neighbours) have been nothing but warm towards me throughout these 16 years, which has helped a lot. Well, who wouldn’t be happy and glorious as partly British anyway, just take a look at the Olympics opening ceremony last Friday, no other country in the world would have their beloved Queen jump off the helicopter with James Bond! British humour at its best, which I would have found a little odd in the past, but now I just can’t help laughing! 🙂

Anyway, life goes on as they say, and even though I would always be reminded of the wordings on a card I once read, ‘with me here and you there, I’m neither here nor there’ when I think of Malaysia, I’m grateful that I’m able to return home once in a while and have my beloved family over for holidays, Alhamdulillah. To those of you out there who’s experienced similar feelings you’re welcome to pop me a line or two, would love to hear from you. I end today’s post with a few random images which reminds me of this entry. I’ve also included a link to the highlights of the Olympics opening ceremony right at the bottom. Have a good week everyone! 🙂

something old: the aircraft which will always carry my heart halfway across the world from East to West- courtesy of Google images

something new: my tea-towel, showing my new passion!

something old-my love for roses since I was 16

something new: my love for sweet things, especially ones made by my baking trio; hubby and his lovely assistants (our 2 youngest girls)! blueberries in season now!

London Olympics Opening Ceremony Highlights

ramadan mubarak 2012

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We’ve been fasting for almost a week now, how time flies! Although it’s a very long fast for us this year in England (18 hours), we’re able to complete each fast without too much difficulty (despite the current heat wave), that is the blessing of fasting in this holy month of Ramadan. Try fasting at any other time in the year (according to the Islamic calendar), it would not be quite as easy! I won’t attempt to write further on fasting in Ramadan, as I found a lovely enlightening post by one of my favourite fellow bloggers, the sweet couple Aneesa and Faraaz in Korea. Please read their Ramadan entry below to get a better insight on the topic (especially those who aren’t exposed to many regular Muslims like us), they’ve summed it well!

Ramadaan, Recovery & Recognition.

I just want to add how much I miss the Ramadan Bazaar (street vendors selling food for breaking fast) which mushrooms in every corner back in my homeland Malaysia during this fasting month. I’ve included several images of such Bazaars below to share with you (courtesy of Google images). I just love the buzzing atmosphere, when it comes to the food however, caution must be exercised, as some cuisine might look better than it tastes! It’s best to buy from sellers you are familiar with or those with a flock of customers queuing or hovering about. The last thing you want is to end up with a lousy meal or worse still a bout of bad tummy after a whole day’s fast! The last time I went to a Ramadan Bazaar was back in 2006, I sure do miss it! I hope someday I will be able to spend Ramadan in my homeland again, Inshallah (God willing)!

Although there’s no Ramadan Bazaars here in England, we’re still very blessed when it comes to food for breaking our fasts, as we often exchange dishes with our Muslim neighbours and friends (time for me to polish up my cooking skills really!). We also attend gatherings with friends where we break our fast together and share our food. It brings us closer to each other and cultivates generosity within ourselves. For the past week we’ve had all sorts of wonderful cuisines from our Indian and French neighbours, as well as our Pakistani and Indonesian friends. My children always look forward to the last hour before we break our fast, for I will either send them to deliver my home cooking to the neighbours, or we will hear the doorbell ring with some bearer of a delicious dish! Praise be to God for his many blessings! I leave you now with a couple of my children’s favourite Ramadan songs in Arabic, they insisted that I share them here on my blog. In the meantime, I’m off to see what to cook for Iftar this evening, Ramadan Mubarak to all Muslims who are fasting! 🙂

award time!

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Right, time for some acknowledgements! I received this award last week from a fellow WordPress blogger, who nominated my blog as one of her favourites. I was delighted of course, as she’s a lovely blogger with a sense of humour and genuinity which I like. From my observation I realized that blogging isn’t just about your blog entries per say (through words or photos), but also the ability to appreciate other bloggers, be it just a sincere click of the ‘like’ button! Therefore I often find myself drawn towards warm friendly blogs/bloggers first and foremost. Anyway, rule number 1 in accepting this award is to thank the blogger who nominated me and link to her, so thank you words with nanna prawn for the nomination and for following my blog, much appreciated! And to the rest of you reading this entry, do check her blog out!

Rule number 2 is to share 7 random things about myself which I haven’t already revealed in my blog. So here goes (in no particular order)!

  1. I used to love Prince and his album Purple Rain as a teenager, and hence the colour purple. Now in my 4th decade I still love purple but not Prince, in fact I’m wondering why I was so crazy about him back then!
  2. I hate flying, especially when encountering turbulence. I never go to sleep during the 12 hour direct flight London-Kuala Lumpur nor during the return journey, unfortunately I can never get out of this torturous situation as I must fly back to my homeland sometimes to visit my beloved family there.
  3. I do not own a television set, something my hubby and I agreed upon after we got married, as we feel it’s a complete waste of time sitting down watching rubbishy programs most of the time. 15 years on, we are still happy without it and believe we’ve become a close family unit as a result. We’re selective over what we watch which we do time and again via DVDs or the internet.
  4. I’m not actually the eldest of 3 daughters, I had an older sister who died in infancy, she’s buried in the beautiful Penang Island where I grew up. My mom said she’s the fairest of us all, the rest of us are a quite tanned, combination of our very fair mom and our dark-skinned late beloved dad.
  5. When I was little an old Indian lady in Penang who was a bit of a fortune-teller told my mom that I was going to travel far far away when I grew up, my mom refused to believe her of course (we’re not superstitious). What a coincidence that her prophecy did come true (my destiny as ordained by God)!
  6. My dad shaved his moustache at one point when I was little, I cried uncontrollably and refused to be comforted by him. I rolled down the stony staircase of my childhood home in my protests and bumped my head badly! My dad never shaved his moustache ever afterwards, and I knew from then on that my ideal man would have to be one with facial hair.
  7. My favourite place in this world could be anywhere on the globe as long as I’m surrounded by my loved ones, and there is some sense of community spirit as I step outside my four walls. That’s where I’m the happiest. I cannot imagine living alone ever (not if I can help it)!

Next is to list down 15 bloggers whom I’ve had the privilege of following and would like to acknowledge as my favourites. I’ve found this task very difficult as there’s so many wonderful bloggers out there! However, my aim is to bring forward bloggers of various backgrounds from both the East and the West. Therefore after much deliberation and consideration over the past week, here’s my final top 15 (in no particular order), do check them out!

know the spheregoing dutch, mountain mae400 days ’til 40, a little blog of books and other stuffgood morning life!uzair ahmadmesayah – life through the micphoto nature bloglijiunnabadip’s blog, aneesa and faraaztarek of cairo, a moon full, joy manifest’s blog.

The last rule is to notify all 15 bloggers and link them to this post. They’re not obliged to accept this chain of appreciation amongst WordPress bloggers, in fact I’m certain several have received some award or another already. Suffice for them to know that I enjoy following their blogs and to those who follow mine, I appreciate it very much (if you do want to acknowledge this award, copy the logo above and abide to the 4 rules). I actually follow twice the number of blogs listed and have added more as I go along. There’s also blogs which I don’t follow but check upon now and then, it’s a shame there’s a 15 only restriction or I would’ve listed them all! At the end of the day, I’m of the opinion that all decent bloggers are admirable as they want to share something interesting with everyone. As long as we can do that without offending others and exercise tolerance and respect over our differences I think blogging can be rather fun and beneficial. It helps us understand ourselves as well as others who share this one big planet with us. Happy blogging everyone! 🙂

graduation day

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Alhamdulillah (praise be to God), my beloved hubby attained his doctorate last week on one of the most blessed Friday I’ve ever recalled in my life. For the past 3.5 years he’s worked so hard to make this day possible, there were times when he even thought it would not happen. Studying for a PhD is such a long gruelling process, I’m sure those who have been through it knows what it’s like. In his thesis acknowledgements he mentioned our 4 children and I by name, and thanked us for being there for him. I cannot describe how moved I am by this gesture. He also dedicated his whole work to his parents, another sentiment which touched my feelings, for parents hold the highest status in our Muslim tradition.

I feel very proud of my husband, I know how tough it’s been for him, and I’ve tried my very best to support him. But I know this memorable success would not have been feasible without the prayers of our dear parents, families, relatives and friends, both in the East and in the West. For that I would like to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart. I would also like to congratulate my dear sister in Malaysia for completing her PhD too recently, I’m very pleased for her and I know my late dad would have been doubly proud of both his middle daughter’s and son in law’s wonderful achievements. I look back to 15 years ago when I was supposed to pursue my PhD upon completing my Masters but opted to get married instead. I do not have the slightest regret to date for my heart was 100% inclined and focused towards becoming the best wife and mother, not studying for a higher degree.

It all comes down to personal choices at the end of the day, and what makes one happy and content in life. On that note, I end my post today by thanking God for His endless blessings, nothing is attainable without His love, guidance and mercy. As my hubby wrote in the beginning of his PhD acknowledgements, ‘My gratitude begins and ends with the Beneficent One, the only Reality, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful God.’ To family and friends and all Muslims reading this entry, I also wish you a blessed Ramadan, do forgive me for my shortcomings for I have many, remember my family and I in your prayers. And may God bless us all, regardless of our faiths and backgrounds.

happy chappy!

the woman beside the man

we are all very proud of you!

he never forgets whats most important

my son

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I had walked around with my heart outside my body for the past week, I will tell you why. My only son (almost 13 now), went to Germany on a school trip by coach, the first time he’s been away from us in a foreign land. We gave him a mobile phone so we could reach him, but he never contacted us after he crossed over to France. We had the hostel phone number in Germany and the teachers had all the parents’ contact numbers for emergencies, so it was fine really. But for the first time in my life, I actually felt what it was like to miss my child so much, I couldn’t sleep at all for the first couple of nights, and made lots of prayers that he would be safe and well. I just wished he would reply to my calls and text messages, even though at the back of my mind I knew he was all right and probably had messed up his phone somehow (first time we ever let him use an activated one). On the day he was due home, I called him once more at the time he would have crossed over to England, and he answered the phone! I was just so happy and relieved! He quickly apologised for not contacting me, he had used up all his mobile credit trying to get access to the internet on the coach (it was a 12 hour journey from South West England through France, Belgium and then to Cologne, Germany). The whole family went to fetch him from school when he finally returned at 10pm, I hugged and kissed him and felt tears in my eyes. I find it difficult to relate to my son sometimes, I’ve been brought up in a female oriented household (we were 3 sisters) and now I have 3 daughters myself, it’s almost like a repeated pattern of the family life I knew. Except for him, my son, who in my eyes, has always been rather difficult to handle compared to the girls. But in reality, he’s just being a boy, and I have to be more understanding of his dissimilar nature and needs. My son will be embarking upon his teens soon, and I’m beginning to view him in a different light, and hope to have a closer relationship with him as he grows older. Deep down I know he is a very good child, a rather sweet and gentle one too, and I love him so very much. I leave you with several images he took in Germany (most of his pictures were blurry!) and a beautiful song which reminds me of him somehow. Perhaps you too will be reminded of a certain little boy in your life! Anyway, I’m pleased my son’s had a wonderful time on his trip and hope to have a similar one in the near future, for now he wants us to drive down to Cologne together and visit all the lovely places he’s been to! 🙂

scenery from boat cruise by River Rhine

castle on hill top

castle up close

cathedral in Cologne

heavy rain in Cologne too!