Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ma Ismuka?*

* "What is your name?" in arabic.

Nazrah tagged me with this meme.

I figured i better do it quick while I still can find 5 other people to tag next... tee hee.

So basically I have to tell you how my kids got their names.

I'm sure some of you have heard these stories before, (especially if you're related to me), so if you want, you can go ahead and skip to the end of the post and check if you've been tagged.

I never thought of my children's names when I was a teenager. I think I only started after I got married and the prospect of actually naming a child was very high.

There were two names that I really really really wanted to give my sons (somehow I didnt picture myself having girls). It all started when I was driving and I was thinking about how yummy Harrison Ford is and I got to a traffic light and I wondered wouldnt it be great if I could name my child "Harrison Ford", but of course I couldnt coz it's not a melayu name and my mom would freak out (not to mention my husband) so I thought of how I could make Harrison Ford's name sound melayu.

So I came up with "Hariss Anfard".

tee hee.

Then, naturally, the second yummiest person came to mind, and I thought of "Qiyan 'Urif" (with an 'ain, not a wau).

tee hee hee

Those two names really entertained me through the horrible traffic jam between M0torola and SS3.

When I was pregnant with my firstborn and found out it was a boy, I presented the names to Taufik and he asked what the names meant and I couldnt tell him and of course I can't tell him that I wanted to name my kids after Hollywood stars so I didnt pursue it further.

I don't remember what names I had picked, but I do remember that taufik was the one who had picked the name "Ilham".

Originally, we had wanted to name him "Ilham" only, without the Muhamad, because having a really long name like mine (title, my name, bust@man, binti, my dad's title, then my dad's name which consists of 'mohd' and his name - that's 7 items in my full name!), I knew how painful it is to have a long name. My fingers get cramps every time I need to fill out a form. But then, my in-laws insisted that we put a Muhamad in front of the name, because they think it's islamic (it's not, really.) So we conceded and we named our first boy as Muhamad Ilham bin Mohamed Taufik. (In the current school though, his teachers write his name as just 'Ilham Taufik')

Ihsan was also picked by Taufik. I thought it was a pretty good idea, because it follows a theme: both names started with an 'I', and both has a good meaning when combined with his name, like "Ilham Taufik" means "Taufik's idea" and "Ihsan Taufik" means "Taufik's gift".

Since Taufik had named the boys, I had wanted to name the 3rd child once I knew it was going to be a girl. Following the "I" trend, I wanted to pick "Iman", which means "Faith", so you know.. taufik's Idea, Gift and Faith. But then the family already had an 'Iman', so I scrapped that idea. Then my best friend passed away and I knew I wanted to name my daughter 'Suhaila', which means 'fluent, smooth flowing'. I decided to use Suhaila as a second name, and went to search for a first name that began with 'I'. I finally settled on 'Isma' which means "upbringing", with hopes that the upbringing of this girl would be smooth all the way. The night after I gave birth to my daughter, Taufik told me that he didnt really like the name "Isma" coz it sounded masculine (teringat kat Isma Alif lah tu), so he decided to name our daughter 'Anis' instead (Little did we know that 'Anis' is a boy's name in arabic). I checked the meaning of 'Anis' and found that it means "Giver of love". So in the end, our only daughter was named "Anis Suhaila", the fluent , ever flowing giver of love.

Taufik came up with Izani. I don't know where he got the idea. I had wanted to name him Imran (after the yummy former-cricket captain-now-politician Imran Khan) but I didnt mind Izani either. I couldnt find the meaning of the name in Arabic, but a friend said that it means "the obedient one" in farsi or something. I know 2 guys named Izani, and they both had exemplary personalities, so I didnt disagree with the name.

So there you go. Whenever anybody asks me who names our kids, I'd point to Taufik. He's the creative namer in the house.

These are the 5 parents I'm tagging:

1. Nina&firhad - kenalah tag keluarga dulu, kan? (lagiun kak long and didi sungguh malas nak blog sejak duamenjak nih)

2. Bear&Diah - i know you guys wanna know how Baby Pasha got his name too!

3. Zan&zul - maybe we can get insights on the new baby's name as well?

4. famygirl&famyboy - I hope this cheers her up after her sickness.

5. Onde-onde&Che'juan - coz her children's names have very beautiful meanings!

what book to buy me

Dengan tak malu nya (With not an ounce of shame), I would like to announce that I want this book:

A Thousand Splendid Suns

by Khaled Hosseini

tee hee.


Everytime you ask my mom about flying to M@kkah, she will surely mention about flying over a vast area that looked like fish scales from the air.

She had asked me several times whether I knew what it was.

Not having seen it myself, I could just imagine what it looked like and I thought it was either a salt plant (where they dig crescent shaped ponds and scrape off the crystalized salt). My brother in law guessed that maybe it was some sorta of a huge electrical experiment, where they use salt water to generate electricity or something.

Last night Taufik came home and mentioned to me about an oil field in the middle of mounds of red sand. The red sand stretches for miles and it sits in small (relatively) mounds, surrounding patches of flat land. Rigs can only be put on the flat lands, and not on the red sands. To built the airport, they had to choose two flat lands adjacent to each other then carve the red sand/rock in between them to fit the runaway.

We went to G00gle earth and found the Sh@ybah airport.

When I looked at the terrain, I knew instantly that it was what my mom had been describing before.

I googled some more and found these amazing aerial photographs by Brian McMorrow.

Dolly, please show mama these pictures and see if this is what she's been talking about.

All I can say is Masya-Allah (Amazing God), and I wish we could go there for a visit one day.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Public Service Announcement

YM hacks

Do you now that people can hack into your yahoo account?

If you start seeing strange YM messages from your YM friend asking you to click on a link or something:

1. Don't click on the link.. *duh*

2. Send them a message (email or sms or other messaging services) asking them to change their passwords a.s.a.p.!

3. Ask your friend to watch out for the same signs for your account or their YM friends.

Online Qur'an

I found a great online Qur'an site: QuranExplorer.com

It has a program that displays the qur'an and its english translation, and it has audio of the qur'an recitation, AND its english translation.

Tres cool!

Especially when you want to listen to the verses and its translation while doing something else *cough*blog*cough*.

Travel Guides

I've been pouring through Yahoo!Travel these past few days. Lots of information, but very very useful. Lotsa pictures too.

It also has a travel planner, where you can pick itineraries and add it into your 'trip' and review and adjust as you please. Makes planning much easier, especially if you're going on your own and not with a tour agency.

If you choose, you can also update the travel journal for your trip, sorta like a blog for your trip.

I wish I had found this before I went to Jakarta.. then I could've recorded everythng on time and not forget stuff like I had now.. :P

that's all for today, folks!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

i am distracted

by lots of things.

can't blog.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Ilham's Birthday Party

I don't know why I thought that having 10 boys in a house as small as mine would be a good idea.

It was havoc.

I was running behind, so I was in the kitchen most of the time.

Taufik was busy entertaining the parents who hung around for the party.

and Ilham. cannot. control. his. friends.

They played soccer outside for a bit. For what felt like 5 minutes.

Then they went upstairs to the boys' room. They had a pillow fight. A boy barricaded 2 other boys in the closet. One boy tried to jump from the top of the chest of drawers to the bed. The took the legs off of Izani's baby gym and used them as swords.

Suffice to say, they didnt play any party games.

I tried to bring them outside again. And told Ilham to entertain his friends, but Ilham was too distracted by the boxes of presents. (If he was distracted then, you can just imagine how he was after he opened the presents and saw the stuff that was inside!)

After we cut the cake, and one of the boys went home, the kids finally settled down coz Ihsan decided to show them linerider.

Most of the kids went home by 5:30pm. Some parents stuck around for a chat till around 6pm. Sharlee and Hatta stuck around till about 8pm and we chatted and chatted while having tea and leftover sandwiches.

Sharlee's moving to London by end of July. I'm gonna miss her alot. And my kids are really gonna miss her kids. I am cheering myself up by planning a trip to London! tee hee.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Bicara di malam hari (Night Conversations)

This meme started here.

Him: Dah lembut dah? (has it softened?)
Me: Tak pun.. keras lagi! (Not at all.. it's still stiff!)
Him: Apsal keras lagi? (Why is it still stiff?)
Me: memang cam tu kot (Maybe it's just the way it is)
Him: Beli mahal-mahal.. (I even bought the expensive kind)
Me: memang patut keras kot.. so that boleh buat tajam kat atas tu (Maybe it's supposed to be stiff, so that you can make that pointy bit on top)
Him: *stands in front of the mirror* Macamana nak pakai, ek? (How do I wear this?)
Him: *adjusts the thingy* cam ni? (Like this?)

Me: ha ha! macam makcik lah. Letak kot lain.. (Ha ha ! You look like an old lady. wear it the other way)
Him: *changes things around* cam ni? (Like this?)
Me: sekarang nampak macam muttawa lah pulak (Now you look like a muttawa)
Him: arrghhhh... kat rig nanti pakai ajelah cam ni *wraps everything around his face* janji tak panas. (Arghh I'll just wear it like this when I go to the rig, just to keep me from the heat)
Me: jangan orang ingat terrorist sudah... (as long as they don't think you're a terrorist..)

Don't get the wrong idea... we were talking about this:

News image from bbc.co.uk

Monday, May 21, 2007

Ilham is 9

I can't believe my boy is 9.
Dayum.. the first time I gave birth was 9 years ago? Already??

I feel so owwwllllddddddddd!!
I feel like the crypt keeper!!

oh but this post is not about me.

Ilham is going to have a birthday party on Thursday.
When he requested for a party, I told him that if he wanted one, he'd have to plan it himself.
So that's what he did.
He picked a date (Thursday 24th May).
He picked a theme (Soccer)
He thought of games (Hot soccer ball, Head or Catch, and Kick the Ball into the Goal)
He thought of the menu (Chocolate cake, ice cream, nuggets, fries, pepsi) (I've changed it to Cake, ice cream, nuggets, egg sandwiches, assorted fruits and fruit juice)
He made the invitations (I helped look for the image).
He asked his dad to print them out (I limited it to 8. tee hee!). He made a guest list and distributed the invitations. He followed up with his friends.

I got to do the fun part! I got to shop for stuff!
I bought white paper bags (we're gonna stamp stuff on it and Ilham's gonna write "Thanx for coming to my party, from Ilham"). I bought wafers and candy. I bought small bouncy balls (9 for SR7!). I bought some eggs that has a surprise toy innit (24 for SR15!). I bought balloons. Bought a goal post for the games (on sale, SR15).
I bought cake mix and is gonna make dark chocolate cake with 7-minute frosting. Bought 5 boxes of nuggets (the chuck in the oven kind). Bought 2 cartons of juice-in-a-box.
Bonda dia pulak excited. tee hee!

A few months ago we told him that if he finishes reading one 'real' book OR manages to memorize 10 surahs from the last chapter of the Qur'an, we'd buy him a new bike. He had taken a stab at Artem1s F0wl, but felt it was too overwhelming. He then borrowed RL Stein's Goosebumps from the library and finished it, and furthermore, he also already memorized 7 surahs, so we thought he deserved a new bike. Last weekend we went to the store and he picked it out himself. I think it looks pretty cool!

Happy Birthday Ilham!

p/s and Happy Birthday to Ilham's 'godfather', The Elusive Mr. R!! err .. how old are you ya? very the tua already... tee hee..!

accent extreme

Living in a place that has 90% of it's population from several foreign countries have exposed me to different versions of the english language.
Most of the time I have to use my extra sensories to understand what a person is saying, and could not rely on my hearing alone. I would have to take into account where I am, what I am doing, what that person is doing, what he/she is holding, what I'm holding, what I'm wearing and sometimes even what my kids are doing, in order to decipher what a less eloquent person is trying to say to me.
The worse experience I've ever had , had to be when we were trying to get up to the service apartment in Bahrain.

A group of us walks past the receptionist (a guy of i'm not sure what origin.. generally south-east-asian, but not distinct enough to be of any specific country).

Receptionist: Hello? Hello? Wish Plor?
Me: Sorry? I don't speak arabic.
Rec: Wish Plor?
Me: *thinks: he looks filipino* Urm.. excuse me? I am not filipino, i don't understand.
Rec: Wish Plor?!
Me: *thinks: maybe he's siamese?* Sorry? Say that again?
Rec: Wish plor yew goin?
Me: *thinks: receptionist, me going to elevator with a bunch of other folks* Which floor am I going to?
Rec: ya ya, wish plor you goin?
Me: Oh.. Fifth floor. I am going to the fifth floor.
Rec: Pip plor? watcho comney?
Me: yes, fifth floor *instinctly emphasizing the Fs* sorry, what was that again?
Rec: watcho comney? wish comney u wit?
Me: *thinks* what's the name of my company?
Rec: Yes, watcho comney?
Me: oh, we're with Smith, we're in apartment 5X.
Rec: Okay. hep kee?
Me: I'm realy sorry.. whatt??
Rec: yew hep kee?
Me: hep kee?? sorry? *my eyebrows were starting to hurt by then, from wrinkling them so much*
Rec: yew hep kee por it? kee. keeeee. *makes turning motions with his hand*
Me: oh! yes. I do have the key.
Rec: okay. sum polks no kee.
Me: okie doke.... Thankyou! *grin* *thinking: whatever. I have to stop talking to you before i get a headache, and quickly walks away to the elevator.*

We walk into the elevtor and i tell my kids to press "Pip Plor".


Sunday, May 20, 2007

alerts be gone

I am really tired.
I have tried the best I can, but I can't seem to catch up.
so please forgive me.
I have decided to delete all my current alerts.

Please forgive me if I had not commented on your posts. I will read your current ones..
boleh tak? (can I?)


Saturday, May 19, 2007


Please don't laugh at me.

I've been without internet connection since Thursday morning.
The LAN icon was gone from the toolbar (which should've been an indication had I not been so rusty), and one of the lights on the modem was not on.
I checked the power, the connections, all was OK.
I took the phone and tried the phone line which the modem was connected to and confirmed that it was working.
I figured the internet was down for some reason.
I tried calling the network guy but he was off.
Then it was friday, so I couldnt do anything.
Today I tried again and he was still not around.
At around 4 i managed to talk to someone, who forwarded the complaint to another technician.
I described the problem to the guy.
I described the modem lights.
He asked me to check the network setting by clicking on the LAN icon.
I told him the LAN icon was not there.
He said "then your LAN is disabled, just enable it back" (Yeah I know the grammar is wrong, but he's an ar@b)
I almost banged my head on the table.
So I went to control panel, clicked on network, and lo and behold.. it was disabled.
I enabled it, and lo and behold, I have my internet connection again.
*bangs my ehad on the table for real*
I felt so stupid for not trying this earlier.

Please don't laugh at me.

we will resume our regular programming tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ramen Tempura

Which is the hoity toity way of saying "Maggi Mee dan Sayur Celup Tepung"

Sungguh sedap dimakan sambil menonton Amerikan Idola

p/s This post was inspired by PB's hungry post.

Would You?

If you were offered your dream holiday, but with the condition that you leave the baby at home, would you?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Returner

I updated Izani's blog with his 13th Month Progress today.
Do check it out if you're interested.
I included videos of him walking and talking. well, at least of him trying to.

Moving on from one cutie boy to another..
Last night I caught The Returner or The Ritana.
I've heard of this movie before, but didnt recognize it the first few minutes. Until they cut to the scene where this guy in a black leather trenchcoat started shooting people and then they slowly revealed his face.
I had to stifle a shriek of delight!
Takeshi Kaneshiro woo hoo!!!

Picture from www.henshionline.com

Storyline-wise, I thought it was pretty okay. Typical sci-fi anime kinda stuff. Girl travels from the future to save the world and gets reluctant cute bad guy to help her.
But the execution, man.. it was superb.
There was a bit of CGI used (very nice) and I think animatronix for the aliens (which looked kinda lame to me) and there was a lot of good framing of live action stuff. There was a lot of matrix-like slow-mo shots, but not to the extent of it looking like The Matrix, even though Takeshi did wear a long black leather trenchcoat with black shirt and pants for almost the whole movie. (very nice look. I'm seriously thinking of getting my husband an outfit like this. tee hee)
There were scenes that I could definitely see in a hand-drawn anime, like that scene in the rain (I wont tell you what scene, coz it'd spoil the movie for you).
And this scene...

Yummy picture from www.moviezilla.org

... just brings back a lot of memories of zaman bercinta with Taufik.. ;)

p/s oLaB, gewe demo ado macae meh-meh dio ni dok?
p/p/s somehow the girl reminds me of nutty. entah apsal lah...

Monday, May 14, 2007

Bahrain - in a weekend

Last weekend we went to Bahrain.
Farah had told us that the B@hrain N@tional Museum had brought some egyptian artifacts including Tut@nkhamun's mummy for a limited time display. Since we had cancellled our plans to visit Egypt during the last easter break, we thought this would be a good compensation for the kids.
Farah also just got back from delivering her 2nd baby, so we also took this opportunity to visit her and her new baby girl.
Since B@hrain's weekend start on a Friday instead of a thursday like ours, we decided to go on a Thursday, visit the museum, spend a night there at Sm1th's service apartment and visit Farah on friday morning before Friday prayers.

Kak F and family joined us for this trip. Before heading for the museum, she brought us to a cultural baazar held by the embassies in B@hrain. I got to meet the Malaysian ambassador's wife, Datin Nor, and we got to browse around the stalls from other countries. I didn't buy anything, but Ihsan bought an egyptian ruler (not the kind that rules the country, the kind that draws straight lines) ha ha :laugh: .

We then headed for the museum, which was quite easy to find. Unfortunately we found out that King Tut's mummy was not there, but they did have quite a number of egyptian artifacts, like statues, busts, coffins, burial masks, jewellery and even a bed and toilet. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside, so we only took pictures outside the exhibition.

Ilham & Ihsan with akhenaten

After solat asar we headed for the local displays and got to see the B@hrain culture. It was quite interesting, and similar to other arab cultures I have seen on TV.

ilham looking at a display of kids in a traditional school

After solat maghrib, we headed for dinner at Ponderosa, which offered a huge buffet spread for just SR38 for adults (SR19 for kids). Suffice to say I stuffed myself silly with food. To make us (me) feel less guilty about over-indulging ourselves (myself), we brought the kids to a fun fair next door. The kids had a blast playing on bouncy castles, bumper cars and this contraption that was a combination of a trampolene and bungee cords.
We then went to a service apartment that Sm1th rented for employee use. It was quite a nice apartment with 3 rooms (ample beds for 2 families and their kids). The parents took 2 rooms, all the girls slept in the last room and all the boys hung out in the living room.

The view from my bedroom window

Ilham came into my room at 1am to ask Taufik whether it was time to go to the swimming pool.
All the kids woke up around 6am and pestered us to bring them to the pool to swim, so after brushing their teeth and changing into their swimming trunks, we hauled hauled all my kids and 2 of Kak F's kids into the elevator to the rooftop, where the swimming pool is.
The sun had started to heat up the roof, but the water was still kinda cold, but the kids couldnt care less. Izani stayed in the jacuzzi with Taufik though.

izani at the pool

The kids splashed around until I couldnt stand the heat anymore (Which was maybe, like, an hour and a half). We all went back down to the apartment. Everyone showered and changed. The boys decided to go back up, to the gym this time, while Taufik went out to buy some light breakfast.

The kids giving ABC a massage

After breakfast we headed for Farah's place, where we were presented with a sumptuous brunch of pancakes, strawberries, quiche and croissants. Farah's new baby, Hanna, was so cute! And she was such an angel.. I don't think I heard her cry for a total of more than 5 minutes the entire 4 hours we were there. Too bad the outfit I had bought her were too small for her. I had forgotten that Hanna came out at 4.2kg! Nanti Auntie Elisa beli baju lain, okay?
The guys then headed for Friday prayers, by foot! Ilham came home all red and pooped out from the heat. We then had yummy briyani for lunch, and we headed home while Kak F and ABC went back to Manama for some shopping.

It was a jam-packed weekend, but it was good family fun!
and, Ilham can no longer complain and whine about the cancelled egypt trip... tee hee!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mother and Son

This is a cop out entry of this one.

But my silhouette is wider and bigger lah of course.. tee hee.

Happy Mother's Day to all the yummy mummies out there!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Super Sven

As you know, i like to watch TV.
I prefer to watch reality shows nowadays though. Not just the game/competition shows, but also the nature shows, the diy shows.
BBC has a lot of shows for the gardening enthusiasts. I'm not really good at gardening, but I like to watch how they design and build and tend to a garden. I find it very interesting and inspiring (even though out of the 3 plants I had tried to raise in the past 2 months, one of them have died).

Anyways, let me introduce you to a gardening guru that I really like:
Sven Wombwell.

I really like his style of gardening. He usually incorporates your lifestyle and he usually looks at what grows well around your area and incorporates them in your garden. His designs are usually very functional, and what I like is, they are usually very organic. It blends well into the background, i.e. your garden won't look too weird.

His website (above) doesnt have much info (very very little), but you can read and see more of his works on the website created for his book, Lifescapes.

I think he's a wonderful and thoughtful garden designer, and plus it doesnt hurt that he's very easy on the eyes. In fact, at certain times I think he looks a bit like brad.

happy surfing :)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

paranormal panties

I had been kinda spooked these past few days.

It started when I couldnt find my panties where I had left it. (Don't ask me where, how or when. You don't want to know). I was boggled. I couldnt find it anywhere! Granted that they were black and lacy and kinda pretty and they were my favourite, but other than that, I don't see anything special about it. It didnt have any special powers (except on a certain person)(tee hee). I see no reason why anyone would be interested in stealing them. And I don't live in a zoo an animal sanctuary like nonah did, so no animal could really sneakily run away with it.

Then I read the blab's ghost stories. aiyoh...!

Then while I was watching TV while breastfeeding Izani, the TV switched off on its own! I laid there frozen, staring at the remote which was sitting on the arm of the sofa, half-expecting to see an invisible hand pick it up.
When that didnt happen, I shook myself out of it, and turned the TV back on.

The next day it happened again! And the same thing. I was alone with Izani watching garden invaders, and the remote was on the floor (right side up, so no chance of the off button being activated by the weight of the remote) (can you tell that I had been analyzing this?), and suddenly *poof*, the TV went blank, the green 'ready' light went on. Izani did a little complain whine (Coz he really likes the garden invaders theme song with the piccolo or flute thing going on), so I turned the TV back on, with a spooky nagging feeling in my stomach.

This morning while trying to watch Martha, and I say 'trying' because Izani was playing with the remote and keep changing the channels and muting the sound and fooling around with the size of the screen, I discovered something interesting.
Izani had pressed the 'sleep' button, and the sleep icon appeared with a number 7 next to it.
7 minutes later, the TV switched off on it's own.
There you go! I have solved the mystery!
It wasnt some poltergeist disgruntled by my viewing choices, but a very curious baby!
woo hoo!

and my panties?
I found it in the wash yesterday.
It's just a pair-o-normal panties afterall.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

fofesional blogger

what the hell ???

The Mal@ysian Information Minister wants bloggers to be classified as 'professional' and 'non-professional'.

perlu ke?

He says that "professional bloggers were those who were more responsible in ensuring that their web content was based on truth and not mere rumours ... This classification will also facilitate any action to be taken against those found to have violated the country’s laws ... this was important in enabling the people to determine whether they could trust a certain matter and whether the blog content was the truth or a rumour that could cause discomfort or undermine unity"

get real, lah datuk. Takkan tak habis habis lagi fikir orang melayu ni lembab dan bodoh sampai tak boleh nak berpikir sendiri.
Apa guna belajar bahasa kedua, dorong supaya bijak I.T., kempen untuk minat membaca, jika rakyat dihalang untuk membuka minda?
Adakah teknologi ini semata-mata untuk melayari laman2 p0rno dan ber-chatting irc dan berkongsi resepi masak lemak cili apa sahaja?

I think it is more pertinent to classify readers.
Professional readers are those that can think on their own.
Non professional readers are those that need classifications to tell them whether to believe what they read or not. Maybe you should tell them not to read at all while you're at it.

when oh when will they leave us be?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Picnic at R@s T@nura

R@s T@nura is an oil facility about 150km north of Kh0bar. It has quite a nice beach.

Last Thursday we went there for a gathering of students of brother Saleem, who is my tajweed teacher. There were about 100 of us, including kids. It was a potluck gathering and I decided to bring a cake, sort of to celebrate Izani's 1st birthday.
The cake was nothing fancy. Just a chocolate cake out of a box. But to make it slightly more special, I sandwiched some hazelnut chocolate cream inside and decided to frost it with some chocolate frosting (also out of a box). To make it extra special, I decided to experiment with marzipan. I made some ribbons and bows and even cut out I, Z, A, N and I and arranged it on the cake. I did all this the day before and kept the cake in the fridge in its carrier, all ready to go.
I also made 3 pavlovas and cut up some strawberries and whipped the cream at home, so that I can assemble them when I got there.
We left the house around 1:30pm. The drive there took about an hour, and before heading to the picnic area, we stopped by a friend's house for a bit of lunch. We didnt bother bringing all the food into the house. By the time we got to the picnic area and had lugged all our stuff to the tents, it was about 3:30pm. I was putting strawberries on the pavlovas when Taufik plonked the cake carrier onto the table in front of me and said, "Look what happened to the cake".
[queue: gasp]
It. was. a. mess!!! :(
It was a lump of cake with melted frosting poured over it and flowing all over! An 'N' was all that was left of the marzipan decorations!
I was so frustrated I wanted to cry! :@
I didnt even get to take a picture of what it looked like before it was destroyed!

After finishing assembling the pavlova as calmly as I could, I went over to Taufik who was looking after the barbecue pits.
I told him how frustrated I was and how I felt embarassed to serve the cake now that it looked like a lump of mud.
At first he just said "dah nak buat macamana..." (what can we do), which just doesnt cut it for me, so I went on about how he could be more supportive and at least try to make me feel better.
In the end, he said, "Letak ajelah atas meja tu, jangan risau, mesti ada orang makan punya lah" (Just put it on the table, don't you worry, someone will eat it for sure.) Which makes a lot of sense. It's 4 hours till the end of the gathering, there were 100 hungry people, and no one can resist a chocolate cake, no matter how ugly it looks.
I gave my husband a little thankyou hug and walked back to the dessert table and sprinkled some colourful sugar stars on the cake.

The kids had a lot of fun playing on the beach. Even though the water looked relatively nice and clean compared to Half Moon Bay (which is not so nice and clean), because of the proximity of the oil refineries and possible pollutants from its effluents (read: god knows what they spew out into the sea), we decided not to let the kids swim in the water but just play with sand. Even that really built up their appetite and we had lots of food! Fried rice, fried noodles, fried kuey teow, roti pratha with chicken and potato curry, lasagna and a huge assortment of malay kuehs, on top of the barbecued chicken and sausages.
Guess what, by the end of the gathering, my chocolate cake was gone, just like Taufik predicted.
tee hee! :D

The next day we were too tired to go out anywhere, so we stayed in. My kids had a great time eating ice lollies which I made using lolly molds from IKE@ and bottled mango juice. The weather was sunny but not hot, so we hung out on the porch before Friday prayer time.

After lunch, the boys went to the pool while Anis stayed home with me. Anis took too long to finish her lunch, so staying home was her punishment. Izani wanted a nap, so I had to forgo a trip to the pool too, and I did some sewing instead.

All in all it was quite a good weekend! (Despite the cake mishap) :)

Thursday, May 03, 2007

what I know about S@udi Ar@bia

First, let me explain why it took me so long to write this.
I am ashamed to admit that I know so little about the culture of the country I am living in. I don't think I have explored it enough. I don't know why it is so. Perhaps it's because I haven't had the chance to travel around in it much, or I'm not observant enough. Perhaps it's also because I am living in a town where the population is 90% expatriates (80% of them from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh), so I am not exposed to the locals or their culture that much.
So, don't take my word for it, these are just my observations.
(Apologies in advance to any S@udis who might be reading this, in case I make any mistakes)

Start with the easy one first :)
I think food in this country is similar to food across the middle east. They eat a lot of bread, with spiced grilled meats. There are also rice, which are called Kabsa (cooked in ghee and sweet spices) and Mandi (cooked with spices and meat, so the rice absorbs all the animal fat. absolutely sinfully yummy). They like to eat lamb a lot. Even though beef is available, I don't see many beef dishes except for maybe kababs. My only comlain is that they don't eat rice with gravy. I need to eat rice with my curries and gulais and kurma and sambal.
I love their salads though. Olives and rocket and parsley and bulgur wheat and lemon and olive oil. Hummous (chick peas and sesame paste) and mashed eggplants. Sometimes I think i could suvive with eating just their salad and bread.
They love sweet desserts! nuts in honey wrapped in filo pastry, tiny stringy pastry rolled in sugar, these sweet butter and honey cakes called basbousa and all sorts of cookies and cakes. Actually, I don't know if they have a traditional dessert specific to S@udi. I can't tell the difference between local dishes and pakistani dishes.

The men like to wear 'thob's, long white robes made of the most comfortable cotton. It's light enough to be flowy, but heavy enough to drape nicely and it is so so smooth and cooling. Because it's white though, you have to wear something underneath or else everyone will see your 'treasures', so they usually wear white cotton undershirt and pants before putting on the 'thob'. Taufik and the boys wear them for Friday prayers every week.
The men also have a headress made of a white and red chequered cloth folded into a triangle and set on the head with the long folded edge on your forehead (I hope you get the picture). Muttawas, which are the moral police, do not wear the circular black ring to hold the cloth in place, but normal folks usually do. I also found out that in Q@tar, then circular black ring has a long tassle attached to it and according to my guide, it is something that is unique to Q@tar.
The women, on the other hand, would wear all black. While expatriates would choose the black abayas that are button front like a robe and embelished with some sort of designs and patterns, the locals would usually don plain black robes. Most local women cover their hair, and some, even their whole face. Some even wear gloves when their are out shopping and doing transactions with males. The more traditional locals wear the type of robes that are not button front, but look tent-like, covering themselves from head to toe in one full piece. As I had mentioned one time long ago, I understand why this type of clothing is necessary in this climate. Covering their whole body and face really do protect them from the adverse effects of the sun and the sand, which are aplenty in this land. I have not seen this myself, but I have heard many many tales of the beauty of the skin and features of the locals underneath all that black garb.

The s@udis are really private people. They seldom invite strangers to their houses. Even when they are out eating in the restaurant, most of them would request for a screen to be put around their table. They are also very family oriented. They place very high importance on blood relations. Perhaps this are the leftovers of the tribal culture that was prevalent in this country in the past.
S@udi children and youth gets all their education for free. Once you are enrolled into the university, the government will pay you a monthly allowance and give you a computer. You also get a certain amount of gift money when you get married. Though some s@udis did become complacent due to these benefits, there are still some s@udis that are hardworking and enterprising.
And don't get me wrong. There are poor people in s@udi. There are sheepherders and camel herders and farmers who have to work hard every day. I find that these people are usually more friendly than the more well-to-do ones.
The s@udis really love children, be it theirs or yours. It is not uncommon to see fathers cart their many children to parks or amusement centres while the moms trail along. They really spoil their children to bits. Sometimes they also generous towards other's children too, giving them sweets and presents. Until, your children get in a fight with their children, coz then, no matter how cute your kid is, their children is always right. :D

The normal form of greeting (another person of the same sex) is to extend out your hand as if to shake it, then kiss the other person's cheeks, first right, then left, then right again. you can give them a little hug, depending on how affectionate you're feeling at the moment.
I was taken aback the first time someone did this to me, but now I am so used to it that it has become a habit, and I found that I involuntarily do the same even when I was back in Mal@ysia.
The form of greeting is so comforting ... it really develops a sense of closeness with the person you're meeting. You will find that after being greeted that way you will be more open and relaxed with the other person :)
Past time:
The locals here really like to picnic. At any grassy or shady space, you will be able to find clumps of people sitting on a mat, chatting or eating. On the side of roads, the government plants trees and grass and flowers and people would just park their car and have a picnic. Even out on the dessert, if you drive out during the weekends, you will be able to see people pitching up tents and have a picnic. There will be more of them doing it during the day in the cooler seasons, but even in summer, they'd have picnics late in the evening when it's cooler.
They also like to have shisha. It's them pipes thingies. I have never tried one, so I wouldnt know what the experience is like, but I hear they have shishas of all sorts of flavours, even fruity ones. There are coffeeshops that specialize in shishas and it'd be filled with men just lounging around puffing on them. The shisha pipes can be really beautiful, and Taufik has made it a goal to buy one before we move back home.

Hm.. i guess that's all I know about this country I'm living in. But I have only been here for 2 years and there is still much more to see and explore. I have yet to get to know a local family.
I will definitely tell you more as and when I learn new things.