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

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

I called this "narcissistic" for obvious

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

[on women here]

I promised to post some stuff about life and culture 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 (ok, it was just a convo between the two ang 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 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 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


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."