Friday, September 25, 2009

Raya Celebrations Continue

Unexpected, Wifey's eldest brother called to say that he was coming to our home for the Raya visit. The family had arrive in Singapore the night before after a 5 to 6 hour-long drive from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Wifey was delighted to receive the call as I had gathered because she woke me up from my abrupt sleep to tell me the news and asked me to get ready.

I was down and out after I had popped in tons of drugs from the doctor to treat my nasty flu and congested lungs that had been killing my spirits against my better, joyful nature to celebrate Raya since last Thursday.

While she was busy preparing food in the kitchen for our guests that were coming over, I bathed the second time to refresh myself and try to stay focused.

The time is never right when you are sick but hey, it is Hari Raya so visiting and celebration are in the cards whether you like it or not. More so when guests have a big heart to come from so far away to our home.

I like it a lot... but I hate the state I was in... buffed with full of medications, I was like a zombie with pale complexion, muffled hearing and imploding-jello-jiggled-head. I knew I would not remember half the conversations we would have had for the night, the very next morning.

They called my bluff the minute they stepped into our home. My face was like an open book! Well, most probable there were prefaces about my current health given out my Wifey herself and my beloved mother-in-law who was worried for me.

The conversation were kept simple. Thank you Bro!

Mostly catching-up on each other after a couple of years apart. Some conveniences in terms of transportation his part of the world has now that will make it easy for us to travel by train from Singapore.

Apart from Wifey, Sonny had the best time of all that night. With lots of silly and quirky poses they took pictures of themselves around the house, the four cousins were having a great time together uploading pictures into Facebook and starting to "Accept Friends" with each other.

Facebook is BIG this year with everyone to keep in tough... both for the young and old!

Brother-in-law broke he happy news that he and his spouse are going on a pilgrimage to Mecca this year. Something that Wifey and I would want to do later in our lives.

They both are waiting for the final approval from their Malaysian government to set off on a month-long pilgrim, celebrating Hari Raya Aidil'Adha, another important Muslim day of celebrations, in the holy land this coming November 2009.

Note to Wifey, Brother-in-law and family do not like spaghetti meat-balls! They tried their hardest to finish the food Wifey specially prepared for them but alas, none could finish a plate and had to be thrown away.

Oh well, more for us I guess. Sonny and I were the first to finish the uneaten leftovers because it is one of our favorite dish... one man's poison is another man's antidote... even if the taste buds were a little off as a result of my flu medicines.

What makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, in spite of drugged state of being that night, was the honest feeling I felt when Brother-in-law and I exchanged wishes and seek forgiveness from each other and hugged.

It made my lousy day all better with a renewed sense of well being that everything is wonderful. Family bond is beautiful and priceless.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Spirit Of Celebration

Aidilfitri 2009 KL Family Portrait

As I had envisioned and calculated the plan in my mind weeks earlier, Hari Raya Aidilfitri being on Sunday, the following Monday becomes a public holiday.

An ideal timing since Wifey's family was coming all the way from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to celebrate their Raya here this year. Monday was the perfect day to be with them!

Braving the 5 to 6 hour-long drive, there will be 3 to 4 families coming to Singapore to celebrate this special day with Wifey and her two sisters who are living here.

As I had figured, we will have double celebration this year. Everything should all work out so well!

On Sunday, Wifey, Sonny and I will go visiting to my parents and in-laws on the first day of Hari Raya. We will then have the whole day on Monday to spend time together with Wifey's family and go visiting to her side of the family, relatives and close friends.

We have already planned and booked a coach this weekend where we will then spend the whole Saturday with my side of the family, visiting my side of the family, grandparents and relatives.

Perfect! Or so I thought...

While Wifey and Sonny were out with her family on the second day of Hari Raya, stuffing themselves with lots of yummy cookies and delicious home-cooked meals that are especially prepared for visitors at her relatives' and close friends' homes, I was home alone.

Nursing myself and numbing my physical pain... and sadness, with loads of drugs from the doctor, stuffed in my body while I desperately tried to get better.

For what it was worth, it was not a total loss when they finally arrived at our home.

The atmosphere was just as electric with high energy, just like as previous years. With lots of laughter and chats, we closed the gaps we had been separated by, from the 2 or more years we had been geographically apart.

Except for this sickly body, everyone else looked radiant and so happy to be together once again.

This year, I realized that the once children, have grown to become teenagers. No longer the shy nephews and nieces I remembered but spontaneous and confident young adults.

We truly had a good time together. Our home was their last stop, so they spent a longer time here which was just the dosage I needed to get me back into the spirit of true celebration. My zest for celebrations starts flowing again... even though the drips from my nose are too.

I know Wifey is already; but I am going to miss them once they leave for home this Friday. I already missed my mother-in-law... a genuinely warm and friendly lady.

Wishing them a safe journey back home. May peace and happiness be with them throughout the years.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Selamat Hari Raya

Aidilfitri Family Portrait 2009

Syawal has arrived. 20.09.2009... nice date.

The day to celebrate our triumph over earthly desires we abstained during the month of Ramadan is here. Wish I could say the same with how I am feeling right now.

This year, it is bitter-sweet for me. Fallen sick just 4 days before Syawal, the incessant coughs especially at night has ravaged both my energy and zest to celebrate it enthusiastically.

After 43 years of illness-free celebrations, the flu has dampened my spirits somewhat as I experience for the first time difficulty to breathe.

A trip to the doctor last Thursday morning did some good, but the constant coughs still keep me wide awake at night. For several consecutive nights, I slept in the living room to avoid transmitting the disease to Wifey.

It also turned out to be the most longest weekend unexpectedly. And boy, it was a long, drawn-out and unpleasant days!

Being sick on a very special day like Hari Raya Aidilfitri is nothing short of party-pooper.

Firstly, I did not attend the morning Raya prayer this year. I look forward to go with Sonny like very year. The atmosphere has always been very joyful. Nothing short of fantastic as one hears the prayers and surrounded by happy faces, people in new and colorful Raya clothes.

By long and drawn-out, I mean I cannot last a minute on the bus, our economical commute to and from my in-laws' and my parents' places without breaking out into long incessant coughs.

The hard, phlegm-filled, lung-spewing cough while riding in the passenger-filled bus that will make any passenger weary of infection. So, we took the cab.

Though costly, at worst, apart from my own family, the cab driver would have gotten infected even at best we requested to have the windows wound down.

Tried my best to look fine, we had our family portrait taken like every year, before we left our home for Raya visiting. It did not turn out that convincing, though.

Spent an eternity at my in-law's place who came back to their Clementi home from KL, Malaysia to celebrate it here this year. My throbbing head felt like it was about to implode. I did not even touch the Raya cookies... against my better nature.

Wifey had to cut short our visit as we made our way to my parents' at Woodlands next.

I was the party-pooper. We left my parents' place as fast as we did from my in-laws'. I did not even "pig-out" at either of these two places which made Mom's quite worried for me.

We... well, I had a third place to visit too... the doctor's!

Once we reached home and had our dinner, I left for Raffles Medical that was still open until 9:00PM on public holdays. Thank God Almighty the company doctor opens during public holidays too and a short shuttle-bus ride to Tampines One Mall.

I reached there 10 minutes before it closed and got good drugs to relieve me of my present sufferings.

The Amoxcycillin antibiotics did the trick. Combined with Bromhexine to loosen the thick phelgm that constricted my chest and left me breathless, the Phenexpect cough syrup made me slept like a baby after so many sleepless nights.

It was like I found liberty. I was free to breathe again, free to sleep again.

Still under the weather... a very dark sky I might add, I strive to recover from my sickness. Nevertheless, I am happy that I can still see my in-laws and celebrate the day with my Mom and especially Dad... who had gone through so much during the past year.

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri everyone!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Salam Aidilfitri Everyone!

Wishing all Muslims
All over the world
A blessed Ramadan
Gives way to joyous Syawal
A time to celebrate our triumphs
With Family & Friends

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfirtri

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Blessed Ramadan

Wishing all Muslims
Around the world
As the fasting month comes to a close
May your soul finds beauty in life
Your mind accepts imperfections that is human
Your heart opens to forgiveness
This blessed Ramadan

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Great Treasure Hunt

Sonny at Pandan Reservoir still lost to where the actual location was

"Ayah! Wake up!" Sonny shook me from my sleep.

"What is it..." I answered, still in a daze.

"I want to show you something..."


"This is important... come!" Sonny shook me again.

"This better be good..." I stood up and walked to his room. It was still before 9:00AM and it was not my time to wake up on a Sunday morning. Not after spending time late last night watching a movie on cable TV.

That happened last Sunday...

The fitness corner with the reservoir in the background

Sonny showed an event organised by The Great Singapore Treasure Hunt group over Facebook. It announce that the a MacBook was up for grabs... literally for any of its fans that came to West Coast Park to find the one clown, out of about 25 who had the sole treasure hunt sticker to win the notebook.

Sonny knew how much I am a fan of Apple Computers, he made me joined the group that morning to be eligible to hunt for the prize.

Wide open view from the flats facing the reservoir

So with Wifey's blessings, Sonny and I started planning our journey to be there by 1:00PM when the hunt was to begin. My iPhone 2G came in handy for the hunt since we were able to check on the go, the real-time postings updating their latest happenings on Facebook.

We left home at 11:ooAM and reached the exact West Coast Park spot stated on the map with 25 minutes to spare... but no one was there! Yikes!

We took the map shown literally. As it turned out, the West Coast Park is the actually park where the large children's playground and the landmark McDonald's were.

Pandan Reservoir maintenance jetty

We reached there not after we took the bus from the residential area and overshot all the way to Pandan Loop and Pandan Reservoir!

We flagged a cab to re-trek back to West Coast Park, reaching there 20 minutes after 1:00PM. Knowing full well that the hunt was probably over since each hunt would not last more than 15 minutes at a time.

McDonald's as landmark at West Coast Park

Nonetheless, neither of us was ready to give up since there was no fresh posting that the hunt was over. Sonny went off to the right side of the park while I took the left as soon as we alighted the cab. We were still hoping to catch at least a glimpse of the crowd or the clown... be part of the hunt crowd, at least.

After 20 minutes, Sonny called to inform that the hunt was over. The posting on Facebook with photos of a guy as the winner of a new MacBook. Silly us had not even spot one of the clowns in bright green t-shirt holding balloons in his hand at all.

Sonny running to find the clown with the prized sticker

Tracking far distances on foot during fasting month was not as taxing as I thought it was going to be. The day helped a lot since it rained in the morning and the weather was cloudy and windy at the same, the whole time was cool and I found it to be enjoyable, in fact. We were not feeling thirsty at all.

We did not win or even came close to the actual treasure hunt group at all but what was great was that we were a father-and-son team that day, working together figuring out the puzzle. That was my prize I won.

West Coast Park Camping grounds

I will do it again if there is another opportunity to go out together with Sonny to hunt for another prize. Sonny may wish to be the winner of the GSTH event but I already know what I am going to win the next time we take part.

"Let's do it again, OK?" Sonny asked while we waited for the bus to go back home. Let's!

West Coast Park children's playground

West Coast Park children's playground

West Coast Park Sailboat practice

West Coast Park sampans near camping site

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Happy Ramadan Week4

Wishing all Muslims
Around the world
May you find beauty in life & humanity
This blessed Ramadan

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Great Raya Hunt

We are into the third week of Ramadan month and there is not much time for Hari Raya Aidilfitri shopping left because it is done only on weekends.

We had our first today but nothing major that we should panic about since we have done our preparations little by little throughout the year. That cuts the cost quite substantially in anticipation of price hikes normally as any major festive season draws near.

We had a last minute “what if” thought about our dining chair cushion covers, to see if we can coordinate the fabric closer to the new gray colored sofa covers we intend to use this year.

So Wifey and I set off before noon to Woodlands Central in the hope to get a set made for the six chairs. Word of mouth is that Woodlands shops charges lower than the popular places like Bedok and Geylang.

Knowingly at this point of time, a few weeks to Hari Raya, we expect the prices to be on the high side. I budgeted the made-to-order for the six pieces to be about S$200.00.

But discovered, after hopping from one shop to another, that the cheapest quoted price was S$280.00 while the most extravagant was S$856.00… for a S$39.90-a-metre fabic.

Either the price was too high or the fabric was not remotely close to the sofa as we had hoped for. So we ditched the desire to match the two for this year. We stay with the present off-white covers we made extra when we first bought the dining set. Done!

We stopped over at my parents’ place to give them their monthly spending money. This month, both Mom and Dad each got extra money to spend for Aidilfitri in the form of Zakat from me. A practice all of their children do during the Ramadan month.

We spent our time there just resting our tired feet and chit-chatting with Mom and Dad. Had our Zohor prayers done and continued our journey to shop at Geylang Serai, the hot spot of all Raya shopping.

Together with Sonny whom we arranged to meet at Paya Lebar MRT, we began our Raya shopping at the first bazaar in front of the Singapore Post.

Wifey bought headscarfs at her friend’s booth and then we were into the toughest part of any Raya shopping for this family… finding Wifey’s perfect Baju Kurong Melayu, our traditional Malay dress to wear during the Raya celebrations.

After that Sonny and I will know what color of our clothes will be… a family tradition adopted by most Malays to be color-coordinated as a family during visits.

Geylang Serai started off decades ago with one or two clusters of tents where makeshift Raya Bazaar were held apart from the many shops there, but throughout the years, the tents have been getting larger and spread more throughout the vicinity.

This year is no exception. It is even grander than previous years despite the recession. There are probably 5 to 6 humongous white tents spread throughout Geylang Serai, Joo Chiat, Kampong Melayu, Tanjong Katong Complex, City Plaza and right to Paya Lebar MRT.

Though overwhelming, we had much ground to cover.

After scouring the hundreds of shops there for 2 hours, Wifey found her first dress at Zee Shan in Tanjong Katong Complex! A Malay version of the perfect black dress that was reasonable priced at S$99.00.

Wifey was happy but Sonny and I were even happier that the first dress was found within the 2-hour span. One down, one to go!

We stopped and broke our fast for the day at Istanbul Restaurant in Malay Village. Ironically, they served very nice Vietnamese Laksa that came with Mango Salad. Both Wifey and I had that while Sonny tuck into his favourite dish, Fried Noodles.

Thought we would be there all night, but luck has it, Wifey found her second, and even two more extra dresses at Geylang Serai Bazaar, in front of the newly built market totaled at S$100.00 for all 3 pieces! Awesome bargain!

The same goes for Sonny and I. Three pieces of Baju Kurong Melayu for the guys at S$100.00! Two pieces for Sonny and one for me. I have too many from the previous years that were worn a few times during the celebrations but Sonny has to have his replaced because he outgrows them.

Normally we will buy 2 sets of our traditional clothes every year.

One is worn on the first day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri when we visit our parents and grandparents, while the second one is during our visits between siblings and relatives on a later date. We normally charter coach for the whole day, hopping from one house to another like a marathon.

Aidilfitri will fall on Sunday, 20 September 2009. The following Monday is a holiday, so a long weekend for celebration. We will continue the celebration with the whole coach-load full of family members for another outing the following Saturday, 26th.

Like every year, it is going to be a fun-filled family bonding day which everyone looks forward to. Mom and Dad always look proud and happy when everyone gathers together in their best clothes and the cheeriest of atmosphere come Syawal.

Happy Ramadan Week3

Wishing all Muslims
Around the world
May your life be filled
With peace and serenity
This blessed Ramadan

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Just Inches Away!

I do not get it!

This is something that I cannot comprehend... the things that some people do without thinking a little bit more as to the consequence their deed is affecting others.

It is common practice by residents living in blocks of flat to bag their own rubbish, tie it securely and dump it into the rubbish chute that is available for common use on every floor.

It is quite understandable if big items like furniture are difficult to be thrown away, but it still is the responsibility of the owner to dispose off them properly. The means are given for each person to choose.

Either they bring it down to the designated bulky item disposal area or pay a mere S$5.00 fee by giving a call to the town council for the cleaners to collect it from their homes for disposal.

Recently, we have been plagued with garbage that is left at the rubbish chute area. Not thrown into the chute, but left by it almost every day! The elusive dumper is just inches away from pressing down the chute pedal to open and throwing his day's rubbish into the chute.

The mess it makes when the wind blows the rubbish off its opened bag, or topple it and spewing its contents across the lift landing! At times we can smell the stench of rotting food scraps when we open our door on weekends.

This simple routine of throwing rubbish into the chute seems just too complicated to figure out by a certain individual on our floor.

There are sometimes larger pieces of discarded items at the chute area, items that should be torn apart to smaller pieces that can then be placed into a garbage bag or just fit through the chute hole, but is left there irresponsibly, oblivious to keep the the common place clean and hygienic.

This kind of thing happens sometimes when a new neighbor comes to the block. They care less about disposing their rubbish responsibly. Sometimes, the owner of the house rents out to foreign students or workers, they may not know the proper way of disposing their rubbish.

And at times too, with the same ignorance to the culture here, newly employed foreign maids are the culprits. We know this because we saw and advised one some years back.

Most times, we just ignore the mess they make, hoping that in due time they will come to their senses and be civil about it... attuned to the way we do things here. But as times goes by, the situation does not seem to improve. We are beginning to can get agitated more each passing day with the mess this elusive dumper makes.

The last time this happened was by a new neighbor who had just moved in. The irony of it all was that the culprit worked as a nurse! There were receipts and hospital schedules baring her name we saw when the rubbish spewed all over the floor and blown onto the staircase.

Even the Bangladeshi cleaner was angry at the mess he had to clean up after almost every day. The cleaner asked Wifey one day while she waited for the lift whether she knew who did it.

I finally caught the elusive dumper red-handed one night when we came back from an outing and just so happen to see her dumping her rubbish.

The rubbish chute is near the lift landing, several metres away from our front door. So when the lady came and went off from the chute area without the sound of the self-retracting chute being opened and closed, I was most certain she was the one.

I quickly went over to the chute and discovered the same light yellow plastic bag she carried was left by the chute... by the chute! Not thrown into it when the bag can fit through it.

I took the rubbish bag and went straight to her home to confront her. She denied that the rubbish bag was hers but she knew we saw her with the bag while we were at our front door.

I told her I had witnessed her irresponsible act and would have to report her to the town council if this were to happen again. I left the rubbish bag at her front door asking her to throw it properly, responsibly. She did.

We had never spoken before, so after that incident we did not acknowledge each other whenever we passed one another at the corridor or even while in the lift together. The would be neighborly relationship turned sour before it even started.

Yet, I do not mind. The good thing is that the irresponsible act had stopped. I think good hygiene in our common areas is worth more than a passing "hello."

Now, it looks like I have to stake out again to catch the new elusive dumper...