Interracial Marriages

Saturday, February 27, 2010

One of the topics I usually debate with my mum is about interracial marriages. She said she has lived long enough to see so many unsuccessful interracial marriages and thinks I live in lala land where everything always turns out beautifully and two people from different cultures can live happily ever after. Okay, I've seen interracial marriages work but I know they are tricky and require a bit more effort because of cultural and/or religious differences but of course I have to give my Mum some credit as honestly, I do see her point. Our family relatives and friends who have chosen to marry outside the Malay culture (usually with Caucasian or European men) often end up divorced. Yup, even the 'modern' Malays who are very Western and less religious. It made me think, "What went wrong?".

Recently a local newspaper featured an article on its cover page about this very issue. The Malaysian Minister of Information, Dato' Seri Dr. Rais Yatim, advised Malay celebrities and Malay women generally to think 'thousands of times' before marrying men outside their culture, especially Caucasian men as studies have shown that only 3 out of 10 interracial marriages are bound to work out. The most recent shocking news for me is Maya Karin's separation from her British-born Italian husband, David Shorthose @ Muhammad Ali. No, they're not divorced but she has admitted that they don't live together at the moment.

For those who don't know who Maya Karin Roelcke and David Shorthose @ Muhammad Ali are, let me give you a little 101 based on what I know so far. Maya Karin is a famous and glamourous Malaysian celebrity who is half Malay and half German. She's a model, actress, tv host, you name it. David @ Muhammad Ali is a mathematics teacher at an international school here in Kuala Lumpur. They've known each other since 2001, he became a Muslim in 2004 and they married in 2008. It was only yesterday that local newspapers reported Maya Karin admits her marriage is going through a rough patch but they're not divorced and are still trying to sort things out. She also expressed that she still loves her husband and hopes that their marriage can still be salvaged.

This isn't the first time I've heard of a couple who's known each other for years but after getting married things start to get shaky. I know marriage isn't easy and it's definitely no la la land. But surely all those years must have shown some indicators of possible problems that could crop up. Do couples simply ignore them when they're swept away by romance? Or do things change after marriage? If so, what?

I for one think that marriage is not something that can be taken lightly no matter who it involves, celebrity or non celebrity and may it be interracial or not. However my Mum says that it's always 'easier' when it doesn't involve someone from a different culture. I say it all goes back to values, especially ones regarding family and religion. If two people and their families share similar values then it should be okay because ultimately, culture represent these 3 things - a set of values, a way of life and the way one perceives the world. Having said that, my Mum was married to my late dad for 40 years and I've never been married so I'm sure experience counts for something. At the same time, I personally don't think it's fair to say Western or Caucasian men are more likely to be irresponsible because it all boils down to upbringing and family values. Any man regardless of race, culture or religion can be capable of terrible things if he wasn't brought up right. All that matters is that he is a good practicing Muslim who sincerely believes in Islam and Allah swt's guidance. What do you think? Why do you think people have the perception that interracial marriages are more risky and prone to failure? Which is more important to you - culture or religion? Or do they not matter at all?

I adore Maya Karin and I love her elegant style and gentle persona. I don't know the full story to why she and her husband are having marital problems but I do hope everything works out well for her, inshaAllah. As narrated by Ibn 'Umar, The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said "With Allāh, the most detestable of all things permitted is divorce."

Here are some pictures from her beautiful nikah which was held in Italy and her simple yet lovely garden wedding reception in Malaysia. (Maya is an environmental ambassador who is actively involved with the WWF as a conservation activist. In the spirit of saving the environment she presented her guests with energy saving light bulbs as her wedding door gifts. Very cool and unique!)

Nikah @ Lake Como, Bellagio


maya karin wedding Pictures, Images and Photos

Wedding Reception @ FRIM, Kuala Lumpur

 
 
 


Just for fun, read Josh Lim's take on Dato' Sri Dr. Rais Yatim's statement about interracial marriages!

Maulidur Rasul 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Today Malaysia is celebrating Maulidur Rasul in remembrance of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. In other words, another public holiday for everyone in Malaysia! =D

But on a serious note, it'll be a day for us to reflect upon why Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him is an important figure in Islam. I knew about him being the Last Messenger and Prophet of Islam and that he possessed an extremely admirable persona and many wonderful traits but I used to wonder... how can I admire and appreciate someone I've never met? Then one day I came across an article and it's as simple as this: he made great sacrifices in order to spread the message of Islam around the world.

He persevered through hatred, disbelief and violence to make sure that people would learn about Islam and the Oneness of Allah swt. He did it for his family, companions, friends, acquaintances and even for people he didn't know. He did it for you and I.

Honestly, how many people in your life today would sacrifice some of their free time in order to do something that would benefit you? How about money, comfort and luxury? I think you'll find yourself saying, "Not many." A lot of people are so caught up with the 'Me, me me!' mentality and few people help others out of pure sincerity.

Therefore Maulidur Rasul is a day when we take sometime to celebrate and appreciate his devotion and the sacrifices he has made for Islam and for us. The least we can do is recite praises for Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and hope that Allah swt accepts our efforts and good deeds.

I'd like to wish everyone a happy and blessed Maulidur Rasul! Get to know your Prophet peace be upon him so that you may get to know the real meaning of Islam and 'taste' its sweetness.


Cat Stevens a.k.a. Yusuf Islam performs Taleal Badru Alayna

One Confirmed Seat to NZ Coming Up!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I finally have a confirmed seat for my flight back to New Zealand, alhamdulillah. I'll miss the first week of lectures so hopefully I won't miss too much! From today onwards I'm making sure that I spend the remaining of my holiday wisely. I'm going to be busier than ever as this is my final year at varsity. Honestly, I've actually delayed my graduation date for as much as I can because I love being a varsity student and New Zealand has become so much more than a place for me to study. I've done most of my 'growing up' over there and met some of the most inspiring people too.

I don't know how I'll ever choose between Malaysia and New Zealand. There are times I feel out of place in Malaysia and then there I times I feel I don't really belong in New Zealand.

Have you ever felt like you don't really know where home is? Like your heart is neither here nor there? I have 8 months to decide. Until then I'm going to take in and enjoy every single moment.

For those who don't know... I live in South Island, New Zealand in a university city called Dunedin. Here are some aerial shots of Dunedin I took when I had the opportunity to fly a helicopter (with a pilot next to me of course!). See how gorgeous it is... on a SUNNY DAY that is! Dunedin is known for its temperamental climate and it's not uncommon for us to have 4 seasons in 1 day.

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I live 10 minutes away from the beach. We even have seagulls on campus because we're so close to the sea!

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Sheep! I think I've heard way too many NZ sheep jokes.

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Dunedin city and the Peninsular

Navy Blue Eyeliner

Monday, February 22, 2010

If there's one make up item I don't leave home without,  it has to be the black eyeliner or kohl. It brings out my dark brown eyes in an instant! But lately I've discovered that if I wanted a less intense look, navy blue is an excellent alternative.

It's a sophisticated colour compared to the other colourful eyeliners you can find in stores. It's pretty funky yet not too 'out there'. This mysterious shade of blue also brightens up the eyes, I mean, who can say no to that? Just when you think it can't get any better here's another piece of good news... I think the navy eyeliner suits all (if not most) skin tones and eye colours! Especially those who want to bring out their gorgeous blue eyes.

Audrina Patridge looks sexy yet demure with a hint of navy blue on her lower lash line

A mysterious Priyanka Chopra with smokey eyes that are heavily lined with navy blue



Some dark/navy blue eyeliner tips:
* Wear either on the upper or lower lash line only to avoid looking like you've stepped out from the 80s (unless that is the look you're going for). To balance out the eyes, use black eyeliner on whichever lash line you chose not to apply the blue eyeliner.
* Smudge it on the lower lash line to complement dark, smokey eyes.
* If you've got shimmery brown or neutral eyeshadow on and you want to vamp it up a bit without looking too harsh, this is the perfect opportunity to slide some on your lower lash line.
* Match it with natural coloured lips - nudes, light pinks - to ensure the focus is on your eyes.

If you're wondering whether I've forgotten all about dark brown eyeliner as an alternative to the black eyeliner - I haven't. All those opting for a natural and girl-next-door look should give dark brown a go. Unfortunately, I don't think it suits people with very dark skin tone so that's why I chose to feature the navy blue eyeliner. It's definitely more flexible as I think it can look great on anyone. Depending on how you apply it of course. If you don't already have a navy blue eyeliner in your make up collection I strongly recommend you get one! This colour is great for winter, spring and summer.

Discrimination

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Holy Moly. I haven't blogged for 3 days. That's equivalent to 1 week's worth of cybertime or something. Well you should know that I had a very good reason.

I melted in the smouldering heat of Malaysia. Not literally, of course. Although I do think we are facing a heatwave at the moment. Temperatures in Kuala Lumpur have reached 37 degrees celcius and it's not pretty. The moment I step outside the comfort of my air conditioned room, I feel like I'm melting! Ahh global warming, did I hear you say? Perhaps. This may be a surprise to you but global warming has existed since the early 1900s so it's not a recent phenomenon at all. What's different about the 1900s and 2000s is the media coverage of the issue. In fact, there have been reports of former US president, George Bush, trying to ignore the whole thing during his administration.

The media plays a substantial role in the information we receive and it's not right that some get filtered out of the news while others are being brought into the limelight just because political and corporate leaders deem them as newsworthy or not. However, that's just the way things work around here. The media is biased and it will always be biased - whether it is leaning towards the truth or not - because there isn't a single person in the media industry who doesn't have his or her own opinions on a certain topic. Bias is good to a certain extent though. If everyone was objective then we wouldn't be able to hear a variety of opinions and we'd just be going around in circles.

So we hear a lot about propaganda in the media. In the West, Islam and Muslims are outrageously misrepresented by the media. We've all seen it in the news, talk shows and even popular criminal investigation series. When someone mentions the word 'terrorism' I automatically think of 'radical, fascist Muslims' even though I know that terrorism can be applied to all acts of violence, not just ones done by apparent Muslims as terrorism fundamentally means to instill fear in others. See, that's the power of propaganda in the media. It creates links in our minds that are almost like chains holding us down to stereotypes and false representations.

Therefore when Islamophobia occurs and non-Muslims don't understand Islam as they should we can't completely blame them. But what's more powerful? The media or your ability to use your mind and think for yourselves? At the moment, there is a case in France whereby politicians and consumers are suing a fast food chain called Quick for providing a 100% Halal menu in 8 out of 350 of its nationwide outlets. They are calling it discrimination because anything pork-related isn't available in these select few branches that are located in areas heavily-populated by Muslims. Y'know, I'm kind of hoping that they win the case because then Muslims all over the world can start suing McDonalds, Burger King, KFC and what not, for discrimination too! How many times have you travelled to other countries and felt so disappointed when you find out the only thing you can eat at McD's is the fillet-o-fish or the vege wrap? That's discrimination ya'll. If France thinks being secular is the best solution to promote equality and equity then why are they being all xenophobic and Eurocentric?

My guess is because their leaders and media tell them anything Islamic is to be feared. Hm, doesn't that sound like a form of terrorism to you? A very subtle one though. Just like global warming, Islam and Muslims have been around for a very long time. Instead of getting freaked out you have all the reasons to understand Islam pretty well by now. Yes, a number of Muslims have committed atrocious terrorist acts but I think the rest of the 2 billion or so Muslims around the world can vouch that what they did wasn't Islamic at all. The only people who go around killing innocent people are those who have a few wires loose up there. There's no religion in the world that encourages people to harm helpless, innocent citizens. Nada. Zero. Zilch.

I'm not telling you to not trust the media... I'm just saying that it's not a bad thing to question and wonder why certain issues are highlighted in the media. With different Presidents or Prime Ministers you'll notice that many of the new pieces or articles are leaning towards a certain way. Many media channels are government owned and controlled and they usually have an agenda or reason to withhold certain information from the public. Usually their aim is to maintain peace but sometimes it can be more than that. Educate yourself about things you don't quite understand. Muslims and non-Muslims, if something about Islam (or anything else for that matter) boggles you, try approaching someone whom you think may have knowledge about it... whether it may be a friend or a scholar. You owe it to yourself to find out the truth. Like what this airport security lady at Auckland airport should do...

Airport security lady: Ma'am, I'm going to have to check your bags. Please step aside.
Mum: Ok, sure.
*My mum was pulled aside and her bags were scanned for traces of explosive material*
Me: You're just checking her and her bags because she wears the headscarf.
Airport security lady: Standard procedures, that's all.
Me: I'm a Muslim too. Why didn't you pull me aside? Why aren't you going through my bags? I pray and fast just like her. The only difference is that I don't cover my hair.
Airport security lady: *smiling cynically* Are you feeling left out? Shall I check your bags then?
Me: No. I'm just saying that you judged her because of something you don't even understand. *feeling pretty annoyed* For all you know that lady over could be a terrorist. Anyone could be a terrorist or Muslim, not just Middle Easterns, Asians or South Asians. Yet you choose to discriminate those who LOOK Muslim enough to you.
Airport security lady: I'm just doing my job.
Me: Well maybe you should try educating yourself before you do your job.

Okay I didn't say that last line but I wish I did! My Mum was already glaring at me for being annoying so I walked away.

EDIT: In other words, FAITH = DANGER. A Muslim woman who wears the headscarf / hijab is a threat because she displays a higher level of faith. It's ironic because in Islam, a religious or pious person is actually a trustworthy person who is unlikely to harm another person. In fact, he or she would most likely be an advocate of peace and justice. That's all I want non-Muslims to understand, is that too much to ask for?

Dude, We Baked!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I wanted to have a girls’ day in and was lucky enough to have girlfriends who obliged. (Sigh, what would I do without my besties?). I really wanted to spend some quality time with them so I suggested that maybe we could bake something on Tuesday. Vivy had her mind set on the red velvet cupcakes in some so-called Hummingbird recipe book. It didn’t help that she couldn’t find it and finally re-called that the last time she saw it was probably in her apartment in London. Her solution? Buy another Hummingbird recipe book.

So we waited for Hanaa to arrive and then set off to Bangsar Village to find the book (for all those living offshore, it's not an actual village, it's a mall!). On the way there we felt kind of hungry so of course I had to suggest Papparich. Neither Hanaa nor Vivy had been there before so I felt it was my duty to introduce them to one of my favourite food spots. Their chicken rice is the shiznit and I like their tau fu fa (soy bean custard). We met up with some of Vivy's friends, Ian and TC, who graciously decided to treat us for lunch (thank you boys!). It's so awesome that people are extra generous during celebrations =)

Lunch @ Papparich, Bangsar



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Us being ... us. Our cameras are surgically attached to us, I swear.

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Papparich's tau fu fa (soybean custard)

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Papparich's chicken rice



After our tummies were filled this is what we did...



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Bought some random recipe book because we couldn't find this one

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Picked a recipe


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Chocolate swirl


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Almost all set for the oven

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End result: One double chocolate brownie tart sans the walnuts. Crispy on the top, fudgy in the middle.
Our verdict: The best brownie the world could ever taste!
Hanaa's reaction: Dude, I baked!!!
The experience: Priceless.


Note: Some pictures are courtesy of Miss Proudduck. Thank you!

11 Ways to Beat the Valentine's Day Blues: Muslim Edition

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

So Valentine's Day is just around the corner.

Huh? Really? Noooo.... I totally didn't notice all the radio ads and live radio talk shows discussing what to do and where to go with your significant other on Valentine's Day... and when the movie, Valentine's Day, which features all the Hollywood A-listers will be premiered here... very unpredictable! I didn't even realise the little V-Day dinner brochures that all these different restaurants slipped in between their menus.

With so much emphasis on romance it's hard not to feel pressured when you're feeling less than in love at the moment because it makes you feel like you're missing out on something special. If you're single or in a long distance relationship or you just had a fight with your significant other... don't cringe... take full advantage of Valentine's Day! Remember that it's basically just another day to celebrate love and love encompasses many relationships... not just the romantic relationship between two love birds. Since it falls on a Sunday this year it's the perfect time to spend some quality time with your family, friends or even just by yourself (it may sound silly but just keep reading...).

1. Pamper yourself and finally take the time to do something you truly love and enjoy. Book an appointment for a massage or give yourself a mani-pedi. Try one of those make up tutorials on YouTube. My favourite MUA's are MakeupAdikt, sccastaneda, julieg713, MakeUpbyTiffanyD and MakeUpGeek. Or start hitting the gym again and release those endorphins! Just knowing that you're doing a good job looking after yourself is one of the best feelings in life.

2. Organise a little get together with all your single and/or LDR-bound friends. A theme always makes it more fun and interesting. Make it a potluck so everyone can enjoy each other's talents in cooking!

3. Visit your cute little nieces and nephews or even babysit them. Kids have their own special way of making people happy. They say the darnest things and they actually kinda make you feel important haha! Do something child-friendly and bring out the inner child in you. You'll realise that there's nothing quite as beautiful as innocence. So cherish your innocence for as long as you can.

4. Quit a bad habit or at least take the measures to quit. "You must love yourself before you can love another". We've all heard that. While it does mean that we must first appreciate and respect ourselves... I think it also means that we have to evaluate who we are as a person and see if we can make any positive changes about our habits and behaviour. Listen to the words that you say when you speak and observe the gestures of your body language. What do they say about you? Are you going to find Mr. Right with the messages you are subconsciously or consciously sending to people around you?

5. Try some new recipes and cook for your family and/or friends. It's never a waste to learn some new cooking skills. People tell me that they wish they were better cooks... well it doesn't happen over night! It's all about practice. Don't be intidimidated... start with simple recipes and work your way to more challenging ones. Most of the time, the simplest recipes make some of the most delicious food. Allrecipes.com is a good place start because people submit their opinions and reviews after trying the recipes.

6. Sort out your wardrobe and come up with new outfit ideas with the pieces you already have. De-clutter and throw out or give away things you no longer need or use! When you give unconditionally, good things will start to happen in your life inshaAllah.

7. Explore the city as if you're a tourist. Go with a friend or even just by yourself so you can check out places your friends don't usually want to go. Don't be afraid of being alone, and I don't mean walking down a suspicious alleyway alone. If you're one of those people who like to drag a friend everywhere they go... this could be the perfect opportunity to try being independent. You just might learn a thing or two about yourself.

8. Get spiritual. Read an Islamic book or learn a new surah or two from the Qur'an.

9. Count your blessings and be grateful for everything that you have been blessed with so far. Other people have bigger problems to think about than to worry about not being in a relationship or to feel overwhelmed by missing a loved one who's far away.

10. Watch some good documentaries or shows. Here are a few just to get you started:
American Ramadhan
Little Mosque on the Prairie (this is one of my favourite episodes but do check out all the ones that lead to the latest season. LMOTP is funny and a lot of Muslims in the West can definitely relate to it.)
Illuminated - Positive and Negative Energy
Secrets of the Heart (to be honest, I don't usually feel like I can relate to men with beards haha! But the title of the show intrigued me and I'm glad I didn't judge the host by his looks because this is a really good show. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about the importance of purifying their hearts and intentions. "Everything you see, touch and hear goes straight to your heart.")

11. If all else fails, remember that you're Muslim and you're not supposed to be celebrating Valentine's Day anyway. Your love for Allah swt is more important than your love for anything else!

There's nothing wrong with being single and there's nothing wrong with not celebrating Valentine's Day either. As a teenager I grew up thinking that if I didn't have a boyfriend it meant that I wasn't pretty or cool enough. That's absolute rubbish. Don't think that what you see in tv shows and movies is what true romance is all about. Love isn't just an emotion, it's also a verb. Relationships require time, effort, patience and sacrifice. It's not always passionate and exciting. If you're going to be with someone just wait until you know for sure what it is you really want from a man and from the relationship itself. Trust me,  you're not going to know this when you're 16, 20 or even 30 in some cases! Everyone goes through life at a different pace so don't feel pressurised, take your time. Enjoy being single while you can and use this time to get to know you and develop yourself into becoming a better person. Don't wait until Valentine's Day comes for you to start doing something positive. Start today and everyday. 

And to all those who have found that special someone, check out The Sartorialist's a.k.a. Scott Schuman's, post about being a graceful lover, "A Graceful Man, A Gentleman". It's towards the end of the main page. It definitely brought a smile to my face. I checked out his biography and he's a pretty suave guy! Intelligent, handsome, impeccable taste in clothes ... sigh, I think it's time to lower my gaze.

7

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

I was tagged by the lovely Sarah Elizabeth to write any 7 random things about myself. I am just so horrible at this honestly. I dread this question - "So tell me something about yourself" - because I don't know where to begin and I end up saying really typical things. I meant to do this earlier but I've been busy playing with my adorable almost 3 month old niece and doing something I really, really missed - cooking and baking. I've been going in and out of the house during most of my holiday and by the time I'm back at home I'm too tired to even turn on the stove. I should be flying off to NZ in 2 weeks or so, actually I'm not even sure yet because I cancelled my 4th February ticket and now I'm just on a waiting list for any date after the 18th. Anyway, here goes... 7 random blurbs!

1. My middle name, Elaiza, was chosen by my late father because he thought it sounded regal (e.g. Queen Elizabeth).

2. I've never seen or read Twilight and New Moon and I probably never will unless my life is at stake or something.

3. I'm very, very attached to my Mum. My life would be so incomplete without her in it. The thought of losing her never fails to make me cry and that's a big deal because I don't cry easily, not at all.

4. I don't drive and I don't have a driver's license. I started taking lessons but somehow I lost interest and let's just say I wasn't a big fan of the driving instructor either. I have a huge fear of getting into a car crash therefore at this point in my life, I'm okay with not driving. Eventually I'll get my license... I plan to do it right after I graduate.

5. I'm going for a traditional full body massage tomorrow! Really, really excited about it.

6. I believe in falling IN LOVE after marriage, always have and always will. I think loving someone and being in love with them are 2 different things.

7. Someone once asked me why am I pursuing tertiary education at a university. I didn't even think about it when these words slipped out of my mouth, "Because I want to be an educated mother." (It sounds kinda weird right? I mean, who says that? Well, at least I was being honest) Yes I'm also studying because I want a good career but I love children and I can see myself having them someday, inshaAllah. When that day comes I want to know that I am somewhat prepared for the most important role I'll ever have in my life. However, I do believe education is important no matter what one chooses to do in life... it's important to understand how the world works to a certain extent. I personally think it's important to read scholarly books, meet people from all walks of life and experience different cultures in order to live and love life to the fullest... and to basically understand who you are as an individual.

So there you go. 7 things. I tag anyone who feels like doing it. Adios amigos!

How To Clean, Maintain and Store Your Make Up Brushes

Saturday, February 06, 2010

I was just wondering when someone would come up with a video about cleaning make up brushes because my brushes are starting to have all sorts of colours on them... then I saw this on my YouTube update! I tried it and it really works. I love how great she is at explaining things that appear so mundane to people like me. I don't think anyone can make this routine look as glamorous as Michelle Phan did. May God bless her sweet, sweet soul.

Childhood Writings

Friday, February 05, 2010

While searching through a pile of books on our bookshelves I found an old exercise book which I used as a journal in an elementary school I went to in New Zealand. The journal was kind of like homework that we had to hand in every week so it usually comprised of any events or occasions that we felt like writing about. I read through my journal and I could see how I wrote about my horse riding lessons, school field trips, family birthdays and even gifts that my parents bought me. We were allowed to write about anything and everything aside from the times when we were given topics to write about every now and then.

I was 8 years old when my family moved to New Zealand and even though I returned to Malaysia when I was almost 11 years old, I have to say my schooling experience over there had a great impact on me as a child. When I first started school over there the first thing I noticed was that the learning environment is much, much more relaxed that how it is in Malaysia. Education in Malaysia (and I suppose in most Asian countries) is more inclined towards teaching children the art of discipline and the importance of obedience. I remember the amount of books I had to carry to school and how fierce many teachers were. We learned how to memorise our text books instead of really understanding them. Back in my school it was all about getting good grades and hardly about appreciating the knowledge that we were getting from our books and lessons. This is how it is from primary school all the way through to secondary school. I'm pretty sure most Malaysian kids had the same experience.

In contrast, I think the New Zealand or Western education system nurtures creativity because even as children we were encouraged to think for ourselves and express ourselves. I remember this one time when the Olympics were on all the kids in my class were given a sport to research about and then present in class. I had to write about ice skating and it was a sport I barely knew about so I made several trips to the library to learn research the history of the sport and find out who were the famous ice skaters and the technology of ice skating shoes (that's quite a bit of work for an 9 year old!). Each of us were also assigned to a country and we had to keep track of how many medals they were winning. I think every week we had to do some sort of public speaking in front of everyone in class. Sometimes we had to write a speech about about a specific topic and other times we made impromptu speeches. So as you can see, primary school in New Zealand wasn't about giving students a hard time. Yes we had homework and all kinds of activities but it was fun and educational at the same time. Plus, all those speeches we had to make were great courage and confidence building exercises! I even read in my journal that we once had a disabled person, Mr. de Geest, as a guest speaker who came to our class and spoke about his disabilities that are known as thalidomide birth defects. I learned that even though he wasn't born with arms he was a normal person who had his own special talents too as he knew how to do beautiful paintings with his feet. There was even a time when we had to come up with our own 20-page magazine and I remember having so much fun coming up with the content and drawing pictures. I guess my love for writing and creativity started from there. Feel free to read some of my work, just watch out for the spelling and grammar mistakes that were made by 9 year old me!

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When I came back to Malaysia at the age of 10 I was more outspoken than many of my classmates. I made friends really easily too. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for me to re-learn the ways of the Malaysian education system as I became shy and unconfident after a year. Being an individual wasn't encouraged and authority lines were always clearly defined. It wasn't just the teachers but even the prefects had a way of making students feel small and powerless. No one is allowed to speak in class unless they are spoken to... however, in high school my schoolmates and I were pretty naughty and we even made some of our teachers cry because there were times we just wouldn't stop chattering during lessons. Perhaps it was payback for all those times in primary school when we felt undermined! But believe me, we always got in trouble after that. Anyway, for the most part we were pretty good students who were always afraid of consequences. When I went back to New Zealand at the age of 16 it was tough adjusting back to their education system... but that's a whole different story.

I personally think the best way to educate a child is by combining the two systems and achieving a good balance of the two. If it's too much fun, they're not going to learn anything and if it's too restrictive they won't be able to grow as creative individuals who have confidence in themselves. It's important not to stifle a child because it's natural for them to explore the world they live in. They should be able to enjoy their childhood and feel safe around the people they spend most of their time with. Children need to be exposed to positive ideas in order for them to have a positive outlook on life. This is where I think the Malaysian education system is flawed. Just based on my experience, I felt many of my primary school teachers in Malaysia instilled a lot of fear in me whereas my teachers in New Zealand were more approachable and kind. Malaysians are too focused on achieving specific grades that they forget the true meaning of education. However I do agree that kids should learn about discipline from a young age as well. Like I said, balance the two and it'll almost be perfect! At the end of the day, I feel blessed to have had the opportunity of experiencing the best of both worlds. My parents were academicians themselves so they were very education-oriented. I can see myself being the same with my own kids someday. One of the first things I want when I have my own home and kids inshaAllah, is a room where my kids can play, read books, colour, build with Legos and just be themselves! I'm more excited about this edu-play room than I am about any other part of my dream house...

[Photo taken from eHow.com]

The Search is Over and I Found it in a Cup!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I have been searching for good Malaysian style satay ever since I came back in November and it has been pretty disappointing. I was even served meat that went bad at one point and I ended up with a huge phobia of satay after that. Well you guys know how I went for Umrah recently right? Well, while I was in Taif for an overnight visit I met someone who shared my passion about satay and food. It was dinner time and I happen to choose this one table where this couple was sitting. We started talking and when the lady saw my Mum she said, "Oh my God, I know you! You used to come to my restaurant all the time. I have a restaurant called Serai (lemon grass) in Shah Alam." Well it turns out that my Mum and her former colleagues did use to eat at her restaurant almost every day. Mum doesn't work anymore and she's hardly in that area so she doesn't eat there these days. But what a small world right?

The lady, I'll refer to her as Aunty Rina, has been in the food business for a very very long time. Serai is a popular Thai restaurant in Shah Alam and I remember going there as a kid. So I asked her what it's like being the restaurant industry because I do have dreams of starting my own café / restaurant some day. She told me that it's important to hire good and trustworthy staff. She still has the same chef of 20 years working for her restaurant, Serai. She then told me she has opened a satay food outlet at Pavillion's food court. Pavillion is one of the biggest shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur city centre. She also said that I had to try her satay and let her know what I thought of them.

Since Aunty Rina and her husband is such a lovely and warm couple I thought I'd actually try out the satay. My friend, Ella Bella and I decided to go Pavillion just recently and it has a huge food court which makes it really hard to choose what to eat over there! Well I knew what I wanted obviously, so we went and looked for Aunty Rina's Serai Satay Bar. We walked around until we saw this...


We found it near the Turkish stall almost opposite the Japanese dessert restaurant (I don't remember what it's called). So I went over to the counter and had a look at their menu. They have different satay sets... I chose the Set D as it consisted of beef, chicken and mutton satay. Serai Satay Bar also serves other types of Malay food such as Soto Ayam (chicken soup with cubed rice or vermicelli noodle), keropok lekor (Malaysian fish sausage, I know it sounds strange but it's a type of snack and it doesn't taste as strange as it sounds), nasi kukus (steamed rice) just to name the few that I can remember at the top of my head.

The satay guy made it there and then as I can actually watch him grill the meat behind the glass barrier. It didn't take very long. I had the satay and all I can say is... I'm so happy I found some good quality and edible satay!! Firstly, it surprised me as it came in a large purple paper cup which kind of reminded of Barney. I had never seen satay served in a paper cup before so I thought it was pretty clever and unique as it makes for easy food-on-the-go. I have to say I like the chicken satay the most. It was juicy and tasty which is good because the worst thing a satay can be is dry and chewy. My second favourite was the beef as it was well marinated, then the mutton. While the mutton satay wasn't too bad I thought it could've been chunkier. I really liked the Serai Satay Bar's peanut sauce which is a must-have with any satay! It wasn't too spicy and I like it like that because I can't eat spicy food as it makes me want to cry, really it does. A little bit of chilli is fine but knowing Malaysians, they tend to loooove their chilli. So yes, I was pleased with the chunky and flavoursome peanut sauce. Ella Bella noticed how the skewered cubed rice, onions and cucumber pieces were tidily-presented (typical of Ella the Architect, always noticing the artsy stuff). I especially liked the décor which gave a modern twist to traditional Malay food and also added an instant coolness and sophistication to the ambience. So top marks to Serai Satay Bar for awesome presentation!


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Satay in a cup (Is it just me... but doesn't this remind you of Barney?)

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Peanut sauce.... mmmm

My apologies for the lack of photos. One of the staff kept looking over at our table because I think he has a small crush on Ella Bella ;) so we felt a little embarassed about taking lots of photos. This place is so good that they even have their own Facebook page and a couple of online food reviews to boot. So to make up for what's lacking in my review do check out Serai Satay Bar's Facebook page or website for more photos and details.

If you're a satay fan or if you're ever in Pavillion and feel like having a quick Malaysian snack, drop by this one of a kind food spot and try something new!

Opening New Doors

Monday, February 01, 2010

I've been spending most of my time in the last few days with my family and loved ones as I was scheduled to go back to New Zealand this Thursday. However, just like every year there's always a reason for me to postpone my flight so inshaAllah I'll be going back a little bit later than planned.

At the same time, I took a little break from the online world because I needed the time to think about a lot of things. There are so many distractions around us these days that it's hard to find the tranquility that we really need once in a while. Think about it, when it's silent we're bound to switch on the television or play music because we're not comfortable with silence and that just proves how much we really don't like to just think about reality for a moment and how far away we have distanced ourselves from what is natural. Silence is the language of nature. When I was at the Night Safari in Singapore and my friends and I were walking through the forest trails I realised how out place we are as human beings in this world. Everything else complements each other to maintain Earth's balance like clockwork until... we came along. We don't belong here but since we are here it means we have a higher purpose to fulfill aside from reproduction and survival, don't you think?

I think that every single action that we perform is related to something we are searching for in life. We hardly think about it because it appears as common sense. Apparently that's the function of ideology. For example, a mother will go to the supermarket because she wants to purchase food that she will prepare for her family.... because she wants to nourish and love them... because she is yearning for their love too... as their love will make her happy and because at the end of the day, God will reward her for simply carrying out her responsibility as a mother and wife. Next example, why do people drink alcohol? Because they want a temporary lapse from reality... as it will enable them to lower their inhibitions and have fun... because they want to forget who they really are in real life. I used to frequently debate about alcohol with a friend. "Why do you have to drink? What is it really that you're trying to forget and escape from?" He couldn't answer me or maybe he just didn't want to hear the words come out from his own mouth. Some people just don't want to face reality. Ok here's another one, why do we waste money buying things we don't really need or even want? I'll leave that one for you to think about because we all do it for different reasons.

I don't know if this makes any sense to you and maybe I'm just rambling. Maybe I'm wrong but sometimes I think there's always something deeper to what it really seems. So lately that's what I've been doing. Digging deeper into my actions. What am I really searching for in life and am I doing all that I can in order to achieve it? Or am I subconsciously letting my lower self get in the way of my higher purpose? What have I been doing all this while? Who are the people I've chosen to surround myself with? Are they really my friends or are they just there superficially? Have I been a good daughter, sister, relative, friend, etc. or have I been who I am superficially?

Some doors need to be closed in order for new ones to open and I think I need to open or even break down some new doors that will hopefully lead me to what I am truly searching for in life. Ultimately, the key to these doors is my love for God and my passion for life and what is to come after. It's that simple.