Lilypie - Pregnancy

Monday, November 29, 2010

[one year on]

Today marks 1 year of having survived here. I know that doesn't very positive, I should perhaps have said 1 year of living with my hubby-bi [mashup of hubby+habibi (darling in arabic) hehe].

Time flies even when you're not busy with things to do. I can vouch for that because in between figuring out how to fill my time and becoming an expert at fb games, time seemed to slip away and suddenly it's been one whole year since I came. Quite an achievement I must say, I did not expect to last so long here, seriously.

I have accomplished my main goal in coming here - to do my Haj. Alhamdulillah, with my capable husband and His Guidance, we managed to complete the fifth pillar of Islam at such a young age. Our time has not come yet to move out of here, though I still hope and pray it will come soon. Yes I've made friends, have a pretty easy and simple life here, but as the old adage goes, there is indeed no place like home.

I guess things will get easier as more time goes by. Perhaps I've given up fighting, or perhaps He is helping me cope. Whatever it is, I've had a wonderful year with my darling and am looking forward to more us time here :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

[virtual blogging]

How much more virtual can it get than having a diary online? Well what I had in mind was having a machine to translate your thoughts into a blog entry. Cool right? I'm sure they already have it somewhere...maybe in NASA..haha. That way, instead of having the dozen things I've thought to write about not making it here, I would have more frequent posts. Seems that I read others' blogs, thanks to Feeds, but forget about visiting my own. Heh.

It's not as if I have much exciting stuff to blog about anyway. Life is as usual as it has been for the last month or so, post Raya fun. Hubby has been, as usual, thankfully, pushing me to go out to meet people i.e. mostly his friends wives (the DH). Without his "persuasion", I would have probably remained the recluse that I turned into since coming back in July. I guess several reasons have contributed to it; perhaps because I was comforted that I didn't lose my Sg friends afterall, and because making friends is a challenge for me. It's not that I don't like making friends, but interacting with people who don't have the same wavelength as you do requires great effort and patience. On the other hand, those whose friendships I was seeking don't seem as keen on maintaining one, so I lose hope. On the bright side, hubby's motivation has allowed me to once again bake cookies (at E's place), see a dolphin/sealine (sic) show and host an impromptu potluck of 8 people whom none of us personally invited lol.

As much as I'm trying to stay positive and look at the plus sides of being here, I still get down sometimes. It seems a monthly thing that I get down about the boredom, lack of friends, unchallenging job - perhaps I should blame it on the hormones. As further salt to the injury, none of my efforts to get us back to Sg seem to be working - neither was our first attempt at balloting for a flat successful, nor have the numerous job applications I have sent for hubz received ANY sort of response AT ALL. I think I got my job here easier...that only took about 50 odd emails haha.

Yeah as S and hubz put it, the time is probably not right. Meanwhile I hope the monthly down time gets better as I find ways to keep myself more busy and convince myself that life here ain't so bad afterall. Right now am looking forward to Dec fun...that will be a huge breather from desert life. Wee!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

[Umrah Take 2 cont'd]

So we survived that trying trip. As I was saying, this trip was much different from our first Umrah. Our first trip was much much more relaxed. Hubz later said he wanted me to experience my first Umrah in a calm environment so that I would appreciate it better. He'd gone for his first Umrah during Ramadan so it wasn't so enjoyable for him and he didn't want to put me through that. I'm glad he was so considerate, because I definitely enjoyed and appreciated the first one better. Then, even despite my gastritis and what have you, we had time to sit down, pray, reflect, appreciate the grandeur of the two Holy Mosques, and purposefully carry out our worship. This Umrah was much more hurried, and although hubz had his reasons for doing a day trip (because hotels in Makkah cost 10 times more during Ramadan, what more during the last 10 days), I wouldn't recommend it. The gruelling heat also made it very difficult, I'm thankful we went during winter previosuly because we weren't scorched and dehydrated then.

I wasn't very proud of my quickly-finish-it attitude this trip but I guess with the dehydration and exhaustion, I desperately wanted to get it over and done with and go home. I would, sadly, admit that during this trip, I was more of going through the rituals without appreciating each step of it. I hope God will still accept my Umrah.

Another reason for going during Ramadan was so that I could get used to the crowd that we'd see during Haj. I suppose I will be able to manage, as I long as I get to cling on to hubz all along the way hehe.

This trip made me realise the wisdom behind the greatness of doing Umrah during Ramadan. It is said that performing the Umrah at this time is as good as performing a Haj. Our test was made harder by the scorching summer sun, but I guess even without that, going for Umrah while you're fasting is a big test because apart from the rituals, you're tested further with the tiredness, hunger and thirst. It also teaches you to keep a tab on your patience.

Despite all the rough and tough, I'm once again very grateful that we were able to do this Umrah. Did I say this is probably the best thing about being here?? One friend said I was lucky because going to Makkah was as easy as driving from Sg to JB. Very true, though I'd say it's a little more like driving to KL, or maybe Penang heh. Insha Allah we'll be ready for our Haj this year. Better start studying up!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

[Umrah Take 2]

This post is long overdue. Should've been entered before the Hari Raya post. Anyway, here goes... (warning: it's gonna be a longgggggggg post...was generous on the description since it was only a one day journey hehe)

I thought this Umrah was going to be the same as the last, but my perception was quite off target. Firstly, instead of a gruelling 12 hour bus ride, we took a plane to Jeddah then a private car to Makkah. We were in our ihrams from home, and I was initially feeling a bit self-conscious being in my white prayer garment and hubz in his towels but upon reaching the airport, I realised we weren't the only one dressed like that (the men at least, the women were dressed in their usual black). We went during the second last Friday of Ramadan, so it being the last 10 days AND a Friday, we were in for a huge rush.

The flight was pretty uneventful and since it was Ramadan there was no food served but anyway, it was only a 1.5 hr journey. Upon touching down, there were plenty of taxi touts around. One guy offered 250 riyals and as we took another step he went down to 200, then 180. My smart husband said 100 but he said "No one will take you for that price". Two steps later, another guy took up our offer and off we went. Boo ya, haha. My legs were pretty cramped in the car and although I was pretty tired from the lack of sleep the previous night due to nervoussness/excitement, I couldn't nap.

We arrived an hour or so early for the Friday prayers but the crowd had already gathered. The main entrance was blocked by guards interlocking their arms in a huge ring around the entrance. We went around looking for a place to sit and finally settled at one spot which we thought was shaded. The shade only lasted awhile. Soon, we found ourselves under the scorching sun, slowly getting dehydrated while we waited patiently for the call to prayer. There were really some characters there - some women insisted on walking over and around those of us who were sitting just to get to the front and discover there was no more place and then walk back over/around us to finally settle down behind; one lady was creating a scene by screaming at the top of her lungs at the guards to let her into the mosque; others were arguing the same at another entrance at the poor guards who could do nothing but stand their ground. I really pitied the guards because they had to shout at the people while fasting. It was a little disappointing too since it was Ramadan, and was this the behaviour you should be on when you're fasting? If they're not letting you in I'm sure there's a good reason for it. So just go off and look for another place to pray. I'm sure God will accept your prayers whether you're inside or outside the mosque. Like seriously!

The wait for the prayers seemed like an eternity. An Arab lady was gesturing to me "Shams" (meaning sun) and I was like shaking my head in agreement. Hot hot hot. I guess it was about 46 degrees, if not closer to 50! Luckily I was in white and I noticed that when I covered my black stocking-ed feet with my skirt, it actually became cooler. Really pity all those who were totally in black. There were all sorts of methods people were using to cool themselves off. The girls in front of me had 2 bottles of ice...everytime some ice melted, they would take some of the water and pour it on their heads. Soon people around them saw what they were doing and requested for some water. Others had umbrellas with them, and one frail lady was lucky enough to share her shade with the Indo who had the umbrella, and also some water from the girls to cool herself. Soon, the Indo had 4 people under her tiny brollie - God bless her! Many others were using their prayer mats, even pieces of cardboard to put over their heads. At least we women could cover our heads, the poor men were left bare in their ihrams. If the heat was a test, it was sure a big one. There were a few casualties; one old lady nearby had to be taken away in a wheelchair. I'm sure there were many more. I myself was praying and praying that I would remain strong despite possibly suffering a heat stroke.

The sound of the prayers a very long wait later was like sweet music because we could finally get up and get out of the sun. I was overwhelmed when I realised the Imam leading the prayer was my favourite Quran-reciter - very lucky huh? He got emotional during the Friday sermon, which I unfortunately didn't understand. But when he said a few doas I was familiar with, I asked for God's mercy and thanked Him again for letting us be here.

Getting into the mosque after the prayers was another long wait. They were attempting to empty it first before letting us in, and with the hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of human beings there, it took forever. Even the guards must've realised it was taking forever so halfway through, they finally let people seep in even though people were still coming out. We started on the 1st floor with our Tawaf (circumambulation) thinking that it would be easier since it was less crowded and more shaded. As we stepped onto the Tawaf lane, my feet were almost scorched. After just a few steps I pleaded with hubs to do it in the shade although that wasn't the designated Tawaf area. As I processed the moment, I was thinking - wow, if this is how it feels under the scorching sun, imagine how the heat of hellfire will be. Dear Allah, save us all from that torment.

Our first three rounds on the first floor was incredibly slow. I was totally dehydrated and if it were not for hubz literally pulling me along, I don't think I would have made it. What made it worse was that since it was a bigger circumference, it took forever to complete. We would walk and walk and walk, and then I'd be like, oh no, we only covered one side of the Ka'bah. The zam zam taps were all turned off since it was Ramadan, so there was also no way to cool off. Thankfully I brought a tiny little bottle of water so we used that to sprinkle some water on our faces every now and then to cool off and prevent further dehydration. Although I was afraid of going to the ground floor to finish the rest of our Tawaf, we figured it would be much faster to clear. It was a good thing I brought my thick socks (special Umrah/Haj "socks" which they sell here that look a little like booties) so armed with that, we completed our next 4 rounds in half the time we took upstairs. Should've done that from the start heh.

The Sa'ee was also tough since our energy levels were super low. Imagine being hungry, dehydrated and having to walk hundreds of metres in a few hours. Sigh. We trudged on, with hubby giving me horse power and us taking rests along the way. A couple of times I was dizzy with exhaustion and almost felt like giving up. By some miracle, Alhamdulillah, we managed to complete our Umrah before Asr prayers. We were dead beat by then so instead of staying on for iftar/Maghrib as originally planned, hubz suggested we go back to the airport to rest and break our fast there. Seriously, at this point, I was too tired to even think about protesting.

We had pizzas and coffee at Jeddah airport, was unsuccessful in changing our flight to an earlier one and so had to wait another couple of hours for our flight back. We were so dehydrated we finished 2 cups of soda and 4 bottles of water for iftar alone. Later on we gulped down another 3 bottles of water even before getting on the plane, and we were still thirsty! This time there was refreshments on the plane (me loike..hehe...I live for airplane food lol) - a sandwich and drinks. Upon reaching the airport here, we bought more pizzas, from the same franchise at that, and made our way home. I told hubz it would be better if we ate now and slept later because after our exhaustion, we probably wouldn't be able to wake up to eat in the morning. So we had our suhoor at 2am, gulped down a bottle of 7-up and more water (yes we were still thirsty!!), and dozed off till noon the next day.

This is already a long entry, so I will write my reflections in another one...hope I didn't bore anyone already heh.

Friday, September 17, 2010

[Selamat Hari Raya / Eid Mubarak!]

My Desperate Housewives (@ DH) friends were telling me that Eid was gonna be boring here. According to them, people just go to the mosque in the morning then spend the whole day sleeping. Visiting and such maybe that night or the day after. I guess it would have been boring; since almost all of them either went back to India or went to other cities/across the causeway.

How was my first Eid away from home (not counting last year which I spent with hubby in Phuket hehe)? EK and us started from the night before, with our last iftar (break fast) at our place followed by a pizza "celebration" then a game of cards. On Eid itself, S gathered us S'poreans at her place for a potluck and as she put it, to have a little Hari Raya feel. It was a great gathering, chatting up with the Sg nurses, eating good Malay food and getting to know more people. After the meetup, we made our way to the stadium to watch fireworks. Cannot beat our National Day fireworks lah, but it was pretty nevertheless. Will upload it one fine day... EK were also on their way to catch the fireworks so we met them. After that, we went to their place for an eat-drink-and-be-merry time. This time there was beer, chips and more cards till 1am again. Happening right??

On Day 2 one of the nurses invited me to her compound for another little gathering. It was interesting walking around their grounds and experiencing a different kind of living here. Day 3 saw us on the outskirts of Riyadh, partly because we initially got lost thanks to wrong GPS coordinates, and partly cos AM's compound was literally in the middle of nowhere. It was food galore at their place. Chicken dishes, begedel, stir fried beans, even keropok ikan... mmm... yummy Indonesian food. I'd been craving for Malay food very much before this so these gatherings were a real treat. [On a side note, this was because firstly I don't cook much Malay food cos Mr F doesn't really like Malay food partly cos his chilli tolerance is pretty low, and secondly because the iftar gatherings at the DHs' houses were always very standard - haleem, fruit salad and briyani. Like ok, I love briyani, more aptly what we get in Sg, and not the Hyd kind, and 4-5 gatherings in a row of briyani, briyani and more briyani.....I don't mind staying off it for another 6 months now..hehehe). Needless to say I shamelessly packed food each time before going home. Hey, good food I've been craving for and 3 days of no cooking - why wouldn't I? :P I felt a little bad not giving duit raya (Raya money) to the kids but with our tight situation, we have to be thrifty.

I kinda regretted not spending my "last" Raya with my family (though at that time Phuket with the hubz sounded like a fantastic idea) especially when I started feeling homesick on Raya morning. I miss the Raya takbir (special call for Raya prayers) which I did not hear on Raya night nor the next morning, I miss mum shouting at us to get up early and go to the mosque or help her with cooking, I miss not having visitors i.e. Auntie's and Uncle's family in the day. I used to think Raya was a chore till of course now. When you don't have it, you miss it more. Despite this, I'm glad to say that I had an excellent time this Raya. Even more happening than in Sg since with my small family, our visiting can be done in a day or so. S brought up a relevant point that celebrating Raya away from home is sometimes better since there's no family drama and no need to make 4 sets of clothes for visiting (thank God we don't need to do the latter in our family). I'm really grateful and happy to have met with the lovely people here who made my first Raya away from home a very pleasant one. :)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

[sacrifices]

My heart goes out to the millions of people around the world who have to go away from home in order to earn a better living.

In particular, I had in mind the nurses at the hospital whom I work with. Many of them have been here for decades; they spent their youth here and are probably gonna end their careers here. Many of whom came because they would otherwise have been employed for meagre wages and forced to live prudently, if not being totally unemployed. Although many of them live comfortable lives here, even sporting an LV bag or two occasionally, therein comes some sacrifices.

As the ladies were recalling their childbirth stories, at the advent of one of our colleagues giving birth, my heart went out to the strong mothers out there. C told us how she only spent a month with her newborn, and had to fly back here to resume work. When A came in with her 2-month old yesterday, C said "Please let me carry her or I won't be satisfied, I did not get to carry my boys when they were babies." She sacrificed her annual leave this year just so she can go back for her son's high school graduation without any problems next year. Another colleague spent 6 months with her baby and now only sees her once a year, for at most 1.5 months each time. Another had her husband and child back home, and although the husband is here now, the child is still back home being looked after by her parents. Mr F also has a friend whose family lives in Sg - he loves his children so much that he doesn't mind flying all the way back just to spend a weekend with his daughter on her birthday.

I'm sure these are just a few of the many stories of child-parent separation caused by working abroad. Some are lucky to be able to bring their families here, some choose not to bring their families over because of the closed society here and lack of freedom. Whatever the reason, I'm sure missing other family members, much more your own child, bears a huge burden on the soul. This is why having friends when you're a thousand miles away from home is really important. What more the value of friends you can relate to. I am almost envious when I see how tight the relationship between the nurses and/or their families is. They regard each other as much more than friends, I dare say almost like extended families. Even when an ex-expat comes to visit, they will sacrifice their homes to accomodate them.

While admiring the sacrifices these people go through, I should also remind myself to be grateful that life has been pretty easy for myself and many other S'poreans. Not many of us are forced to work overseas to earn a decent living. In fact, many of the Sg expats here CHOSE to come over to INCREASE their standard of living i.e. they were already doing well in Sg, coming here was a way to improve their already good lifestyles. When was the last time we had to scrimp on the household expenditure so that we could buy enough meat to last the whole week? While we have our own stresses to bear, I kind of see the truth in what Mr F said (although mockingly) that (many) S'poreans are born with a silver spoon up their in our mouths. Maybe the silver quality varies a little here and there, but we generally get by pretty easily. In pondering about this, I also realise my own husband has had to go through being separated from his parents for the sake of a good job. I pray and pray that my children and I will not have to go through this next time. :P


Here's a reminder to everyone out there who isn't happy with their lives - there are always those worse off than you out there. So, count your blessings.

Monday, August 16, 2010

[Ramadan 2010]

A fellow expat wife inspired me to write this entry after I read hers. Here's a gist of my reflections on Ramadan this year.

1. This Ramadan sees its many firsts. Although last Ramadan we were already married, Mr F and I were still apart. This Ramadan, after spending many together online, is finally our first - together in person. Thank Allah for His mercies on us.

2. It is my first Ramadan away from home. Although over the past few years Ramadan in my house has changed, I still miss breaking fast at home. Even hearing a different call to prayer, and the lack of the particular song they play on the radio while we're breaking our fast makes a difference.

3. It is also the first Ramadan where I have to be first in charge of bringing (good) food to the table at break fast and in the morning. Many years ago our maid was the one to bring delicacies to our table, then mum, then dad and me. It stresses me a little that now I have to plan the menu myself, and wonder what tidbit can be added to make iftar more flavourful. Luckily Mr F isn't too picky about it. So far he says I'm doing a good job. :)

4. Ramadan slows things down here. From a normal work time of 8.30 to 6, hubz now works from 10 to 4. A great reduction, a huge difference from the one hour I used to get in Sg, that too after a special request from the boss. Good for me because my companion is home earlier. Shops are mostly closed in the day, but at night they open till about 1 or 2 am, sometimes overnight. I've yet to see the bustling night life, maybe cos we've been going to the wrong places heh.

5. Have yet to do Terawikh at a mosque. I especially miss the zikirs (recitations) at the end of the prayers which are tear inducing. Wonder if they do that here. Hubz is unsure where they have places for ladies but I hope we'll find soon. On the other hand, I cherish the fact that I now have a new leader in prayer, who unfrotunately is still a little shy heh. I am really grateful for this because I can't remember the number of times during Ramadan or not where I've prayed to Him to bestow me with a husband who can lead me in prayers and guide me to the righteous path. Alhamdulillah.

6. No Ramadan bazaar. Although I'm not a big fan of crowds, it was almost ritualistic to go to the bazaar at Geylang Serai at least once during this month. Dendeng, Ramli burger, air kathira..oh man, makes my mouth water. Tiga sepuluh, tiga sepuluh - the chaotic cries from the vendors. On the other hand, they have plenty of Ramadan sales going on in practically every shopping mall. That's something different since in Sg we only usually have Hari Raya sales. I should mention too that people here stock up for Ramadan like they're stocking up for a famine. They start weeks before Ramadan, grabbing everything off the supermarket shelves. My friend said the Tang (drink mix) from Carrefour was wiped out in just two days. Relax lah people, we're not entering a famine.

I heard Eid/Hari Raya is also going to be a different affair here. Seems that after the morning prayers, most people just go home and go back to sleep. No visiting till night or the next day. Yawn. And I thought something exciting could take the place of our failed vacation plan (thanks to the efficiency of things here). Bleah. Luckily though I bought pineapple tarts from Sg JB to add to the Raya spirit. Maybe that will cheer me up heh :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

[on differences]

Enter into any relationship and there's bound to be differences between two individuals. It would be quite unlikely that even two related families do things the same way. What more in an international, intercultural marriage. Over the past 9 months (woo I survived so long heh), I've noticed several differences in Mr F's and my style of doing things. Just wanted to point out a few here.

1. Food. In Sg we believe in our food pyramid - having a bit of everything during one meal. Rice (or other carbs), a meat dish and a vege dish. I remember the first meal I cooked after our first grocery shopping here. I cooked what would be a typical meal at home - chicken curry and stir-fried french beans. Upon having lunch, hubby commented that he didn't realise I was going to cook everything in one day. I later learned that what I cooked is equivalent to 3 different meals in India - chicken dish one day, potato another and french beans another. There went my "ideal" meals, but I'm not complaining since it's one less dish a day to cook hehe. Having a vege side dish has always made eating veges more palatable since the meat dish can "mask" the taste of the vege. Now we cook totally veg on certain days. They also cut their veges into tiny tiny pieces so that the quantity lookes bigger. After discussing this with his friend the other day, I realise maybe it's because (most) S'poreans are, Alhamdulillah, well to do and we don't need to pinch on our food at least.

2. Recipes. Also related to the above, needless to say I'm cooking more Indian/Hyderabadian recipes these days. It isn't a problem for me since I eat Indian food in Sg anyway, but I miss Malay food, something which I now cook only occasionally because Mr F's face changes whenever he sees a dish he's not familiar with (yes I notice darling). Gone also are my chilli downing days, whether it's prawn sambal, sambal belacan or a fiery curry recipe. Seems that although Indians are supposed to be able to tolerate spice, chilli spiciness is a different thing altogether. The couple of times I used a blazing hot fish curry mix (not used to the brands here yet...) and cooked sambal, Mr F's GI system went ablaze and he rushed to the loo immediately. Then again, I think he generally doesn't have high spice tolerance, which he claims is the result of having lived here for too long. Now I mostly cook chilli stuff just for myself, rarely.

3. Clothes. Again although I have no problems wearing traditional Indian clothes, it seems that the Hyd ladies here wear it all the time, out or at home. Gawdy sequinned ones at that. Thank God my MIL firstly doesn't like gawdy stuff, and secondly knows my taste about overly sequinned stuff, so the suits she makes for me are more plain. Yet after that, I feel a little underdressed everytime I meet the DH because my clothes are always the ones without any embellishments. I also wish I could be more "myself", wearing my regular clothes when I meet them, but with the growing number of suits MIL makes me, Mr F always goes "Who's gonna wear them if you don't?" Gah.

4. Language. Out of this list, I guess this is my biggest gripe. It seems that everyone just EXPECTS me to suddenly start speaking Urdu. It's not that I have anything against learning the language, but you can't learn a language overnight, especially when you hear it only once a month at most. I swear when I was hearing it constantly last July, I picked up more than I did these past months. And you also can't learn it when people just continue speaking in that language without any translation (that's why they invented the dictionary). My mother probably learned Tamil fast because my grandma lived with us, and she had plenty of things to say to her not-so-favourite DIL (i.e. she learnt a lot of swear words too lol). I get extremely bored and frustrated everytime the DH meet because although one or two of them will bother to tell me what's going on every now and then, it is mostly just me sitting there looking (or feeling) stupid because I have absolutely no clue what's going on. When there's a joke, everyone will suddenly turn to me and wonder why I'm not laughing, then someone will feebly try to translate, after the excitement has died down. What happened to accomodating an outsider? I guess that won't happen anytime soon. That is why I'm so desperately trying to keep in touch with fellow S'poreans or Msians, because believe me, speaking in your own tongue is sooooo liberating. I'm trying to learn on my own now, forcing Mr F to teach me a phrase or two a day and reading up here and there. Seems that Urdu teachers are hard to come by here; the only one I found throughout these months lives too far away for hub's convenience. I only have a couple of months more to go, since my in-laws will definitely be "testing" me when I'm back for hols. Sigh.

The list goes on, but I shall continue another day. Having pointed out these few points, I should say that even though the differences are there, it doesn't necessarily imply that it's a bad thing. As a matter of fact, it makes you more open to receiving and giving cultural experiences. Furthermore, isn't compromise what a good relationship is about? ;)

Sunday, August 08, 2010

[national service]


It was brought to my attention that the govt might actually want S'poreans to work overseas to help our growth. An interesting insight after we talked to the Ambassador at the National Day celebrations we had at the Four Seasons Hotel last week. I was lamenting how I didn't like it here and was looking for a job for Mr F so we could move back; so he said we should actually stay for awhile, build up our "reserves" then go back and "start our life in Sg". Interesting perspective, and I think that besides that reason, he was probably encouraging me to work here for awhile so that I could bring money back and spend in Singapore. Not a bad idea eh? So with this new perspective in mind that I'm doing national service for my country, and the fact that the money aspect is one of the biggest things keeping me going here, I shall persevere on.

The celebration was a pleasant relief from the lack of excitement here. Needless to say, I had a chance to (finally!) dress up so dress up I did - in my engagement baju kurung and make-up which I borrowed from E. Sad to say hubz called me a geisha after the make-up (he hates make-up) but who cares - I think I looked great. With husband like him, I don't need an enemy hehe. He looked stunning in his suit though - reminded me of 18 July - told him I want to marry him again lol. The hotel was also impressive, so huge till hubz asked the staff who was guiding us to the Paris room whether it was in R or another country lol (a bit lame lah..but that's his humour...). We started off with the National Anthem and the Pledge followed by a speech by the Ambassador. Have to say, I've never felt so proud singing/saying them. As a fellow attendee put it, it's never been so good hearing your national anthem till you're in a foreign land.

We later found out that the table of men we were sitting with (we didn't have much of a choice since we came late) were embassy workers and that three quarters of them were from Hyd. Hubz felt quite at home I guess heh. I was pushing myself to speak to them but after talking to the nearest guy, I realised he was just the embassy driver...bleah...so much for making contacts..haha. I met a few nurses from Sg too and they seem pretty fun people to be with. Looking forward to meeting them for a coffee or so. Since Ramadan is coming, might invite them for iftar too. I even received a pleasant surprise from Siti who gave me a Crabtree&Evelyn body wash as a bday prezzie. Wee! My 2nd prezzie for the year lol.

The embassy even attempted to bring in local food - there was Bedok prata, Katong laksa, Hainanese chicken rice, even ice kacang (with atapchee!!). Seems that someone brought the ingredients from Sg then the food was prepared by the hotel. Unfortunately, since they were prepared by non-S'poreans i.e. the hotel staff, they didn't taste so good (the prata was doughy, the wanton skin was hard...) but well, can't be choosy I guess. I made the most out of it e.g. since the laksa noodles was undercooked, I sipped the sinful gravy instead...hehe. Oh and I should add that the background music was National Day songs. We even received a goodie bag at the end of the day! I think it's remnants of what they'll give away at the NDP heh.

In the spirit of patriotism, here's a Happy 45th to Singapore. Majulah Singapura! Checkout the pics here.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

[ask and I shall receive]

Bearing no resemblance to any religious scriptures, I shall use that motto from now onwards when dealing with hubby. Seems that he doesn't take hints very well, so on my birthday, even after hinting many times everytime a Baskin Robbins ice-cream cake ad came on tv (with me saying "I want that soooon" - I thought that was clear enough...), I did not get any cake. What's a bday without a cake right??



So after giving up sulking for 2 days post bday, I decided to be very thick skinned and asked him for a cake. Seems that he did notice I was sulking on my bday but he just didn't know why. Bleah. But hubz was so sweet that he immediately went to get me a cake (it was 9pm). Hee...all's forgiven now..haha. :)


The result of my persistance:


I'm 4 apparently....
 




off topic - his anni prezzie

Monday, August 02, 2010

[grinzzzzzz]

Need I say more? Hehehe. Even Mr F was complaining he doesn't get such poetic emails from his dad. Did I say he's my fave father-in-law? He sent me another lovely card last year. Me like. Hehehe =)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

[a silent birthday]

This must've been the most uneventful birthday in a very long time. Can't say it's my first away from home because last year I celebrated it with my in-laws post-wedding. If I had been in Sg, I'd have spent the past few weeks meeting different groups of friends. I'd probably have eaten 3 bday cakes by now, and put on 2 kg of birthday weight...haha. Thank God for FB though, logging into my account really cheered me up. Thank you to all my lovely friends for your note or two. Got perked up a lil today when I did the ritual of buying KFC for everyone at work and got more birthday wishes (thanks to E who went around announcing it..heh).

I decided that as of this year, I shall be 24, for the rest of my life...hehe. Now I know why women hide their age. I feel OLDDDD!!! (doesn't help that the desperate housewives are all a few years younger than me..and almost all are mothers or soon-to-be mothers!)

A lame poem for the prezzie hubz gave me, probably the only prezzie I'll get this year. Bought it in Sg during the PC show and hubz brought it over. Here goes:

(To be sung in the tune of the birthday song)
Happy birthday to me
Thank you for the Wii
Though I don't know who I bought it for
For him or for meeeee.

Lol. It's lame. I know. :P As you can see, he plays it more often than me. Heh. On another note, I'm glad I asked him for the Wii. A Wii a day keeps the blues away. Whenever I need some perking up, I play a round of tennis or two. Gives me a pretty good workout too since you perspire after playing (at the harder levels of course). Wee!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

[be grateful]

Dear Princess,

This is a reminder for you to be grateful. While you may be bored at home with nothing much to work on, consider this:

1) Some people would kill to have such a leisurely and well-paying job as yours.

2) You don't need to work OT like some of your friends do.

3) You don't need to bring home work work on weekends.

4) You don't have meetings at odd hours of the day, causing you to stay in the office till late.

5) You don't have to spend on lunch money.

6) You don't need to commute in the searing heat.

7) You don't have to wonder what to wear to work today.

8) You can take unlimited breaks as long as you complete your work.

9) There's no watchful eye over you.

10) You get to spend lunchtime with your hubby.

But.sometimes.the.boredom.just.gets.to.me.
Am.reminding.myself.to.be.grateful......

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

[part 3]

The monotony of living here is back. Again 2 weeks feels like 2 months, and the regret of not extending my stay lingers more. Sigh. On the positive side, the thing that I daily look forward to over here is back.

My highlight of the day:
Part 1 - Hubby comes back for lunch.
Part 2 - We watch a series together (used to be a couple of Jap animes, now it's Frasier).
Part 3 - We cuddle up so that hubby can have a lil nap before facing the world again.

Part 3 is bittersweet because
1) Needless to say, we spend quality time together.

2) Most of the time, hubby (even at night) falls asleep the moment he hits the pillow. I will usually be the one disturbing him and keeping him awake, I guess because I'm in desperate need for company. Muahaha. When I eventually "pity" him, I'll watch him doze off. Sometimes I snooze off too.

3) It lasts for such a short period, I hardly fall asleep when his alarm goes off.

4) When his alarm goes off, I'm alone again. Sometimes I bargain for another precious 2 mins with him. :P

Today's part 3 was so welcomed that both of us slept through his alarm. Instead of waking up at 1.40, I woke up first at 2.00 and started wondering "Why do I feel so rested??". Only then did I realise hubby was late for work. Maybe my research conclusion should be "30 mins of a daytime siesta is more effective than a mere 15 mins". Hehe.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

[H@ppY 1st @nniVerS@ry]

Ah as the usual line goes...how time flies!! Can't believe it's been a year since we became one. Through the thick and the thin and the drama of trying to get together, we're finally living as a couple now, still going strong one year later.

At the risk of sounding mushy, I have this to say. I'm glad that after one year of marriage, we're still gushing over each other. Even songs that mean a lot to me/him brings out emotions in the form of a tear. When he sits away from me, I still wish he's sitting next to me. When it's time for bed, I ask him along too because the bed seems empty without him by my side. I always miss him when I wake up without him beside me, and the silly things he does to cheer me up. I still wonder how someone can be awed by the smiled of their loved one even though they've seen it plenty of times, and how I look forward to 6.30pm everyday so that I can hug him when he opens the door.

To my one and only, H@PPy FiRsT @nniVeRs@rY. May this mark the first of many wonderful anniversaries to come. :)

Here's what he got me...a sweet diamond necklace. It was quite a surprise..since he simply brought me to the store and said...i'm buying u something..pick what u like...hee. Needless to say I was grinning like an idiot :P. Will upload what I got him later.

Monday, July 05, 2010

[and i partied on]

Wow, I probably had the most intensive 3 weeks of "partying" in June. It was a really precious 3 weeks, a much needed and welcomed reprieve from my ahem..exciting life here. The activities did not end from the moment I landed, from meeting one bunch of friends to another to spending time with my family, and doing things I hadn't done in a while including watching movieSSSS and karaoke-ing (weet!!). I had so many requests for meetups, I even had to schedule breakfast meets! Needless to say, I had loads of fun. Oh the breath of freedom...I miss you already.

I guess my fears of losing my friends or losing touch with them were unfounded. When we met up, things were like always. Moral of the story: some things never change. Haha. That could be good and bad of course, like how someone prioritised other things over spending time with their (precious) daughter, but I shall not dwell on that. I guess 6 months is a short period of time, so not much has changed in Sg either [city vibe still not up yet!! tho I got lost at Somerset MRT cos of 313...]. Sakura kept telling ppl we met "Aiyah kakak thinks 6 months would've changed things dramatically". Well, in my defense, I thought things would have changed, at least a little, since my life changed so drastically after moving here. But Sg is as humid as it is, and dad is still as noisy as he always was. Lol.

Us charmed ones enjoyed our JB trip tremendously, eating, shopping, eating, swimming, err did I mention eating? In fact, I was so excited I didn't even sleep early despite having sedatives in my system after the endoscopy I had that morning. Talk about leading a hectic life huh..morning endo, afternoon JB and the evening upon returning from JB, met up with JC pals...phew...glad I survived it all. Another piece of news that emerged from this fruitful trip which I can announce loud and clear now (didn't want to jinx it initially) - Mr F is now a PR, complete with blue IC and all. Yippee! Can start looking for flats now :P

Yes yes, I'm chipper. Though I thought I'd stocked up on enough "fun" to not feel bored - by the 2nd day of returning here, I was feeling homesick all over again. Ah, I guess you can't have the cake and eat it too. No matter the bittersweet feeling, I wouldn't mind doing it all over again. Next time though, I would naughtily extend my trip especially since I learnt from big boss yesterday that the next 3 weeks "will be slow as most of the doctors are away". Great...if only I had had the guts to stay on using some wonderfully cooked up story of being held up because of floods... Maybe next time hehe :P
meetup with ex-colleagues @ Fika cafe
one of the many outings with the charmed ones (unfortunately this pic was taken at NUH haha...lost all my JB pics when I sent phone for servicing...sigh...)
dinner with ma ladies...crappy talk and full of laughter as always :)
a more intimiate dinner with G and PE
Did i mention I tried to fool my family that I was some one else? Unfortunately the disguise didn't work, they were waving way before I even came out..sigh...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

[oh what chivalry]

Beneath all the "oppression" towards women here, I guess chivalry does exist amongst some men in this country (one of the plus points my hubby was trying to win me over with about coming here). I was pleasantly surprised that after shopping alone today (bought hubby ready-to-eat mixes to make while I'm gone), the guy who packed my stuff into bags (they have one cashier and one packer) put everything into my trolley and wheeled it out of the supermarket for me. After that, he even stood in the hot sun trying to flag down a taxi for me while he asked me to stand in the shade. Grateful I was because venturing out in the blistering heat under two layers of clothes is an easy recipe for dehydration. Not to mention I was wearing my face cover that made me feel suffocated lol. (I wear it on occassion to either just annoy Mr F [he doesn't get the amusement I get in wearing it, then lifting it up while in the car to stick my tongue out at him lol] or when I go to the "little India" here to avoid despos from staring at me or when I'm venturing out alone...the more u look like one of them, the less stares u're likely to get. Not that they disappear completely, gah.) So anyway, after hailing the cab, he even put my things in for me into the boot. How nice right? I was like wow, I could've handled it on my own cos it was so few things, but it was so nice of him to help. I've also experienced instances where guys have let me get ahead in queue or let me pass in front. I guess these fellas can't be condemmed totally. Heh.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

[the world should have more people like you]

I was recently lamenting on how the doctors in my department were easily impressed by the work I've done, and because of that I wasn't feeling motivated because I wanted to be pushed further, and not complimented for the easy work that I do. Seriously, if anyone is impressed by my statistics, they are naive. Not only because they get awed by the tests that I can "come up with", but also because they are such newbies to research, giving them a few p-values for simple associations makes them happy. This career move certainly wasn't one where I could "excel further". But I guess I've excelled at using Stata the whole day without getting a headache everytime. Heh.

Nevertheless, yesterday during our usual Saturday meetings (about the only day of the week I definitely have to go into office), Dr W was chairing the meeting. I remember when I first came into the department he was the one who said "Oh Dr A told me they saw what you wrote and it was like magic that you were able to write about a new topic so soon and so well". **Grinz**. So during the meeting where each of us RAs give our updates, I mentioned the status of the three manuscripts I was working on. He replied with a "Are you a hepatologist?" so I was like errr... Then he added "..because the NAFLD paper, the HCC, the steatosis paper...wow..perfectly written, till there isn't much to correct. In a year's time you can be a full time hepatologist!" Lol. I heard a couple of MashaAllah's around the table (it literally means "Whatever God wills", often used when there is surprise in someone's achievements or good deeds). If I had a mirror I could swear I was blushing so while looking down at my notes I said thank you. Hehe.

Today after talking to my big boss, he commented again about how he was impressed I could catch on with the liver field so soon and write "brilliant" papers so quickly (seems they were worried initially about whether I could grasp it soon). He even said whatever paper I write from scratch I can be an author in...yay! (On another note, it seems that God sends me these little messages just when I need them. Only last week I was telling hubby how I feel thick skin to write my own name on the paper or ask if I could include my name...and voila, Dr A brought it up today.) Well, bottomline is, I guess it's always fantastic to have bosses who appreciate the work you do and give a compliment even when it's not due lol. For that reason, I really love my working environment. Now I'm having second thoughts about changing jobs (I still miss the lab!)...guess we'll see what happens... For now I shall revel in the fact that I've had pretty nice bosses in my short working life so far =)

5 days to go till I see Changi Airport again. Wee!


P.S. I'm not blowing my own horn, just stating how lucky I am to have positive people around me here :)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

[at the playground]

We've been having pretty busy weekends lately. First it was the potluck, then an impromptu night at the park (which was cut short by a sudden sandstorm..was quite exciting actually lol, minus the sand in my eyes), then we visited a friend's place, and last weekend we made it to a theme park. We'd (the desperate [house]wives) planned for this ever since the istiraha so some of us were literally counting down the days to the event. Hey, we need thing to look forward to!

The theme park was a pretty modest one and it was ladies and kids only so the fellas had to find their own fun. Nowhere near sg standards, I think we'd call it more of those funfair thingies we have on open fields every now and then. There were very few rides and since we were super early (life here starts at night on weekends, we were there at 4.30!), we had to wait for the rides to start. The rides I took for the day was the go kart, rollercoaster and a water ride. Yep, only three. Sad right? Well, there was one crazy ride which swung u up in the air more than 45 degrees each way, while rotating, but that was too much excitement for me. Didn't want my hernia to get worse lol. I was hoping the rollercoaster would set my tummy back where it belongs but seems it didn't..haha. One of the girls had a preconceived idea that being s'porean, I would love theme parks and take all the rides. So she was kinda urging me onto the rollercoaster when I was reluctant initially so in the end I was like, fine why not. Child's play I would say really, but it seems as you get older those plunges get scarier. I wonder what other preconceived ideas they have about S'poreans...hmmm...

The weirdest thing that happened was Ms A getting frightened about going into the 3D Dark Room which was supposed to be a horror house of sorts. We were ready to set off when she panicked and decided not to go. Luckily there weren't many people so I wasn't so embarrassed. The first cart came back and A was asking them how it was. Seems that I didn't miss much, since it was literally just a dark room, with a couple of not-very-frightening "ghosts" that popped up twice. As AM put it, the only frightening thing was that the room was dark. Guess I didn't miss much...I guess I've been spoilt after going to the haunted house in Sweden and after that, even the horror house in Bkk wasn't frightening. I tell ya, nothing can beat that. :P And I also think that having traveled lots and experienced fantastic theme parks (the one in Brisbane was awesommmeee), this was totally disappointing.

The rest of the time was spent eating and talking and me trying to decipher what they were saying (sigh, they keep telling me to learn some phrases, but if you speak only in one language and not translate, how am I supposed to learn right??). Well anyway, had a pretty good time overall. We plan to visit the theme parks one by one every few weeks or so. I heard the guys are already complaining about having to chauffeur us there and back. Wahaha.
On a separate note, I was pretty shocked to see what the local ladies wear when they're "free"...from thick makeup to beehive hairdos to plunging necklines and exposed cleavages of assets that were obviously pushed up, if not already naturally very well-endowed. One of the gals said this was nothing, seems that at their weddings, their ballroom gowns come in all shapes and sizes. She even said that since the Indians who were there wore their traditional salwar suits, she felt like she was too decent lol. Hope I get to witness one while I'm here...I shall get a sexy low cut dress to attend it hehe.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

[sorry no cure]

It seems that I spoke to soon. I was happy that they found a CAUSE of the pain, but it seems there is no CURE for it. The dr will only be able to treat the symptoms with proton pump inhibitors to lower the acid content in my stomach but the hernia itself cannot be treated. Surgery is only a last resort and mine is still considered minor. My mood plunged down to below zero after yesterday's appt when he said that. Sigh. Yet another problem that is uncurable. First asthma, then back pain, now this. Looks like I'm accumulating symptoms throughout my life. By the time I'm 60 I wonder how many more problems my body will accumulate. Grrr.

For now, I guess my stomach has an inbuilt mechanism to stay healthy. Seems that avoiding the following things will help with the acid secretion:
- Tomatoes,
- Citrus fruits (but where to get my Vit C??),
- Chocolate (gasp!),
- Coffee (not a problem, I avoid it anyway cos it works as a laxative for me esp in the mornings lol)
- Smoking
- Alcohol
- Spicy food (bye bye chilli...)
- White/refined flour
- Fried food

And I should stock up on the following:
- Exercise
- Milk
- Honey
- Greens
- Elevating my head while sleeping
- Relaxation techniques for the diaphragm

I'm still hoping that my symptoms are a stay-in-this-country side effect. Maybe in 2 wks time the pain will suddenly disappear when I land at Changi airport. Hehe. Meanwhile, I'm hoping to get a 2nd opinion when I'm back in June. Sorry hubby, since coming here it's been hospitals almost every other wk (past two wks it's been almost twice weekly!). Hope I can make it up to you in some way. *Huggies*

Sunday, May 23, 2010

[the verdict]

Ah finally had the gastrocopy done. At least now I don't have to worry about the procedure and what exactly is wrong. It was pretty harmless, since I was sedated lightly, though I remember trying to regurgitate out the tube and the doctor told me to relax..yeah like I could control it while being in lala land :P

The diagnosis? Hiatal hernia: an anatomical abnormality in which part of the stomach protrudes through the diaphragm and up through the chest. More on it here...I like the diagram lol. Seems that it's the same thing I had as a baby where I wouln't be able to keep in feeds till my dad had to rush out to pharmacies at odd hours (when stock was low) to get thickeners to add in the milk. Asthma is also believed to be a consequence of it...I wonder if it's linked in my case. Interesting.
Anyway, I'm kinda relieved because at least he found something wrong...I hate going for checks, especially such invasive ones, and getting the result: nothing wrong, i.e. nothing we can do about it. I read up on it after coming home, and it seems that I'm already taking the meds that are prescribed for it. I hope this doesn't mean mine isn't treatable. I don't want to resort to surgery. I hope this problem will resolve soon since we're planning to have a baby soon (heartburn and what not gets worse during pregnancy...if this is already so bad, don't wanna imagine that!)

Got to thank my hubby for being by my side all the way, even being in the waiting room with me before the procedure (even though he hates needles and hates seeing me being poked) and as far as he could till they closed the room for the procedure. :)

[touched]

Felt very touched today when my friends and sister replied to my fb status abt going for my gastroscopy tmr. Was feeling a little nervous so wanted some words of encouragement heh. Auntie even told me to give her a call before I go for the procedure, and my MIL said she'll be praying for my quick recovery. I was especially touched when I received a call, from an unknown m'sian no, and it turned out to be a friend I met many years ago in Melaka after being online friends for awhile. Auntie E sounded quite concerned about what and why I needed the procedure done and said I could call her anytime for a chat. Sweet right? Hee. I guess even though I complained that my parents have not called me even once since coming here, God has sent me angels of friends who show their love through these little but meaningful ways.

Hopefully all will go well tmr (i.e. no complications) and that they'll find a (not so serious) cause as to what's going on, so that there can be a more specific solution to my gastric woes. :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

[super machine]

We had our 2nd day of training yesterday. True to my words, our driver came 25 mins late. I'd already told Dr L to ask O to come much earlier cos he'd be late anyway, but perhaps he doesn't have much punctuality sense either. Sigh. When we reached there about an hour late, I was shocked to see that the training hadn't even started, and the trainer told us he'd been waiting for people to show up since 9am. Haiz. I guess next time I'll just ask hubby to drop me directly. Even if I'm super early, at least I won't be guilty of making anyone wait for me.

What machine have we been training on? It's this awesome chemical analyser which can run about 92 different biochemical tests, 44 tests per run, and about 400 runs per hour. Fantastic huh? It kind of obliterates the need for a graduate to do the running of biochemical tests, but I guess that's what technology is aiming for these days. I think any Tom, Dick or Harry could be told which buttons to press and voila, albumin, creatinine, urea and what nots can be measured in about 10 mins.

the super machine



Which leads me to the topic of research here. Research has not been a big thing here since recently. Even then, it seems to be picking up quite slowly, with doctors still prefering clinical work and trials to basic science research. Most of the basic science research is only done in universities here, and they have very few research institutes (I'm only aware of one, and that is part of a govt hospital). It seems that funding and infrastructure isn't a major problem unlike in Sg. My centre for example, after getting HUGE funding, probably has enough money to set up its own lab. I've toured several labs from beaming doctors/scientists who are all out to impress this S'porean and I must say I have been impressed - from latest super high throughput PCR machines that do ALL the work for you at the press of a few buttons to this super machine that can run plenty of tests in such a short time. They cost millions of riyals, and I'm sure they're probably in the millions of sg dollars too. Unfortunately though, what seems to be lacking is the expertise to carry out research. If they can be impressed by an "epidemilogist" like me who has such basic knowledge in the field, it makes me wonder about the quality of their research. Many of the labs also seem to be newly set up and still looking for overseas experts to guide them. Oh and I should mention that most of the people who are interested in research are locals who have been trained overseas and, I assume, have been exposed to the research world.

Thankfully I guess the problem of skilled manpower can be solved by the abundant funding that the govt is putting into biomedical research (sounds a little like Sg...hope they don't get disappointed as our ministers are 10 years later lol). I think if they were to hire a few capable s'poreans (ahem..like me..haha), they would be well on their way to churning out excellent 2nd tier journals. Meanwhile, let's hope that their enthusiasm in research continues to grow and that their motivations are not driven by the monetary rewards (did I mention PIs and co-PIs get monetary incentives??? kind of unfair because us downlines who actually do the nitty-gritty don't get such bonuses...hmpf!).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

[let us drive already!]

Today was an excellent example why women should be allowed to drive here. Asked hubby to drop me at KKUH although I had a training session at the new building. Partly because he gets grumpy when I ask him to send me there, but mainly because I didn't want to be early so that Mr S wouldn't be buaya-ing me. Who is Mr S? Well, he's a "colleague" at the new building, a fella from my hubby's neighbouring country who even after my emphasis that I was married, still tried to buaya me by asking for my number and asking if I wanted him to "show me around" the lab when our 2nd training had been postponed (during that time, we'd only had training for a centrifuge, vortex, etc...yeah like I need revision on that!).

So anyway, it took me 3 calls to finally get the guy who usually drives us. 45 mins later, after basking in the sun (I was sitting in the shade but the heat was just as bad, summer's kicking in!), he was still a no-show so I decided to move indoors to wait for Dr L so that we could go together (feel better with him around so that Mr S won't buaya me, or at least I can use Dr L as a shield lol). So anyway, the driver never turned up much much much later and by then Dr L managed to get an alternative transport and we were almost reaching the new building already. All in all, my attempt to reach there at 9.30 became 10.40. I think if I had driven, it would've just taken a bloody 5 minutes. GRRRRR!!

On a lighter note, hubby and I had a magnificent indulgence at a 4 star (I think) hotel last night. There was a Brit & Irish food festival going on and I was feeling down so hubby decided to cheer me up (he seems to like cheering me up with food...bad bad..lol). The ambience was absolutely fabulous - apart from maybe the almost-beach dining experience I've had at Msia, this was perhaps the most fantastic place I've been to. The dining area was on a lawn...the carpet grass, twinkling lights and man-made waterfall cascading down closeby and the wooden furniture made me feel like I was transported somewhere not in this country hehe. The food didn't disappoint either - from Irish stew to Lancashire hot pot to even Balti prawns. The fish-and-chips were easily the best I've tasted in a long time, it was of excellent quality and the fish was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The lamb steak was also very juicy, wayyyy better than the regular steak place we've been to twice and always disappoints me in regards to the meat (u'd think I'd learnt my lesson right?? what to do...hubby doesn't eat meat here so I have to satisfy my meat cravings at restaurants heh). Gosh, I sound like I'm advertising for them. The only disapponting bit were the desserts, which was a bummer because I usually live for desserts during buffets (my ex-colleague G can vouch for it lol) but these had such weird tastes that we were literally left confused whether they were good or bad.

When the bill came our hearts did a flip over, because neither of us knew how much the buffet was gonna cost (can't possibly ask them the price then turn away when we find it too expensive right? hehe). It came up to about $190 (yes, sgd after conversion), making it about $95 per person. Must've been one of the most luxurious meals I've ever had. So now Mr F says no more dining out for the next 3 months..hahaha. Let's see how that happens...maybe I'll be upset again and he'll cheer me up again, at a less expensive place lol. And don't forget, in 2 months time will be our one year anniversary (wow, time flies!!) and my b'day :P

A perfect ending to that wonderful dinner would be to win the lucky draw to Ireland. So fingers crossed! :)

P.S. I've been wondering whether ppl are still reading this blog and was pleasantly surprised when G made a comment about one of my posts. Yay! Anymore readers out there...show urself! Haha.

Monday, May 10, 2010

[reminiscing]

Had a mini moment reminiscing as I read some posts while editing my blog. Since it's sort of an anonymous one (not that anyone has ever linked characters in the blog to me, from what I know at least), I searched for names that I accidentally forgot to de-identify e.g. Sakura's real name instead of Sakura, and changed them to pseudo names. Very free right? Haha. Well, I am actually lol. So friends don't worry, your secrets won't be divulged on my blog, knowingly at least.. :P

So anyway, even came across posts about Sakura going mad studying for her O-levels (she used a puncher on my hair..gasp!) and I was thinking, wow, now she's already in her 2nd year of uni. Time flies. I still remember setting up this blog to write down about my Sweden adventures. Perhaps in a few years time I'll be reminiscing about my "wonderful" time in S%%%% (btw, the reason I don't type that out is so that no one gets offended in case I bitch about the place lol).

Sunday, May 09, 2010

[an eventful weekend]

This must have been the busiest weekend I've had since I came here. And no I'm not complaining, cos at least I wasn't wasting my time at home playing FB and watching movie after movie. (By the way, can't believe it's almost 6 months since I've come...wow, time flies!!) On Thursday we went to the M'sian embassy for a bazaar they were having. It was a modest affair with several booths in the parking area, mostly selling food. Needless to say, I jumped at the satay and laksa that I saw. They tasted a little different (M'sian style I guess) but hey, when you're missing home food, it doesn't matter. They had other events like three-legged race, 5 stones, etc. Unfortunately Mr F wanted to leave early so I didn't get to play. :(

That evening we went over to A's (aka LM) place for what was supposedly dinner. It was a potluck but I managed to escape bringing something (cooked) since N told the hostess that I'm "a working woman" and didn't have time lol. I wanted to make Banoffee pie but hubby said it was expensive, so our contribution was two tubs of yummy ice cream. The guys over stretched their volleyball playing so they came home 2 hours later than planned. As if that wasn't bad enough, dinner was served only a couple of hours later and I had to endure the pain in my stomach that had returned that was worsened by the hunger and the chattering that went on in a foreign language. If it weren't for S I think I'd have wanted to leave early when Mr F suggested it. All in all our 6 pm dinner started at 10 and ended at 12am, and only thanks to Mr F making the first move to leave. I guess I shouldn't complain, since I had some interaction. Something's better than nothing. We've even planned our next event! Oh and I should add that hubby said he's glad his wife is a better cook than his friends' wives hehe (maybe he just got used to my horrible cooking haha).

On Friday, we had yet another event. This time it was an usrah (gathering to talk about Islam) at a M'sian diplomat's house. They have usrahs pretty often here, about fortnightly. I had met the diplomat's wife via FB and also the previous day at the embassy. Their house was a gigantic 3 storey semi-detached house which cost 140k riyals (~55k sgd) rent per MONTH! And guess how many people living in it? TWO!!! Oh well, shows how much governments spend on keeping their diplomats happy lol. So anyway, the topic for the day was pretty heavy for a first-timer like me - burial preparation - though it was quite amusing when we tried to demonstrate on one of our fellow attendees. The crowd was mostly M'sian (duh) and besides me, I think KS was the only other S'porean. After the usrah, we said prayers together with the men leading (I miss that too, they don't seem to do it in Indian gatherings) and next up was...FOOOD! It was a potluck and naughty me didn't bring anything even though I was gorging myself on the mee kari (curry noodles...somewhat like laksa), ayam masak merah (chicken cooked red...my favourite!!!) and numerous other dishes. Ok ok, I promise next time I shall bring something hehe. Again, hubby was quite eager to leave and since I thought that was it and I didn't want him to get bored further, we left soon after. Only later on I realised they stayed on till late to chat more and play some kampung games like congkak, I was like...darnnnn, next time I won't be so accomodating. Lol.
(kids playing congkak, photo grabbed from here)


Hopefully things will keep looking up with more such gatherings. Friends (although I would call them acquaintances at this stage) are soooo important in maintaining your sanity.

I've learnt a few lessons from this weekend:

1) Maybe I've been counting on the wrong people to "befriend" me. If I keep searching, I'm sure to find more friends on my own.

2) There are a great deal of expat wives (one website calls us "trailing wives") who sacrifice their jobs and careers for their husband's sake when they have to drop everything and go overseas. I salute all of them and at the same time grateful that not only my hubby lets me work, but I found a wonderful job in such a short time.

2) Am grateful we're living in such a neat, clean, non-chaotic and safe neighbourhood, and a new and clean house too.

3) Even though you've been advising me to "lower my standards" in finding friends, it seems you're not heeding your own advice in helping me "fit in". Which brings me back to point 1. But anyway, I know what you mean now.

4) Maybe after all this "searching for friends", I realise I'm pretty content spending quality time with my hubby afterall. :)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

[this or that?]

Have opposing kinds of stories to share...so not sure to combine it into one post or not. Anyway here goes..

On the down side, the city was flooded after a heavy thunderstorm yesterday. A couple of friends and I were so happy that it was raining, we even opened our windows to smell the rain (the things you miss when you're away from home). Unfortunately though, this country has a very poor drainage system, if they have one at all. Underpasses were heavily flooded, cars were drowned in water. The authorities issued a state of emergency and closed down schools today because they expect even more rain. Seriously, it's about time they built some drains!!



More horrifying images here. Thank God my baby got home safely.

On another note, by some sort of wonderful coincidence, I met another fellow Singaporean. I'd replied to an ad on an expat mailing list requiring tuition for IB Biology and since it was my down week, I replied. [NB: my workload, I realised, is like a sinusoidal curve - when I have no work, I have absolutely zilch work to do. When the drs decide to give me work, they all give it at the same time. Gah. It's my busy week now, though I'm so used to bumming now I don't feel like doing anything lol]. So anyway, when she called she sounded Singaporean, so I asked where she was from and voila! No wonder she was asking me which schools my previous students were from. First day tuition worked out well, except that I was a lil rusty, and the girl being a gifted student, didn't really need any basics covered, so she was asking me complicated questions. Told her to let me know what topic she wants for next tuition so that I can be more prepared lol.

Can't help but wonder if it was a God-sent, since I've been yearning to meet more Singaporeans. The mum is even inviting us over for dinner one day and told me she'd include me in more gatherings in future. Can't wait..yay! :)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

[unlucky or blessing in disguise?]

I've been craving for interaction and physical activity. So, when a certain "adventure" group posted that they were going to have a walk at a town on the outskirts of Riyadh, I immediately responded. It was going to be a one hour walk around the town, I think.

Mr F said he was going to service the car that morning. I assumed he meant he was going to fix the screen wipers which really needed to be changed especially since it's been raining lately and knock out the dent that someone gave the car (hit and run..grr). I assumed (again) he was doing it the very morning we had plans because we were going to drive quite a distance so better to be safe. It's been quite surprising how much/often it's been raining here, which is a fantastic thing. The last time we were out and it rained, we were driving pretty blindly because instead of wiping water off the windshield, the wipers only made things worse. So there I was, waiting patiently for Mr F to come home. It was already time to set off and he was still at the workshop.

When he finally returned, I was a little annoyed so I said I didn't want to go since we'd be late. He convinced me that we'd reach on time so off we went. I noticed that the dent was still there so I assumed he just fixed the wipers. I was wrong. Halfway about our drive the car started jerking. It happened several times so Mr F wanted to stop by a mechanic before continuing to our destination. It was then I realised that when he said service the car, he meant cleaning/polishing it, both the exterior and the engine, so that he could "make an entrance". Yeah make an entrance we would, since we'd be the last ones coming. Since we were already pressed for time, I told him to forget about the meetup and just get the car fixed.

We took a U-turn and headed home. Needless to say I was extremely disappointed. Awhile later, there was a mild sandstorm. I tried to cheer myself by saying that maybe it was a blessing that we didn't go, since I certainly didn't want sand in my face...that is, if it was sandstorming at the location we were going as well. Later on that night when we went out, I guess the engine "dried up" so it was fine again. No jerks at all. The last time we wanted to drive west for an adventure (the iris fields that we didn't see), we were misinformed and it didn't work out. This time we were headed west again, and something else happened. Sigh, just my luck I guess.
Moral of the story: don't wash your engine before a road trip..lol.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

[my current preoccupation]

Since I have lots of time on my hands, decided to try digital scrapbooking. I initially wanted to do "hardcopy" scrapbooking, but it seems that it's a hard commodity to come by here. I've always liked playing around with Photoshop, and I like (taking) pictures, this seemed to be the perfect hobby. Here are a few layouts I've tried...

My first try



This received raving reviews on FB..lol.



Would've used a better photo, but lazy to transfer them from my HDD.



I called this "narcissistic" for obvious reasons..lol.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

[on women here]

I promised to post some stuff about life and culture here..so here goes my first posting (ever since saying that I seemed to have other things to blog about lol).

P.S. Please note that all my ramblings about this country are purely my opinioin and from my experiences. I may be biased so if any local is reading this, please don't get offended.

My preconceived ideas of women here were that they didn't have freedom, couldn't move around on their own, and were second class citizens. Did any of my beliefs change after spending 4 months here?

On work:

Most local women either hardly work at all, or work in administrative jobs or stereotypical "female" jobs like teaching. Working in a hospital will not give me a very good idea of how women fare in the work place here. It seems that the locals find it degrading for their women to work in nursing, because of the nature of the job. [Recently, there was even an outcry over a fatwa {religious decree} allowing women to work as maids, but I digress here]. So as you might expect, I can safely say that probably 99% of the nurses here are foreigners, made up mainly of Filipinos and Indians. The only local women in my department are 2 research assistants, which I guess is considered a "good" job since it doesn't involve manual labour.

In my experience I would say that there is hardly any discrimination professionally, at least none that are obviously visible. So far, I've been included in all board meetings, my views have been heard, and I'd dare say I'm earning pretty well (though Mr F's theory is that it's because I'm from Sg/NUS). The only problem is that I get my pay only once every two months. Rumour has it that it's because they do not think paying women (on time) is very important, since the man is the sole breadwinner of the house. I do not like to point fingers without evidence so I shall just believe that it's because the persons in charge are very busy.


On "freedom":

Bringing up this topic is probably opening a can of worms, so to make things simple, I shall talk about common perceptions of how women here do not have freedom.

Driving - As we all know very well, this was one of my biggest peeve even before marrying someone who lives here and knowing I might have to move here some day. I would say this is the hugest discrimination of all, not to mention all the inconvenience it brings. The "religious police" say the reason is that women should not meet men on the road. Isn't it ironic that you don't want that to happen, but say it's ok for a woman to be alone with a driver - be it a taxi driver or your chauffeur? There have been plenty of arguments to overturn this ban, plenty of protests from women here and abroad; and the latest news is that the king is trying his best to overturn this rule. It seems that there needs to be more policewomen on the roads and for this to happen, they need to be recruited and trained. I guess we won't see it happening soon.

I have other reasons for not liking this rule, especially the one about not having the freedom to go about wherever you want. For a foreigner like me, Mr F was so protective he didn't even want me to go down to the shops alone initially. It took me 3 months and not having a car (car was in the workshop) to finally have the courage to hail a cab and come home myself. Why? Firstly because local cabbies can't be trusted (one of my American friends had a story to tell!), and secondly, I can't communicate with the foreign drivers who are mostly south Asians and speak only smattering English. And the latter get excited when they see a foreigner who looks like them, and starts chatting you up. That again, is another story worth mentioning perhaps next time. It is really stifling to not be able to move around and be as independent as I was in sg. Sigh.

The women who live in compounds (sorta equivalent to condos in sg) have it easier because they have regular bus services from the compounds to various shopping centres throughout the day. I guss it's just too bad that not all of us live in compounds.

The next con about not being able to drive is being dependent on your husband to bring you around. Note that this is a different point from wanting to go places, because this is a NEED. There have been several times I've had to schedule my day according to what time my husband can pick me up. And though he never complains, I started to feel bad about him having to rush to pick me up and rush back to work. Good thing I have a part-time chauffeur now, although he only picks me up from work and nothing else (it would cost MUCH more to have one at my own disposal, but it's not worth it since I don't go out much anyway). But at least I don't have to feel bad about depending on Mr F all the time.

And here comes another disadvantage of not moving around on your own (they don't even have decent public transport!). I've put on weight, probably from several factors such as having a deskbound job (oh I so miss the lab) and bumming at home on no-work-to-do days, but I dare say that being chauffeured from point A to point B has had a significant effect on it. Gone are the days where I could walk home from work (call me crazy, but it's kinda therapeutic), walk from the bus stop to work, etc. Every metre counts! I don't even dare go walking on my own, maybe one day I should just take the plunge, in the day that is. Now don't get me wrong, it's not that it isn't a safe country, I'm/we're just paranoid that things may happen. And things happening in a foreign country where there are language barriers isn't good.

Ah, I've only blogged about two (women) topics and it's already 10 pages long. Shall continue more another day. :P

Saturday, April 24, 2010

[worlds apart]

X: So you are housewife or working? [sic]
Me: I'm working.
X: As what?
Me: Doing research at KKUH...etc etc
X: So why you are not housewife?
Me: ?????

That was the conversation I had with Mrs K, at the mini getaway we had this weekend. I was quite taken by surprise at that question, so after being stunned for a few seconds, I replied, because I'd be bored at home.

It made me wonder whether this was the mentality of Indian women. It seemed that with the few interactions I've had with them: 1) Most of them are like "wow" when they know I'm working and 2) They seem content knowing that they're devoting their lives to the home. While I have no objections against that, I feel it is quite a waste to throw away your education just to make babies. Many of these ladies whom I met yesterday, my hubby's friends' wives, have degrees in all sorts of fields, ranging from engineering to MBBS no less. But somewhere during their undergrad years, along comes a proposal and while some are lucky enough to be able to complete their degrees, others either stop halfway, or don't even get to complete their final year. It's such a sad waste, of talent, of money, and of dignity (to me at least). My MIL was unable to do her final year because of the same reason.

What usually happens is this - parents these days hear that having an e.g. engineering degree is in demand, so they send their daughters to do their degrees. Once a proposal comes, they can say: Hey, my daughter is studying/has studied engineering. Put crudely, it translates to: Hey, my daughter is marketable. There comes a groom who thinks this girl fits his (educational) criteria, he ticks off other items from his checklist like religiosity, looks, etc, then picks his bride. We have one friend who had 2 girls shortlisted, and all other factors being equal, finally decided on the one with "better looks".

And so these girls forego their education, whether they like it or not. One of my closer acquaintances had been accepted to do her MBA, but her future auntie-in-law told her not to so that she could "join the family earlier". And now in Riyadh, she was getting very bored, so her husband finally let her work, though that didn't last long because she is having a difficult pregnancy. Another girl cried when she came home from school one day to know that her mother had agreed to betroth her to someone. Most of the ladies at the party were quite bored being housewives, but I guess that being the norm, they either cannot or do not oppose it. The MBBS grad got her degree last Nov, got married in Dec via a proposal (though she had the privilege of interacting with her fiance after the engagement - most of the them don't interact much with their future spouses, a phonecall is considered out of the norm, one girl didn't even see her fiance's face in person till AFTER the engagement, and they only talked for 5 mins then), and now she probably will have to postpone her internship because she is 5 weeks pregnant.

I guess if you grew up in a culture where your sole purpose was to get married and produce kids, it wouldn't be a horrible thing. But for someone who comes from a society where every individual counts, where women are allowed to have careers besides being mothers, I was quite shocked after hearing everyone's stories yesterday. It didn't help that I was feeling out of place because I couldn't speak the language, it made it twice as strange because them being housewives, most of their topics ranged from pregnancies to looking after kids to how they spent their (not-so exciting) days. Good thing topics diversified (nowhere near as diversified as last weeks' topics tho lol) and they were quite curious to know more about the odd Singaporean so things got a little livelier for me.

Yes I was aware of all this before deciding to marry someone who was part of this culture. I am thankful that he is one of the more open-minded ones. I'm am even more now keen than ever to make sure my future daughters, even if they grow up in India, will be treated as independent women who are not destined to be groomed as baby-making machines

P.S. I should also add that while the boys were playing fun games like volleyball (yay) in the men's section of the villa, the women just sat in the room playing carem and cards and chatting away (yawn). Is this part of the "women shouldn't play sports culture"?? Gender segregation was bad enough (come on, I'm not gonna ogle at your husbands), segregation with no fun activities was quite torturous. Sigh. But I guess I should be grateful since there was some excitement anyway. Hopefully our pot luck plan turns out. My motto right now: if there's interaction, count me in. Lol.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

[on making friends]

I'm glad I took the plunge last weekend. I had stumbled upon an "expats in s%%%%" blog and was reading up on the forum and stuff. I'm not usually active on forums, but when I saw a "Girl Party" post I immediately emailed the organiser and put my name down. I was feeling a lil sick that day and was using that as an excuse not to go. Well, I actually get nervous meeting people I don't know so I wasn't sure about going. Even after all these years on planet earth! It was good that hubby pushed me to it, and the rest is history! It turned out that everyone was a bit hesitant at first about going, but in the end everyone was glad they turned up.

We got along really well, jabbering about anything there was to jabber about, ranging from "discussing" local culture to ahem...penis size..lol (ok, it was just a convo between the two ang mohs..lol). Most of them were American, by descent or otherwise (2 ang mohs, 1 Chinese, 1 middle eastern looking lady married to a local but she's american). One was a confused Pakistani who tried very hard to fake an American accent but failed miserably everytime she got excited. She ended up looking to me to interpret things whenever the rest didn't understand her..and I was like...huh...am I ur interpretor or what?? I'm beginning to believe what my hubby says about ppl from that country, from this encounter and others...I just thought he was being nationlistic all this time (we all know the India-Pakistan feud). The food was good though I didn't contribute any..oops (I brought a bottle of sparkling juice though hehe). A really nice bunch of ladies. We're already excited about the next meeting and hoping our group will grow. Hopefully some meaningful friendships will come out of it too. C has already invited me to go shopping with her one of these days..yay!

Am still on the quest to find more friends now, maybe next weekend I might meet a bunch of Malaysians instead, thanks to a girl I randomly added on FB...haha. Finding friends in a foregin country where no one socialises is hard work! I shall not give up. Hopefully I'll feel more comfortable here after finding a few people to call my friends :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

[the day he jumped]

I thought I knew Mr F through and through. Even he claimed he has shown me all his sides. Not till yesterday though, when his favourite/home cricket team won the match and he was prancing and cheering around the living room. I was already dumbfounded before that when he was like screaming and clapping when they got a "shot" (a good move), so when he did this, I was literally speechless. This also leads me to another point - sooner or later every wife will have to put up with hours of no tv while their big boys cheer over their favourite sport. We all learn something new everyday eh? ;)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

[:)]

I love it when you kiss my cheek every morning before you go to work, even though I'm still asleep. This is bliss. :)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

[hello doctor]

I made yet another visit to the A&E, in less that 4 weeks from the last episode. This time it wasn't because of my tummy. For some strange reason, I literally was fine one day, and the next morning I had the worst of sore throats I think I've ever had. To make it worse, there was blood in my phlegm. That worried Mr F a little so despite my pleas not to go to the A&E (I think I've mentioned before I don't like hospitals, and it wasn't really an emergency), he insisted on it. Part of the reason was because he didn't want to end up waiting at the clinic for 2 whole hours. (They have a different system here - the clinics are part of the hospital, same area as outpatient specialist clinics. So even if you're seeing a GP, and if you don't have an appointment, it'll probably be a long while before they manage to slot you in somewhere. Our previous experience was waiting for almost an hour, to which the nurse said "If it's urgent go to the emergency". Hmpf.) I guess that was a good decision on hindsight, because 2 more hours in air con (dry+cold) would've made me worse.

The dr was a bit daft (I'll spare you the details) but after all his questions he said "I'll give you an injection" so that was what I was prepared for. Before I knew it, a nurse came in with an iv kit and we were like..huh?? My hubby asked the nurse..."Is this the "injection" the dr said he'd give?" and she nodded her head. Hmmm. I've seriously not heard of any dr giving iv for a sore throat, and we realised it was just paracetemol (1 gram!). Strange! Perhaps because I also mentioned I had sprained my back 3 days ago after being over enthusiastic about exercising (damn that aerobics video lol) so maybe he wanted to reduce my pains. He was even quite eager to give me the nebulizer even though I wasn't wheezing so good thing I insisted I didn't have any breathing difficulty. In the end the diagnosis was just URTI and I was poked twice just for that...hmpf! The first nurse couldn't find my vein and was playing "search for the vein" while already inside me. I was ready to box her and ask for a change of nurse. Luckily she took initiative herself, then the next nurse, after some prodding around, managed to get my vein. Gah.

I did feel good though after the paracetemol...could talk louder and I was like..wow my throat doesn't hurt much now! Lol. Maybe I was high on painkillers. Although I was quiet for just a few hours, Mr F said he missed my chatter. Awww..haha. I told him to enjoy the peace while it lasts. :P My Sg-Riyadh friends suggested that it could've been because of the dry weather here causing the irritation, leading to infection (read up a bit on it). So hopefully I can convince Mr F to get a humidifier before things get worse.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

[ramblings]

When I was down writing helped me vent my frustrations. I guess it's a good way of expressing yourself in general, so I've decided that I shall blog more instead of once a month. And since I'm learning more and more about this country everyday, perhaps I shall do a series of posts about it. Haven't decided how many, so let's just go with the flow. Hehe.

I'll start today's post with a different topic though, since I just realised I haven't blogged about it - My arrival here and how my darling hubby welcomed me.

"I touched down about 15 mins early and was anxious about going through immigration. I'd heard enough stories to wonder if they'd let a "single" woman travel alone. Plus I'd wanted to rebel so I was wearing a short top, jeans and a pink scarf. But my fears were unfounded, because everything went smoothly. The only minor hiccup was security asking me for my passport after I passed immigration, to which he just read out my husband's name (???) and let me pass.

The moment I stepped out I looked around for my baby. Unlike previous meetings where he could scoop me up and hug me (ok, don't count the meeting where our families were present..and well..he didn't really scoop me...heh), this one was very sober . After kissing my forehead he handed me the abaya to wear, to which I protested "Hey look that lady isn't wearing one!" Lol. I didn't want him to get into trouble so being the good wife I was (ahem), I put it on and we headed to the carpark where the winter night greeted me. On the passenger seat was a rose and my fave choc (Galaxy, they don't have it in Sg) and on the radio was our song. Hee :). Compared to other meetings, I wasn't as emo this time - perhaps because I knew this time things were gonna be different. We didn't need to part after a week.

Dinner was in his car, so pathetic because the restaurant we bought the pizzas from didn't have a family section. "Welcome to Saudi" was Mr F's retort. I was like, wow, why do I hate it already?!After that, we drove to what I'd call home for awhile. Mr F asked me to wait in the car while he went up with my first luggage bag. I did find it a bit strange as to why he didn't just let me in. But you'll find out why soon...

As I stepped into the house, the lights were dimmed. And trailing the way to our bedroom were candles lit up and roses placed on the floor. On our bed was another rose and another bar of Galaxy and needless to say, that brought (good) tears to my eyes.

Thank you Mr F for making my debut here so memorable."