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?