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?