Sunday, September 30, 2007

Friday, September 28, 2007

Raya Cookies Roundup

The final shopping in preparation for Hari Raya Eidulfitri has finally ended.

Meet Wifey straight from work today at MacDonald's in Singapore Post.

The peak-hour heavy rain made it harder to get a cab from work, but it certainly did not deter any Raya Shoppers from congregating at all the available fast-food restaurants there.

Seats were already "booked" while everyone waited to buy food just in time to break the day's fast at 6:59pm... the 16th day of Ramadan.

We did not have to venture further into the Geylang Serai Raya Bazaar when we found Ms. Ana's stall who was selling homemade Raya cookies to serve our visiting guests during the holiday.

We tasted the samples and were hooked to eventually buy all 6 types of cookies... a one-stop cookie-shop! Phew!

Wifey picked a varied range, from dark chocolate-topped cookies sprinkled with chopped nuts called Chocolate Moments, to the more traditional must-have pineapple tarts... my favorite.

Not forgotten, we bought the most popular TV snacks with guests... Singkong, an Indonesian spicy-cheese tapioca crackers. Put it in your mouth once and find yourself hard to stop snacking after that... much like popcorn.

I spent S$142.00 in total after a good bargain with Ms. Ana. It ended-up as a one-stop shop for cookies that we decided to have her contacts for future Raya with home delivery.

Though a little pricier than buying factory-made cookies which can easily be bought in many supermarkets and at the bazaar too, the delicious tastes made-up for the price, like you would bake it for yourself.

Not that I will bake cookies myself, I hate baking and cooking... being in the kitchen. The only love I have about cooking is getting to eat the food.

At the same time, it is good to know that we are helping the self-motivated and entrepreneurial housewives getting some extra income too this coming holiday.

Next stop, the ever-blooming fake flowers shopping. We managed to get the Bird Of Paradise stocks which cost S$9.90 each to brighten-up the dark willow branches for the hallway and some stocks of white Lilacs to dress up the telephone rack.

Our Raya Shopping is now done! Phew!

With an extra weekend available, I am able to spare the last days before Eidulfitri helping my parents with cleaning their home, changing the sofa covers and hanging new drapes.

It is always exciting to see your home and everyone else's homes so beautifully decorated to receive guests... family, friends and distant relatives visiting each other's home to closer ties again.

The whole month of Syawal to celebrate Eidulfitri visiting friends and relatives as well as being visited in returned has always been the highlight of the wonderful times of the year.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ramadan Week 3

Wishing All Muslims
A purifying time for the soul
With prayers & charities
As we cross into the third week in
The holy month of Ramadan

Friday, September 21, 2007

Raya Shopping 2007

Friday has always been the best day of the workweek for me as the weekend takes over my mundane routine... but today was an especially slow day instead.

Most probably because of the anticipation for the day to end fast had made me constantly checking on the time every so often.

From where I was seated, I was surrounded by time... my wristwatch, the digital clock on my PC, ticking time on my cell phone, the blinking time on my office telephone... and the clock on the wall.

All those time-telling devices could not make time to fly when you were not having fun. So I had to wait till the bell rang before I could dash-out from my zombie cubicle and into outdoor living.

I was excited solely because I already made a date with Wifey and Son to go shopping. Not just any outing, butHari Raya Eidulfitri shopping at Geylang Serai Raya Bazaar.

Once in a year in the month of Ramadhan, Geylang Serai is transformed into one, humongous, 24-hour outdoor market. Everything Malay, from traditional to modern can be found there.

From old, traditional Malay dishes and cookies, to clothes, knick-knacks for home deco are sold there. The only thing you will need to do is some legwork and the skill to bargain.

To add to the festive atmosphere, the whole stretch of roads surrounding the area like Changi Road and Sims Avenue are brightly decorated with Malay/Muslim themed lights.

Thousands of Malays from all over the island will throng Geylang Serai for shopping and thousands more will visit it again simply to feel festive joy that Eidulfitri is coming as the place is made alive and bustling with bargain hunters.

Many other races and tourists alike, will also not miss the light-up and bazaar to taste the not so commonly available Malay dishes during this period.

It has somewhat become every Malay's tradition to step into Geylang Serai during the Ramadhan Bazaar or Hari Raya celebration will not feel... complete.

For the Imran's family, we had an annual list of what to shop for... let me count the ways... nope, items.

For Wifey...
  1. 2 sets Baju Kurung, a traditional Malay lady's dress,
  2. 2 pieces Tudung, a headscarf for Muslim ladies,
  3. 2 sets of broaches for the Tudung,
  4. 1 piece matching purse, and
  5. 2 pairs matching shoes.

For Son and I...

  1. 2 sets Baju Kurung, a traditional Malay men's clothes,
  2. 1 set Songkok, a traditional black velvet men's headdress,
  3. 1 set Kain Sampin, a traditional cloth wrapped at the waist.
  4. 1 pair shoes.
This year, the bazaar was even bigger than the years before. There even were stalls from China, Indonesia, Malaysia and even South Africa!

I am not sure about the current Malay community buying power, but the whole package of Raya Shopping seems to come with buying a new car too, as there were several large car showrooms in tents.

We broke out day's fasting at sunset with KFC meal at Singapore Post.

Unlike every year, we had to walk all over the bazaar until our legs turned to jelly just to get Wifey, her perfect Raya dress... and then crawl on further all four to get her 2nd dress. Only then, can we get both mine and our Son's Baju Kurung that is color coordinated to hers.

Tonight, the heavens answered my prayers as it was made especially easy for us when Wifey spotted both her chosen Raya dresses the moment we entered the bazaar.

I would have jumped for joy, but it would be too point of showing. So I gave a big smile instead while my heart sang the Internet "Yahoo!..." yodel.

Just next stall, we found both Son's and my Baju Kurung that color-matched each of her dresses and our Songkok. Yes!

"Can I go home now?" our son blurted out asking as he knew the hunt for Wifey's Tudung will be a torturous as we could not find the matching set.

The search made us went around the bazaar, but because of its sheer size this year, it seemed endless... but we found it just before 11:oopm.

Had a rest with drinks at Haig Road Hawker Centre while the stall prepared our packed food for the sahur, the early dawn meal before sunrise for our day's puasa or fasting.

Raya clothes shopping was officially done!

Amid all the thousands of people there, getting a cab is another nightmare... but not tonight as one empty cab just happened to pass by. Hurrah!

Next up, Raya dishes to order and cookies shopping!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ramadan Week 2

Wishing All Muslims
A cleansing spirit
As we fast into
The second week
In the holy month of Ramadan

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Three's A Charm

Both Mom and Dad were pleasantly surprised when Wifey and I showed up at their doorstep with the new Transport Chair I promised to get for Mom.

We left home before noon to Novena Medical Centre and were fortunate to have the model that we inquired via phone was waiting for us in a box at the showroom.

Thank you Ms. Ice for sending a set in anticipation that we would visit the showroom.

My parents were equally surprised that it was a gift from both of us. Those bright smiles as they both look into my eyes were priceless. I think I felt happier and thrilled more than they were.

Mom is mobile again!

We could only be there for a while before Wifey and I had to fly to hunt for an artificial plant for our home... yes the home deco bug again.

Apparently, the Mango-wood vase we bought earlier demands a prominent place in our living room than being blended into the Solomon's Lava Motif Room Divider at the foyer. It needs its own place to stand-out.

Wifey found Hoi Kee Flower Shop in the yellow pages and we surfed its website to find some artificial plants that were 5 to 7 feet high.

It was suitable for the foyer and softened the entrance with the already strong, straight lines being broken down with the plant's leafy form and color.

Wifey just loved the 7 feet double Fountain Palm when she set her eyes on it as we entered the shop. It was selling for S$165.00 including 3 packets of clay pallets to fill the pot with.

Fortunately, the leaves could be detached from the trunk to fit into a cab, but before that we headed across to Golden Mile Food Centre to buy packet-dinners for our fasting break in this month of Ramadhan.

The two Indian food stalls are well known for their tasty dishes that even the arguably infamous Singapore Airlines mentions their stalls in its in-flight videos to inform visitors about good food whereabouts.

We also met a local "celebrity" at the entrance to the food centre.

Seated at the corner pillar with a partial sunlight hitting her face, Nek, an 89 year old lady who appeared in the Malay newspaper several times, waved-out to call us to buy her fried crackers.

Without any children from her marriage, her late husband had left her alone to fend for herself.

That heart-breaking sight was in fact a picture of resilience and independence... written on that old, wrinkled face was a hard life reinforced with an iron will-power.

Not wanting any sympathy, and refused when offered to stay in an old folks' home, she earns her money through an honest day's work selling 50 cents a pack crackers.

The newspaper article rad that she fried and packed the crackers at home all by herself to sell for the day. Coincidently, the article appeared in the month of Ramadhan a year ago.

I took three packets and gave her $10.00... not as alms, but a token of my admiration for her fighting spirit, for she warmed my heart instantaneously.

She accepted my gift and said a few words that were too soft to be heard. She gave us a big toothless smile as she looked at us while we took our leave.

This has been a great weekend for me personally.

Wifey and I made two of our old folks happy while we are ecstatic to get our guaranteed not-to-wilt Fountain Palm into the cab as we headed home.

Life is beautiful when we make it to be.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ramadan Is Here!

Wishing Every Muslim
A Ramadan
Filled With Prayers,
Blessings & Joy

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Four-Wheeled Drive

All the household interior deco stuff are complete. Now, a new quest to look for a set of wheels is on!

No, not a car... although I could easily wished for that, I am looking for a set of wheel-chair for my Mom.

After more than 4 years since she had her current Transport Chair model 785B, it has come for her to get a new one... simply because it broke.

We were out shopping at Singapore Expo for some bargains at John Little Mega Sale when Mom's Transport Chair's left front flat-free-wheel went, well... flat!

The rubber wheels had become brittle and started to flake into chunks and finally came off the rim... timely so, right at the entrance to the John Little expo sale.

So, without the aid of her transport chair, she and Dad were stranded outside while Wifey, Son and myself, together with my Sis and Niece, went in to do our shopping.

We felt bad, but she insisted that we "grab" what we intended to get especially for the preparation of Hari Raya Eidulfitri on 13th October 2007.

Fortunately, she got several items she bought earlier from the other expo hall organized by Jamiyah, showcasing Malay and regional Islamic merchandise by foreign embassies here especially for Ramadhan and Hari Raya.

At least it was not a total loss for her, even with her "four-wheel drive" having a flat.

We went to Bedok Central afterwards to check at Unity Pharmacy for a new model, preferably a lighter weight than her current, but was not available. The sales girl was helpful to lead us to more new model options at their Toa Payoh Head Office and at Novena Medical Centre retail outlet.

Wifey called today to inquire on the repair cost and new models available. Fortunately, with a difference of S$60.00 we can get a new, lighter-weight model at 10kg. It is also compact enough to fit into a trunk of a car.

I told Mom about the good news over the phone today. She and Dad happily preferred a new transport chair for S$199.00 than repairing the old one.

So I will going to Novena Medical Centre; situated opposite Tan Tock Seng Hospital where Mom had been getting her therapies for her back pains, right after work to purchase that spiffy model KY865LJ Lavender Transport Chair .

I intend to surprise her as a gift from Wifey and I for Ramadhan instead.

She should be thrilled to be mobile again in her new "set of wheels," going for shoppings and outings with all of us.

Life is simple and beautiful.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

TICKLE Rusted Brain

To See I Flunk Math, Click To Enlarge

Saturday, September 08, 2007

TICKLE My Anatomy

Take this test at Tickle

You're Dr. Derek Shepherd

Which Grey's Anatomy Character Are You?

Brought to you by Tickle

Monday, September 03, 2007

Happy Anniversary Wifey

It seems like only yesterday
I took my solemn vow

To care for you & protect you

To love you & behold

Today is our 14th year together

How time just simply flies

You give me so much more
Than I ever hoped I would have

Love you always My Azi...

My Wife and My Partner in life

Here and forever after

Happy 14th Anniversary!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

We Got One!

Like a breakthrough in Ghost Busters movie, we found ours. The search is over!

The quest for the Great Room Divider, partition or folding screen... whichever name you want to call it has been won!

Sign, sealed, delivered... "by Wednesday, 5th August, between 10:00am to 1:00pm, Ma'am." Salimah, the sales lady said. Yes!

Finally we have settled for the first one we ever laid eyes before the big quest started, at Barang Barang in Singapore Post building... after tracking to Harvey Norman at Millenia Walk and several other furniture stores at Marina Square and Suntec City... and lastly at Parkway Parade.

The heavens have truly gave us a blessing when we returned back to Barang Barang; resigned to the Solomon Divider "with Lava Motif" as it was my first choice anyway, to find it selling at 50% off this time! No Way...! Way! Yes!!!

So instead of the actual price of $690.00, we got it for half. The uncertainties and delays turned out to be a blessing in disguise for us.

Done! Our home furnishing "project" is now complete as far as "sourcing" is concern.

After 6 years, we finally replaced our sofa set, which triggered everything else. The need for new drapes custom-made with dark-wood poles to match the deco.

That replacement triggered what Wifey has been nagging about for sometime, the need for a room divider for more privacy against the peering neighbors passing by our front door.

Which then led to complementing the room divider itself by filling the void with a modern-classic mango-wood vase.

That is not all.

The dark-wood furniture will not standout if the walls were not painted off-white, to create that Zen-Balinese, resort-like feel. So the painters will come to start painting the living hall with ICI Pearl-Glo Apple-White this Thursday for the last stack of my S$550.00!

That is it! No more money will be spent on home deco for the next 5 years! Please!

We do feel that we went a "tat" overboard with the revamp of our home... typical of many Malays who are very house-proud. It becomes more intense usually when Hari Raya is nearing.

Coincidentally, we will be celebrating it this 13th October 2007. Or is it?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Great Divide-r

The quest for home deco continues on...

The search for that elusive room divider with that Zen-like dark wood finishing led us to the most unlikely of places.

Picket & Rails came to Wifey's mind and surfing online for their branches on this island has led us to their biggest showroom of 30,000 feet at Mandai Estate, off Woodlands Road. That was near the Singapore Zoological Garden... which I would rather go.

Then again, the long journey on a bus service 960 from Tampines Interchange to Woodlands Road would a long but pleasant ride... if we had left earlier. Instead, we took the expensive route in a cab that cost S$14.00 to my surprise.

A run-down 1960's dilapidated building with a saving grace of a Picket & Rail banner on it. What! Are we at the right address?

The place was so quiet almost mistook it as a deserted warehouse even though it was near the busy Woodlands main road. I felt as if I was in a movie scene trafficking guns or drugs, or something.

Wifey was equally shocked. "Scary" was her sole word upon reaching the parking lot.

I thought somebody might have forgotten to update their website, until I saw a small flickering light coming off a zen-like water feature in front of its showroom entrance at the staircase. With it, was some yellowish, weather-beaten promo pamphlets that greeted us as we alighted the cab.

Most of the furnitures were as dated like the building itself. It irked me for making such a long and expensive trip, to find a room divider that could be mistaken for a 1950's coffee shop partition.

Maybe just because the style was not to our taste.

The out of the way was not surprising when we were the only customers there. The only nice thing about the place was the sales people. Warm, friendly, informative and very helpful.

We left the place in less than 10 minutes and got a cab as we reached the main road. Harvey Norman at Millenia Walk was our next attempt.

Fortunately, casual talks with the cab driver about furniture hunting led him to introduced us back to the area early into the journey to Sungei Kadut Drive. There, 8 to 9 large warehouse furnishing stores were within walking distance between each other.

We went to all except 2 that had closed for the day. Visited Zen Tradition and found the room divider made of birch wood that suited our deco... but it was just too darn expensive.

Still not satisfied, we had to visit and exhaust all the other furnishing stores in the island before we settle for that one which cost S$720.00 before a 5% discount at best.

I would have closed the deal for the Solomon Divider with lava motif at Barang Barang when we visited it last weekend. Though it S$620.00, I find it simple and clean-cut, but Wifey thinks it is too plain and bulky.

We came back tired and empty-handed yet again. The search continues tomorrow....

Tomorrow?! Comex PC Show will end tomorrow! It is the Mecca for Techno-Men, a quarterly pilgrim that must be fulfilled with a journey to visit... and splurge and be in Techno-heaven for weeks with the new toy! Did I say toy?

Oh, alright... I just read Barbara's comment from Trying To Catch Up and I think she makes lots of sense in this Techie-home connect versus Zen-home deco household here.

Well, there will always be another PC show 3 months from now anyway. So, get the compass out, let us track that elusive room divider... Sigh.