Sunday, July 31, 2011

Blessings

It doesn't really matter how deep a 'hole' you are in, always...always count your blessings. For there are people out there who are in worst, much...much worst situation than you are. So I always remind myself, it's not that bad, with patience and support, I can deal with all the trials and tribulations life throws at me.

When I feel so unimportant,  I remind myself that I can always be important in the Eyes of the Lord, Allah swt, as long as I made myself worthy of His Attention. 

And I know that for I may not be the most important people in the whole world,
at the very least these 3 little people plus my DH always find my presence in their life very important. 

What more should I be asking for...
Alhamdulillah, for all His Blessings, that no fortune could have bought me. What else am I waiting for... If there's anything, it is me that should have done more to show my gratitude for all the blessings that I have been granted. Just how shameful can I be? Asking for more, in exchange for less. Shame on me!

May this Ramadhan and the months and years ahead be a starting point for me to ask for less and to be able to give more, Insya Allah. Amin. 

To all my Muslims compatriots, please forgive my misdeeds, whether it's intentional or unintentional, for I am only human. Ramadhan kareem to all, may this celebrated Ramadhan  be better than the one before. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

May Allah saves us all...

So it's finalised. The details are scarce. I notice that in Malaysia's media the $$$ aspect was not highlighted.  Maybe I missed one that had. Anyway, the deal is heavily criticised here and here. In my view, it does not matter which way you look at it, it failed in so many levels in upholding the principles of justice for everyone, not only the asylum seekers, the governments of both countries, but also the very most important 'people' in general.

As Tariq Ramadan wrote, "Justice is a condition for peace, and the Prophet (saw) kept insisting that one cannot experience the taste of equity if one is unable to respect the dignity of individuals", In fact, the Prophet (saw) closed his mission by stressing that "The best among you is the best toward people" addressing not only Muslims, but ALL People. Verily, in the presence of Allah, nothing could justify discrimination, social injustice, or racism.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

مع السلامة

Insya Allah, petang ini ayahanda, bonda, dan 2 orang adindaku akan berangkat ke Tanah Suci bagi menunaikan umrah bersekali menyambut Ramadhan di sana :-D. Sambungan daripada ucapan-ucapan dan doa-doa kami semalam di skrin maya SKYPE, hari ini sekali lagi kami sekeluarga di sini mendoakan mereka semua selamat sampai di sana dan sihat sejahtera dalam menjalankan ibadah di Mekah dan Madinah kelak.

Entah bila pula masa kami...Insya Allah, dimurahkan rezeki, dipanjangkan umur, jadilah kami tetamuNYA.  Semoga pemergian mereka semua diberkatiNYA dan kepulangan mereka kelak dirahmatiNYA jua. Amin.

Abah, mama, adik dan Harry, doakanlah kami semua di sini. Salam sayang daripada kami buat semua.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Pick me up!

Lately, anxiety is getting to me. I can’t concentrate on my writing and it’s making me feel unmotivated. Most of the times, nowadays, I am thinking of the future (& home) rather than focusing on tackling my current (PhD) predicament. Even a recent snow trip to Mount Buller could not lift my spirit up. There’s just a long list of ‘worries’ that’s stuck at the back of my head. Partly, I am having some self-doubt on the worthiness of my dissertation. Also, my colleague’s ‘mixed’ and mostly negative examiners’ report received last week has even dampen my energy to write.
Waiting for snow showers, but alas - only showers, takder rezeki.
Well, maybe, next time :-)
At least, he enjoyed it this time around :-)

Yesterday, I conveyed my anxiousness and worries to my supervisor. He gave his usual pep talk, finally (I hope) resting my self-doubt but as usual manage to put me on my toes! Even banning me from procreating yet again he..he..he.. My recent pregnancy has been a source of his ‘anguish’ and repetitive commentaries, mostly due to his previous bad experience with a former student. But to tell you the truth, he has never met Luqman before. In his mind, Luqman is still in his early babyhood months. So today, after 18 months, when I finally got to introduce Luqman to him, he was surprised to see him ‘as he is’. He was utterly delighted when Luqman even manage to shake his hand and seal it with a kiss :-D. I am now interested to find out how his meeting the baby would change the ‘dynamic’ of our conversation in the future ;-P


Anyway, his advice is for me to keep at it. Write, write, write. There’s nothing to comment on, if there’s nothing written. No comments meant no improvement. No improvement  meant no progress! So I am praying very hard that my ‘mojo’ will be back soon. I hope with Ramadhan coming, I get to pick up where I left of, Insya Allah. Amin. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Darn

Last night around 9 something, when DH was checking on the car, he saw someone standing near the side of our car. The car was parked near our unit for he was transferring some goods earlier that day. He confronted the guy, not highlighting the fact that he's the owner of the car. The guy said something about his car broke down or something. At a glance my DH saw that one of our car's passengers window was smashed. He can also see a truck/ute parked nearby. So DH pretend to ignore him and walked towards the truck/ute and copied its registration number. Then he walked around by taking a longer route home and call upon a couple of neighbours as witnesses and called the police. The guy was still there and as he was calling the police, they saw him running off in his truck.

   
Fortunately, nothing was stolen. When I went to inspect later, while waiting for the police to arrive, I was thinking please lah...don't take my babies' car seat, mesti orang kata of all things...baby car seat yang aku risaukan ha..ha..ha..Yelah to me, the car seats are their safety lifeline, so of course lah aku risaukan both car seats tu. Lagipun orang lain di sini kebanyakannya got it for free or discounted price at SAVERS or garage sales. I bought it brand new and I have always planned nak bawak balik Malaysia for future use. So Alhamdulillah, selamat :-D (Lagipun fikir, ada ker orang nak curik children's car seat, kan - memang hampeh sungguh lah perompak tu)

Anyway, in the commotion of it all, I went back home to report to the children. Aliyah dan Uwais sibuk tanya kenapa. So I said "hmmm...ada orang jahat pecahkan cermin kereta kita!" Tetiba Uwais bersorak sorai saying, "Yeah, nanti kita boleh beli kereta mewah (merah)". Pastu Aliyah pulak cakap, "Ma, panggillah O'brien untuk betulkan cermin tu" (Note: O'Brien adalah company yang selalu letak iklan company mereka yang betulkan cermin kereta retak kat TV Australia) Aku pun terkekek-kekek sekali dengar all their suggestions. Kids really say the darnest thing. Even in the most dire moments they managed to make me smile. Arrr...can't wait to finish and buy 'kereta mewah'!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Information Overload

Banyak sungguh maklumat-maklumat yang berlegar-legar online sekarang ini about Malaysia. Lebih-lebih lagi selepas BERSIH. Sampaikan bila bertemu supervisor untuk serahkan order Teh Boh - Gold Blendnya, dia tengah menonton youtube BERSIH online (heeee ... tak jadi kerja orang tua tu). Siap ajak aku marilah tengok sekali (aduh....aku pulak tak jadi kerja nanti hu..hu..hu) Kata dia berseloroh, "You know, Tun Razak will never allow this to happen had he still been alive!" Aku sengih-sengih jer lah.  Aku lebih berminat nak tahu kenapa dia sangat 'gila'kan Teh Boh Gold Blend, sedangkan orang-orang Malaysia kebanyakannya tak heran pun. Dahlah mahal pulak tu. Kata dia secara berjenaka "It's about Prestige :-)" sambil gelak-gelak. hmmm...aku pun senyum je lah, suka dia lah, takpe kasi can lah kat dia he..he..he..  
Prestigious ke? :-D
Apapun aku rasa berita yang paling 'best' ialah pasal Rupert Murdoch. Definitely, 'information overload' yang dia cari secara haram selama ini telah kembali menghantuinya. OOO bersorak sorai di dalam hatiku. Bala Allah sudah menimpa ke atasnya! Sekadar memuntahkan kembali kata-kata Gordon Brown, bekas PM UK: “Others have said that in the behaviour towards those without a voice of their own, News International descended from the gutter to the sewer...and the tragedy is that they let the rats out of the sewer.” Well said! I couldn't even said it better. Selepas ini, mari kita lihat sejauh mana Rupert Murdoch boleh lari dan sedalam mana dia boleh menyorok! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Confessions of a Sugar Addict 2

I had 10 days of break from 10 km. So it's back on. Trust me, never take too long a break, it gets difficult to get in the 'mood'. My children giggled everytime I struggled, strut and sprint on the bike. So I considered them giggling as my moral support :-D. After almost 4 months, I have reached my initial weight goal. Now I'm wondering, whether I should keep going. I envy Helen Mirren and Jane Fonda's fitness at their age. Couldn't think of any Malays that look like them at that age (ha..ha..ha me so bias ;p) Rasulullah also stressed on exercise and fitness, so I will have to keep my routine, then. Who knows I will have the body of Helen Mirren and Jane Fonda some day. Bagus apa - memudahkan orang mandikan jenazah ku (ooo so morbid, but true).

This article also remind me yet again, too much sugar is bad...bad..bad! A good thing about the article too is to remind me and those who have yet to start about continuing the Vitamin D (plus calcium - I hate milk!) supplement and starts on my Omega 3 (fish) supplement. So read on...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Emosi BERSIH

Alhamdulillah, tak terlepas kapal terbang gara-gara 'sekatan-sekatan' yang tak masuk dek akal! Free-free sahaja pegawai-pegawai berbaju biru mendapat sumpah seranah, carutan dan penurunan darjah minda. Berdosalah semuanya, yang menyumpah dan disumpah. Tapi yang lebih berdosa siapa agaknya???


Apa pun Alhamdulillah, masih ada keluarga tersayang di Malaysia dan teman-teman pemurah di Melbourne. Alhamdulillah, anakanda dan kekanda semua sihat. Alhamdulillah, cuaca merudum sudah berlalu. Alhamdulillah, masih hidup dan ingat Allah yang menghidupkan. Semoga yang berkuasa sementara pun boleh berfikir perkara yang sama!


Bakal tetamu-tetamu Tanah Haram menghantar kami pulang.
(Aktiviti terlentok Luqman seperti biasa di  airport :-P)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mission Istanbul - Day Three & Four


Colourful Istanbul :-D


Since day 1 and 2 were jam packed, and day 3 and 4 were conference days, we spent the rest of our stay leisurely strolling the remaining 'must see' of Istanbul and getting some souvenirs of course.

One 'must see' site is the Basilica Cistern. The old roman UNDERGROUND water-collecting system. I saw it once in the movie 'The International' starring Clive Owen. But being there yourself - is priceless! OMG! It has this surreal atmosphere, and at times scary (and smelt musky too). What more with the classical music playing in the background. Walking platforms were built in the later days for easier access to visitors. I can't imagine in those days how the cistern system worked, when there was no electricity and no platforms!




Luqman & Achik checking out all the big fat fishes in the water!
Later in the day, we were off to the Grand Bazaar. I have nothing much in mind, so I wasn't expecting much. Yes, there's a whole lot of shops in the bazaar and it's very colorful, but the goods were rather expensive. It's very much like the Queen Victoria market - the target groups are tourists. So expect the 'rippin off' activities to be going on. Fortunately (or is it unfortunate? :-P), I had very limited budget to begin with, so I don't have a long shopping list apart from some key chains and fridge magnets, and of course Turk's famous Apple tea.  In fact we used up most of our money on food - which seriously be told are dry and at times bland. I told my sister, if we ever come again, we needed to bring a rice pot (to cook rice) and a jumbo size chili sauce of some sort. They may have all the fancy kebabs and what not, but unlike here or in Melbourne where you have some choice of sauces/dips to go with it, in Istanbul, they just eat it as it is - roasted or baked.

Gate 1 - The Grand Bazaar
The Vibrant Bazaar
Muka budak tak puas hati kah..kah..kah..(I wish I can fly ;-D)
We also dropped by for Solah at the Sulaymaniye Mosque, architectured by Mimar Sinan. It was said that Sinan was trying to emulate the beauty of Hagia Sophia in the design. In  comparison to the Blue Mosque, Sulaymaniye Mosque is dominated by a reddish hue. Beautiful! We then dropped by a couple of stores located adjacent to the mosque. Goods sold there were in my opinion cheaper. But the shopkeepers couldn't communicate in English. So you have to improvise to get your point across ;-P 

Inside Sulaymaniye Mosque
Apa tengok-tengok?! Tak pernah tengok Supermuslim kid ke??
On the way down the hill to our tram stop, we also passed the Yeni (new) mosque in situated in Eminonu, right in front of one of the main ferry jetty in Istanbul. I had a peek inside. Again Subhanallah, marvelous. The mosque was built under the advisory of several Sultan's mother, until it was completed in 1663. On day four when we boarded one of the ferry tour across the bosphorus, the view of the mosque will yet again greet us :-D. Towards the left (from the jetty) the Sulaymaniye Mosque is within view too.

On the right side (the one on the hill) is Sulaymaniye Mosque,
while the one on the left is Yeni Mosque. 

Imagine, we actually walked from that hill to Eminonu down below, nak tercabut kaki ;-)
Anyway, the bosphorus ferry tour was interesting, although a bit too long for me - up to 2 hours. But the views along the bosphorus were interesting. We saw a combination of old and new things along the way. Some forts, the Dolmabache Palace (the new palace) and even a swimming club in the middle of the bosphorus.



Dah boring lama sangat he..he..he
At the end of the day, we finally had the chance to offer our prayers at the Blue Mosque. It seems the Iznik tiles really turned blue at night! And yes, it's breathtaking too. You can just lie there and stare at the domes, some filled Quranic verses. After Solah we had a stroll outside the mosque and saw how the surroundings turn alive at night. There's even a lot of temprary vendor and salesman selling all sorts of things, like pashmina. I think if you know how, you'd get a better bargain than when you were in the Grand Bazaar.
The side view at dusk
The Blue Iznik tiles ...


The Praying Hall
Luqman trying to 'communicate' with a cat
(there's lots of cats in Istanbul  - we saw at  least one or two at almost every location)
It's then time to leave beautiful historical Istanbul. Alhamdulillah, for such a wonderful chance to see Istanbul. I'd really treasure this experience. Maybe some day I will come again - with my rice pot and chili sauce too! :-D 


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Mission Istanbul - Day Two

The second day, our legs and bodies were starting to fail us hu..hu..hu. Luqman's cough (from Melbourne) was getting rather frequent since Istanbul is very dusty, more from all the restorations activities and also from the 'gila' way they all drive around here. The way Malaysian drive is nothing compared to here. The roads are narrow and always congested . Alhamdulillah, we have packed all sorts of medications from home. We gobbled them all up :-D

By noon we were off to Taksim to register for the conference. We had the chance to ride the old tram, that looks kinda like the one in San Francisco, along the famous Istiklal Cadessi (shopping route) up to Taksim  Square. From there we walked to the conference venue. After registration we joined the half day tour organised by the conference management.

On the way to Taksim
Istiklal Cadessi
Taksim Square
On the tour bus - which was an illusion since the rest of the tour is on foot!

First stop was the Blue Mosque. Since it was a Sunday, there were just too many tourist with a very long queue outside the entrance. In Istanbul, all mosque are open for tourist outside the prayer times. The guards will provide you with plastic bags to put your shoes and scarves and leg coverings (if your dress is inappropriate) and you are then allowed inside the praying hall. I didn't get the chance to pray there yet. There's just too many people. We even thought we lost the tour guide at one point! Insya Allah, we're planning to be back before we leave on Wednesday.

Second stop, was the Hippodrome. The only thing left was the two tall obelisk marking the area of the chariot race in the old days. I was not that interested by then, because it was a very warm summer days. I just want to get the tour quickly over and done with. I was really dissatisfied with the way the tour guide was conducted. However, when we reached Hagia Sophia, the view inside the Hagia just took your breath away, and for awhile I forgot about the tour guide. It's sad that it's no longer a mosque but a museum. They say no mosque built later can 'challenge' the looks of the Hagia Sophia, not even Mimar Sinan's Suleymaniye Mosque. And I personally feel that too. You can sit and stare all day and not notice a day was gone :-)

Inside the Hagia

Luqman kena ngorat :-D
We can see the Blue Mosque from Hagia Sophia

But of course, the tour guide had to rush everything even though we had to pay to enter the Hagia! I think it's not advisable to join a tour at all in Istanbul. You can manage every sight on your own. There's even audio guides (a headphone with audio info) that you can rent from all the main sights. It beats being shoved here and there without actually enjoying the sights thoroughly.

So off we strolled down now the hill, making astop at an Iznik Tiles shop for a  short demonstration of how the tiles are made. Tour companies always do this - a collaboration with these shops to sell their goods to tourist. So just stay off tours! We reached the Archeological Museum which is adjacent to the Topkapi Palace grounds by 5 pm. It cost about TL10 entrance fee. The museum kept all the archeological findings of Turkey and other parts of the world. There's even Alexander the Great's sarcophagus and lots..lots..lots of other sarcophagus. It is a very interesting museum, but alas Luqman couldn't take it any longer. We had to skipped the other parts of the museum :-(
Alexander's Sarcophagus

Sarcophagus of the Mourning Lady (Sapa ni? Tah ler? But there's lots more)

By 6 pm we were back at the hotel, wondering whether our feet and the stroller's wheels can take another day of walking. We were so exhausted we slept from 7 pm until early morning :-D

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mission Istanbul - Day One

Mama & Abah sending us off - with one very first time flyer :-D
One seasoned flyer! Might as well get him a "miles" card ;-)
Luqman, my sister and I, Alhamdulillah safely arrived in Istanbul at around 6 am, Istanbul time on the 2nd of July after almost 10 hours flight from KLIA. After fiddling a bit with the token fares for the train, we then travel by the metro train & tram combo to Sultanahmet. It cost about TL 3.50 per person. Since it's way too early for check in time at Hotel Erboy in Sultanahmet, we safe kept our luggage and freshen up before heading straight to the Topkapi Palace. The palace is now a museum and is a mere 5-10 minutes walk from our hotel. It took us almost 4 hours to finish the allowed sections of the palace including part of the Harem (the Harem cost us a separate entrance fee of TL15 per person on top of the TL20 for the palace). The palace, especially with its showcases of jewelery and also some of the Prophet's  (including Nabi Daud and Nabi Musa) and companions' relics are very impressive. But seriously, it's not very friendly to visitors with strollers. In fact, I think almost most parts of Istanbul, is not very pram/stroller friendly. There's not enough walking pavement and even if there's any, it's made of rugged stones that made your child's pram ride like a roller coaster. Having said that, Luqman loved the roller coaster ride though. But I don't think his stroller wheels would think the same :-D 

Anyway, I also think, Istanbul is a city filled with lots of historical sites which are best enjoyed without your children. It's a walking city and truthfully, children will get tired and bored very easily, while their parents gawked at and admired all the beautiful sites and building! It's also very frustrating trying to get the best of pictures and trying to monitor them at the same time. I will definitely think of this fact the next time around I will be in Turkey. (I will be back, Insya Allah). 

Although it can be trying and tiring at times 'managing' Luqman and his stroller, but it somewhat went away, when there will always be Turkish people  and also  some others  wanting to play with him, taking his pictures and videos of him babbling. I have read reports about how babies are loved in Turkey, but seeing how true it is, day in and day out, in various occasion and venues, made you think - hey! these people really do love babies :-D So it's an interesting experience, indeed. But on a serious note, to enjoy and really appreciate Istanbul, you can't rush it, it needs time, lots of time.


The current entrance
Palace grounds
Life in the Harem
In the Harem courtyard
Luqman playing with his strollers in the Harem's courtyard
Luqman in the Crown Prince chamber
Palace grounds overlooking the Bosphorus...



Luqman and Achik in the palace grounds
The Sacred Trust section entrance with the Prophets' and Companions' Relics

Luqman getting bored by the hour ;-)
So I let him run around the palace seaside cafe. Picture Below, looking up from the cafe, one can see the scale of the palace height.


We reached the hotel back at 2 pm to finally checked in! The hotel's room is a bit on the small side, but very, clean, new and modern. We were located on the first floor right on top the hotel's restaurant. It had a small balcony. I can open the wooden doors for fresh air. Early morning, I can smell the scent of bread cooking down below and also hear the Azan from the all the mosques around the hotel.  Speaking of mosque, although the Blue Mosque may be one of the most famous one here, but there are a whole lot of mosque nearby. They all basically looked the same from the outside as the Blue Mosque, perhaps only differing on size, but inside, they all have their very own character.

The view of the alley behind the hotel from our balcony