Lilypie - Pregnancy

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!