Monday, September 29, 2008

Labour Of Love

I cleaned the two corridor windows and hung the drapes on both.

Then changed the sofa cushion covers... vacuumed the house and mopped the living and dinning rooms. Scrubbed away the stains off the walls and more scrubbing off stubborn stains on the laminated floors.

The scrubbing continued on the white lacquer sofa and dining tables legs to reveal clean and almost like brand new tables.

Spread the newly bought light yellow carpet and set the sofa set nicely. Changed the lamp shade on the side table after cleaning the ceramic stand. Set the deck-phone nicely on it after giving it a thorough cleaning too.

Cut the thick plastic cover to size, spread the newly bought square table cloth on the glass dining table and then placed the protective plastic cover on top.

The glass display cabinet took a long time to clean. Not the cabinet itself, but the many nick-knacks in it that were collected throughout the years. Putting the nick-knacks back was a challenge altogether.

A little artistic touch was needed to make the displays looked uncluttered. Yikes! Glad that was over.

The glass flowers... oh those delicate glass flowers had to be cleaned with dish washing soap to rid off the stubborn dust especially in the unreachable corners. Then came the flower arrangement time. That required a lot of artistic talent which I had very little to help me pull it off. It was a mess but acceptable in the end. At least that is what I think of it.

All the above spring cleaning was done by me alone... at my parents' place in preparations for this Wednesday's Hari Raya celebrations or Aidilfitri come the month of Syawal. It is a public holiday in Singapore.

I set off from home just after 10:00AM today.

Took leave off work for two days - Monday and Tuesday, and combined with the weekend, I have 4 whole days to do more spring cleaning at home as well as dedicate a day to help clean my parents' home as well... a yearly ritual for me and Wifey.

This year, Wifey still had some left-over stuff to do in our home, so I had to use all the elbow grease I had left after the two days cleaning our own home.

At age 82, Dad is recovering from a bout of cough and flu, so he is still feeling groggy now an then. Climbing up ladders to clean high reaching places was out of the question. Mom 75, is not so mobile without reaching for furniture or the wall for support when walking.

Alone, I took the whole day to clean their 3-room flat.

Started cleaning just before 11:00AM and finally finished just after 10:00PM. A whole drum of elbow grease indeed. It was tougher when all those activities require physical endurance while fasting from dawn till dusk... but I survived and my parents' home looked spotless!

Bought food for breaking fast just after 6:00PM from the void-deck coffee shop a few blocks away. Nothing tasted better than glasses after glasses of ice-cold Bandung drink that Mom made.

Imagine the poor and homeless here and throughout the world... with no guarantee of food for their next meal, no nice tasting drink or even clean water to quench the thirst, one of the many aspects of fasting has taught one to be patient and actually feel the plight of the disadvantaged... one begin to appreciate the things one is blessed with.

Come Wednesday, 1st October 2008, Hari Raya Aidilfitri is the time for all Muslims across the world to celebration our triumph over fasting and abstaining from negative human desires during the month of Ramadan.

The bus ride home from Woodlands and back to Tampines on board the double-decker Service 168 was as pleasent as the ride to my parents' home. The 40-minute journey on the expressways - Tampines or TPE and Seletar or SLE expressways was quiet and soothing as always.

Seeing my parents again on Hari Raya day together with my siblings congregating at their home right after Aidilfitri morning prayers gets me all so excited... just thinking about it!

Ramadan Final Days

Alas, we are in the final few days
Of this holy fasting month

Hoping our prayers
Are heard & accepted,
Our alms are blessed

Our kind acts perpetuates
Beyond this month
And throughout our lives

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lost In-terpretations

As a follow-up on my lucid dream I had posted, an office friend interpreted the following when I asked for his take on it:
  • The rows of lifts represent the many possible avenues for a solution to a problem that I am trying to resolve.
  • The lifts are easy solutions, but are not appropriate ones for now, so I have to look for another way.
  • This lift or solution that I take is a tough one and may look like a mistake.
  • Being stuck with the choice I make, I have to rely on someone's help to resolve it.
  • The lady who helps may not be an actual person, she may represent a tool for the solution.
  • The detailed description of the lady, including her name and all, may just be a distraction within the dream itself and may not be a true representation for any meaning.
  • I finally resolve the problem when I climb out of the lift.
  • Yet no closure for now since I have yet to reach my destination ... the ground floor where Wifey awaits.
Insightful... something to think about and to relate to these few days... I do not have an impending problem that I loose sleep over though, but an interesting interpretation nonetheless.

This friend of mine is sure talented in this "realm of the subconscious." He can sideline as a fortune teller or a Fenshui Master, but I would rather he keeps his day job.

I am fit enough, I may use the stairs down next time.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Lift Me Up

Wifey and I were working in an office building. We were typing away on our computers. Evidently, each of us had our own reports to complete.

Our cubicles were facing each other, where we both could see one another seated at our desks from across the aisle.

About an hour before the day ended, Wifey asked me to be the lookout for her because she was too tired and wanted to rest her eyes. I felt it was wrong to "eat on company's time," but obliged anyway.

When the day ended, we both packed-up and headed to the lift lobby to get down to the ground floor. There were many lifts in a row, but there were as many office people too waiting to take the lifts down.

Giving way, Wifey went into on of the lifts without me. With another guy seemingly preoccupied and with an impatient look on his face, I was left behind with him to take the next available one.

We waited for a long time for the next lift to stop on our floor, but none did. All carriages had "full load" signs flashing and bypassed our floor.

Instinctively, both of us walked off to take another lift at another lobby. It had a see through glass ceiling and was built on the exterior of the building. However, the lift served only the middle floors and did not go all the way down to the ground floor.

Upon realizing it, irritated and murmuring to himself, the man pressed for one of the nearest floors and went out of the lift. I was then alone in the lift, pressed the top button, decided to go right back up to the same floor where I worked and take our usual lift down from there.

On the way up, the lift stopped but the doors would not open. I pressed the buttons for few floors down. It went jerked, and went downwards too fast that made my heart jumped. It was like free-falling.

I thought the carriage was going to crash at the bottom with me in it, but it jerked and screeched to a stop in between floors, nearing its lowest serving floor.

It was no longer responding to any other buttons I pressed. I was trapped inside. I pressed the alarm button for help but it was not working either.

I kept looking up the glass ceiling for somebody to notice my plight. I waited for quite a long while before a lady chanced upon me.

She happened to walk passed the corridor beside where the lift shaft was and saw me waving frantically at her from inside.

With an apron on her, I figured she worked at the restaurant on that floor. I gestured to her that I was trapped and for her to call for help.

Instead of looking for help, she climbed and perched precariously on the parapet, leaned forward with her arms out stretched to reach for the lift's top ceiling. With all her might, I saw, she managed to unlatch to the top hatch.

Stepping on the handrails on each foot, I climbed up and pushed open the hatch. I climbed through it and down to the walkway.

Composing myself a while, I then thanked her profusely for putting her own life in danger in order to save me.

She was wearing a sandy-colored blouse with dark pants. Her apron was white. I noticed she was indeed a beautiful young lady in her twenties... apart from nerves of steel, she was by no means acrophobic.

I introduced myself and extended my hands to shake hers. Peeling the apron off her and wiping her hands that was dirtied from touching the dusty and greasy metal bars, she reciprocated while introducing herself as Iryani.

I was thinking fast and hard on how I should repay this lady who did a courageous and selfless act to save a man, but I drew a blank. Most probably still shaken by the whole incident. While trying to come up with something, I had to stall by babbling to her that I had to take a picture with my cell phone as evidence to report the incident.

While snapping the photo of the lift, I was also thinking to myself, "Hey, this will be a good blog post!"

Then I woke-up... lifted-off from slumber, seated-up and dazed.

It was late Sunday afternoon. Fasting would make one sleepy if there was nothing to do... the reason why decided to take a short nap. Wifey was watching her favourite Korean variety show.

Wow! What a ride.

Even though it was a mid-afternoon dream, I regretted that I did not get the opportunity to return her kindness in my dream... whomever Ms. Iryani was. I also realized how stupid I was to never thought of using my cell-phone to call for help, but was so quick-witted to take a picture instead.

What was I thinking... or dreaming?!

Was Wifey waiting long for me at the ground floor? Or were we still single and Wifey a girl at the office I was trying to woo? Who is Ms. Iryani? Why do I still remember her face, but I know I have never met her?

Well, thank goodness it was just that... a dream.

Then again, I still get to post this "experience" in my blog anyway. And I got my Wifey.

Now it is left to interpretations... any takers?

Ramadan 4th Week

Venturing into
Our 4th week of fasting
Feeling the hunger
Of homeless & the poor

Appreciating the riches
Bestowed upon many of us

Giving Zakat to the poor
That is rightfully theirs

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

That's My Boy

I breathed in hard and my eyes were almost popping out when I saw Sonny's 3rd Term exam results. I was speechless. Wifey was the total opposite.

A Few Days Before...

"Do you want to attend the Parent-Teacher Meeting." Wifey asked while handing out to me Sonny's school acknowledgement form.

It was for Saturday, 13th September 2008 at 9:00AM.

"Please sign if you decide to go or not," Sonny said coming into my den... well, a computer room and gym room in one, my personal space in the home, "they'll hand out the report book afterwards."

"Yes, we should go..." I replied Wifey, "since it is the first time to attend such meeting in Dunman, I'd like to know how things go."

I signed the form to attend with Wifey. Sonny will have to go too if the parents wanted to meet the teacher to discuss.

Saturday Morning

"Ayah, wake-up." Wifey shook my arm. It was only 7:40AM

I looked at the clock and saw it was just too early to wake-up on a weekend. "It still is early..." I said barely waking and closed my eyes to continue my sleep.

"I have to make the bed and clean-up the house before we leave..." Wifey replied, "wake-up, wake-up Ayah!"

"Take a bath first while I do some cleaning." Wifey continued, "I go next once I'm done." with a strict voice... more excited than usual and lively that day.

"Sonny, take a bath!" She hollered. Zipping here and there, busy, busy like a bee!

On the other hand, I was a walking zombie with a sole aim to only reach the bathroom... and yes, out the window I noticed a sunny and beautiful morning.

Journey Of Wonder

We took the Shuttle Service 293 from our home. It was a direct bus ride to Sonny's school... the convenience we also got apart from getting into one of the best schools in the east.

Slowly, as the bus ride got closer to Dunman Secondary School, more and more of parents with their Dunmanites boarded heading the same destination.

Eventually, it was like a school bus full of students.

Once alighted in front of the school, everyone was ushered to the main hall where seats were waiting and the school principle already addressing from the stage to the two-third full auditorium. It was only 9:05AM.

Seated down, to the left of the stage was a row of desks with all the secondary class teachers waiting with stacks of their students' record books.

Behind the seats was a row of desks with HODs and teachers waiting for the meetings with parents after the school principle's half-hour presentation that would start at 9:30AM.

Like us, there were a lot of concern parents attending this meeting.

By 9:15AM the auditorium was already full. The lady principle started her presentation to welcome everyone and flashed many slides showing the students various cumulative progresses, achievements and areas of improvements to date.

Addressing some misconceptions and concerns from the parents, the principle was quite candid.

Giving perspectives and advices, citing some real examples from parents' inquiries she had received over the months and the types of students and their gripes with their parents.

As far as I am concern, she had given a very good assurance and confidence that our children are in good academic and holistic hands.

Then it came to the record book collection when the presentation ended.

That Moment

It was like a swarm of bees. Many parents flew over the rows and rows of seats trying to get to the left side of the hall to collect their children's results.

It was incredible that they were able to sit still and patiently during the whole presentation. Pumping hearts with anxieties wanting to know their children's performance more than the children themselves. That was only 3rd term... imagine when it is the final year.

While the swarm was thick, Wifey and I sat and completed the survey form that was given out upon our arrival. By the time we had finished, it was a breeze for Sonny to collect from his class S-1D.

Coming back from where we were standing, Sonny opened his record book and stopped for an instance. His jaw dropped to the floor, eyes opened wide tracing down the lines in the book.

Seeing Sonny's facial expression, we began to panic. Both Wifey and I scurried over to Sonny who just stood there staring at his report book.

"Oh My God!" Wifey almost screamed amidst the buzzing hall.

"1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.... 7 As!" I counted excitedly as I trace down the rows in the record book.

"Congratulations, Sonny!" I patted his back. Wifey was already giving him a tight bear hug... not letting go and kissing his cheek.

Sonny was soaking it all up, still dazed apparently, as we made our way towards the centre of the hall.

His classmates then started calling his name from the far end. They were trading record books to check each other's results out. Jumping and laughing excitedly as they teased one another.

Sonny joined them as we looked on.

They swarmed, surrounding him as they looked at his record book. "I know do did very well, no need to see, I just know it!" One of his girl classmate teased.

"1, 2, 3... 7! Wow! So many!" A few of them excitedly said while giving him pats and punches on the arms. "Wah! too much, you!" They joked and shook hands to congratulate him. Some senior students came over to congratulate him too when they heard about his results.

I finally got to feel how the parents felt when their children received awards on stage during the school's Prize Giving Day we attended just last month.

Thank you Almighty for your gift of this Son.
Thank you for this opportunity for me to feel proud of him.
Thank you for blessing me with this lady that's standing beside me
Whose tireless efforts to help him with his studies
Who has nurtured him so wonderfully.
Thank you.

It was like a slow motion scene unfolding before me as I said my silent prayers of gratefulness, looking at my Sonny being truly proud of himself and with friends sharing his happy moment.

That is my Son. I am blessed.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ramadan 3rd Week

Time passes so swiftly
As we arrive and journey into
The third week of fasting

Wishing everyone peace & good health
As we cleanse our soul fresh
Seeking blessings in Ramadan

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Most Prestigious Award

I have been awarded
Blogging Friends Forever Award

By a multi-talented and beautiful soul
Rhiannon from Inner Journey Writings.

I am humbled by the kind mention
You have of me and my blog in your website.

Thank you Rhiannon for this special gift.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Early Raya Birds

This year, Hari Raya Aidilfitri shopping comes early for this family.

In most cases, I think the families of other Muslims too, since the festivities fall during the Primary and Secondary schools' final year examinations period.

Last Sunday was the last day of a 1-week school holiday for the 3rd term for secondary school students like Sonny.

With the exams just a month away, we had to make full use of last weekend to get all the Hari Raya or Aildilfitri shopping done to allow Sonny undisturbed concentration to revise in preparation for his exams.

Raya Shopping Culture...

One major drawback of shopping early during Ramadan month is the cost of items sold. With more days to make good profit, businesses will normally not budge from the initial set prices. Even though bargaining is still always an option, it most likely will prove futile for buyers looking for cheaper Raya stuff.

Yet, we are left with no choice this year. So, there will not be other visits other than last weekend's shopping spree.

Sonny's studies take precedence, and the fact that Aidilfitri is celebrated for a month long, apart from visiting our parents on the first day of Aidilfitri to pay respects and seek forgiveness, the rest of the celebrations will have to take a back seat until the exams are over.

Notably in recent years, new copycat bazaars have been sprouting-up in the neighbourhoods across the island. All is well, as the Raya shopping gets convenient and practically right at your doorstep, but nothing can beat being in the chaotic Mecca of all Ramadan Bazaars at Geylang Serai.

Shoppers from all corners of the island will make their pilgrimage to Geylang Serai at least once for their shopping needs. A second or the umpteenth visits would just be to experience the festive atmosphere there even before Aidilfitri arrives. This year, Aidilfitri will on 1st October 2008.

Weekends will have the most people scouring for good bargains, but when it comes down to one or two weekends before Aidilfitri, the place will be the most packed and chaotic. There will practically be less room to move about, so shopping is tough but worthwhile when the prices almost hit rock bottom.

Since many stall owners do not own a permanent shop to take back to or store their mechandise in, and many too are foreign stall owners who will be happy to ship back as little of the leftovers as possible, the prices will reach to unbelievable low in the wee hours on the last day.

That is when people wait-out like vultures to a dying prey as the prices die down to below costs in the last breath of the fasting month. This is especially true for perishables like Raya cakes and cookies.

Geylang Serai is very well known, and never disappointingly so, to be the ultimate one-stop Raya shopping for Singaporean Muslims here and a tourist cultural attraction as well.

Our Shopping Adventure

Armed with what little budget I have in my pocket, we braced ourselves as we shopped for our Raya shopping essentials - two sets each of traditional Baju Kurung for Wifey, Sonny and me.

The glamorous and usually a little more expensive one of the two sets will be worn on the first day of Raya to our parents homes.

The second set will be for visiting siblings and relatives.

On Saturday afternoon, we set off visiting our niece at KK Hospital. She has an infection of the womb unfortunately, but nothing serious as the doctor indicated. She is warded for observations and treated with antibiotics through a drip.

We sat and kept her company for over an hour since she had no visitors then. Her husband and parents were working, while the rest of my siblings intended to visit her the next day.

From Kampung Java, we hopped in a cab and left for Geylang Serai.

As expected, the place was already packed with shoppers. The eastern part of the roads leading to Geylang was already slowing down to a crawl as we heard over the radio on our way there.

Geylang Going International!

It is rather interesting to observe this year.

We saw a stall from South Africa selling knick-knacks made from camel bones and wooden carvings and paintings with African themes.

Wifey was also served by a South African lady selling traditional and modern Malay clothes. Speaking in English, her heavy African accent lead us to ask her origin. Our first encounter.

Wifey bought a dark brown Baju Kurung, complete with its matching necklace for S$130.00 after several hours of scouting the place.

So Sonny and I will be wearing a dark brown Baju Kurung ourselves this year. We found ours at S$50.00 each.

Mediterranean home deco stalls and Turkish Kebab stalls have already become a common sight here.

Going On Second!

"I'm tired!" Sonny lamented, slouching forward. It is the signal unfortunately for him, to start our search for the second set of clothes.

As always, ladies clothes have always been the complicated ones... with style and colour, and how well it fits the wearer, so we make it a point to get Wifey's clothes first. Once she is sold to that dress, Sonny and I will know what colour to wear and start finding our Baju Kurung.

Wifey found a second dress that she just fell in love with. Unfortunately, the colour was too unique and not common in men's clothes... conservatively speaking, since all Malay men's traditional Baju Kurung come in many vibrant colours.

Colours men do not casually wear unless they are on stage, but for special occasion as Aidilfitri, it somewhat becomes a must have and be seen in too... as cheerful a colour as the occasion itself.

The search to match colours became a tough one. After two hours of frantic run-around the maze of stalls. One seller suggested a good alternative which was readily accepted by us boys.

Sonny and I will be wearing greyish silver, while our Sampin, a knee-length sarong tied at the waist with colours that matched Wifey's dress. Phew!

We even got the clothes for S$45.00 each and $25.00 each for the Sampin. These are so much cheaper than last year's! In this case, early birds still get the worms after all.

We went back happy and contented, reaching home close to midnight.

An Encore... That Bling-Bling

Came Sunday morning, like a full dress rehearsal, Wifey tried on her newly bought dresses.

With matching headscarf and all, Wifey just could not complete the look she wanted after trying several matches of her sets of costume jewellery she painstakingly handmade herself. She looked stunning to me, but something still not felt right with the brooches!

So, with dragging feet, I accompanied Wifey back to the bazaar to hunt for brooches to complement her jewellery sets. Sonny got to stay home to revise his work. Lucky boy!

Fortunately, Sunday shopping was not a total loss either.

After returning from my parents' place to give them some monthly and Raya spending money, I met Wifey at Singapore Post Building where she already scouted several stalls for her brooches. She wanted me to see them too and give my opinion to be fully satisfied before buying.

We went to several stalls... bargained and lost out and onward to a few more but there was not a perfect match in design and price. The nice ones had its prices too steep, while the cheaper ones was just too "gaudy" as Wifey puts it.

An Indonesian stall... tucked in the middle of nowhere, finally answered our call. There, Wifey found two matching brooches for the price of one than at other stalls! Amen!

Wifey is now happy and satisfied. I am relieved.

That Of A Malay Home

I am also happy because I got to buy the Raya decorative lights to hang in our corridor garden right outside our front door. This will add to the festive mood. We will turn it on every night throughout Ramadan and Syawal months.

Not to worry about mounting electrical bills as these lights are now made with low-current consuming LEDs instead of the traditional energy-guzzling filament bulbs.

So during this period, it is easy to spot a Malay/Muslim home. Just look up to the block of flats... the blinking lights hung on window sills and front doors are definitely their homes.

A welcoming and cheery sight to any visitors and passers by during Hari Raya celebrations.

Ramadan 2nd Week

Wishing all Muslims
A deepened faith
As we journey on

Into our second week
Of fasting & prayers
In the holy month of Ramadan

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

15th Wedding Anniversary

To My Dearest Wifey,
Sometimes I steal a look from you
And wonder what I did right
To deserve you in my life

You have given me
The best of gift ever,
Happiness, joy and Sonny
I love you forever

Happy 15th Anniversary

Monday, September 01, 2008

Ramadan Blessings Everyone!

Today is the start of the fasting month of Ramadan for all Muslims.

Yesterday was a fun "SMS day" for me... getting 3 same messages from 3 different people.

Wifey sent one in the morning, followed by my Brother a hour later, then unexpectedly my Auntie in the afteroon. Apparently, this newly created message with an IT theme, has proven to be quite popular here.

Loosely translated, this is how it goes:

With the coming of Ramadan,
always perform...
SETTING of fasting prayer,
UPGRADE your faith,
DOWNLOAD your patience,
UPLOAD your efforts,
DELETE your sins,
UPDATE your prayers,
And TOP-UP your knowledge,
To REDEEM your blessings.

Happy Fasting Everyone