Saturday, 28 February 2009

Amir Yusuf

Kepada semua pengunjung blog ini, sudilah kiranya mendoakan baby Amir Yusuf, dan juga supaya ibu bapanya tabah menghadapi semua ujian Allah.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Adam Hakimi

Yesterday was Adam's 4th birthday. He was born on 26th February 2005 at Columbia Medical Centre Seremban.

4 wonderful years with Adam. Something to really celebrate. Can't do without him now.

Since the moment he was born he has been a blessing.

So for his 4th birthday we made him a calendar to countdown from the 14th of February.
Everyday when he woke up he would ask me to cross the date.
He walked with Papa at Asda and chose himself a Mickey Mouse laptop for his present. And he planned his own celebration...
"Mama, when I get back from school you must get 10 people to shout SURPRIIISSEE!! at me then I will cut my cake and open my present"

(tapi Mama tahap kritikal malas nak masak sekarang-blame it on the hormones-so Mama negotiate dgn Adam-boleh tak Mama dgn Ammar je yang jump surprise?)

"No..I want 10 people"

(besoknya Mama negotiate lagi)

"Ok 7 people"

(Mama belum berputus asa)

"ok 4 people"

(siapa nak panggil lagi 2 org tu Adam?)

"How about Atuk and Tokpa?"

(macammana pulakla nak bawak atuk dgn tokpa dtg sini)

Earlier this week Papa drove Mama and Adam to Crumpsall library and Adam registered as a member. He now has his own library card. He also got another card which the librarian put one sticker on. Everytime Adam borrow books he will get another sticker and when his sticker card is full he will get a certificate from the library. That day Adam borrowed 4 books that he chose himself. That night Mama had to read all the books to him (semput Mama).

So on Wednesday Mama spend whole day baking cupcakes for 54 of Adam's classmates and 5 of his teachers (nak patah pinggang Mama, Adam punya pasal Mama buat jugak, Papa pulak asyik curi kek Mama). The cupcakes were decorated with smiley faces (skill Mama limited ok, tu je lah Mama mampu buat).

When Adam came back from school Adam was not satisfied.
"I want nose with teeth too"
(tak kuasa lah Mama)

That night after Adam and Ammar were asleep Mama and Papa stayed up to pack the cupcakes and party packs for Adam's school.

On his birthday morning Adam woke up happy and cheerful. Papa put a badge "4 TODAY!" on Adam's uniform. He was too excited that he didn't eat any breakfast.

When he arrived at school he was greeted by his teacher Mrs Lavin and she wished Adam happy birthday (tapi macam biasa Adam buat donno je-tu memang perangai Adam, siapa tak kena layan dgn dia jgn kecik hati)

About 2 o'clock Papa prepared to surprise Adam. We put up a banner saying Happy 4th Birthday and balloons. Mama put candles on Adam's cake (beli kat Asda je, cappucino-chocolate cake) and Papa put Adam's wrapped present on the table. Ammar was sleeping. Then Papa went to fetch Adam at school. Mama woke Ammar up and changed his jumper to take pictures. Ammar started crying when he saw the cake.

"nak kek! nak kek!" then Ammar started to roll around on the carpet. Mama had to hold Ammar to save the cake.

Then Mama saw Papa's car outside so Mama brought Ammar behind the table to surprise Adam. When Adam came in we jump and shouted "SURPRISE!" (Mama je yg jerit of course, Ammar tak tau apa2). Adam was delighted to see the decorations.

Then we took some pictures and Adam blow the candles. He opened up his present and although he chose the present himself he did a good job of acting surprised and delighted. Then we ate the cake. Ammar ate 2 whole pieces.

After that Adam played with his new Mickey Mouse laptop non-stop. It is a very good laptop.It has 22 different functions to teach alphabets, spelling and simple maths, as compared to Adam's old Vtech laptop that has only 12 functions. But we owed the old laptop a great deal, it was the laptop that taught Adam to spell first, not Mama. And when Adam started to spell words then only he start to be interested in books. When we saw that Adam responded well to the old laptop that we decided to buy him a new upgraded one. This Mickey Mouse laptop even has a 'repeat' button to allow the child to go back to the question or repeat the word, so he can work at his own pace. And we keep hearing Mickey Mouse saying "Hoott dogg!" to tell the kid that the answer is correct.

In an hour Adam already mastered the keys and mouse of the laptop (berbaloi la £20 Papa). The old laptop now belongs to Ammar (Ammar memang sentiasa dapat harta pusaka Adam). Mama hopes Ammar will also benefit from the old laptop like Adam. Thanks Old laptop! (beli second hand kat e-bay)

That night Adam asked..
"Mama, why only Mama and Ammar say surprise? where's other people?"
(laa tak sah lagi ke?)

"Mama, you must cook more food and I will ask Israf and Max to come."
"How about Mizah and Sarah?"
"I don't want girls"
(sorry Intan and Anis (mama Mizah and Sarah)...)

This morning Adam asked " Mama, when Adam will be 5?"

Sunday, 22 February 2009

What Makes Me Happy Here?

This is a counter-entry for the last post (Longing)...

What do I like about UK?

Cheap booksssss!!
New books (paperbacks) only cost around £3.50-4.00 -and that is for bestsellers..(buku tak glamour lagi murah)...but you can buy them much cheaper at secondhand shops or even the market (yes, markets in UK have bookstalls-ada ke pasar tani/pasar ahad kat Malaysia jual buku?)...the books will usually cost around 1-2 pounds.
But you can get it much much much much cheaper at carboot sales, as cheap as 20pence. But once I got a book for 10pence (Small Island by Andrea Levy). Haven't read it yet, I bought it because I know that book is still on the bestsellers' shelves and it is the winner of Whitbread Novel Award and Orange Prize for Fiction Best 2005 (menang je award tapi tak tau lagi best ke tak-dulu pernah baca 1 buku yg author dia Nobel Prize winner tapi campak buku tu sebab tak sedap).
But once I got 2 books for free at a carboot sale. I chose maybe 4 books but then I only had enough change for 2 books, and the minah saleh saw me thinking on which books to let go then she said "you can take all the books and just give me what you have.." hehe agaknya dia kesian tengok korek2 poket takde duit pulak..
As the result, these are my collections now....

Ok this is just 2008 collection, for 2009 I will have to buy another Billy Bookcase from Ikea. Haven't read most of the books, beli je dulu takut menyesal. I usually will go to the bookstores and scan all the new titles or the ones at the bestseller's shelves and then search for them at carboot sales. I can now easily spot the carboot that will give me some 'hasil'. It usually will belong to a nicely dressed lady, or a nicely dressed smiling couple, that arranges their things neatly on the table. Among their other items would be toys, kids' clothing, table ornaments and used jackets. They usually don't sell junks. And that's where I can get nice books. It is almost always a lady. Except once, I bought A Thousand Splendid Suns from a young man who sold it for 50pence. I suspect that book wasn't his (nobody would sell their ATSS). I actually did say a prayer that morning so that I can find that book because I wanted to own it (it was a library book that I read).

Notice my Harry Porter's collection? I bought them for a total of £3.50. Haven't found Book 1 and Book 3 yet (and of course, The Tales of Beedle the Bard).

So here are some carboot pictures (actually carboot sales itself deserve an entry).

Other than cheap books, I also looovvvve Manchester Public Library!
Very efficient, vast collection of books, and the online service is grrreattt.
Just type in title or authors then the list will appear (paperbacks/hardcover/audio books/large print) then you make reservation and you choose a pick up location (the nearest library to your home/workplace). Then in few days time you will get an email asking you to pick up your books. Then you can renew your books online to a maximum of 6 months duration. I don't know how Malaysian National Library operates, maybe someone can tell me. But I once went to Perpustakaan Awam Jasin and that was the only time I go because I found that it is only suitable for schoolchildren. I've never been to Perpustakaan Awam Melaka.

Here are my current loans:

Other than books and the fantastic library, I also love the cheap designer items! errr..not so cheap actually, but at a more reasonable price, affordable by the middle class...kalau kat Malaysia pandang je lah (ni takde gambar ok, nanti orang kata riak pulak).

Chocolates are cheap, too! A Snickers/Mars bar is only 40pence (amaran: Mars takde vegetarian label ok). A Cadbury Dairy Milk bar (the big one) is around £1.50 (99pence if you go to factory outlet)...Not need the chemicals for your brain ok..

And of course, who wouldn't be mesmerized by the magical white snow and heavenly golden autumn colours?

Ikea, Harry Porter, Snickers, Mars, Cadbury adalah iklan tak berbayar...

Friday, 20 February 2009


It has been nearly 1 year and 4 months since we left Malaysia...

What do I miss most?

Apart from my parents and siblings and friends..

No, I'm changing the question; what do I miss but never suspected I would before coming here? (panjangla pulak soalan)

I think I miss the sun the most....
I miss the light, heat and the brightness it brings
With only average of 4 hours of sunshine a day here, it's a bit gloomy..
(although there is light but there is no sunshine-macam masa petang je)
maybe that's why a lot of people here are depressed (just an assumption, not backed by statistics)
and I miss other things that are related to the presence of the sun
like the predictability of time and the sense of stability it gives...
like you know when you have to pray without looking at a timetable that changes everyday (and differs between mazhab too)
and you can arrange your activities equally, night and day
and you can just roughly guess what is the time then without looking at the watch..
also the that you enjoy your shower..twice or 3 times a day
(not just shower, I even dread washing the dishes here)
and I miss being able to just step out of the door in the same clothing I wear inside, without having to think whether I am adequately dressed for the weather or not.. (and I miss wearing kaftan :D )

and I miss Malaysian nights....
eating out in a warung at night (maybe satay or sup ekor or ikan bakar)
or driving at night with the windows down..
or just looking out of the window at night staring at the stars,
or sitting outside in the garden of my parent's house..
the nights are just too cold here to even open the windows..

I think I miss the cool breeze of Malaysia too..
you are happy when the wind is blowing, because it gives a relief from the heat,
not like the harsh wind here, that dries out your skin and brings the chill to your bone..

so much to talk about the weather can be the main topic you talk about with your casual friends, it's also the usual comment you say to your neighbour (hello! it's a cold day, isn't it?), it's what you wait for in the news (unlike the flash picture of the map with scattered pictures of suns, clouds or rain shown for 10 seconds in Malaysian news)..

I also miss the smell of pasar malam (night market)..
the smoky-noisy environment of a pasar malam
where first you smell the laksa, then ayam percik
maybe satay, and the various rice (nasi ayam, nasi tomato, nasi beriyani, nasi minyak, nasi hujan panas, nasi dagang, nasi lemak kukus, nasi kerabu)
then you smell the apam balik, and burgers
then keropok lekor, then mi kari, mi bandung, mi jawa, mi rebus..
then apam balik again..
then jagung rebus, kacang kuda, rojak buah, yong taufu,
murtabak, roti canai, roti telur, roti bom..
then the various colours of juices sweating in their containers
sugarcane, watermelon, ABC (aaarrrggghhhh!!!), cendol..
actually I don't really miss the food because a lot of them are available here
but I miss the mixed smell and hustle bustle of the pasar malam...

Apart from the pasar malam, I also miss my favourite fast food-kfc! (ni iklan tak berbayar) n spicy chicken with fantastic coleslaw and the wedges!

I also miss kenduri!
or the fact that you always have a function/gathering to go on weekends.

I missed being important (hehehe)
because where I worked before I was like the fourth in ranking in the institution..
I'm not 'gila kuasa'
but it's just the good feeling you have when you go to work
but of course, I am more at peace in mind now
having no life-death decisions to make

I really really miss big large houses of Malaysia
(or I miss the openness of houses in Malaysia)
here the houses are small (I supposed because of expensive land price)
and compartmentalized (cheaper to heat-more energy efficient)
I miss the vastness of our 4-bedroom apartment where my son was able to cycle his bike freely as he wished without knocking onto anything
I'm sure our wee house now can fit into my parent's living room alone.

I'm going to stop torturing myself now..

Home sweet home..

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Is Parenthood A Big Joke Now?

hmmm...sekarang budak dah jadi bapak budak...

Read here about Alfie Patten who is now a dad..he's 13!!

There are many articles about this shocking news, but I think that is one of the best as it discuss some other aspects as well eg. sex education in school, the concept as premarital sex as a recreation and the biggest question-Who's to Blame...

I was 11 when my youngest sister was born...and when I was 12 I don't think I have any idea how babies are made (is it a blessing or a sign of ignorance?)...

I became a mother at the ripe age of 24, but i still remember the intense pressure it caused me.

Then read here about Nadya Suleman, a single unemployed, no-fixed-income mother of 6 who gave birth to octuplets (twins of 8), making her now a mother of 14, all of whom are under 8 years old. The octuplets are the result of fertility treatment (or rather, boost!). All 14 has the same biological father, Nadya's boyfriend, who donated his sperm for the fertility procedures.

And see here now her website asking for donations.

How you stay sane caring for 14 small kids? (imagine if half of them catch chicken pox!)


Saturday, 14 February 2009


The full title is Murder on the Verandah (Love and Betrayal in British Malaya).

I read this book a couple of months ago but did not have the time to write the review, but i jotted down lots of notes from it (don't know why I did that, but I'm glad I did). I found this book in Manchester Public Library after I searched in their online catalogue with the keyword 'Malaysia'. The reason why I read this book is because it is about our country but it was written by a British.

The author did a research on a true story of a murder that occurred in 1911 in Malaya. An English woman, Ethel Proudlock, the wife of Will Proudlock (who was the acting headmaster of Victoria Institution, Kuala Lumpur at that time) shot her secret lover, Will Steward (funny that both men has the same first name) because of uncontrollable rage when he told her that he was ending their affair. The murder took place on the grounds of the school, at the verandah of the headmaster's house which is no longer there now.

But I'm not going to go into the life of the Proudlocks or the murder or the trial itself.

What I want to share is Malaya in 1911, as described in the book.

Malay Mail and Ideal Condensed Milk already existed.

Ambulance is horse-drawn cart with a very tiny stretcher-so tiny that if a tall person is carried, his feet would dangle at the end.

Indians with a buffalo in town were a common sight in KL, if you needed milk, you simply took a jug and went looking for one.

Singapore had a famous red light district that included Austrian and Japanese girls (as well as locals).

A typical British household had as many as 8 servants- a head boy (like a PA), a cook, a driver, a water carrier (from the wells I supposed), a gardener, a dhoby, a nanny and a cleaner.

In KL, every morning prisoners with chained feet and guarded by a policeman swept the streets and semi-nude Indian labourers did all the road repairs.

The British planters thought that the sound of people speaking Malay language reminded them of nuts being cracked.

The British tried to change us, and did not think very highly of the people of Malaya..

When King Edward VII died on 7 May 1910 all shops and offices at KL were closed and people wore black arm bands. At Victoria Institution (VI) the students marched and saluted the King's portrait.

Schools were changed to English public school system starting with VI, in which VI was divided into houses, prefects were created and school anthems were introduced (very much like our schools today.

They REALLY tried to change us. Reading classes included tales of foxes and robins, arithmetic dealt with pounds, shillings and pence instead of Malayan dollars and cents.

And pupils who lived in palm-thatched huts and bathed in rivers were asked to estimate the yards of paper needed for the walls of Victorian drawing rooms and the gallons of water required to fill a bath that they never seen and of course could not imagine.

An Englishman in Ipoh had been fined $75 for having killed a Chinese man and another European was fined $50 for attempted murder after firing 3 times into a crowd of Malays (such was the value of our lives to them).

Aren't we glad that we are now independent?

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Why Reading Matters

2 days ago I watch this great documentary by BBC (BBC makes great documentaries, but due to their failure to show the Gaza Appeal makes me question their credibility in reporting news now). You can watch this 60 minutes documentary 'Why Reading Matters' at BBC official website. I promise you it is worth your 60mins. It is hosted by Rita Carter, a science writer.

If you think reading (even fiction) is a waste of time, or is less a brain exercise than doing mathematical puzzles, you are wrong.

It is proven by neuroscientists through nuclear imaging of the brain that the act of reading actually involves many parts and centres of the brain. Stroke patients who developed reading difficulties were studied and it was found that their brain damages actually occur at variable sites.

A good literature can actually fires up your brain. A professor in Liverpool Univ actually studied the brain electrical impulses while a subject is reading a Shakespearrean piece. Shakespearre is famously known for using adjectives or nouns as verbs, and when you read this particular word, your brain charges a certain electrical impulse, which is shown in brain EEG.

Reading is actually the most energetic brain exercise. A group of scientists in Cambridge use a brain scanner called MEG (a recording of magnetic fields of brain activity) to determine brain activities when you are reading. If you are reading an action word, say 'grip', the part of brain that controls your hands to make the gripping action actually fires up (without your hands gripping, of course). So when you are reading, your whole brain is crazily working. And this is why people who reads a lot empathize with other people more, because when he/she reads, the part of the brain that is responsible for emotions/actions also charges up, so it is like the reader has actually experienced the situation itself (mentally).

I supposed that is why when you read horror stories, the whole night you will be edgy (like I used to be when I read Fear Street series back in primary school).

So, what is the pattern of reading habit now? British people remains enthusiastic readers, in 2005 alone the British bought 218 million books. But in the US since the millenium, booksales has stagnated.


In 1996 and again 2005 the National Library did a survey on Malaysian reading habits, and for both years, those aged 10 and above only read 2 books a year (no improvement despite campaigns). This excludes textbooks and work-related books. Quite shocking but I'm not sure about the sample size and who was interviewed. Surely if they include medical students they won't get fantastic results. And I noticed my younger sister had to read certain novels for her BM lessons, and I'm quite sure it was more than 2 (maybe this is not counted in-novels used in schools). Probably it will help if books are cheaper in Malaysia, like here in UK (I just bought 4 books all for just a pound at a carboot sale last week).

Well, now science has proven the importance of reading to your brain. It should be everybody's number one hobby. And the very first Quranic verse that was received by Prophet Muhamad (pbuh) is, as everyone knows; 'Read, in the name of God....'

p/s : can you imagine if one day you wake up and you suffer a stroke, and suddenly all the words doesn't make sense anymore? isn't it one of the scariest thing? (this was shown in the documentary, a patient who wakes up with a stroke and found that all the letters he read did not spell in english anymore-he saw it as a different language)

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

A FRIEND LIKE HENRY by Nuala Gardner

It took me 2 weeks to finish this book. Simply because you really need time to absorb what the author and her family has gone through.

It is about Nuala and Jamie Gardner's son, Dale who has autism. A true example of how parents would struggle to give the best for their children.

Autism was once known as infantile schizophrenia. It is because the child is truly locked in their own world, withdrawn, does not communicate or play like other children. They have lack of eye contact, become obsessed in a particular routine or toy. And they have terrible terrible temper tantrums eg head banging to the wall. Imagine you have this small creature who doesn't show any sign of love, does not engage with you and throw tantrums. (I mean having a naughty toddler is tiring enough, but it is always rewarding and funny, but if you have a child that never reward you even with a smile, how long can you sustain? how long can you love him?)

What Nuala and Jamie did was very amazing. Some things parents just take for granted, like your child babbles then talks, then walk normally, bath and sleep without struggles. Dale spoke his first word when he was 26 moths old and it was 'tree'. Years later then only he says Mum or Dad or anything meaningful.

So, who is Henry? Henry is a dog, a golden retriever who actually broke into Dale's autistic world and help bring Dale back to the real world. Well, never underestimate a pet's influence/impact in a person's life. God always give you help in a way you can never imagine.

Surprisingly, one of the couple's biggest obstacle is from the proffessionals (doctors, educational psychologist etc). The 'war' they had to go through just to get a diagnosis and proper help for Dale. (Sadly, I can relate myself as the profesional in some parts of this 'war'). Quoting from Nuala herself..
"You may have a major impact on your patient's life, and the consequences of your actions, OR LACK OF THEM, live with that patient forever..."
For those who are unable to read this book, but would like to know their story anyway, you can watch a film on dvd based on their story titled 'After Thomas' (the dog is named thomas in this film).

Monday, 9 February 2009

Statistics to share...

I found this article on parenting in The Independent, Thu 5 February 2009 (The Facts of Life-Childhood in the UK)

There are a lot of tips on parenting and also some statistics..

What I want to share is..
  • 6% of children aged 11-15 smokes
  • 17% of pupils aged 11-15 have taken drugs in the last year
  • 4% of 4-6 year-olds eating the recommended 5 portions or more of fruits and veges a day's Malaysia? I have no idea now (maybe later if I have the mood I'll try to find out)...but, who are those fabulous parents of that 4% that eat the 5 portion a day??? I'm still struggling to get my 4 year old son to eat that 3 main meals a day, let alone veges and fruits (I hope he gets enough 5 portions a week)...he only eats biscuits and biscuits and biscuits and sausages

when I was a kid I didn't eat veges anyway (Thank God i'm still alive and not constipated)

by the way..the number 10 tip is..
"You don't have to be a perfect parent, just a good one"
These are my healthy sons...