Monthly Archives: August 2012

beloved homeland

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Our first Prime Minister declaring Independence back in 1957 (photo courtesy of Google images)

Today is the 55th year of Independence of my beloved homeland, Malaysia, from the British colonial rule. How ironic that I’m now living permanently here in England, somehow still under the once influential Empire! 🙂 But such is life, you never know where you’re going to end up, you never know what destiny has in store for you. I’ve been asked to note a few lines on patriotism in conjunction with the National Day celebration in Malaysia today. Here’s what came straight to my mind:

Patriotism is the warm fuzzy feeling which I experience every time Malaysia and Malaysians are praised. Patriotism is how I cannot get Malaysia out of my heart and mind after living in glorious England for 16 years. Patriotism is my strong conviction that Malaysia remains the most beautiful country in the whole wide world, no matter where I go. I miss you Malaysia, my beloved homeland.

Need I say more? I miss being in my homeland, I miss the warmth of the people, the food heaven and the tropical sunshine. It is not the same returning every few years for holidays, living there would bring a different feel altogether. I would like to remember  31st August 2012, our Merdeka Day (Independence Day) with deep longing and gratitude. I pray the best always for my beloved country and my fellow citizens. Let me take this opportunity to reminisce a little. My best friend at primary school was a lovely girl of mixed parentage; her dad was Indian and her mother was Chinese. I have mentioned before that I come from a mixed marriage; my dad was of Indian Muslim extract and my mom a Javanese Malay. My childhood years were filled with inter-racial integration; I remember celebrating all major festivals with the different races. Chinese, Indian and Eurasian friends would visit us when we celebrated Eidul-Fitr and we would join them during Chinese New Year, Diwali or Christmas. We have our religious boundaries of course but as far as we could mingle we would do so with respect, tolerance and harmony. Below are a couple of video clips about Merdeka which brought tears to my eyes. It’s true what people say, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. I miss Malaysia all the more because I’m 6,500 miles away…would I feel the same way had I stayed on? I shall never know, for the rest of my life is now in England.

This final clip depicts the integration amongst the three main races in Malaysia: the Malays, Chinese and Indians, something which I myself experienced having been born and bred there for 28 years. I’d like to wish a Happy Merdeka Day to all Malaysians who read this post, by all means do share it with others too if you so wish. Last but not least, do bear in mind that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, it’s always greener where you water it. Count your blessings! 🙂

castle zoo

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Looks like we’re at summer’s end now, and autumn is fast approaching; it’s getting windier during the day and cooler at early mornings and evenings. I noticed the fallen leaves on the ground in the park, and some trees are beginning to change their colour. Most of the plants in my garden are either wilting or overgrown, not a very nice sight at all. Our 6 weeks summer holidays are coming to an end too, next week my son’s back to school routine and I’ll hopefully resume some serious home education with my girls! Nevertheless, we managed to squeeze in a lovely family outing last week, where we visited a zoo located within the grounds of a ruined burnt down castle. Very interesting indeed for us, as we love both animals and English history. We’ve been to over a handful of zoos and castles in England but this is the first time we covered both at one go, it’s like killing two birds with one stone, really worth the trip!  Below are some of my children’s favourite animals up close, hope you’ll like them. Obviously I can’t upload all the animal pictures, there’s just too many! 🙂

spider monkey

majestic tiger

snow leopard

graceful giraffe

orang utan

red panda

Below are several images of the ruined castle. I just love it, so much history behind it all! Even after hundreds of years you still get a feel of the place, like being transported in time for a wee while. Quite fascinating to be honest! Apart from the ruins, there was also an interactive bit of the castle which related the history, and a castle tower we could climb up to where we got a good view of the surrounding regions. After exploring the entire castle we walked through the zoo section again where we saw a few other animals. Then we amazingly ended at a castle fairground with several traditional rides. The whole family went on the caterpillar rollercoaster, yelling and screaming our heads off, a lovely end to a most beautiful day!

the view as we entered the castle grounds

my son exploring the remains of the castle kitchen

my girls looking through one of the castle windows

our caterpillar ride

and end to a beautiful day!

fifteen years

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Another celebration in store for me this week, after a wonderful day of Eidul-Fitr to mark the end of our month’s fast in Ramadan. It is my 15th wedding anniversary, and I feel like sharing a few lines here to remember this precious passage in my life. When I meet new faces in England and they learn that I hail from sunny Malaysia, the next inevitable question posed to me would be why am I here when I could continue living a wonderful life back in my beautiful homeland. I would always give the same answer, because of him, because of my beloved hubby, who was born and bred here. When I said yes to his proposal 16 years ago, I knew that life with him was what I wanted most. I took my time in finding my life partner, he had to be just right for me.

Even though I had to look across the oceans and continents to find him, I didn’t mind, as marriage is one of the most important life decisions for one to make, a life time commitment. And so we got married a year later in London, witnessed by both our families. Like in a fairy tale really, where the couple gets married and lived happily ever after! But that’s where it ends, the similarity between fairy tale and real life marriages. In a fairy tale, we don’t get to see what happens to the couple a few years down the line after their wedded bliss. We don’t get to see the adjustments they have to make around each other and each other’s families. We don’t get to see the ups and downs in their daily lives, we don’t get to see the way they have to accommodate each other’s needs.

Marriage is not a bed of blooming roses, beautiful and perfect in the eyes of the onlooker. Marriage has to be viewed from the eyes of the gardener, the one who tends to the roses. To get the roses to bloom well, they need to be nurtured to the fullest, with tender loving care and lots of patience. There will be thorns, weeds and little pests around, but a keen gardener will continue tending to the blooms, for he loves to see them at their best. This is how I view marriage after 15 years of sharing my life with this amazing man who is my husband.

My secret recipe to a happy marriage? Always putting his wish first before mine (even though I might not be happy initially in certain cases), for I realize I will eventually find peace and contentment afterwards. Good communication is the other, this doesn’t mean winning the argument all the time; but learning to back down, being the first to apologize and being a good listener will miraculously bring you closer to your spouse. Last but not least, building a solid wall around your marriage and relationship, so that no one/nothing can interfere. Today, 15 years on, I’m still here with him, blessed with our four cheeky children, may we last till Eternity, Inshallah (God willing), may we end up together in Paradise, Ameen.

15 years ago

eid mubarak

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RAMADAN HAS COME AND GONE, NOW IT’S TIME TO

WISH YOU EID MUBARAK / SELAMAT HARI RAYA AIDILFITRI / HAPPY EIDUL FITR

PEACE AND BLESSINGS ALWAYS!

MAAF ZAHIR BATIN

 

©iStockphoto.com/DistinctiveImages

 

HAVE A LOVELY DAY WHEREVER YOU ARE, DO SHARE MY HAPPINESS TODAY THROUGH THIS SONG!

 

goodbye ramadan

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 An Eidul-Fitr song from my beloved homeland which brings back many memories…

We’re in the last few days of Ramadan now, soon Muslims all across the world will be celebrating Eidul-Fitr (The festival of Fast-breaking). This is a joyous and auspicious affair for us; just as Christmas is for the Christians, Wesak for the Buddhists, Diwali for the Hindus, Chinese New Year for the Chinese and Vaisakhi for the Sikhs (these are the ones I’m familiar with having grown up in Malaysia). It will begin with a special prayer and charity giving, visiting the grave, followed by socializing, festive meals and very modest gift-giving, especially to children. As much as I’m looking forward to this celebration, it will be sad to leave Ramadan behind, for this fasting month has helped us practice self-discipline, self-restraint and generosity. It has also reminded us of the suffering of the poor, who may rarely get to eat well. It has truly been a wonderful time for spiritual reflection, prayer, doing good deeds and spending time with family and friends. It is indeed a very special month unlike any other time in the year.

mehndi hands!

These last few days of Ramadan is rather hectic for me; as we’re busy tidying up the house, baking cakes/cookies and getting new clothes ready for our celebration. This year my girls also have their hands decorated with mehndi. As always, I become rather nostalgic during this period, from missing my family and friends back in my homeland. This is also the time when childhood memories come flooding back, Eidul-Fitr as a child in Malaysia was certainly the best for me. I remember playing sparklers and fireworks every night in the final week of Ramadan! In England it’s definitely a far quieter affair in comparison, but still lovely in its own way. One of the major differences for me now is the main food we have on the big day; instead of ketupat/lemang and rendang with peanut sauce as customary in Malaysia (my mom’s recipe is the best!), I now cook lamb biryani, perhaps not as delicious as my mother in law’s, but my family absolutely loves it!

I’ll leave you now (got heaps to do!) with several Ramadan and Eid food images, hope you will like them! 🙂

I will miss this, my starter for breaking fast in Ramadan; dates, fruit salad and samosas.

fruits are great for breaking fast!

main meal, bread and vegetable soup, the simpler the better!

fruit jelly, one of our favourite Ramadan desserts

Malaysian ketupat, lemang and rendang I used to eat on Eid Day (courtesy of Google images)

lamb biryani I now cook on Eid Day in England! (courtesy of Google images)