Chapati vs Turkey

Trust me, it wasn’t as easy to plan for a family trip than with your friends!

I almost gave up, but at the same time, adamant that it must happen for my parents. Sort of a treat for them after the brother’s wedding. I had suggested the idea to my family since November 2017. It was only finalised in mid January 2018!

I am thankful I decided to engage an agency for a land tour. Something that I rarely do when I travel on my own. I was nervous about the whole trip – my parents’ health, the long flight, my dad’s first flight beyond Indonesia, the agent whom I’ve never met, and so many other issues. Even more nervous than travelling alone!

I prayed a lot the weeks before; for this trip to be a smooth journey for all of us, including the agent who will be with us throughout the trip.

The adventure started even before we flew off:

Thursday, 8 March, 6ish pm

Mum: I dunno what to cook for your packed lunch tomorrow (sighing).
Me: (lost) Huh? Why do I need to go to the office tomorrow?
Mum: You mean you are fasting? Or are you not working tomorrow?
Me: Nooooo. Why would I be working or fasting when we will all be in Turkey tomorrow? (Brother also wondering if mum was kidding).
Mum: Ya, but our flight will be tomorrow.
Me and Bro: Mum!
Me: It’s tonight! My friend is fetching us in 3hrs?
Mum: Huh? What?! I thought you said the night of Friday? I had plans to go out with your dad tomorrow, to eat ‘chapati’ before we leave. I would miss the food!
Me: Mum!!! Yes our flight is Friday past midnight. That means we have to be at airport tonight!

Frantic. Chaos. I was amused and more nervous than ever.

Bro: Where are you dad?
Dad: At coffeshop, drinking ‘teh tarik’.
Bro: Do you know when we are leaving for Turkey?
Dad: Ya, tomorrow night.
Bro: errrr…no dad, tonight. Tonight like in 3hrs’ time.
Dad: What?!! Ok ok I am coming back!

FYI our flight was scheduled on 9 March (Fri) at 12.05am; which means we will have to check in on Thursday night.

Lesson 1: Don’t tell your parents the flight details. Tell them the day and time you are leaving for the airport. Just that. 

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Farewell

Last night, I witnessed a mother crying over her son’s demise on her birthday. Today while bidding goodbye, we requested for her to continue her du’a, to forgive his sins, and to be “redha” on his demise.

My grandma…we were worried about her as she was hospitalised a week plus before her birthday. Alhamdulillah she was discharged earlier, so we had an early 86th birthday celebration on 28 Oct at her place.

I looked at grandma for the longest time and wondered if this would be her last celebration or will we blessed to have her till her 90s just like my paternal grandma.

While I was booking a cab, dad called my phone and requested to pass the phone to my uncle. I told him to call mum’s phone instead as I was in the midst of cab booking. He wanted to ask my uncle to join him at his workplace Cairnhill Condominium, moreover uncle has retired. He agreed.

Monday, 30 Oct

He came by my place by bus at 4+pm and then took the bike with dad to the condo. He also shared with mum he’s been having chest pain ever since he changed to another brand of cigarettes.

It was raining when I came back from work. Mum worried that both dad and uncle are stuck in the rain. They eventually came home at 8+ if I recall correctly. He went up to our place. Dad asked him to come in and have a hot drink but he insisted on going home. I heard his voice from where I was seated, having dinner.
Mum asked dad why he didn’t drop my uncle at the bus stop. He explained that there are things to carry.

Tuesday, 31 Oct

I reached home at 6.30pm. Najul told me that dad just called mum, crying, cos my uncle fainted at the condo and uncle was taking short breaths. Ambulance had sent him to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. I was almost confident it’s just a scare, a minor heart attack.

I pitied dad cos he must have felt miserable and helpless. Uncle told dad that he was a bit giddy. Dad told him to just sit down and rest. Dad called one of the Indonesian helpers in the condo to get a warm drink for my uncle. He did drink at the same time saying he’s in pain. He “dozed” off but dad managed to revive him. When dad noticed something was not right, he immediately reached out to my brothers who called the ambulance on my dad’s behalf.

While waiting for the ambulance, dad called mum. He was shakened. Almost sure it was bad….judging from his breathing. Police arrived too…questioning my dad and others.

Another uncle suggested we pray for him while waiting for updates. Mum and I were ready to dash out anytime. But at 7.15pm, we got that unwelcomed call…cardiac arrest. He left us. Just like that. My brother had to repeat a few times to my mother. Uncontrollable tears.

Because it happened outside with no medical records, the jenazah had to be placed in the mortuary. We had less than 2hrs before they bring it to SGH for a post mortem. Police came. Investigation Officer came to question my father. An unavoidable procedure for this situation.

To see my usually smiley grandma crying in her wheelchair, on her birthday, over her son’s demise was really heartbreaking. To see her kissing her son…touching hus face in tears. It’s painful to see.

Many came to the mortuary. Everyone cried. Everyone misses his jokes, never-ending teasing and the only tall figure among his siblings.

Wednesday, 1 Nov

Alhamdulillah all went well and this morning we were informed no autopsy was required. Everything was as planned. Arrived at his place 11.30am. We prayed zohor and solat jenazah at the beautiful Masjid Yusof Ishak. It rained after the solat but stopped when we were at Pusara Aman.

I can’t recall the last time I cried this much.

I regretted not talking to my uncle that Saturday. I regretted not passing the phone to my uncle so I could see his face. I regretted not noticing he was too quiet on Saturday. I regretted not walking to the door to see his face for the last time on Monday.

I regretted that I initially didn’t ask him to join for the Batam trip. And when I was ok with him joining, we couldn’t get the same time ferry tickets so he didn’t want to join us. For all that I am sorry.
I’m still trying to come to terms with it. He began his new life as a husband at my home…held his wedding here 20+ years ago.

Who would have known that his last meal would be at my home. That was the last conversation he had with his only elder sister, my mum at my home. That my dad was probably the last closest family he saw before his final breath. That you would miss your long awaited vacation to Boyan with the big family in March.

If you could just take a minute, please if you could be kind enough say a prayer for my beloved maternal uncle, Allahyarham Sapiee Bin Nik and also for our family (especially my grandma). May Allah bless his soul and place him amongst His beloved ❤ “Every soul shall have a taste of death…” (Ali Imran:185)

Your (grand)nieces and nephews miss you.

 

The Last Minute Trip ‘ 18: Hong Kong

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Fulfilling a last minute request (2 – 3 weeks before) by my dearest friend to go on a girl’s trip was one of the best things I did this year. Destination changed from Taiwan to HK due to the monsoon season and the short 5 days we have. And for the friends who know me well, HK was never on my list as it’s just a city just like Singapore.

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Alhamdulillah, the trip really taught me that it is not the destination, but the person you are sharing the journey with. You can be travelling in the most amazing country but if your travel partner is the most difficult person, you just can’t wait to take the next flight out!

So, off we flew on 21 October! Cathay Pacific flight was full but surprisingly a pleasant one.

Day 1, 21 Oct

Similarity #1 – we have a bad sense of direction (ok, she’s better). HAHA! I can’t recall how many times we circled the same area, when Wanchai88 hotel was just there right in front of us. (Read my review here)

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Friends warned me that hotels are small in HK, but alhamdulillah the room we had was smartly designed. When two people can pray at one time and there are space for luggages, that is spacious enough!

Food fuel #1: Islamic Centre Canteen @ Osman Ramju Sadick Islamic Centre, Wan Chai

I left it to the travel partner to chose all the dim sum. Not disappointing at all. It was comforting to wash all the dim sum down with a hot cup of water cress honey. Must try!

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Our bus ride adventure started when we were looking for our IG-worthy location we saw, “Sai Wan Swimming Shed” (Mount Davis). We gave up after we went uphill and downhill. Similarity #2: we won’t risk our safety for IG/FB shots! 

This is just what we got. Not even close.

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Heading to Ladies Market was more of ticking it off our checklist. We couldn’t think of any other places to get souvenirs. I think we were there for less than an hour 🙂 Similarity #3 – we are not shoppers, but foodies!

Food fuel #2: Ebenezeer Kebab 

I love the spicy sauce on my platter of meat and fries!

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Symphony of Light – what light show?! Hahaha. Do not waste your time waiting for this “show”. Perhaps it happens only for special events. We did had a good girl’s talk over a cup of coffee in a cold weather. Great wind down. Reminds me of my frequent me-times during younger days at Fullerton and Raffles Place. Similarity #4 – coffee is our perk-me-up! 

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Day 2, 22 Oct

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Heard much about the Central and Police Married Headquarters (PMQ). We went up (and down) the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world, Central-Mid Levels escalator.

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Different vibes indeed. Even met a very nice lady at Jamia Mosque along the way. Love the many beautiful surprise spots 🙂

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We saw a couple of Middle Eastern restaurants but were unfortunately non-halal.

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Love the artwork! 

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PMQ features their local designers from apparels to bags to shoes! So expect not to pay a low price. You are paying for their creative work, guys!

Ma’s Restaurant: Shop A, 21-25 Cheung Sha Wan Road, Kowloon

This became our favourite place despite the crowd. The food is more expensive but it is so worth it (yes, including the quite long bus ride to and from hotel due to traffic)! Save the best photo for later.

We had a long day, clocked in greater miles of walks equivalent to a few weeks of walk at Botanic Gardens hahah! “Zoning out” over a cup of mint tea and coffee, and just people watch was definitely our kind of thing.

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Day 3, 23 Oct

We were up early for Disneyland! One place that I can’t imagine myself to be in but well, I enjoyed myself surprisingly. The timid me even took the scary rides! If there is a long queue, get the fast pass for Iron Man Experience and Hyperspace Mountain.

You will spend at least a day at Disneyland. So bring your prayer garb and mat to pray at their prayer room which is located next to Explorer’s Club (halal).

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We went Indian for dinner at Aladdin’s Mess. It was a filling delicious meal of briyani and naan. The masala tea could do with more milk and spice. I love a spicier chai.

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Day 4, 24 Oct

The Peak – it can get really crowded. We were there very early before 10am I think, before the mall is open.HK Photos4

Yick Fat Building – Had a tough time finding this place. Maybe it’s just us! Anyway, this place has been featured in a number of movies, including Transformers.
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Famished, we took a bus down to Islam Food at No. 33-35 Tak Ku Ling Rd, Kowloon City, Kowloon. They have another outlet nearby but smaller.

islamfoodWe prefer the dim sum and spicier noodle from Ma’s Restaurant. The spicy noodle here reminds of Maggi Curry.

Ma’s Restaurant – to end off our last night, we had dinner here again. We were dressed down – no sneakers, just sandals; and took the camera load off me! Never felt so good.

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The only itinerary for the day was to have our final dim sum at Islamic Centre Canteen, just a few bus stops away.

Will I come back to HK? Yes, with good food and great travel partner! If it’s not for you babe, I think I will probably never have travelled to HK. I am glad we made it happen.

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Goodbye

I remember joking around with my grandma  days before her passing, years back. That is also exactly the last memory I have with her younger sister this year. 

My grandaunt left us this morning at 8.15. The one whose face, giggles and her conversations with us in the Bawean dialect reminded me so much of my beloved grandma. 

May Nenek Duria (my nenek toa payoh/nenek lontong) be placed amongst His beloved. May my only paternal grandaunt in Bawean be granted good health always. May Allah take us when He is most pleased with us.

Matters of the Heart

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Day 2 in the beautiful month of Ramadan. I pray that everyone is in good health and had a great start to this amazing month of ibadah insyaAllah.

Honestly, the last couple of weeks were challenging. The heart was sort of…in turmoil, caused by no one else but myself.

You know one (or many) of those moments when you are angry, ok another time, impatient, oversensitive, ok again and suddenly depressed and disappointed? Needless to say, I hated myself those few days (although I must admit, I do blame it on PMS sometimes. Hahaha)

BUT, I’m truly grateful it all happened. That episode made me understand why Islam emphasises on choosing your companions wisely.

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WORKSHEETS

“The people around you are your worksheets. You just need to do some corrections.” Uh huh….that was exactly what my friend, D, said, to describe the people around me. Must be her teaching background. Hahaha!

D went on, “Remember what you said to me just last Friday? You said, ‘I wish I am as patient and forgiving as you are.’ There you go!”

In less than 24hrs after I made that “wish”, Allah presented me with a worksheet to test how patient and forgiving I am. Of course, I was terribly disappointed with my performance. What do I expect? To learn something without a test?

“For all you know, YOU are the answer to their prayers. To be more independent like you, perhaps?” I see it now, D. Recently, an ustazah shared that you might be praying for yourself to be more giving so Allah make you meet more people who are in need of your assistance.

“Keep doing the corrections. You’ll get the hang of it.” InsyaAllah.

I revealed that I’ve been saying the zikir “Ya Jalil” and “Ya Lateef” religiously, intending them for particular people in my life. I realise I actually need these 2 beautiful names for my own heart, probably even more than those people I intended it for.

LESSON #1: PRAY FOR YOURSELF WHEN YOU PRAY FOR OTHERS 

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THE 3 Ts

Meeting this other dear friend of mine, S, will always involve emotional conversations about life, loved ones and death. And most of the time, having her to see me crying in public.

1st T: Tests 
Her (S) sharing always reminded me that no one is spared of tests. Even things which we see as positive such as wealth is a test in itself too. Even for the most jovial, ever smiley person.

“Babe, don’t be too hard on yourself. We are not perfect. You regretting and realising it now, shows that you are learning something out of it. The knowledge you gained doesn’t go to waste. You just forget.” 

We must believe that these tests are tailored for us so we can sail through them with His divine help and support from friends and family. If we can’t get that support from others, the Ya Wakil, is sufficient for us.

2nd T: Tawakkal
For all the effort we’ve put in, heart and soul, we will be given the credits we deserve. Never give up on asking and keep on praying. You’ve done all you could, so now leave it all in His hands. Have faith in Him.

3rd T: Time
S might have passed a similar test, in a much shorter time frame than I have. But like she said, her tests after that are even more challenging. To be able to handle her tests with much patience and positivity, is truly admirable.

Everything happens in His time, not ours. You would achieve the triumph, sooner or later, but never, never. Amin insyaAllah!

LESSON #2: HAVE FAITH & UTMOST TRUST IN HIM

Allah places all sorts of people in our lives. Some hang around for a while, usually leaving a mark or a learning trail longer than their stay. Some stick around longer to remind you of what you can be and to guide you spiritually and emotionally.

Alhamdulillah for the tests, the triumphs, the wonderful people in my life, who struggle as much or even more than I do. For always consoling me and telling me it’s ok to struggle, that I am doing fine, and reminding me of Allah and His many blessings.

LESSON #3: SAY ALHAMDULILLAH

I pray that you and I are always surrounded by beautiful companions who will catch you when you fall, to console you with words of encouragement when you think you’ve failed terribly and lest you forget, will bring you back to Him.

InsyaAllah my score at the next worksheet will be better. I’ll struggle but I’ll try. Ramadan Kareem everyone. Take care of your hearts and souls.

Meant to be

This appeared on my FB memories, posted by Yasmin Mogahed: 

“When Allah (swt) decrees that a door in your life is to be opened, no matter how hard you try to close it, no matter how far you run away from it, it will remain open until you walk through it.

When Allah (swt) decrees that a door is to be closed, no matter how many times you knock on that door, try to break it down, or cry on your knees in front of it, begging it to open again, it will never be opened.

Grieve in front of the closed door if you must. Stand there for a time and look at it. Memorize its shapes, its lines, and its indentations. Hold your hands over your heart and press down to calm its quickened, pained rhythm. Then know—know beyond the shadow of a doubt, know in your heart of hearts—that when you trust Allah and walk forward, He will open a more beautiful door for you. You will walk through it and perhaps you will even praise Him for having closed the past door you loved so much.

He is al-Fattah, the Opener. May the doors He opens for us always lead us back to Him.” By Asmaa Hussein

Pearl of the Orient – III

Woke up feeling all energised from the night’s laughters. After a hearty breakfast, I set out to continue exploring the street in Penang.

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I alighted few stops away so I would walk a longer way to just burn my breakfast to fulfil my other food desire – Roti Bakar (toast) with half boiled eggs at the famous Roti Bakar Hutton Lane.

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Buttery toast that melts in your mouth and perfectly half boiled eggs. Yummmmm

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Pieces of art on the walls.

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My friend recommended the Camera Museum. There was no one else so I had a personal tour. Impressive collection!

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I took the bus to the beach too but didn’t alight as it was raining heavily. So no photos! But because of the HOHOwe beach route, I met 2 friends from UK and US. I spent most of the time with the British man who has been staying in various countries like Bahrain, Iran and currently, in Chiangmai.

He was looking around for a place to stay When he asked for my age, he said “Well, I’m glad I am older than you are. You have a tougher life than I did at your age. People stopped communicating. They only look down on their phones.”

Hunger kicks in again for late lunch. I was disappointed that Sup Kambing Hameed Restaurant was closed throughout my stay. I was tired of eating rice so I knew I had to have this Butter Naan with tandoori chicken served with mint sauce. This was at Hutton Lane too.

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I think like most travellers, I walked the whole of Georgetown. The next trip, I hope that I will be able to taste the Sup Kambing and explore the city at night. I heard the night market serves great food too! And I will definitely hop on their public buses instead.

The solo trip was surprisingly therapeutic. I had the me time I’ve been yearning for. Walking through Georgetown reminds me of my younger days walking from Arab Street to Mustafa Centre, discovering good food.  Though I must admit, eating is best with company.

Most importantly, thanks to a soulmate’s reminder, zikir kept me occupied and safe in His remembrance. A 10-minute walk from St Giles to HOHO bus stop is a few hundred selawat. I reflected on the countless times of just doing and thinking nothing back at home when I can gain more credits from zikir. May I make that a habit!

Pearl of the Orient – II

Started off the day with a good breakfast at the hotel for only RM30. They even serve sushi for breakfast!

20170429_083012-001There are other far cheaper options but I decided to ride on the Hop On Hop Off bus to head to Penang Hill. A touristy thing to do huh? My friend who knows me well had warned me I’ll be bored up there. Yuppppp. I was. Went up in the funicular to a foggy view of Penang.

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I had a good walk after that around Little India area and Chinatown. The highlight was Masjid Kapitan Keling. Unfortunately, no one at the counter bothered to share the history of the mosque with me. They allowed me to enter the men’s praying area, but inside I was told to leave.

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I ventured a bit to see the famous street arts. I was really impressed! A policeman asked me while I was snapping a photo of a street art “Adik, gambar ni masuk majalah ya?”  (Sis, is this for a magazine?) I laughed and replied that it’s for my own magazine. He thought I was some photographer for a magazine. Thanks Fuji XT1 you make me look like a pro! Hahaha.

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Desktop2.jpgI had to end my day earlier too as I was going to meet my friend, Sonia, whom I’ve not met for almost 10 years! We had an awesome dinner at Nurul Ikan Bakar and great catchup with her and her 2 heroes too. Skipping lunch was worth it!

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Pearl of the Orient – I

Been wanting to explore and discover the good food in Penang for the longest time. Trip to Penang with friends or families got cancelled and postponed a few times. So when I saw the air ticket was only S$60+ on Air Asia, I knew I had to grab it! Nearer to the trip, I was a bit nervous though. My ex GM assured me that I will be fine. So off I went on 26 April with just a backpack and with lots of tips from friends (including reminders – continue your zikir, don’t forget your Ayatul Kursi, etc)

I took the airport taxi to the hotel and was greeted with a Salam by the driver. “Seems like a great start to the trip, insyaAllah.” I thought to myself.

The Wembley, just across 1st Avenue Mall and Jen Hotel. I love the room and amenities. Prayer mat nicely hung at the wardrobe. Most importantly, clean and comfortable bed! Read my review on Tripadvisor.

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After a short rest, I walked to Jalan Penang which took me about 15 minutes. First thing I see was the famous Chendol, judging from its long queue.

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Next on my list is another must-go, Line Clear, for my Nasi Kandar. That was my late lunch and early dinner.

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To me, it was just alright – rice with lots of gravy and dishes for you to choose from. Reminded me of Marhaba at Geylang where I can get equally awesome Indian rice with curry and teh tarik.

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They insisted I posed for a photo with the huge fish heads!

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I was down with flu so I decided to end the day early before the long day begins tomorrow. Treated myself to a good Thai foot reflexology at 1st Avenue Mall before a good night’s sleep.