Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Selamat Hari Raya :)

It's Wednesday...or should I say, it's ONLY Wednesday...

This week is REALLY taking it's time to reach the weekend, huh?

I am so looking forward to Raya.

But, before that I still have today and tomorrow at work before I can really start enjoying the break. I have 5 hours of tutorial classes tomorrow - the first one starting at 9:00a.m, while the last class will only end at 5:00p.m. I know that many of the students would have already gone back to their kampung by tomorrow afternoon, and I'm contemplating whether I should just cancel all the classes and reschedule all replacement classes after the break. Hmmmm...I might just do that. After all, I was a student once and I know that those who will be in class tomorrow will not be able to concentrate and give 100%, anyway :)

My leave starts on Friday, and I plan to go for serious retail therapy with the kids. We have not been doing any shopping over the last month because of Ramadhan and H1N1. We did most of our raya shopping before puasa, but, I still need to find kasut raya for Hilman, and I'm thinking of getting the girls new earrings/earstuds for Raya. Hasya had just pierced her ears 3 weeks ago (for the THIRD time), and she needs to get a gold set as she's allergic to non-gold studs (that was the cause as to why the last two attempts at piercing and wearing earrings failed). (Sambil-sambil tu, if mood Ayah baik, I boleh gak get a piece of bling-bling for myself, too, kan? Hehehe!)

And oh ya...I have yet to collect our Baju Raya from Kh*ti*ah at Pasar Taman Tun, and also Ayah's and Hilman's Baju Melayu from Om*r Al*. The girls have 4 Baju Kurung each, while Hilman has 3 Baju Melayu. On top of that we've also bought a few new tops and jeans/pants for them. Ayah has 2 new Baju Melayu, while I have 3 myself. Gila sakan nak raya...Hahaha! And of course, after collecting my Baju Raya, I will then have to go and find matching tudungs, too. Wajib. Mesti:)

We've already got new notes for Duit Raya, and also the Raya Packets. Two bundles of last year's RM5 notes still tak berusik, so we only tukar some RM10 and RM50 this year. Not a lot - just for the kids and immediate nephews and nieces.

I've also sent some money back to Indonesia for Bibik Dar, and hopefully her family will have a good raya this year, insya Allah.

Hilman needs a haircut, too. Badly. And I'm thinking of getting one myself, and if I feel like it, I might also get some henna done. My white hair is fast becoming more prominent than my black ones. Yikes!

I also need to sort out the girls jewelries. I've forgotten where exactly I've kept them. Whether at my MIL's or in one of my drawers at home. They only wear the jewelries once a year - during Aidilfitri. Tu yang sometimes boleh terlupa where I've kept them.

Hmmmmm....macam tak cukup masa ajer to settle everything by Saturday...

Raya this year seperti juga Raya-raya sebelumnya.

Last berbuka, insya Allah I will berbuka with my parents in KD, while Ayah will berbuka with my MIL in PJ, and the kids can choose where they want to berbuka. I will be busy helping my Mom kemas-kemaskan rumah, etc., and will only go back to my MIL's late at night. We will all sleep in PJ, and spend first raya morning with my MIL and Ayah's siblings, and late afternoon baru beraya at my parents and be with my siblings pulak, and we'll stay there until late at night. We normally would go back and sleep in SD, and the second raya will depend on what my parents and my MIL plan(s) to do, and we'll schedule everything to cater for both sides, insya Allah.

Menu for first day Raya, normally my Mom will cook Mee Rebus and Laksa Penang, on top of all the ketupat rendang. While my MIL will cook her Lontong and Macaroni Goreng. Also on top of the usual ketupat rendang. Meaning - by the second Raya I will have gained back all the kilos I shed over Ramadhan... :( Tsk...tsk...tsk...

Well, that's what Raya is all about, kan? ;)

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all of you -


Sekiranya ada terkasar bahasa and tersalah kata, jari sepuluh saya susunkan, memohon ampun maaf.

Drive safely, and enjoy your Raya break with your loved ones.

And don't forget to come back!!! :)

Take care, you all :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 revisited...

9/11/2001 - the day the world stood still when the unthinkable and the unexpected happened.

The day which changed the whole landscape of international relations and security as we suddenly realized that we were faced with non-traditional threats, and we didn't really understand the whole situation, and we didn't really know as to the next course of action.

The whole world was shocked and everybody still remembers vividly the image of the planes crashing into the World Trade Centre, and how it crumbled in front of our eyes...

I will always remember that day. Not just because of its significance to international relations, nor because of those vivid images etched in my head, but, because we as a family were also affected by the whole thing at a personal level.

We were in London when it happened. We had just arrived two days before that, with plans to spend a short break in London, while Ayah was to attend a cardio conference in Washington D.C. We had travelled to London together - both of us, and the kids, accompanied by my MIL and SIL. Hanna was just 6 years old then, while Hasya 2 1/2, and Hilman had just celebrated his 1st birthday a day before that.

The plan was for us to spend 2 days together in London, before Ayah was to fly to and stay in Washington for 3 days, and he would then join us again in London for the last 5 days before we were to fly back to KL together.

On that fateful day, we bade Ayah farewell before he left our London apartment early in the morning to catch the tube to the airport. Never did we think that that would be the start of one the most anxious times in our lives.

Ayah was supposed to get on the 9:15a.m Vi*gi* At*an*ic flight which would have taken him straight to Washington. He called just before boarding the plane just to say that he was fine and the flight was on schedule. And that was that. And he said he would call me once he reached the hotel in Washington.

I was busy preparing breakfast in the kitchen later that morning, when images shown on TV of this building into which a plane had crashed, caught my eyes, and I remember running to the adjoining living room to turn the volume on to find out what exactly had happened. I called out to my MIL and both of us just sat there watching the image being repeated over and over again over BBC1 and we were trying to gather what was that all about. Not much was disclosed at that point in time, and we were glued in front of the telly watching the live coverage of the tragedy.

Imagine our shock when just as we were thinking that it was just an unfortunate plane crash, we saw the second plane crashing into the second tower while we were watching the coverage! And right then, we knew that something was terribly not right...

In the middle of the chaotic reporting and total disbelief amongst the media reports, we saw the flashes across the TV screen stating that it was a terrorist attack on the USA, and that all airspace and all airports would be closed, and all flights into and out of the USA would be diverted elsewhere and all lines of communication were also blocked until further notice.

I remember feeling very faint, and finding it difficult to breath for a good 15 seconds after reading the news flash, as my mind was immediately thinking about Ayah who had left the UK just over two hours before that! He was already somewhere above the Atlantic Ocean on the way to Washington, and he would be amongst the hundreds of thousands of flight passengers to be re-routed to numeorus airports all over the region.

I began dialling the numbers for Vi*gi* At*an*ic to find out where Ayah's flight was to be re-routed to, and all I got were engaged tones and computer-generated voicemails asking me to hold on or try again later. And THOSE were the only things I got from the airline company for the next 2 days...

Imagine my state of mind at that time - not knowing whether Ayah was okay, or where he was at that time - or whether there were more attacks being attempted or planned on more flights...And I had 3 small kids with me who were oblivious to what was happening, and I was trying my best to not show my anxieties to them. And I was also with a mother who was worried sick about his second son. My MIL was on her sajjadah almost throughout the entire waiting period...

It was only on the second day when we managed to call the airline and we were told that Ayah's flight had been diverted to a small town in Newfoundland, by the name of Gander, and they were waiting for clearance from the US authorities before deciding on whether to continue their flight to Washington, or fly back to the UK. And over the next 2-3 days, they kept changing their flight plans and schedule, and I was already feeling the strain of being in the dark and being treated like a yo-yo. One minute they would say that his flight was scheduled to fly back to the UK on that particular day and the next minute they would inform that the flight had been delayed, or had been given clearance only to fly to Washington, and the next minute they would tell me another thing. I was on the worst roller-coaster ride of my life... And all those times, there was no communication whatsoever between me and Ayah...

It was also on the second day that I received a phone-call from my biras who was in KL at that time to inform us that Ayah finally managed to e-mail him and he had asked him to assure us that he was fine, and there was no need to worry about him. E-mails were the only mode of communication available to Ayah then, and I, on the other hand, had no ready access to the internet at that time.


THAT was like asking us to continue having our dinner calmly in the middle of a hurricane, I tell you.

Anyway, I was so relieved to get a little news as to his well-being, and for the next couple of days (i.e. 4 days after he left London) my biras who was keeping in touch with Ayah via e-mails, would be the one who would update us on how Ayah was doing in Gander. At least we knew that he was safe.

And after waiting for 3 days, Ayah finally managed to call us from Gander. And the moment I heard his voice, the strain just gave in and I broke down and cried like nobody's business...Unashamedly in front of my MIL. In front of the kids. It was more of uncontrolable sobs, I think.

I could somewhat sense the strain in his voice, too. He was the one who had been stranded in a middle of nowhere, with strangers, makan tidur tak terurus for days...But, he sounded calm and cheerful. I guess he was trying not to make his mom and his wife overly worry about him...

The days after finally being able to hear his voice were much easier to face, and Ayah managed to call a few times after that to update us on his flight plan. Even then we were disappointed after initial plans for him to fly back straight to the UK were postponed and later cancelled. Several times. Within one day.

Finally, after nearly 5 days of being stranded in Gander, Ayah's flight continued its journey to Washington, and from there, he took the next flight back which took him straight to London.

And never had I felt so happy to see my haggard-looking, unshaven, sunken-eyed hubby's face as I did that day when he arrived in front of the door of our London apartment that Sunday.

THOSE were the longest 5 days of my life. And I pray that I would never ever have to go through that again...

And everytime 9/11 comes, I would be reminded as to how lucky Ayah was, and how fortunate we had been. Even though we were amongst the hundreds of thousands of people directly/indirectly affected by the tragedy, and had gone through hell during those nerve-racking times, there were those who had perished, and their loved ones would never see them again...

May they rest in peace...Amin.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Happy Anniversary, my darling :)

As I felt your warmth against me, and all emotions that it brings - the sense of belonging, peace, calmness, and assurance your love has brought to my life for the past 15 years, I pray for this to last...and I wish you all my love and much, much more, forever and a day.

Thank you for being there for me all these years, and making me complete...

Happy Anniversary, sayang.

I love you.

So. Very. Much...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Our puasa so far...

Salams and Hi, you all.

I know, I know... This blog of mine has been ignored for the longest time. My apologies.

Even though I have been quiet on the blogging front, I've been quite active FB-ing. And those who are my FB friends have been getting updates on what the family and I have been up to for the last 3 weeks or so, which has been makan, makan, dan makan lagi...(Errrr, during berbuka, okay? ;))

Ramadhan has been smooth-sailing so far, syukur alhamdulillah. Hanna, Hasya and Hilman all have performed their Puasa dilligently, without any complaints at all. It helped that the first week of Ramadhan was during their school holiday, and the weather has been kind to us.

Sahur, too, has not been a war zone so far. Bibik Dar is indeed a blessing. She would prepare everything and wake all of us up at 5:00a.m for Sahur without fail. And surprisingly, we have not had much trouble waking the kids up. Even Hilman :) Every Sahur has been a simple affair so far. We only had rice once. Corned Beef Fried Rice, to be exact, courtesy of Meen's recipe.

The rest of our sahur have been either Toasted Sandwiches (Egg or Tuna), Half-boiled Eggs with Toasts, Campbell Soups (Chicken or Mushroom) with Bread, or Cereals. And of course, whatever kueh-mueh left from berbuka the night before. And I would make sure the whole family take their MultiVitamins, Scott's Emulsion, and Vitamin C every Sahur.

As for Berbuka, I think we've only broken fast at our home in SD maybe 3-4 times? The rest, we either berbuka at my MIL's, my parents', or outside - either at friends' place, or Hotels/Restaurants - the latter, mostly sponsored. I loike :)! Syukur Alhamdulillah. Oh ya, once Ayah's Heart Centre at TMC organized a Berbuka for his staff, catered by the hospital's F&B Department. Not bad at all (considering that they normally cook hospital food for their patients :))

Here are some reviews of the places we've been to -

Puteri Restaurant (Taman Tun) was so-so. I think I must have had quite high expectations after all the raves I heard about this place. I was a bit disappointed with the spread. I was hoping for more varieties and not just Traditional Malay dish. I know, I know... that's what they're famous for anyway, right?

Sari Ratu (Kota Damansara) was awesome. Puas makan :) We had Gulai Otak Sapi, Gulai Tunjang, Gulai Ayam, Gulai Pucuk Ubi, Gulai Nangka, Tenggiri Balado, Terung Balado, and of course their Sambal Ijo. Yummeh! Oh yes! Not forgetting their Chendol Durian! Terangkat I tell you :) Tapi, tak boleh makan selalu kat situ. Cholesterol-laden food, meh... :)

One World - they had an amazing spread. Memang tabik spring. But, the taste was a bit bland (at least to me, that is).

Le Meridien - I only tried the Chinese and Japanese spread. Very nice. I like :) They also have a Middle-Eastern and Indian Corner, and a Noodle Booth which looked good, but, I can't really comment as I didn't have any of those. Oh ya...their Burnt Coconut Drink was simply divine...

If we berbuka at home or in PJ or in KD, the wajib Bazaar Ramadhan dish would include Roti John, Otak-Otak, and Air Tebu. We normally go to the ones in Section 17 PJ (near my MIL's), Kota Damansara (near Ayah's hospital and my parents') and of course in SD itself.

There's one stall in Section 17 Bazaar which sells all sorts of kueh-mueh which I like. Their kuehs are tasty, and nicely made (comel) and clean. They sell very nice Kueh Kochi and another kueh which I don't know the name (made with tepung pulut and salut with gula - macam gula Kueh Keria?).

In Kota Damansara - there's one stall which sells Hot Soy Bean Milk which is a hit with the kids.

In Sri Damansara - one stall sells quite nice Otak-Otak. (Come to think of it, all the Otak-Otaks which we bought from these three Bazaars taste the same! From the same Johore supplier, maybe?)

Even though Taman Tun and Section 14 are within the radius of our lalu-lalang route, we have yet to go to the Bazaars there. Parking is madness, I tell you. And the jam... Gosh, pening kepala! I'd rather not stress myself by going there :)Some people sanggup queue for more than half an hour for the Popiah Basah in Section 14! Errrr, sorry no thank you...

For this week, we have two berbuka outside lined-up. Tomorrow will be at Baiti's in Taman Tun, and Wednesday night after the kids' piano class which ends at 7:45p.m, Ayah MIGHT bring me/us out for berbuka. This Wednesday 9th September 2009 will be our 15th Wedding Anniversary, by the way :)

And next Monday will be another sponsored berbuka for us. Venue yet to be announced :)

Will update you all on that, insya Allah ;)

Till then, I make do'a for the second half of this Ramadhan to bring more blessings to us, insya Allah.

Selamat beramal-ibadah :)

Oh by the way, as of 6:35a.m this morning, I've lost 2kgs this Ramadhan. A miracle - considering the food I've been indulging myself with all this while :)

* I will try to create a link to photos already uploaded on FB for your viewing and drooling pleasure soon... ;)

UPDATE - Okay, here are the links! Happy Drooling... ;)