Friday, December 02, 2005

Leaving On A Jet Plane

Leaving On A Jet Plane
by: Peter Paul and Mary

All my bags are packed
I'm ready to go
I'm standing here outside your door
I hate to wake you up to say goodbye

But the dawn is breaking, it's early morn
Taxi's waitinHe's blowing his horn
Already I'm so lonesome I could die

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you'll wait for me
Hold me like you'll never let me go

I'm leaving, on a jet plane
I don't know when I'll be back again
Oh babe, I hate to go... hate to go

There's so many times I've let you down
So many times I've played around
Now you know, they don't mean a thing

Every place I go I'll think of you
Every song I sing, I sing for you
When I come back, I'll wear your wedding ring

So kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you'll wait for me
Hold me like you'll never let me go

I'm leavin on a jet plane
Don't know when I'll be back again
Oh babe I hate to go...hate to go

Now the time has come to leave you
One more time, oh let me kiss you
Then close your eyes, I'll be on my way

Dream about the days to come
And I won't have to leave alone
About the time's when I won't have to say..

Kiss me and smile for me
Tell me that you'll wait for me
Hold me like you'll never let me go

I'm leaving on a jet plane
Don't know when I'll be back again
oh babe, I hate to go

Leaving on a jet planeI
don't know when I'll be back again
oh babe I hate to go
I'm Leaving on a jet plane,
Leaving on a jet plane,
leaving on a jet plane...yeah

Yes people.... our tickets have been confirmed. We've even gotten our tickets via the travel agent at the Loughborough Union. The travel agent that deals for UPM apparently had overcharged Zareef's ticket to be RM12,000 while ours were just RM3,000 a pop. UPM was a bit reluctant in paying because of the 12k. In the end, B and I decided to buy our own tickets and will claim it later from UPM's bursar, with the consent of them, of course. It came to a total of about RM 8k just for the three of us, taxes included. Apalah punya travel agent. Tau la depa nak komisyen. But kok ye pun, distribute la sket the amount tu. Nih, selonggok depa charge kat tiket Zareef. Unreasonable betul!

A lot of my friends over here kept on saying to us, "Bestnya dah nak balik". Truthfully, I'm not that excited to go home despite being away for 3.5 years. I'm quite sad actually. If given the chance, I would really love to stay here longer but not forever though.

I would definitely miss this place a lot! I would miss the shopping excursions, car boots, trips to town alone, the quiet quality of life that the three of us went through together and the wonderful, wonderful friends that we've made and foster along the years that have become part of our big family here in Loughborough and the fact that we're on our own making our decisions independent from outside influences.

What I fear most about going home is trying to find a job. I've been away from the working scene for so long that I've forgotten how it was when I left it. Joining the rat race and competing with bright-eyed young graduates gives me the creeps because my engineering skills are rusty almost to the point of being unsalvageable.

If possible, I would love to be a stay-at-home-mom but I know with the current influx in the cost of living especially in the city, that is most impossible. Like B said, "If you don't work, we won't be able to buy the house of your dreams or even your favorite car for that matter". Aiyaaaa....

I'll be arriving at KLIA on Sunday at 6.30 pm. My brother will be picking us up in his Naza Ria (I specifically asked him because of his huge car capacity) and straight home to my parents' place in Klang where my family and B's will be congegrating. I've called my mom and asked her to prepare our favorite sambal goreng, yong tau foo (yg ni dah 3.5 tahun tak makan wooo...) and KFC. Laugh all you want people, but these delicacies have been on the top of my mental food list for so long that I'll salivate everytime I even think about it.

Give us a week to settle down (we'll be at my mom's place till we get a place to call our own) and after that, we're good to go. I'll be out and about meeting everyone and trying to gorge like a pig. Anyone care to join me?

So, this chapter of my life is officially closed now. Today's the last day for Zareef at his playgroup. I even got Zareef a thank-you card for him to give to his teachers. B is meeting up with his supervisor to hand in his hard-bounded thesis and also to bid his supervisor farewell and to give him a farewell gift that was specially flown in from Malaysia. And me, tears are rolling fast down my cheeks as I type this because I really don't want to go home.

This is me, checking out. Till we meet again in Malaysia, this place that I've called home will always hold a special and meaningful place in my heart and fondly remembered. Adios....

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Little Bit of Everything

I know... I know... I've been neglecting this blog of mine again. So, here goes a round of updates.

1) We are cleaning the house and packing our stuffs furiously because... we're going home next Saturday. Yupp, folks! Finally, the time has come for us to bid farewell to this land that I've called home for the past 3.5 years. Seriously, it's no joke trying to spring clean our abode despite it being a tiny two-bedroom, 1 bath house. I have to sort out which goes to our friends, which goes to charity and which goes to the dumpster. Talk about being a hoarder!! And did I forget to include the food that I have to wade through??!!! My goodness!! I didn't realize that I've been hording packets and tins of food which quarter of them expired nearly two years ago!

2) I'm quite worried and feeling a wee bit apprehensive about Zareef going through a 13-hour flight. He has never been on a long-haul flight before and this being his first, will be quite an adventure for us all. We'll see how it goes. Any advice out there on how to handle a toddler on his first ever long haul flight? I've received some valuable advice from Rini. Thanks dear!

3) I've been telling Zareef about our journey to Malaysia which is coming up real soon. I told him that we'll be going home to Malaysia and this is what he said:

"Bukan... ni home kita. Kita nak go to Malaysia for holiday. And then, kita come back home here and Zareef have to go to school" while shaking his head indignantly.

Oh dear! With that reply, I'm pretty sure that Zareef will be asking when are we going home in no time at all. Just like the time when we went to stay at Bogo's and Fern's place. The first night that we were there, he was howling like mad wanting to go home. He didn't understand the concept of staying over. After what seemed like an eternity, he finally gave in and cried himself to sleep after we promised him a train ride to London.

4) I've taken out my IUD last Thursday. The gynae was bewildered as to why am I taking it out after just having it put in for only 6 months when the thing has a life expectancy of 5 years. All I could say was, "I've some change in plans. Plus, my son will be 4 years old next year. So, I'd really like for him to have a sibling by that time". Without further adieu, she crank me wide and pulled out the IUD. This time, it was smooth sailing and painless. Phewww... what a relief!

5) We have yet to receive confirmation from UPM regarding our tickets. Yikes! And we're going home this Saturday! Apa la yang lambat sangat ni!!

6) I've put up a mental list of things that I want to eat when I get back home. At the top of my list is whalloping Japanese food!!! Yes people, I know it sounds weird but it's so expensive to buy Japanese food here unless you have an income of 40k per year like one person I know, then, it's a big whack to the wallet if you plan to eat out at any Japanese restaurants here. I'm dying and itching to walk into Ichiban and eat to my heart's content. Anyone up for Japanese food with whales to the likes of B and I? Oh... and Zareef included. He's an avid sushi eater. I'm proud to say that my son can eat through 6 pieces of sushi that I make in one single seating which is quite a lot for a 3 year old, I must say.

7) I can't wait to meet up with relatives and friends whom I've not met for 3.5 years. One thing for sure, they'll be extremely surprice to see me because I have grown horizontally quite a bit during this long absence. So people, I know I'm fat but please, please, please don't remind me of that. It really hurts especially when I'm doing my best to reduce my supersize. Just be happy to see me and talk to me ya! I know my relatives won't keep their mouth shut. I know that they'll say, "Eeeee... gemuk nya Nora!!! Banyak sangat makan la nih" like the many times that I can remember since forever. When I was scrawny (this was like aeons ago when I was in SSP), they'd go "Eeeeee... kurusnya Nora!!! Sekolah tak bagi makan cukup ke?" Ishhhh... gemuk pun salah, kurus pun salah! That is why, I always dread going back to my dad's kampung in Johor. They just don't have the courtesy to be courteous. Shesshhhh... some people!!! How they can be so heartless is beyond me. And yet they claim to be close relatives of mine when the fact is, every single word that comes out of their mouth are like daggers cutting deep into my heart.

8) This will be my second last post before I fly home. I'll write again once our tickets have been confirmed, which sadly to say, isn't today.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Eid Mubarak!

I hope it's not too late to wish all Muslims a prosperous and joyful Eid. Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Maaf zahir batin.

This is the 7th Eid that we've celebrated abroad. 3 in the States and 4 in UK with Zareef. I've gotten used to it but has sorely missed; being away from the family and asking for forgiveness on the morning of Raya, pigging out on gorgeous mouth-watering food, the duit raya and the visits to relatives' and friends' house decked in brand new colorful baju kurungs.

I cannot do anything about being away from the family or the duit raya nor the new baju raya (we've had ours for four years now) but I certainly did something in the food department.

I remembered my first raya in the States. I've just arrived at Purdue barely less than 2 weeks and it was already time for Raya. Since I stayed at the halls, I couldn't cook anything but luckily there were a handful of postgraduate families who were kind enough to feed us hungry lot. However, that didn't stop me from cooking the infamous Mee Jawa and inviting friends over to B's and Eijatt's room to have a taste.

Now that we're a family and our status has been upgraded to that of a postgrad family, I have no choice but to cook up a storm in my tiny galley kitchen. I would cook 3 kgs of rendang daging minang (B's request), sambal satay, nasi himpit, kuah lodeh, mee jawa, chocolate cornflakes and pineapple tarts every year. However, this time around, I had to tone it down a notch because all of my cooking stuffs and cutleries are on its' way back to Malaysia. Even so, that didn't hinder me from cooking 2kgs of rendang daging, 6 packets of nasi himpit, 2 pots of kuah lodeh and 1 wok of sambal satay.

Last year, we held an open house from 10 a.m. till late. Guests literally came non-stop and managed to polish off everything that I have to offer. Very tired we were but I was very satisfied and content that everyone came despite having to cramp themselves in our small hall and some even had 2nd and 3rd helpings although they had to squeeze themselves through throngs of people to find a place to sit and eat.

Raya in Loughborough is totally awesome! There are open houses every weekend. Not one, not two but averaging 14-16 houses per weekend. And this would last for the whole month of Syawal. The best part is, each house would cook different kinds of dishes according to their specialities or origin. I've tasted the best nasi dagang, nasi kerabu, dodol, mee rebus, soto, laksa johor, laksa penang, laksa terengganu, mee hoon sup utara and many, many more there are to offer. Zareef has even got into the mood of going from one house to another and I'm quite amazed that for a small boy, he can whallop quite a lot of food, mostly noodles (he's a hantu pasta. All types of noodles will be called pasta and he can eat it the whole day). We would have our breakfast, elevenses, lunch, tea, dinner and supper at different houses and come back home just to sleep.

All these, are more than enough for my family to not feel homesick and in fact enjoy immensely our Rayas abroad. However, I do look forward to celebrating Raya with the family back home. Would you believe it, my side of family is never complete ever since I could remember. Every year, at least one member of the family would be missing. Usually it would be my fourth brother (he was a senior registrar based in Manchester and has been there for 14 years before my mom and his wife begged him to go home). Then it would be me or my second brother (he studied at Warwick University and A-Levels somewhere before that). Whenever we would take a family picture, it was never complete so we couldn't enlarge it to be framed.

Only once, yes once did the family complete itself and that was on my wedding day 4 years ago. My brother and his family came back solely for my wedding. We did managed to get a family photo after dragging my parents from the frontlines of receiving the neverending guests.

This Raya would be our last here, InsyaAllah and I'm sure I'll miss the atmosphere of beraya di perantauan when I go back end of this month. Well, that was my raya ramblings. What's yours?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A Beginning to an End - THE END

Syukur Alhamdulillah!!....

After a gruelling 3 hours of questions, bashing, torment and torture, B was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy yesterday evening. It was a tough one especially when you have an external examiner who likes to talk non-stop and has a mind-set of his own.

He had to go out of the room for 20 minutes while the examiners discussed their decision. When they called him in, the examiner said "We've decided to award you your doctorate. Congratulations!"

B went speechless. He told me that tears welled up in his throat and so he couldn't say thank you. All he could do was shaked the guy's hand and shook his head as a thank you gesture. But later on, when the feeling has finally sunk in, he did thank the examiners and his supervisor profusely.

Till today, B still can't believe it that he has finally made it to the end. I told him, it was a well deserved success. My hearthiest congratulations to you, darling! I have always known that you could make it right from the start. No doubts about it. You've earned it!! Thank Allah too for blessing you with this sweet reward especially in this holy month of Ramadhan.

I'm very proud of you darling and from now on, I can call you Dr. Fadlee whenever I feel like it because it's rightfully yours and it does have a nice ring to it.

p/s: Zoow, see... it's not so syahdu after all... hehehhehe

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Day My Son Turned 3

My dearest son Zareef,

Today at 0820 hrs, you have reached a new milestone in life. It's the day you turned 3. I can still remember the day I felt the contractions on your expected due date, 12/10/02. Your daddy and I were really happy but at the same time quite nervous and scared that you were about to be borned into this unknown world anytime soon. But after a laborious, tiring, painful, 3 failed attempts of epidural, and a failed ventouse of 30 hrs, you finally made a grand appearance with the help of a pair of forceps.

Since then, I have always marvelled at how fast you grew. You were always spot on on all the markers that I religiously read and follow in and any books that I can get my hands on. You started teething at 5 months, crawling at 6, standing up and holding on to furnitures to move at 9 and walked just a week before your first birthday. By then, you were unstoppable in the physical and mental department. You grew your full set of teeth by 1.5 years and still hanging on to me for milk. Unfortunately, I had to wean you off when you were 2 because your set of teeth were too painful for me to handle.

I was so proud of you then and I am still proud of you now for your amazing achievements, your ability to put words together, your quick wit and resoucefulness in outwitting your daddy and I and your heart of gold that is able to love us unconditionally even after having to undergo a round of mummy scolding you like a mad woman.

You complete our world. Without a doubt, your presence has changed us from young foolish couples to ahemmm... responsible loving parents. Your daddy and I would lay the world at your feet even if we have to beg, borrow and steal. There is nothing that we wouldn't do for your happiness and safety. If it were up to me, I would never let you venture out into the cruel evil but wonderful world. But, I want you to grow up and experience what life has to offer you be it sweet or bitter.

It really has been a pleasure having you around for the past 3 years and I look forward to having you around for a very long time. Please just remember that your daddy and I love you very, very much.

Love you till the power of infinity...

Mummy & Daddy.

Rachel and Justine preparing Zareef's mock birthday cake. I wasn't allowed to bring in a cake in fear of the other children having allergic reaction to any of the cake's content.

His classmates sang "Happy Birthday" while Zareef watches the candles gleefully.

Zareef handing out Maltesers to his classmates.

Our gift to Zareef. His all time favorite, a truck load of cars and an aeroplane to boot.

Happy Birthday my darling! I pray that you'll have more wonderful birthdays to come and that you'll grow to be a good son and a faithful Muslim.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A Beginning to an End - Part IV

B's viva which is supposed to be today at 2 pm has been POSTPONED to an undetermined date sometime end of October because his external examiner has emailed in sick. He just got to know about it yesterday evening.

He is very disappointed because he has his mind set on it and has been all out in preparing for his big day. Well, what can I say darling. Yes, you've worked hard and will continue to do so but Allah Al-Mighty is the decision maker and He knows best.

Like you said, "Maybe ada hikmah kot kena postpone. Maybe God knows that I'm not fully prepared yet even though I think I am".

Monday, October 10, 2005

News Flash

B was featured in Leicester Mercury for his ground-breaking research. I'm so proud of my man. His hard work has finally paid off. Congratulations darling!! You deserve every single bit of it.

More links:
1. Loughborough University Press Release

B's research has been interviewed by BBC1 Radio and Saga FM. The Observer has also called in and the story will be published during one of the weekends. Well darling, enjoy your fame while it lasts...

Monday, September 19, 2005

A Beginning to an End - Part III

B's viva-voce date has been set. It's on October 12th at 2 ish. I'm praying and praying that it'll go on well and smooth sailing. Aminnnn....

Friday, September 16, 2005

Second Day of School

Hah! I spoke too soon. This morning, after doing my rounds of cleaning, I checked my mobile and there were 16 missed calls from B. 16!! Goodness!!!

Rupa2 nya... anak bujang sorang tak nak go to school pulak.

"I don't want to go to school. I don't want to go to school", he kept repeating. He cried, bawled, howled and protested all the way. B must have panicked and pushed the call button more than he intended to.

Anyhow, my salutations to B for sticking to his guns and managed to siapkan Zareef and dragged him to school albeit 5 minutes late. History repeated itself. Zareef was back to his nursery days. He won't let go of B. He kept on repeating "Daddy stay with Zareef, alright?!". And so B obliged. B took him to a corner and started rolling out the playdough. Zareef langsung tak nak. Yana (his best friend) kept on urging him to play with her, which on normal circumstances would be an irresistible offer but he declined. He kept on clinging to B's pants.

Out of his wits, B seeked Rachel's (Zareef's teacher) advice. She adviced him to keep on playing with Zareef for about 5 minutes. Then, bid farewell and leave because the longer B stays, the clingier (ada ka such word??) Zareef will be. And so B did. Maka bermula lah satu episode meraung yg maha hebat. When I called B, he sounded so depressed. I told him it's okay. Zareef is trying to test him whether B will bend to his demands. We are setting boundaries and rules so Zareef has to learn and deal with it. If we give in to his whims, Zareef knows that he is in control of his parents, which is a big NO NO.

Hmmmm... betul pun. When we picked him up, Rachel told us Zareef settled quickly after B left and joined in all the activities and was really happy. Cehhhh... auta sungguh anak aku sorang nih. But... he was a bit aggressive today. He managed to pick a fight with one kid and when some other kids tried to play with him, he pushed them away. Aduhhhsss... that is one tell-tale sign of his protest. So, Rachel asked us to speak with him about it. However, Rachel did compliment Zareef for standing up and taking his grounds. He fought back when one of the kids tried to bully him. Way to go, Zareef!

Back home, B and I slow talked Zareef in not hitting other kids. We said it's painful and it'll make his friends cry. We also talked to him about sharing the toys and taking turns on playing a big car that he is quite obsess with. After 2 minutes of talking (tak boleh lama2, nanti jadik melalut2 and budak tak paham and tak concentrate), Zareef seemed to understand. Ntah ye ntah tidak. We'll see tomorrow how it goes.

I know I have been blabbing non-stop about my kid. It does look like I'm obsess but I can't help it. Every single thing that is happening in Zareef's life, whether it's an achieved milestone, sickness, joyous occasion or fights are such big deals to me. I'm his mother and I just want everything to go smooth sailing for my little baby even if I know that it's impossible but I'll try my very best.

A friend did say there is a simple solution to Zareef's problem of sharing. "Ko bagi je adik kat dia, pandai2 la nanti dia nak share barang2 dia". Hahahhah... yupp, that's true. InsyaAllah, that'll come next year.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

First Day At School

How did it go??? EXCELLENT!!! Alhamdulillah....

B sent him to school a.k.a playgroup because I was working at that time. Thank you very much darling for doing every thing from washing him, clothing him, feeding him, walking him to his classroom and leaving him happily playing with the toy car while lying on the floor. Iskkk... buat macam rumah sendiri pulak.

Yes people.... there were no separation anxiety drama. While B was busy completing the paperwork, Zareef played quietly with a toy car. He didn't even say goodbye to his daddy! He was oblivious to his surroundings, well ensconced in his own world. So, B left him quietly.

At 9.40 (school starts at 9.20), I called B (so shoot me for being a very anxious mom) expecting to hear Zareef wailing and bawling in the background but to my surprise, there were none. B was prepared to camp at the school for 2 and a half hours but he didn't have to. He told me what happened. I was quite astounded that Zareef did not make any scene. Instead he was such a good boy.

At 11.30, we were already at the playgroup center. Me, being the overanxious mom, sneaked and peeked through the windows to see what was Zareef doing. To my delight, he was busy driving a car while the others were sitting down in singing away. How typical of my boy to not adhere to the norm.

At 11.50, the gates were unlocked and we were allowed to pick up our child. When Zareef saw me, he ran straight into my open arms and gave me a fierce hug. Oh the feeling at that particular moment was indescribable. My heart was bursting with pride when his teacher said that he was a very, very good boy. He did his art work, ate his snacks (they were fresh fruits), drank his milk, joined in the class when he feels like it but never made any fuss.

All the way to the car with B and I holding his hands, he was replaying his day at school.

"What did you do at school today, Zareef?"

"Zareef paint with my hands. Lepas tu, Zareef splish splosh (this is him playing with his all time favorite, water). And then, Zareef minum milk and eat apples and banana. And then, Zareef sing. Lepas tu, Zareef drive the car (with the hands at the steering wheel action) ".

"Zareef nak go to school tak tomorrow?"

"Yes!", with a smile reaching his ears.

I am so relieved that Zareef is enjoying his school so much. Compared to the clingy, crying boy last year, he is so different now. He is becoming more independent, ready to do anything, socializes with kids his own age easily and he can now obey simple directions. Soon, he won't be needing me to do anything for him anymore. Nooooo..... my baby is growing up! Not so soon ye Zareef. Not so soon...

I'm just praying that everything goes on smoothly for my little boy. If he enjoys his school this much, then, it is worth every penny that we're paying. I really don't mind at all. Money, I can find but my son's happiness is all that matters.

So, hari ni bermula lah sejarah baru for Zareef Imran. Today marks the day of his many, many schooling years. I just hope and pray that he relishes and savors every minute of it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

When My Son Goes to School Tomorrow...

Yuppp... Zareef is going to school tomorrow. I've just enrolled him in a playgroup at Gorse Covert's Community Center (next to Morrisons where I had the oil fiasco). He got the last spot. It's from 9.20-11.50 a.m.

When I got home, I held my hands out to him and shaked it.

"Congratulations Zareef! You're going to school tomorrow."

He was stunned and rendered speechless but his face said it all. Totally priceless. Then he started jumping up and down.

"Yeahhhh!!! Zareef nak go to school with Sarah and Yana (his two best buds)!! Daddy, Daddy... Zareef nak go to school with Sarah and Yana!!!"

Bless him, my son. Even going to school makes him so, so, so happy. I'm ecstatic that he's happy.

He is sooooo excited about going to school because all of his friends are in school when he's not (thanks to Luqman of Bogo's and Fern's because he set a fine example on sleeping early, in his room on his own bed and going to school). He kept on asking us when can he go to school. Because we did sent him to nursery last year (refer to previous post) and had a dreadful experience, we didn't want to rush it this time. But, since he is all ready and prepped up and nagged us about it, we think it is the right time.

It doesn't matter that I have to fork out £100 every 4 weeks to pay for his playgroup (the academic year here starts 1st Sept. Zareef was borned after 1st Sept, so he is not eligible for the funded sessions. His free sessions start after Christmas) but if he enjoys going, learning, playing and socializing, then I'm all for it. Duit kat mana2 boleh carik but Zareef's happiness and wellbeing is priceless and is all that I care about.

He is already asleep now and has been sleeping since 6 this evening. Hihihihi... I told him that he has to sleep early if he wants to go to school tomorrow and he totally bought it!! That's why I can blog right now.

B is taking him tomorrow and I'll come along after I finish working. Good Luck Aling in handling Zareef on his first day at school!!!! Hahahhaha... you'll need it!

Minyak... Ohhhh Minyak!!

Oil prices are rising (what else is new??!!!).

Oil tanker drivers are on strike (they did this 5 years ago).

People get all riled up and started queuing to fill up their tanks (ingatkan kat M'sia je jadik camni).

B called and told me to fill up the tank when I was doing my groceries at Morrisons (but I didn't coz I saw that the lines were too long and jalan nak masuk Morrison dah jam sampai melimpah2. Decided to let B do the filling when he goes to work in the evening).

While doing my no. 2 in the loo, heard B pulling into the car park (eh???... awat balik? tempat keje tutup ke???)

"Apasal u tak isi minyak tadi??? Skarang sumer stesen minyak dah tutup"

"Haaa... tutup??!!! Why tutup???"

"Kan tengah ada strike and blockage skarang. Oil tanker drivers refused to drive to petrol stations. Sumer org gelabah pi isi minyak penuh2. Skarang stesen minyak pun dah tutup sebab minyak dah habis"

"Laaa.... patutla tadi panjang giler line kat Morrison tu. I ingatkan sebab kat situ je yg tengah murah, that's why they went there. Mana I nak tau stesen tu nak tutup!!!"

"Just pray that reserve oil tu cukup utk u pegi balik to work besok. Kalau tak, u jln kaki la..."

GULPPPP... and the tank light is flashing bright red!!!

ARGHHHHHH!!! stupid... stoopid... stewwwwwpitttttt!!!!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Cadbury World and Safari Park

This is another old post that I've postponed posting for so long. Ehhhh... it rhymes!! hehehhe...
So before Saturday comes (which is in 4 hours time), I'd better finish up this post.

We went to Cadbury World at Bournville, Birmingham last Saturday. Reached there at noon. Mak datukkk... punya la ramai manusia!!! People came by the bus loads. We queued to get our tickets but were baffled as to which line were we supposed to be in. Each line has the word 'reserved' on it. Since we were 'walk ins', we queued in the 'Non-reserved line'. Then B turned to me

"Eh Aling... look there"


"Up there la to that sign" and he pointed to me to one white signboard

"Alamak!!! 3.30 baru boleh masuk tengok kilang ke? Nak buat apa tunggu 3 jam ni??"

Yes people. If you ever decide to visit Cadbury World on a Saturday or make it any other day during the school holidays, PLEASE reserve your tickets by calling them or booking online. Kalau tak, kena macam kami. Tak jadi nak masuk kilang dia. Cancel terus. Instead, we went to the factory shop located opposite the ticket counter and bought loads and loads of chocolate at discounted price.

Kilang Cadbury yang tak lawa and agak ancient

Since we opted not to go for the factory tour and exhibition, we decided to let Zareef play at Cadbury Land (fancy name for a playground).

Excuse me, you're in my way...

New girlfriend ke Zareef?

I was quite disappointed since I was the one who badly wanted to visit Cadbury World coz chocolate is my passion. Then a friend called and asked if we wanted to go to the Midlands Safari Park in Kidderminster, Birmingham. B said, yeah... why not. It's not like we're going anywhere pun.

So, after navigating through endless jalan kampung, we reached the place. We were allowed to drive in our own car.

The rhinos who were about to tanduk us. They are sooooo huge in real life and up close!

Never ever go to a safari during a scorching hot summer's day. You'll die in the car if it doesn't have air-cond because you have to close all windows and sunroof when you enter the tiger's and lion's den.

An unexpected visitor, the llama. He was extra friendly to Zareef. hehehheh

We're going to Evesham, Birmingham (again!) tomorrow to do some apple, pear and plum picking. Will do a story and post pictures later ya. Have a good weekend, peeps!!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Robin Hood Festival

This was supposed to go up last week but me being the lazy bugger, procrastinated until friends started to bug me with "Weiii... bila kau nak update??" Alamak... nak kena update selalu ke??
But to not disappoint them, I'm posting this. We went to Sherwood Forest to get a feel and taste of the Robin Hood Festival. It was only held for a week. At the first glimpse of sunshine, I dragged B and Zareef here. (Seriously, summer in UK is not all sunshine and clear blue skies. This was the first after a week and a half of miserable, gloomy and wet summer).
We did get a feel of being in the Robin Hood era what with people marching up and down the forest in medieaval costumes, old hags loooking like witches, one fat man looked like he has just lost a battle with Robin himself (he was sitting down all huffed and puffed wearing a suit of armor), the old and young trying their skills in archery sword fighting and weirdly, a van selling ice-creams. But I didn't get to meet the infamous Robin. Where art thou??
We, however, didn't get the chance to taste the food of the forest simply because we can't eat them. Luckily, Mummy dearest had the foresight to cook char kuew tiaw the day before and we then sat down under one of the huge trees for a picnic while Zareef went about trying to discover everything.
Here are some pixs... Enjoy!!!
The entrance of Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood's Country.

The mighty old Major Oak tree. It's so old and huge that it has to be supported with poles and ropes.

Folks performing some old dance. Quite a bore, actually...

Wait Daddy... I can't see the chicks!!!

Zareef taking a breather. He has bountiful of energy I tell you. He doesn't even looked winded after running up and down the jungle trail.

The way they were back then.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

A Beginning to an End - Part II

After 3 years, B has finally submitted his thesis. It's now lying on the HOD's desk waiting for him to sign the submission form. He can now breathe easy. Lately, I've even noticed that his face is a picture of serenity. Sometimes I even catch him expelling a sigh of relief.

Yes folks, it was a hard and long winded road to reach this stage of his Phd. It kicked of with the birth of Zareef followed by the unavoidable stress, strain, late nights, early weekend mornings, sacrificed weekends, complex and complicated codings, experiments mishaps, red tapes shebangs have now come to an end. Almost.

Almost because it's now the waiting game. Bidding his time waiting for the viva-voce.

I am truly proud of you, Aling!! I pray that all's well, ends well, InsyaAllah...

Friday, July 22, 2005

A Beginning to an End

"To my wife, Nora and son, Zareef
whom I dedicate
this thesis to..."

I'm so touched and overwhelmed. Nak pi lap mata sat...

p/s: Besok NEXT sale start pukul 5 pagi. I'm already there... huhuhu...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

My Kid Says the Darndest Things

But he's only 2 years and 9 months old, for goodness sake!

Scene 1:

We were in the car ready to go to Sarah's birthday party. Zareef was strapped in his car seat at the back.

"Pakai seat belt la Daddy. Nanti mati!"

Huhhh?? Where did he get that from??? Must be too much of CSIs.

Scene 2:

I've switched off the bedroom lights and everyone is ready for bed and the little kiddo just jumped into our bed and pulled the duvet over him.

"Zareef, go and sleep in your katil please..."

"Mummy la tido katil Zareef. Katil Zareef best."

I would if I could but his bed is too short for my legs. So that night, all three of us crammed in one small double bed. Mind you, it was a very hot muggy night. Hmmmphhhh

Scene 3:

"Zareef, tolong tidy up your toys...!

"Mummy la tidy up toys Zareef. Zareef penat. Zareef nak rehat la"

And he immediately climbed on the sofa and lied down. Aduhhhssss... bertuah punye anak!!!
When I finally did tidy up his toys, he immediately came up to me and patted me on the back.

"Yeayyy... Mummy good girl!!"

Whattt??? Nih sudah terbalik...

Scene 4:

We were watching the telly one night and I asked B to pass me the remote. B threw it at me without giving any warnings.The remote landed on my tulang kering and I yelped out in pain.

"Kenapa Daddy baling remote kat Mummy!! Kan Mummy dah sakit!!!"

He then approached me and took my tulang kering and held it.

"Sakit ke Mummy? Zareef tiup okay?!"

Pfooohhhh.. he blewed.

My oh my this sweet child of mine!!!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Terror Within

Two weeks have passed since the London bombings. Since then, the aftermath of the tragedy has been felt all over the UK especially towards Muslims.

This Muslim does not condone such atrocious act. This Muslim is so sad to see 57 innocent lives taken away from them at a blink of an eye. This Muslim is furious that some extremists say that's it's alright for these men to commit such act as a way of martyrdom. Islam does not teach us to kill others for the sake of an eye for an eye. Two wrongs do not make one right. When our Holy Prophet went to war, he will always remind his men to spare the lives of civillians; the innocent bystanders, the mothers, children and the elders. Warfare at that time was more honorable unlike now you-attacked-me-so-I'll-attacked-you-back kind of war.

It doesn't help that the media is making a circus out of this horrible incident resulting in backlashes towards Muslims happening all across the UK. An hour after the bombing occurred, the media has the cheek of announcing to the public that these bombings were linked to Al-Qaeda without ever having even a speck of proof. All was done in the name of slander.

And it doesn't help also that a day later the media kept on saying that the bombers were British Muslims stressing the word Muslim over and over again. I mean, do they really have to say the word Muslim in every sentence? Did they call Ian Huntley a British Christian when he murdered Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman? None at all. He was just a psycho who happens to like young girls. How about the Oklahoma City bombing? Did they report Timothy McVeigh as an American-whatever-his religion-is cult extremist? Definitely not. The media just labelled him as an anti-government supremacist whose motive was to avenge the death of the Branch Davidians whom he thought were killed by federal agents at Waco, Texas.

As a result of religion-naming reporting, a hatred towards Muslims in the UK has sprung. Mosques were disfigured. In Nottingham, a Muslim man was killed in a religious feud. A muslim woman's hijab was pulled and later she was dragged to the ground. Last Friday night, here, in this small town that I call home, a fight between Asians and Mat Sallehs ensued by stabbings resulted in a police and helicopter mayhem. A friend in London had her car's windshield smashed with a beer can when she was just about to start the engine.

Isn't this terror as well? Cultivating a feeling of fear in the heart of those who are innocent of doing any kind of terror acts except of guilty for professing the Islamic faith. As far as I know, Islam is a peaceful religion and condemns any act of killings of the innocents irregardless of their religion. Then, why do we have to succumb to a life filled with fear as to what other religions perceive us when we have done nothing?

I will not deny that I fear for the safety of my family. I used to be able to wonder around the town freely with Zareef feeling safe and all. But now, I fear that if I do, some stupid clueless mat salleh would backlash me just because I wear a hijab which to them is a beacon of Islam. Verbal words, that I can handle. Icy glacier glares, that I can look away from. But what if someone would come to me and pull my hijab? Or even worse, do harm to my boy and I? That, I can't handle.

When 9/11 happened, I was in Malaysia. At that time, I didn't feel the effect of it. You know, the religious slander, the backlashes and all. But now that it happens so close to home, I do feel the heat. I hate it when the media kept on hammering in the word Muslim again and again, making us look like the culprits. Because of that, I kept on having to look behind my shoulders to make sure that the coast is clear. Because of that, I can no longer go on my half-an-hour powerwalks to the playground with Zareef. Because of that, I kept on having to be on my toes to avoid any unwanted happenings.

When I went for my Europe road trip last year, I breathed a sigh of relief upon reaching Dover after clearing the immigrations. It felt like coming home. Even when I got back home from Disneyland, I felt so relief when the Eurostar pulled into Waterloo. But now, I'm afraid of home. I'm afraid of any unwanted unforeseen circumstances that I pray to God will not happen to my family while I'm here. I love being a Muslim. Nothing can take that away from me. But my love for my religion has resulted me living in fear for now in this land that I call home. It looks like home now no longer feels like home.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Strawberries, Anyone??

One fine Saturday morning, we decided to go for strawberry picking at Wymeswold, about 20 minutes drive from Loughborough.

Lo and behold, upon reaching there, we could see throngs of Malaysians already there with baskets after baskets of red, ripe, juicy strawberries. Slurrrrpppp...

"Alamak Aling... nih Melayu ramai mesti strawberries dah habis"

"Tak lah... you tengok sana tuh... ada lagi satu padang belum kena kutip lagi"

Zareef's two best friends, Sarah and Yana were already there.

I tried the raspberries. Oh my god!! It was so sour that I spat it out immediately. So were the gooseberries. They were only good for baking and not for eating it neat.

Zareef pondering on whether to give Sarah a great big hug...

These strawberries are surprisingly mighty sweet unlike the ones sold in the supermarkets. Satu masuk basket, satu masuk perut. Lama2 kenyang makan strawberries je.

My son getting good at picking the ripe strawberries. But after an hour or so, he soon got tired of it. Instead, he preferred to roam and run about, resulting in some squashed strawberries along the way.

Trying to wash the strawberries before Zareef pops it into his mouth but he refused. So, sod it! A little bit of dirt and hay won't do harm to him. Who knows, it might even help to cultivate some friendly bacteria in his tummy, hehhehe....

Menu for the day was strawberries, strawberries and strawberries. There were so many that I decided to make them into jams. The basic recipe for a strawberry jam; 6 cups of strawberries, 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of water and juice from 1 lemon. Simmer everything in a pot until it turns into a thick consistency. Let it cool and voila! you can eat it with bread and butter. Delicious with scones and cream too!! Ahhhhhh... nikmat sungguh!

Monday, June 27, 2005

5 Days and 4 Nights with Mickey and Minnie

Alrighty people... as promised! But please beware, it'll be a mighty long one....

Day 1:

A friend sent us to London at 5.30 am but since he doesn't quite know how to get to Waterloo, he dropped us in front of Sheraton Towers near Sloane St. and we managed to grab a black cab to Waterloo Station. Boarded the Eurostar with plenty of time to spare. I would have thought that the Eurostar would be something out of this world seeing that it's an ultra fast train but nahhhh... inside it's just like any other commuter train. It might have made a world of difference though if we were in first class but we're not rich people.

Reached Marnee Le Vallee (Disneyland Station) at 1.30 pm local time. It was bloody HOT!! We didn't hit the parks yet because we were starving and so Mcdonalds it was. After feasting, we decided to just take a stroll at the Disney Village since all of us were quite knackered from waking up too early and the long journey. At 4, we checked into the Hotel Cheyenne. It's a wild wild west themed hotel with buildings in the form of old western atmosphere. Our rooms were in the Wyatt Earp block. Very nice I must say.

Zareef with his good friends, Sarah and Yana (they're sisters) in front of the entrance to Disney Village.

We were very tempted to hit the parks but we had to succumb to hunger and weariness.

After unpacking and refreshing ourselves, we decided to explore the Disney Village and also to have my birthday dinner in one of the restaurants but oh boy! We were in for a huge surprise. A piece of advice: if you ever want to dine in any of the restaurants in the Disney Village, do make a reservation in advance. They were all filled to the brim with human lines snaking out of the restaurants similar to the ones you would find to any rides. We tried Cafe Mickey, Rainforest Cafe, Planet Hollywood, Steakhouse and even McDonalds (the lines were ridiculously long!!) but to no avail. It's either we were turned away for not having any reservations or the lines were too long and we could only be seated after 10 pm. So we opted for sandwiches instead; fast, convenient and healthy. What a way to spend a birthday dinner! B promised to make it up to me the following day with a reservation at Cafe Mickey.

We spent the remaining evening just weaving in and out of shops, looking at all forms of entertainment available (very happening I must say the night life here). Zareef and I even managed to go on a balloon ride (B was such a wuss for passing up the opportunity to get a bird's eye view of the entire Disneyland Resort).

Day 2:

Yes... we made it into Disneyland Park. Zareef was so besotted with Fantasyland that we didn't quite make it to other lands. To him, the epitome of Disneyland is the Princesses's castle. If we were to even stray into other lands (there were Discoveryland, Frontierland and Adventureland), he would cry and insist that we go back to the castle and say that he wants to go to Disneyland. I kept repeating to him that we ARE at Disneyland but no.... to him Disneyland is the Castle and nothing else. Aduhsss.....

Zareef and his beloved castle, the mother of all lands...

So, we managed to go on almost all of the rides except for the crazy twirling teacups. Mummy and Daddy yg tak nak sebenarnya coz those kind of rides give me the headaches. I should applaud Zareef for being very brave on going all the rides. He was wowing, oohing and aahing all the way. Not a single moment did I detect in him any feelings of fear or boredom (memang jauh skali la) nor was he feeling even a speck of tiredness. Kuat berjalan anak aku nih. Macam Mummy dia jugak.

At 6 pm, we adjourned to Cafe Mickey for my birthday dinner. To anyone who plans to go here, do make a reservation at this restaurant. It's worth it! Seafood and vegetarian selections are in abundance. My Pocahontas Pasta was simply delicious! Disney characters kept popping in at our table. Senang citer. Tak payah beratur panjang2 or berasak2 ngan org ramai nak ambik gambar. In fact, Zareef was at his happiest moment when he could give Mickey, Minnie and Pluto his big bear hugs. There was a short entertainment done by the staffs and the characters every hour for about 5 minutes. They would get up on the counter and dance. Masa ni, Zareef and his friend, Sarah would join and boogey their hearts out. Kalau ikutkan hati, nak je mak budak ni join sama tapi karang kena halau pulak keluar. The kids truly had a great time. Thank you so much Aling for the wonderful, wonderful treat! I had a blast of a time!!!

Day 3:

We spent the whole day at Walt Disney Studios. If you've been to Universal Studios, well Walt Disney Studios is a bit like that but way, way lacking in rides and entertainment and is quite tame. Surprisingly, there weren't many people there so we got to take lots of pictures with the characters and there wasn't any irritating people whom I had to jostle with to let my kid take pictures with the characters.

We watched the afternoon parade, Lilo & Stitch show, the amazing and entertaining Animagique, went on the tram ride into several movie sets (sebijik macam Universal Studios punya tram ride tapi this was a bit lame), went on all rides available (tak banyak pun) and let Zareef see his favorite characters up close and personal.

Zareef and Daddy at the entrance of Walt Disney Studios.

Sedap peluk Mr. Incredibles nih.

Zareef's all time favorite character, Woody. He even managed to give Woody a wet sloppy kiss and a big hug.

Usually around 4ish, Zareef's steam would run out and he would take a quick nap in the stroller. So we took the opportunity to go on rides which are out of bounds to Zareef. Luckily the lines weren't too long so it didn't take for B nor I to ride the Aerosmith's Roller Coaster and Armageddon since we had to take turns to look after Zareef. I didn't quite like the Aerosmith's roller coaster because for one, the music was too loud. The speakers were right behind my ears. It was an indoor roller coaster so I couldn't see where I was going. Occasionally there would be light strobes and flashes. B had a headache riding it but miraculously, my headache vanished once I rode that thing. Must be all the sudden twists and turns that did it.

The Walt Disney Studios closed at 6 pm. Went back to Disneyland Park and did some serious shopping at Main Street USA. What did I buy? Oh... the usuals. Fridge magnets, t-shirts, postcards, keychains, a Buzz Lightyear toothbrush, a Buzz Lightyear figure that could turn round and round when you squeeze its leg, a huge Lollipop yg Zareef merengek2 nak (it's really huge!! Sampai hari ni tak habis2 lagi), a beautiful picture frame with Mickey and the castle on it(this is the most expensive souvenir that I bought but it was the most wanted) and a Pluto cuddly yg Zareef juga merengek2 nak.

We then had our dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. Again the food was delicious! Added to that is the experience itself dining in the restaurant. It was surrounded by acres of trees, sounds of the jungle and lifesize animals that move and make lifelike sounds. Now and again, the elephant near us would come to life by lifting its trunks and trumpeting loudly. Zareef had the scare of his life the first time he heard it. Must have jumped out of his skin I might add.

Day 4:

We went to the Sea Life Center to let the kids experience underwater creatures. Because there was a factory outlet right next to the Sea Life Center, wajib la ke kunjung kan. But sadly I didn't spend even a single euro cent to which B cepat2 tadah tangan and said Alhamdulillah! We had our lunch at McDonald's and realized it was still early. We rushed back to Disneyland Park just in time to catch the parade. It was a sight to behold especially for Zareef although he didn't recognize almost three quarters of the Disney princesses that went by but the music, costumes and colorful floats were enough to make him excited. It was amazing and such a joy to see Zareef's face change from happy to amazement to excited to dumbfounded. Very, very priceless!

At the entrance of Disneyland Park. The old Victorian building behind us is actually the Disneyland Hotel and is the most expensive hotel among all other hotels.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Ariel and Under the Sea creatures.

Beauty and The Beast

We waited till Zareef was asleep so that I could go on the train ride at Frontierland and the Indiana Jones ride at Adventureland, being the adrenaline junky that I was. B refused to go on the rides coz he said his time for all roller coaster rides have long since gone. Cehh... such a wuss! The truth is, my dear husband is afraid of heights. He wasn't when we were in the States. He used to ride out with me but just for the first few rides. After that, he'll just wait and look after our bags while the rest of us went up to get our adrenaline rush. But after the Aerosmith ride, that was it for him. Aisey.... camna nak pegi Alton Towers camni??

Zareef takes after me when it comes to the rides department. We took him on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and he enjoyed every second of it even when there were two deep drops along the ride. Good boy Zareef! Nanti bila dah cukup tinggi sket boleh teman Mummy naik roller coaster yg dahsyat2. Kita tinggal Daddy kat bawah jaga beg2. Hehehehhe....

Day 5:

It was time to go home but our train wasn't until 6.30 pm so we still had a full day ahead of us. We checked out early from our hotel and had our luggages transferred to the Disney Express checkout so that we don't have to lug our bags with us the whole day.

We entered Disneyland Park, again. Since it was a Saturday, there were people literally everywhere. The queues doubled in size with time estimated for each ride increasing by three to four folds. So a piece of advice to those who plan to come here, please go during the weekdays. Book your leaves in advance coz if you were to come here during weekends, you'll just waste your time queueing for rides in the blazing scorching sun instead of enjoying and soaking in the atmosphere. We had to queue for almost 45 minutes just to let Zareef snap a picture with Winnie the Pooh in the tortorous hot sun! Adeihh... nasib baik Zareef tak mengamuk or meragam sebab dia tau nak ambik gambar dengah Pooh. Yang si Pooh pulak sepanjang kitorang queue tu, dia boleh ambik break 2, 3 kali. Lagi lama la kami tunggu. But to see Zareef's face when he finally had his chance to hug Winnie the Pooh was simply priceless!!

Even Winnie the Pooh pun tak sanggup berjemur tengah2 panas.

Since we have finished covering every single inch of the Disneyland Park and there were millions of people congregating there making it quite impossible to go on any rides and taking pictures with any characters, we decided to make a beeline to Walt Disney Studios so that Zareef could get pictures of his favorite characters. It was a relief to enter the Walt Disney Studios because there weren't as many people there.

Zareef with his favorite heroine, Mrs. Incredible who was such a sport sebab sanggup melayan Zareef and buat macam2 aksi dengan dia.

With Jessie, another one of his favorite heroines.

And so at 5 pm, we concluded our visit to Disneyland Resort Paris. Zareef bid farewell to his beloved castle and characters. We checked into Eurostar quite early because Mummy and Daddy couldn't take the heat anymore. It was too bloody hot. We were all dark and glossy. Zareef being a fair kid that he is, turned to red macam udang kena bakar. We managed to catch a shut eye on the way back but it was so hot in the Eurostar that sleeping soundly became quite impossible.

We took a cab from Waterloo to Edgware Road. Being a melayu that we were, 5 hari tak jumpa nasi and ayam, we dined at Satay House (behind Mawar). Kami melantak dengan tak malunye sambal tumis petai udang, ayam masak lemak cili padi, kangkung belacan, ikan goreng bercili, kuew tiaw goreng (memang sungguh lazat!) and minum teh tarik, sirap limau and teh ais courtesy of our good friend. Zareef even managed to polish up two servings of rice and 3 pieces of chicken despite it being very, very pedas. Thanks a million to Zaki who treated us to this feast and Fahmi who then drove us home to Loughborough.

Zareef hugging Mickey at Cafe Mickey during my birthday dinner bash. It was awesome!!

The trip to Disneyland was totally awesome. It was also an eye-opening experience for Zareef and a renewed experience for B and I (we've been to bigger ones at Florida so this was just a fraction of it). Thanks a million to my darling husband who treated us to a wonderful birthday dinner. Eventhough the surprise birthday cake didn't come out as it should, it was very sweet and thoughtful of you to want to suprise me darling!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Day My Husband Turned 29....

...we frolicked in the boudoir in the wee hours of the morning....

... I reluctantly left him to go to work at 6.20 a.m....

... I rushed home asap at 10.30 a.m. only to find him and Zareef still in their PJs crumpled hair and all...

... I quickly took a bath and washed Zareef up for our big day out at Meadowhall, Sheffield...

... I wrote his birthday card and let Zareef do his artwork while B was taking his shower and slipped it under the bathroom door (Zareef did this) just to surprise him...

... I couldn't surprise him with his birthday gift like he did to me coz it was bought way in advance; a Nokia 6630...

... we had a really good time at Meadowhall because there were sales everywhere!! Yiehaaaaa!!!!...

... we had a gorgeous cake from Thorntons but it was a bit too sweet for our liking (even Zareef who normally has a sweet tooth)...

... we went home very, very happy....

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


I know... I know... I haven't been diligent in updating my blog. In fact, I was this close in abandoning it but nahhh... not yet...

Wokay... here goes

1. It has been a month of whirlwind sports for the Malay community here in Loughborough as a run-up for our annual family day which has been fast-forwarded to June instead of the usual August. I participated in volleyball, badminton, netball, bowling and pingpong. I won badminton and netball, came second for volleyball, third for pingpong and just had a jolly good time for bowling.

And ohhh... I dislocated my left pinkie while playing netball. The ball hit so hard and fast that I didn't realized that I've dislocated my pinkie until I was trying to shoot the ball into the goal. I raised my hands and saw that my left pinkie looked extremely weird and felt even weirder. The middle bone went underneath the the third bone near the palm. Luckily B was there to pull my pinkie in order. He gave a sharp jerk and pulled it back in shape. After that, it swelled to double the original size and bruised into a royal blue.

2. The season of car-boot sale has started and I simply can't recall how much B and I have spent on second-hand stuffs. Well, as they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure. In my case, it's one hell of a cheap treasure! Some of the stuffs that I got were just too good to be true like 10p for a Ladybird storybook and there were 11 of them so I wiped clean all of it, £2 for an FP ride n stride, £4 for a Little Tikes Police Car Coupe, several original DVDs for a measly £2-£3 each and the list goes on. This is what I call guilt-free shopping. The problem now is I have no idea where to put all the stuffs that I've accumulated. Maybe I might have to do a yard sale myself to get rid of some of the stuffs that I've picked here and there before shipping the rest home. Or... I might bring everything back home and have a car boot of my own and let everyone browse through my junk. What say you???

3. OHHHHHH... Royal Doulton at Stoke had a half-price sale on ALL of the range during the last May Bank Holiday Weekend. I got to know about it from a friend and I immediately dragged a very reluctant B to Stoke. I went on Saturday and the sale ended on Monday. I stocked up on my Old Country Roses and added the quantity to eight-place setting instead of six. I was in pure heaven but at a price. B made me swear that I shall NEVER, EVER under any circumstances set my foot at my beloved Wedgwood, Portmeirion and Royal Doulton before allowing me to make a purchase. And swore I did. Very, very sad..... but what the heck... I've completed my fine china collection. That's the most important part.

4. The Best Part... we're leaving for Disneyland Paris tomorrow in the wee morning hours or 5 am to be exact. A friend is sending us to London and we'll be catching the Eurostar from Waterloo at 9.39 am. It's a direct ride to Disneyland Marnee Le Vallee station and we're reaching there at 1.30 pm. After that it's pure fun, fun, fun for us especially for Zareef because he's been asking and wanting to go there since forever. Will be back on Saturday 18th June at 8.30 pm. So... it's Viva Disney for us.

5. I'll be 29 tomorrow. Yes, I was borned on 14th June, 29 years ago. I've had a few early b'day gifts from B and Zareef. Yesterday, B bought for me the first season DVD of The O.C seeing that I'm soooooo obsess with the show. Then today, Zareef presented me with a very, very cute birthday card which he drew his hand (with help from his daddy of course) and some graffiti on it. I was sooooo touched!!! Just 10 minutes prior to writing this post, I walked into our bedroom and was surprised with a huge card and a charming gift box. I shouted in glee, opened the card and the present. Oh boy!!! I had the shock of my life. It was an extremely gorgeous bracelet from H. Samuel (B calls them Haji Samuel). 9 carat white gold diamond bracelet to be exact!!! I was rendered speechless!!!!!! I hugged, kissed and thanked my darling husband profusely for getting me something that I've wanted sooo much but never thought I would be getting it now. I was hinting on a Baby Blue Blenheim Mulberry bag but this is much, much better! And now, it will end with a huge bang with us celebrating the finale at Disneyland Paris. This is the best birthday bash EVER!!!

Thank you so much darling for your thoughtfulness, kindness and the love and care that you've showered me with. I can never repay it. I just pray to God that this feeling will last till the end of time and grow stronger with each year. Amin!

6. The news just came in. After a 16-weeks trial, Michael Jackson is found not guilty on all counts. He is a free man. Let's just hope that he learns his lesson and not open Neverland to any more lewd acts involving underage children.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

I'm a Romance-Sci-Fci Freak!

These are the reason as to why I haven't been blogging for almost a month apart from Zareef and I succumbing to cough, cold and eye infection.

I bought the second and third season thinking that I could make do without the first because I managed to catch it when I was in the States 5 years back. I even recorded some of the episodes on VHS. Stupid idiot!! When I watched the first episode of the second season, I was lost and clueless. Oh no!! I have to go to Meadowhall again to buy the first season then only shall my curiousity rest in peace.

Monday, April 18, 2005

A Despicable Act

A few nights back, while we were watching tv in the living room, we heard a loud bang like something hit our patio door and the curtains swayed a bit maybe from the force of the hit.

I looked at B and him, me. Zareef looked at us both as asked "What's that Mummy?"

I in return, asked B "What's that Daddy?"

To which, B nonchalantly replied "Must be the wind. It's freaking howling out there."

So, we left it there.

The next morning, after returning from work, B told me not to allow Zareef to play in the garden. "Why?" , I asked.

Instead of answering, he showed me through the patio glass. This is what I saw...

The loud bang that we heard last night was actually a brick being thrown at our patio door and with it was a plastic full of shit!! I don't know what shit it was but I have a strong feeling that it was dog's shit.

I am absofcukinglutely mad at the person who did this loathsome act. B and I have a strong hunch that it must have been the job of yobs. I don't care that they tarnished my patio door but what if Zareef was playing outside at that moment and the brick hit him instead of the door?

So whoever you are who threw the brick at my patio door, may you have stinking dog shit coming out from your nostrils and your hands grew bricks so heavy that you are unable to wipe them off!!

B took a few pictures of the incident for record purposes. If it happens again, we'll lodge a police report with enough evidence to incriminate the wrongdoers.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Mee Jawa

Some have asked me for my famous Mee Jawa recipe(muahahaha... I'm such a vain pot!). So, I would like to share with you this delicious noodle recipe handed down by my arwah grandma (abah's side) to mak and now to me. Hope you'll love it as much as I do.



3 onions (bawang besar) - blended
3 tbs blended chilli
30g dried prawn - blended
2 tbs salted soya beans (tauchu) - blended
2 tins of coconut milk ( santan from 2 biji kelapa)
2 mugs of water
1 packet of egg noodle (mee kuning)
beancurd (tauhu)
fried shallots (bawang goreng)
salt and sugar


1. Fry the onions and chilli till fragrant (pecah minyak).
2. Add the dried prawns and stir till well-mixed.
3. Then add the salted soya beans (tauchu) and still till well mixed.
4. When everything is well fried up (must yield a dark red color mix), pour in the coconut milk and water.
5. Don't forget to stir often as you don't want the coconut milk to curdle.
6. Once the gravy starts to boil, turn the heat to medium and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. It it's too thick, add more water. If it's too watery, simmer till it becomes quite thick.
7. Add salt and sugar to taste. It should taste salty and sweet all at once.
8. While the gravy is simmering, boil the eggs and potatoes, celur (what's celur in English?) the beansprouts, fry the beancurds and cut the cucumber into the size of match sticks. Cut the boiled eggs into wedges or slice it (which ever way you prefer, doesn't matter), dice the boiled potates and slice the friend beancurd.
9. To eat, pour the gravy over your noodle and garnish it with the eggs, potatoes, beansprouts, cucumber, beancurd and fried shallot.
10. Slurrrppppp all the way. Ahhhhhh... sungguh nikmat rasanye, hehehhe...

Happy cooking!

Beauty or Vanity?

I had the chance to read through a woman's magazine from back home recently thanks to a friend. As I was leafing through the first 20 pages or so, I couldn't help but notice that it was dominated by beauty adverts concentrating mainly on how one can get a perfect white skin free from any markings with the aid of whitening beauty products.

What made me wonder was why the sudden surge of whitening products instead of the usual parfum, accessories and makeup line-up? Why have the magazine allowed such aggressive advertising of the same products repetitively throughout the whole magazine? Are they trying to ingrain our brain cells with the message that white is beautiful or are they desperate to achieve their monthly target sales? Have we Malaysians become ashamed of our distinctive color? Are we doing it for the sake of achieving timeless beauty or just pure vain vanity?

Our skin tone has never allowed us to be the color of pure snow (as one ad puts it) due to our genetic composition, weather, climate, geographical location and not forgetting our long ancestral lineage. We Malaysians come from a melting pot of skin colors consisting of ivory, beige, almond, mocha, cappuchino and espresso. We can never be pale like the Japanese or Koreans nor can we be white like the Caucasians.

Yes, some of us are lucky enough to have inherited beautiful fair flawless skin thanks to some super mix-ups from our ancestors. I've even heard some ridiculous notion that such skin represents wealth, stature and bloodline. What a crap!

So does that make those who are unfortunate enough to have the skin tones to the likes of mocha, cappuchino or even espresso are poor, bottomless citizens and pariahs? Are they doomed to life by having to live through the day by slathering their faces and bodies with all these whitening lotions and creams just to achieve such said conjecture? Sheesssshhh... who ever made that notion should be shot!

To me, beauty is purely skin deep. Cake yourself with all the whitening products in this world but if you have an attitude problem, you are a nobody.

I'd be lying if I say that I am not concern about beauty. I do but not to the point of it taking over my life. I want to make a good first impression with my appearance but I want to attract people more with my personality, brains, wit and humor.

I am content on being a beautiful warm mocha not needing any whitening products and not a bitchy cold white who have to slobber themselves with a paraphernalia of whitening aids everytime they go out. What about you??

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Art of Cooking

I've never been a fan of cooking until.... I came here.

In fact I hated cooking, so much so Mak never forced me into the kitchen. There was the occasional helping hand given in the form of chopping up the onions or blending the dried chillies which upon completion will see me disappearing from the kitchen. Mak got so used to my disappearing acts from the kitchen that she gave up on teaching her only daughter to cook.

One day she said "Nora, nanti dah kawin kalau tak reti masak nak makan apa?"

To which I slyly replied "Aiii Mak... kedai kan banyak. Order saje la. I think I can manage that quite well, thank you very much"

With that as my answer, Mak glared at me exasperatingly and said "What if you had to cook if your mother in law came?"

To which I replied "Ahhh... I'll just go out and buy something and popped it into the pyrex when I get home. Then, I'll present it to her like I had been slaving myself at the stove for the whole day, hehehhe"

Mak simply gave up and I was a happy lass thinking myself so bright and clever for being able to think such ingenius solutions.

But the smirk on my face didn't last long. The day I stepped my foot on white snowy Purdue Airport, I knew I couldn't rely on takeouts and there weren't any mamaks and apeks at my beck and call. The nearest Malaysian food available was in Chicago, some 2 hours drive away.

People say, necessity is the mother of invention and invented I did. I invented myself to be an amateur cook. The first time that I cooked was at Nong's apartment. I stayed at her pad for a week while waiting for Hawkin's to open up. Having stayed there and contributed nothing to the daily cooking rota, I was feeling a bit embarrassed of myself for imposing on Nong and her housemates. They didn't really expect me to cook with the jet lag and acclimatization to the weather and all but common courtesy ingrained by Mak in me was constantly making me guilty and I didn't want Nong and her housemates to judge me as freeloader and not welcome me into their house anymore.

So, I called Mak. I asked her what was the simplest dish that I could cook which will guarantee a success upon the first attempt? Before Mak bestowed her life-saving recipes, she nagged at me for not learning to cook. Why do moms always do that? It drives me crazy but since I was at her mercy, I just listened with ooo and ahh and ye lah in between.

After she had released all her fury (nahhh... I'm just kidding. She's just scared that her only daughter will starve to death for not being able to cook because she was too stubborn to learn), Mak taught me on the phone 2 simple dishes that she said "Even a blind man can cook" to which I jokingly add "Yeahh... now I'm not just blind, add dumb and deaf as well. So how?". I can hear Mak snorting across the transatlantic line. So, wise Mak dispense upon me the way to cook Instant Tom Yam and Ayam Masak Kicap.

I opted for Tom Yam since I wasn't confident enough to cook the Ayam Masak Kicap plus I had with me cubes after cubes of Tom Yam pastes. I made a one pot dish complete with chicken and veggies consisting of carrots, cauliflower and peppers. Nasib baik tau masak nasik. Kalau tak... ralat jugak. I was happy to see Nong and Co. slurping away happily my first ever Tom Yam.

What tickles me most was when I was chopping the carrots. These US carrots are darn hard! And since it was my first time, it didn't help either. I was making this very loud banging noise in the kitchen when Emi came in and said "Weih... bawak bersabar sket dgn carrot tu. Dari bawah aku boleh dengar" Aduhhhssss!!! Malunya tak tau nak cakap!!!!

A lesson well learnt indeed. Ever since then, I tirelessly called Mak every weekend and asked her for more recipes especially on my favorite sambal tumis udang. I learn to brace myself in the kitchen and try out one recipe after another, always correcting my mistakes along the way. Well, I truly learnt from my mistakes.

Then came the impending doom. It was Raya time and B and housemates wanted to hold an open house. Me being B's girlfriend at that time and the only one who can make passable dishes was given the responsibility of cooking the main dish. I was like "ARE YOU GUYS CRAZY??!!!" I accepted the challenge and faced it head on. I called Mak, again, and asked for my favorite noodle dish, Mee Jawa.

The day came and I was in the kitchen from the day before preparing ingredients for the Mee Jawa. Guests came around noon and tasted it. They have never heard of Mee Jawa nor have they ever tasted it but suffice to say, Alhamdulillah, they liked it and before I knew it, the pot was empty to the point of being spotlessly clean.

Unfortunately, the cooking rendezvous stopped when I came back home after graduating. Either Mak cooks or I eat out. Even after marrying B, I seldom cook. I didn't see the point of cooking when there's only the two of us. Weekends would be spent either in Klang or Subang where Mak or Mama would cook up a storm.

When I was pregnant with Zareef, things got from bad to worse. I had terrible all-day sickness and one of the allergies was not being able to stand the smell of cooking. Even the tiniest whiff of frying would see me dousing my head in the toilet bowl. So, it was off to restaurants, stalls, Mak's or Mama's with the condition that they cook in advance prior to my arrival.

I came here when I was 6 months pregnant. By that time, the sickness was over. There were no Mak or Mama to cook for me so I had to cook or else we'd starve to death. So, I cooked. I looked up recipes from the internet. I enquired from friends whenever I was invited to their house for dinner. I was not afraid to ask nor was I afraid to learn. Suddenly I realized that I like cooking. I like to try out dishes. I like seeing B's satisfied face when he tastes my dishes of labor. B is glad to be my guinea pig and taste the good, bad and ugly dishes that I concocted in my kitchen.

Now, I'm proud to say, I've moved from being an amateur to an intermediate borderline expert. In fact, I have this group of friends who meet up ever so often during the week just to learn to cook and taste each other's specialities. Just yesterday I learned to make Pasembor Penang. Fuhhh... terangkat sehh!!!

So to lasses and mommies out there who thinks that they suck at cooking, please do not despair. There is always hope of becoming a cook. A fine example would be me.

ps: here is an excellent site to turn to when you're short of recipes. Tried and tested, they never fail to make me drool. Go on... take a peek at Yummy Recipes from Mommies.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Wedding Anniversary

Last Friday, 25th March 2005 marked our 4th Wedding Anniversary. It was a quiet celebration for just the three of us. We spent the day at Bullring, Birmingham weaving in and out of shops and boutiques with me drooling all over myself at Christian Dior, Jimmy Choo, a Dolce & Gabbana watch, Morphy Richards espresso maker, Sony Ericsson's S700i, a trip to Andalucia and Jordan (I really, really want to see the city of Petra and dip myself in the Dead Sea) and other countless things that will remain in my birthday and anniversary wish list for the next... say lifetime???

B gave me a KitchenAid Artisan Mixer in red (they have all kinds of rainbow colors) while I gave him an authentic Subaru World Rally Team shirt (B is absofcukinglutely nuts about motorsports). Eventhough I've ordered the shirt online for ages, it only came in today through the Royal Mail Special Delivery at 7.45 am while we were sleeping. It gave me a deep satisfaction upon seeing B's face when he opened the unassumed box. Hehehhehe... I hope you love it Aling and you're not disappointed eventhough the shirt came 5 days late.

Here are some pixs. Enjoy....

In front of the Bullring Center in Birmingham. What kicks me with building is it's unique glowing sphere discs surrounding the building where Selfridges is.

Zareef is trying to take a pix with my phone while I take a pix of him and my brand spanking new KitchenAid Artisan Mixer in racy red.

My beautiful red KitchenAid Artisan Mixer. I love it!! Now I can start baking up a storm with it...

The Subaru World Rally Team shirt. B will look dashing in this.

The back of the Subaru World Rally Team shirt. Beautifully done!

If you're looking for authenticity, this is it.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Of Idiocy, Carelessness and Forgetfulness

I am mad at myself for being such a careless, forgetful idiot! I might as well kick myself in the shin and bang my head against the wall for it.

I left the car keys hanging at the front passenger's door and someone nicked it!!!!


I'm such an idiot!!!!

It happened yesterday when I took Zareef to the park. In my attempts to catch hold of Zareef before he crosses the street towards the park in one hand (he was so excited and couldn't contain himself and was jumping up and down) while holding his bottle of water in the other and trying to lock the car all at the same time; my hands were full and my mind was focused elsewhere, I entirely forgot about the car keys at the door.

I went straight to the park and let Zareef have the time of his life climbing, sliding and running all over the playground.

When we walked back towards the car, a friend called out (I parked in front of his house) saying that a mat salleh came over his house and asked the whereabouts of the owner of the car (which happens to be me) moments ago. My friend informed him that the car belonged to a friend and asked why? The mat salleh just said "I want to see the owner" and went off.

Now, how did I come to the conclusion that my car keys were nicked? Because...

1) It wasn't in any of my pockets be it the jacket or my pants but my mobile and house key were.
2) I scoured the entire park and playground area THRICE!, retraced my steps THRICE! combing every square inch of grass that I stepped and found nothing.
3) I have a history of leaving the car keys at the door.
4) The mat salleh said that he wanted to see the owner of the car.

The fourth reason made me start to think...

1) Why would he want to see the owner?
2) If he wanted to see me, why didn't he wait near the car?
3) If he wanted to see me but couldn't wait for me, why didn't he leave a number with my friend so that I could contact him? (It so happens that the mat salleh lives nearby because my friend recognizes him but doesn't know which house is it)
4) If my friend said that the owner of the car is his friend, why didn't the mat salleh state his reasons of wanting to see me?
5) Why didn't the mat salleh just leave the car keys hanging at the door and save me all the trouble and worries?

With all that swishing in my mind back and forth, B and I made the conclusion that the mat salleh took our car keys from the door when he was passing by for some obvious reason unknown to us. Maybe he was just being a good samaritan by taking the keys to prevent my car from being stolen but if he did that, why oh why didn't he leave a contact number or let my friend know where he's living so that I could get hold of him??

ARGGGHHHHH!!!! I'm so mad at myself for being so careless and forgetful!!!!

ARGGGHHHHH!!!! I'm even madder at that mat salleh for taking my car keys but not leaving any information behind.

Thank God that we have a spare key at home. So B had to walk home from the university, wait for my friend to come and pick him up, take him back to our friend's house to get Zareef and I and drive us home in our car. Isn't that tiresome?! And I thank God that B wasn't mad at me. In fact, he was all calm, cool and collected unlike me who was reduced to a shaken, nerve-wrecked woman. Thank you so much Aling for not being mad at me and thank you also for understanding that your wife is a forgetful, careless old git. All he said was "Dah benda nak jadi, nak buat camna. Just accept and deal with it". Very wisely spoken and I couldn't agree more.

Now, all that we have to do is to make another spare key which will be a problem because the key cannot be duplicated easily at any keymaker. According to my friend who also had to duplicate his key because he broke it, we have to go to the respective dealership, bring along certain documents to verify ownership, have our key sent to Germany and the Germans will send us the duplicate. Oh dear!!! Satu hal la pulak. But I told B, regardless how hassling it may be, we have to have a duplicate key because of old forgetful me.

So now if you'll excuse me, I'll continue to kick myself in the butt pulak and knock my head silly.