Sunday, July 16, 2006

Could you spare some change?

Reading nectar's post on how she had changed since moving to Japan made me think of how I myself have changed these past year.
And today being the annivessary of my move to Al-Kh0bar, Kingd0m of S@udi Ar@bia (yes, I arrived here at about 3am on this date, last year), I thought what would be more apt than to take stock of how living here have affected me?

I think I'll categorize these changes on how my relationships with some of the most important things in my life: myself, my family, other people in general, and last but not least, food (!).

I think all the time being almost alone at home has made me know myself better.
I realized that I can be totally malas nak mampus (lazy to death) if I let myself be, and I can also be totally berani macam gila (brave like crazy) when I put my mind to it. I have spent one whole day doing nothing but watch TV for 5 straight hours, stopping only to open the door for my boys coming home from school, and then later to prepare dinner for my husband. I took the bus on my own, (dragging anis along), with no handphone and just money and went shopping at a bazaar a 45 minutes' bus ride away. I know it doesn't sound so dangerous to you people living in civilized lands, but here, it's quite unusual to find a woman walking about alone without a man's escort, especially when it's not in an over-priced mall and the said woman looks more like a maid than an expatriate's wife. Fortunately I have learnt to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to uninvited advances from salesmen and came out with dignity intact. (but I don't know if I'll ever do it again).
Having almost nothing to do has also made me more open about voicing my needs and wants. I became more firm with my requests, and have been able to successfully argue and persuade my husband to buy things that I suggested would make me more at home here in a foreign house, in a foreign land. Case in point: The blender.

My family
I think I've become a better wife and mother since I've moved here.
On top of the whole family being together, I am also 100% at home. Before moving here, even though I was not working, I would be out of the house sometimes, going to my mother's place or to my sister's place or having a girl's day out with the lunch ladies.
There were also other people around, so sometimes I leave my kids to spend time with other people and don't pay as much attention to them as I do now. Yes, sometimes I grow sick of them and their antics, but I also think I have grown closer to them. We truly talk to each other about everything and I am getting to know them better as they are getting to know me better too.
Same thing goes with my husband. We talked a lot before, but I think now that we are so far a way from our own families, we opened up much more. He has truly become my confidante. and I am more deeply in love with him than ever before. *blush*
With the rest of my family, well, apart from this blog, we have communicated through M5N and Skyp3. It's a funny thing when you're talking though the internet.. somehow I feel it's more intimate than when you're sitting across each other in your mom's living room. So even though we're physically further apart, I think we're emotionally closer.

Other people in general
With other Melayus:
I treat them like family!! When we meet, we kiss and hug and ask how you've been.. and we're always feeding each other. You can't help it, it's an instant carmaraderie that your develop when you meet a fellow countrymen in a foreign land. The malaysians here are so close knit, it's amazing. When I was in the hospital after delivering Izani, they came with rice and steamed fish and other dishes that they know the hospital can't provide. So when I hear somebody's sick or something, we go and visit, we bring a little something-something.
You know how sometimes when you're in Malaysia, you don't even smile at the melayu walking pass you? Over here, if I see someone who remotely looks Malaysian, I'd quickly ask.
With non-Melayus:
ah well.. with the ladies, I try to be friendly and not be too hurt if I don't get a similar response. But most often than not, the ladies I've met (who could speak english) are quite amiable and they just love babies! I can't walk a hundred feet in a crowd of women without one of them pinching izani's cheeks. I think I have becomed a little reserved though.. the first time I was here, I was friendlier, always the one who would introduce myself first. But as I became tired of not getting an equally warm response, I now sit back and wait to be said hello to. Thus I have learnt to be contented to be alone, reading a book, or playing with anis, at times.
With the men.. hm.. I think I used to be quite friendly with men. I mean, not friendly to the point of being flirtatious, but friendly enough to be pleasant. I'd say thankyou and smile to bus drivers, cashiers, salesmen, bag boys, clerks and the likes. Here, however, I have learnt to be more .. urm.. snobbish. And i can't help it, coz it's a must. Show a little nicety (sic) and some men would take it the wrong way and you'd get something you wont expect, and would not like.
I once raised my hand to the guy holding up the bar gate when we were entering our compound, as a sign of thankyou. Taufik told me off. He said, "Don't". I asked why, and he said "Just Don't". The next time we drove pass, i think I saw the guy giving me a wink. The next time we drove pass, I learnt to just stare in front of me blankly.

Oh. My. God.
I think my relationship with food has totally changed since I've come here. I am obsessed with cooking. I mean OBSESSED. oh wait. maybe it's more like POSSESED than obsessed.
I have cooked things I never thought I would cook. Like Ketupat Sotong (Stuffed Squid), for instance. and Tepung Boko (Tapioca pudding with coconut cream topping). And never in my life prior to moving here have I put anything in the oven, and here I am baking cakes and pavlovas! with cream frostings! I am making smoothies from scratch! I even made a banana cake from scratch! My mom would've fainted. Well, actually, I did bake a cake out of a box when she was here, and she didnt faint. But I think she was pretty impressed. tee hee.
I have become pretty adventurous with food too. Usually I wouldnt try anything foreign unless mokciknab told me it was good. But I have bravely ordered palak paneer and liked it very much.

I think all in all, this move has definitely changed me, whether it's for the better in some parts or not. I surely hope to retain the improvements, and hope to be able to work on the degradations..

Pavlova with peach and cream topping, made 16th July 2006, totally consumed two hours later

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