Saturday, July 31, 2010

Whenever I browse through HijabScarf I feel so happy to be a Muslim and a hijabi.

I also really, really want to go shopping.
*smacks hand*

Absolutely stunning and inspiring work done by Hanna Faridl and Fifi Alvianto.
Do show some love. 
Visit HijabScarf now. 

Fashion Friday: Serious Side of Maxi

Friday, July 30, 2010

Winter seems to bring out the serious side of me. I tend to wear darker shades and minimise my accessories. But no matter what I still love my maxi dresses. I bought this knit maxi when I was in Melbourne and it's perfect for winter. It's definitely one of my favourite purchases this year. Slip on a cardigan, a woolen winter coat and I'm good to go!




People Pleaser

Thursday, July 29, 2010

On Monday I had to give a brief speech about how Islam addresses the issue of poverty at an interfaith dialogue held on campus. I was quite nervous about it because firstly, I was expected to speak about a topic I wasn’t very familiar with, secondly, public speaking isn't really my forte (mainly because I can be so self-conscious) and thirdly, I had to represent my faith.

The last two is what made me most nervous. One of the reasons why I didn't wear hijab in the past is because I didn't want people to get the wrong idea about Islam. I felt and still feel I would never be good enough to represent something so pure. In the West, being a Muslim (publicly) also means you could be under a lot of scrutiny or at least that's just me being very self-conscious. I mean, Islam is already so misunderstood as it is. What if I said something wrong? What if I couldn’t answer during the Q & A session? What if people thought I was a total bore? I mean, the topic of poverty isn’t something that would get many people rushing through the doors despite or rather because how serious of an issue it is.

And so I went to the the dialogue after having only practiced in front of my mirror only 3 times while trying to memorise as much as I could. It was only a 5 to 10 minute speech but anything can go wrong in that duration of time.


I imagined all sorts of embarrassing scenarios like getting tongue tied, tripping over my own foot in front of everyone or having the sudden urge to burp. Something along those lines!

However, a speech was needed and a speech I was willing to deliver. It made me wonder, how do some people give such eloquent and charismatic speeches? Take President Barack Obama for example. During his inauguration he charmed the pants off yours truly and millions of other people around the world. Some people have the innate ability to command attention the moment they speak. On top of that, they can also memorise hour long speeches like it was their second nature... like they were born to be charming, professional speech givers or something. How do these people get over their nerves? Copious amounts of practice or by simply having a stronghold of self-confidence?

How did I get over my nerves? I reminded myself that the reason why I was willing to give the speech in the first place is because I wanted to do something good in God's eyes. Plus it also helped not knowing that I was going to be the first speaker because that meant I didn't have time to sit and dwell on my nervousness.

"And so I introduce to you, Shahirah, the first speaker for today," said Greg, the university's chaplain.

Huh?? Oh me, really? Okay! 

I got up there, did my thing and before I knew it my speech was signed, sealed and delivered and people told me that they liked it, alhamdulillah. At the beginning of that day I slightly regretted that I had put myself in a situation where I would get all stressed and nervous but by the end of the day I was glad that I had the opportunity to share with non-Muslims a thing or two about Islam and Muslims. Muslim women can think for themselves and they most definitely do have a voice... a voice that Muslim men or men in general sometimes try to silence because of their personal male ego-trips.

What's the moral of today's story? If you try to please others, you'll find that the task feels daunting and never-ending but if you try to please God, He will help you, He will be pleased and He'll make others be pleased with you anyway. So know your priorities in life. One of the reasons why I wanted to wear hijab is because I felt tired of trying to put up with people's superficial expectations of myself. I just wanted to do the right thing and be a better Muslim because life is truly a gift from God...not people.

Curious about my speech? You can read it below thanks to Scribd.

Poverty and Islam

Why I Heart K Mart

Sunday, July 25, 2010

You, my lovelies, are in luck because I've managed to steal one of my neighbours' Internet signal. I'll be getting my Internet connection back next week, inshaAllah but for now I'll have to settle with belkin54g's connection (thank you whoever you are!). That explains why I haven't been around to your blogs as much as I'd like to and why I've been bad at replying comments. The frustrating yet funny thing is, in order to get his/her signal I have to sit in a certain position on my bed and the slightest movement isn't allowed or else I'll lose the connection completely and reconnecting takes like 20 years. Which makes it really hard for me when I have to choose between answering nature's call or risk losing the internet connection I've managed to siphon.

Since I've been back there's heaps for me to do aside from my studies. I've finally moved back into my house therefore Mum and I have to get the house running in order again - reconnect the telephone line, pay all the bills, you know the usual housekeeping matters. Yesterday we headed to K Mart to buy some new things for the house and for some general winter shopping. Mum was looking at some blankets and I was getting bored so I looked around until I saw a man walking down one of the departmental store's aisles with a little girl around the age of 3. I presumed she was his daughter.  I just thought it was the cutest sight ever because he was so tall and she was a tiny little thing and they were holding hands!

I mean, doesn't that make you wanna go 'Awwwww'?

And so I smiled at the heart-warming observation while noticing that one of the K Mart ladies was also watching them with delight. I looked away as soon as she realised that I was doing the same. It must've been a less than a minute later when a voice startled my Mum and I.

"Excuse me, is this your daughter?" said the voice.

I turned to the side and saw that it was the K Mart lady. My Mum didn't utter a word.

"Excuse me is this young lady your daughter?" she repeated.

"Yeah, I'm her daughter...." I replied eventually as my Mum was grinning from ear to ear because for some reason  the cat got her tongue. She smiled, looked at my Mum's beaming face and said,

"Well, I just wanted to tell you that she's beautiful and she has purity. You have a beautiful daughter." Then she walked away.

I don't know about you but I'm loving K Mart's new marketing strategy.

Generously complimenting and flattering the customers. Pure genius. So if there's a K Mart where you live I strongly recommend you head down there and do as much shopping as you can. I'm such a fan now. Completely sold.


O'oh I think nature's calling...

Marvellous Melbourne

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Salam everyone!

I’m finally back in Dunedin and I'm slowly but surely settling down once again. However I must admit that I miss Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne. To be honest, I think I fell in love with Melbourne! No, not just because there was a massive mid-year sale going on and I happened to stay right across one of the malls there. I fell in love with Melbourne city because it is a blend of the contemporary and the historic. You can see modern buildings everywhere but it’s hard to miss the old architectures because they stand out but at the same time they don’t stick out like a sore thumb. I enjoyed going on the trams too because they made Melbourne city very accessible despite its largeness.

Perhaps for me the best thing about Melbourne was its diversity. Our shuttle driver was Greek and the guys who worked at the hotel were Australians, Indians and Filipinos. As I walked down the streets I’d spot some Lebanese, Malaysians, and even a few Kiwis here and there (I could tell by their accent). Ironically, being surrounded by people of different cultures and nationalities makes me feel more comfortable than anything else.

Anyhoo, while I was there I also caught up with one of my best friends whom I didn’t get the chance to meet while we were both in Kuala Lumpur. The thing about being around my childhood friends is that no matter where I am they always make me feel at home. And most of all, we always know how to have fun! Marissa took me around the Melbourne CBD and showed me a glimpse of Melbourne’s Saturday night life - the Halal version, of course.

Here's proof of my wonderful trip!

Prior to landing

Where Mum and I stayed - Batman's Hill on Collins Street - otherwise known as The Batman. How cool is it that I stayed in a hotel with a superhero's name?!

The view from our room

Bikes for rent in front of the Southern Cross bus station

The Mixed Kebab with foccacia bread we ate at the Southern Cross station. Who thought kebab would be nice with foccacia? But it was so delicious!

Delicious, I tell ya!

Introducing the radiant Miss Marissa Zaria, best friend of 10 years.

She took me to the Yarra River - whee!

My attempt at doing something artistic for this shot of Marissa

She then brought me to the Crowne Plaza where we stopped by Cafe Greco

Absolutely spoilt for choice but who's complaining?

We got the Mars Bar Cheesecake in the end - to die for.

Happy people at the Crowne Plaza

Mum and I visited the Victoria Market the next day

... And we took one final tour of Melbourne on the tram. That's Flinders Street by the way.

I had a really good time and wished I could've stayed longer. Why? Because of 2 reasons: Melbourne's such an awesome place to be and their winter is so much milder than Dunedin's! When I arrived Dunedin I was literally in shock. I was shivering from head to toe! Clearly, I had forgotten how cold our winters were or this could probably be the coldest winter I have ever experienced. I was told that the temperatures were as low as -5 degrees celcius last week. NEGATIVE FIVE, YA'LL. So glad I escaped that... or did I? Everyone's telling me at least I came back during the end of winter but oh, I know Dunedin better than that. Over here winter lasts much longer than any other season does.

The best part about about being back in Dunedin is of course seeing my wonderful friends and attending lectures again. Yes, I actually enjoy attending lectures with the exception of really long boring ones taught by a certain lecturer who spoke in a monotonous tone and sounded a lot like Brian, the dog, from Family Guy. The only thing that kept my friend Amina and I enlightened during his classes were his ludicrous ties which sometimes featured exploding or flying pigs or whatever.

Since I missed a week's worth of lectures I do have quite a bit of catching up to do but it's all worth it for an extra week with my loved ones back home. There's heaps to do right now but I thought I should just check in with you guys and let you know that I have arrived New Zealand safely.

Till next time!


Fashion Friday: Au Revoir Malaysia

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tonight I'll be flying to Melbourne and will spend 2 days there before I finally head back to New Zealand to start the second semester of my final year at university. I can't believe I've been here for a whole month. It just went by way too fast for my liking. There's just so much and so many that I'm going to miss.

This time I'm determined to travel (relatively) light. I'm only allowed 20 kgs of checked-in baggage. Trust me, that's not much. My bags are always, and I mean always over the limit. Naturally I thought packing would be a challenge but I compiled all my things and sorted them out one by one. I knew I had to leave the majority of my things behind. At first I was all, "Ohhh noo!! I can't leave my babies behind!!!" (yes, I refer to my clothes, shoes, handbags, jewellery, accessories and make up as my babies) But my packing's 90% done. I did it! Yay!


While packing I had to go through my jewellery and select the pieces I wanted to leave behind because there was no way I could bring back the entire content of my jewellery box and not exceed the baggage limit. As I was doing so I realised how sentimental I am. I had never considered myself as a sentimental person but with every piece of trinket I could remember the people who had gifted them to me, whom I was with when I wore them and how I felt at the time. They brought back so many memories. Good memories. My past is a significant part of who I am and I find it hard letting go of everything that reminds me of it.

Fashion means so much more to me than pretty clothes, flattering high heels and looking glamourous. It's in my blood, my history and my future. Fashion is not a just a way for me to adorn myself but also to express my identity, values and beliefs. When I wear one of my Mum's vintage dresses and kebayas I am showing my admiration for a woman and mother who is kind, compassionate, intelligent and hard working. When I wear the first ever pearl necklace I ever owned I remember the person who gave to me as a gift and how happy I felt that someone had thought of me while they were away. When I wear a certain gold ring I remember how overjoyed I felt when I received my first hard-earned paycheck and could buy the things I wanted without having to justify it to anyone. It's like a rush of memories come to fill me up with emotions every time I pick up a piece of clothing, jewellery or fashion accessory. To me the value of the things I own don't lie in the actual cost of the items but in the memories and feelings I associate them with.

With that I'd like to officially proclaim to the world that I am a sappy, sentimental person who prefers to run away from people or face the world with a big smile when she's actually really trying to hide the sadness she feels and that one persistent little tear that's trying to make its way out.

Au revoir Malaysia. Until we meet again, my love.


A Regal Affair

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ella Bella's sister tied the knot last weekend. The akad nikah (solemnisation ceremony) took place on Saturday night at the bride's house and it was followed by a grand wedding reception held at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on Sunday night.

The bride, Nik Azura (Nikky or Azura), and the groom, Erwan, looked amazing on both nights but of course Nikky was the centre of everyone's attention. Be prepared to be mesmerised while viewing these pictures*.

The Akad Nikah Ceremony | 10 July 2010
Theme Underwater Cinderella


The bride and groom with the groomsmen

The breathtakingly beautiful bride in her first dress of the night

The exchanging of wedding gifts from the groom to the bride and vice versa

A pose with the bridesmaids


Elegant 'mermaid bride' in her second dress of the night


The Wedding Reception | 11 July 2010
Theme Kesultanan Melayu Melaka (Traditional Royal Malaccan Kingdom)
The reception hall was decorated with all things traditional - Malaysian fruit centrepieces, dangling golden leaves, olden day-inspired umbrellas

The bride is on her way

Walking down the aisle


A queen awaiting her king. In the Malay culture, the bride and groom are considered king and queen of the day

"I'm almost there, honey!"

"Finally with my beautiful queen."

By far the best traditional Malay food I have ever tasted

Sautéed bananas with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. Absolutely delish.

Notice the colour co-ordination? It was a total coincidence!



Sha Bella with Ella Bella

Yay, a picture with the king and queen!
(Why do I have the darndest feeling that all of us ladies were wearing 'Ruby Woo' by MAC?)

At the end of the night I remembered thinking, "Wow, Nikky's married now.... it doesn't feel like it was too long ago when she was my senior in high school." Time really does fly and understandably, the most popular question directed towards the eligible bachelors and bachelorettes at the reception was - "So when are you getting married?"

Here's to a joyous and everlasting marriage for Nikky and Erwan. May your life together bring you more happiness you could ever imagine!
Selamat Pengantin Baru. Semoga bahagia ke anak cucu.

*Some pictures are courtesy of Ella Bella. Thank you!

Blind Date with Zuhair

Monday, July 12, 2010

Last Friday a blind date had been set up for me to meet an incredibly cute boy named Zuhair. I was so excited because I had heard so much about him and I was even told that he can sing (although I was also told he isn't quite a pro yet but I don't mind!). So I walked into Bubba Gump, spotted him, took a seat next to him and I must've startled him because when he realised I was there he took a good look at me, blinked a few times and then guess what he did?

He cried.

You might think this is an odd reaction but this cute boy was in fact him.

(To everyone who thought it was an actual 'date', gotcha!!)

"Oh no Aimie, I think I scared him!" I said to his gorgeous mummy who sat opposite me. I was worried that I had done something to make him cry.

"Don't worry, it's probably cos you're too pretty!" she said jokingly as she tried to comfort her son and myself.

Well, you know, I can't deny the fact that I have made a few boys cry in my lifetime *bats eyelashes*

"You're right, that's what boys do when they see pretty girls!" I said and we both laughed. Aimie and I. Not Little Z and I. Little Z was still upset and I felt sooo bad. Aimie tried everything and he just didn't calm down. Big Z had to come to the rescue because there's no one like daddy to cheer up a little boy who was made scared by a girl.

Auntie Sha is still really sorry, Little Z. Maybe we got off on the wrong foot? I hope next time we meet you'll see that I'm not so scary after all. For what it's worth I still think you're the cutest little boy in the world. Okay, okay, let's make a deal. Next time I'll bring my pretty niece with me and I'll hook you two up. C'monnn, I know you'll like her. She's only a month younger than you *wink wink*

After Little Z went with his daddy, his mummy and I ordered our early dinner. We started chatting and discovered that it was both our first time to meet a 'stranger' from the Internet.

"So... you're real!" I said.

"You're real too!" Aimie declared and we laughed at each other.

Throughout dinner we shared stories about our lives; from her pre- and post- marriage life and the things that we have in common. I found out that she's actually half Arab and our ancestors are from Yemen. Aimie is very sweet but I also get the feeling she's the kind of woman you don't wanna mess with (which is a good thing, hun!). She's knows what she wants and isn't afraid of expressing what she believes in. I admire the fact that she's a smart, young mother who is as beautiful on the inside and she is on the outside. After dinner Aimie and her husband graciously agreed to drop me off in Subang Jaya. Little Z was still in a bad mood so we had to drop by one of the baby rooms in Sunway Pyramid mall beforehand. They changed his diaper, gave him milk and cooed to him but nothing really worked. I stood back and just observed the whole scenario.

I must admit, I felt a little awkward at the time... like I was the extra wheel nobody really needed. I watched as Aimie's world stopped so she could be there for her son and while Big Z patiently attended to his little prince. At that moment I truly understood something I kinda have always known and that is having a child is meant to be something that is shared between 2 people. It's meant to be team work. However, what I realised most of all is the best way to raise a child is for it to be done by 2 people who genuinely love each other. Why did I mention love? Because it requires patience, tolerance, strength, sincerity and compatibility. To me these are the attributes which true love and parenthood share in common. Oh and of course, you need to have moolah too because babies are very high maintenance!

Being a parent is a phenomenon that changes a person in ways they never thought they could change. Some people shift their priorities and become more grounded and focused in life. While some might change certain habits such as quitting smoking or eating healthier. Sometimes being a parent also means putting aside your wants and swallowing your ego to do what's best for your child.

A few months ago, Aimie and I were complete strangers but that all changed when we started following each others' blogs. When we met we didn't think of each other as strangers at all. We were just two sisters who were meeting for the first time.


Aimie, it was so lovely to finally meet you and your family. You and Big Z make such a great couple and Little Z is living proof of that, mashaAllah. Thank you for being like a big sis to me by treating me to dinner (even though I was the one who invited you out, silly) and for making sure I'd be safe. I thought it was so nice that we could talk and relate to each other as if we had known each other for a while. You are a wonderful person and I hope we get to meet each other again soon to have more girly talks!

Lotsa love,