Friday, 30 April 2010

Dream that is Real

I need to thank my thoughtful hubby for coming with me in this 2-year European journey. I assure you, he’s not pointing a knife at my throat.

Looking at his face, contented with reading, exploring and attending various lessons got me thinking how lucky I am to have him. He was doing so well in his career when he quit his job last August. There were talks about him being promoted to Project Manager and he was always thriving to be the best highway engineer as he possibly could. But he put his career on hold, with less hesitation than I had expected; just to provide me his undivided support. I don’t have to worry about him, somehow he just finds a way. He helped a new Irish friend setting up a bookstore in France last term and since we got here in England, he has been going to classes he had found through advertisements and word-of-mouth in the city everyday except for the weekend. He even got himself a volunteering stint. This guy impressed me! I owe him but he never makes me feel like it. Sometimes we do get tempted to join the rat race but immediately we are reminded how exceptional everything now is. One can keep working to aim for the dream house, the coolest ride in town and of course more money but they will never be enough. There are always more things to have and next thing you know, your kids are all grown up, joining the same ol’ rat race and you’re too tired to see what the world has to offer. We’re taking two gap years. Two years that are teaching us both what matters most and everything in between. We would really miss this whole episode in years to come. Come to think about it, this is just two years out of like what, 30 years of endless working? People can work for more than that and not realize how time is waving them goodbye right under their nose. But we shall remember this. It’s only the beginning honey. We’re young, grateful and full of drive. Promise me that we'll remain adventurous and spontaneous even when we're both old and feeling grey.

I was a little girl alone in my little world who dreamed of a little home for me.
I played pretend between the trees, and fed my houseguests bark and leaves, and laughed in my pretty bed of green.

I had a dream
That I could fly from the highest swing
I had a dream.

Long walks in the dark through woods grown behind the park, I asked God who I'm supposed to be.
The stars smiled down on me, God answered in silent reverie, I said a prayer and fell asleep.

I had a dream
That I could fly from the highest tree
I had a dream.

Now I'm old and feeling grey, I don't know what's left to say about this life I'm willing to leave.
I lived it full and I lived it well, there's many tales I've lived to tell.
I'm ready now, I'm ready now, I'm ready now to fly from the highest wing.

I had a dream

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Easter Trip

I spent the whole week reading the chronicle of Percy Jackson, all five books of them. Ask me anything about the Greek gods and chances are I can tell you more. *snobbish snort* I can’t wait to get more books from the city library tomorrow!

I have lectures for another two weeks and a half, then a few assignments to remind me that the semester is not over yet and three exams to ensure I’ve learned something in the past four months and afterwards, pack and start a new chapter in Denmark! Another new place, culture and language to get acquainted with. I feel like a fugitive on the run but grateful nonetheless. It is a fun run after all. Always be thankful. It’s easy to forget how good things are compared to those, say, in Haiti or Bangladesh.

Alright, I’ve been meaning to write about our Easter trip and I suppose the photos on my Facebook convey the story in general so I’ll just sum it up and leave the details out for our personal keepsake.

A must-see for those who are going to Europe, though I personally prefer Paris / Rome because London, in certain parts, reminded me of Kuala Lumpur and as far as my patriotism goes, I still find it hard to tolerate a city so hectic and crowded with too many immigrants. Well I know I’m sort of an immigrant myself but I’m not exactly planning to have three generations of family here. Then again, some people have it tough in their land so England, as we know it, is an almost perfect asylum so I can understand that. We got to see a blue mass of Chelsea fans in the city and singing the anthem so deafening you wouldn’t want to go near wearing your striking red Manchester United jersey if you valued your life.

A very old city with such calmness that makes you think time has stopped. I loved the kilts and the sound of bagpipes though I think it would be more wonderful if we opted for Loch Ness or Skye instead.

Oh, I didn’t know Da Vinci Code's Rosslyn Chapel was in Scotland so going there on a detour was a pleasant twist.

For years I’ve had people telling me how lovely Switzerland was and you know what, they were absolutely right! Geneva was beautiful with her own charm but unfortunately we didn’t get to see up-close the real beauty, the mountains and the Alps specifically, so will have to make another trip for that. Ahaa, I wonder if Monsieur Maurice is planning for another mountain climbing that we could tag along...

Our final destination of the trip, supposedly. But the volcano happened and we got stranded in South of France which was our home last semester so it was bearable and we had a friendly shelter. Some people just stayed in the airport for days and nights. Although sleeping on the glossy airport floor is definitely safer and even more comfortable than laying on a cold stone bench in a rail station, it’s not any more fun. I know, I’ve done both. We ended up spending €700++ and 24 hours going from one terminal to another, one website to a dozen more, just to find ways to go home. We struggled through a strike with people boarding the train for free from Nice to Paris, we crossed the English Channel from Paris to London, took a night bus for six hours to Newcastle and walked for half an hour at 5 in the morning. So we never got to Ireland but it was still a very long journey. I was just glad hubby was there with me. We’ve got so many stories to tell our kids eh. The airports and train stations looked like a scene from the movie 2012 where everyone panicked and felt lost but they just kept running to the next safest place they knew and when we finally got to London, the Brits were all looking relieved like they were hostages finally being released. So I guess all was not lost anyway, it was an exciting adventure (once we made it through of course, I was on the verge of stealing a plane after the fifth trip to the airport terminal).

To end this entry, a huge congratulations to Kak Aliaa & her husband on their first pregnancy! That is another adventure so have fun! That lucky baby is going to get the best of both worlds, having dual residency of Malaysia and UK. I’ll see that little bump when we go to Manchester this June. *wink*

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Another Day in Life

One paper down! And God knows how many more to go. I haven’t bothered to check. I’m just tired out of my wits. Right now I just want to babble, watch Date Night and read Percy Jackson until I fall asleep. I’ve been working my sore butt off and yet I didn’t do well in my courseworks. I’m still 14 marks lower than the highest mark in class. Now I feel stupid. Am I stupid? Yes I am if I’m allowing some grade to dictate me and competing for the best assessment is my life goal. I read Richard Branson’s autobiography over the weekend and he wasn’t the smartest kid in school but today he sure is the sharpest tool in the shed. Bill Gates too.

I really should start writing about the trip while the memory is still fresh but now that I’ve babbled a little, I think I’m just going to watch Date Night and read Percy Jackson until I fall asleep.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Dead End,Almost!

As some of you might have already known from my Facebook, hubby and I got stranded just a few hours before our last destination - Dublin, Ireland. And I thought our little Italy adventure was tough. Hmph. It turned everyone topsy-turvy in the airport with all kinds of curses and cries in different languages flying around. Very soon the remaining and subsequent flights were completely (re)booked until next Friday (but I don't think they're going to see the sky anytime soon based on the current news), ferries were getting full, trains were sold out until Tuesday and we were seriously thinking of renting a car and driving all the way from south of France to north of England (more than 1,000km!) which would be a really fun road trip if it wasn't for my upcoming exam on Wednesday.

Safe to say, we're not going to travel outside England until June. I'll write more after the exam, the reason why we struggled to make it home just to get an e-mail from the university saying that they will have another time set for those who couldn't make it back to England. Anyhow, we're just glad to be home.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Series of Journeys

Right now we're packing for our excursion to London, Dublin, Geneva and Edinburgh. And oh, we have to make a detour to Nice to get our renewed French residence permits. Last backpacking trip we took was to Italy last December, made of some crazy, unforgettable plots. You can relive them here. Apart from Europe, I feel strongly about Africa especially Tanzania / Kenya (wild safaris) and Egypt (magical Cairo) so we'll see!

I wonder though, when I'm back in Malaysia in September next year, would I be working from 8.30am-5.30pm (well actually from 7.30am because I always go to work early to avoid the traffic but that's beside the point) in a small cubicle for years? When I was an engineering consultancy intern and also working in property development enthusiastically five months before graduation, I could see a lot of weary, wrinkly faces still sitting behind insignificant desk after 10-20 years of devotion. It scared me. It still does. I hate to be typical that way.

So readers, let me know...what are you chasing for? What's the price?

Friday, 2 April 2010

Flying Off at Multiple Tangents

Something extraordinary happened today. I learned how to pump breast milk from Facebook! I’m sorry, that’s just a childish mockery. Honestly, it’s disgusting to read an explicit description of how a friend pumped her breast for milk and of course she had to mention how her one-year-old baby boy cupped the milk squirting from the you-know-what. Urgh, I think I’ve been mentally harassed. Yet, that’s the beauty of Facebook. You can never tell too much.

Tangent 1: There’s one topic here that never escapes the day – weather. It has been crazy lately. One minute it’s snowing on a sunny day, one minute it gets too bright you have to close your blinds and suddenly you open your blinds when it gets a little dark to see a nasty blizzard. Let’s hope Mr. Weather behaves by the time we’re packing and ready to go for the one-week backpacking trip. Sure, it’s like wishing for a great movie after seeing the promising trailer. Most of the time the trailer fails to convey the whole picture and not in a good way. Oh by the way, please check out The Blind Side and Changeling (symbolically titled by Clint Eastwood) if you haven’t yet. They’re both based closely on true stories and would really move you at different levels. You might want to watch Changeling first and then cheer up a little with The Blind Side – no spoiler intended.

Tangent 2: Being in England, you shouldn’t miss their authentic fish and chips. Alright, I haven’t had the chance to taste the real thing (they said Sheffield and Whitley Bay are the best in the North-East area) but that's Mama's yardstick for fish and chips after so many years so it has to be really good.

That is in my to-do list here (though I prefer having them in newsprint!). Lake District as well, where Mama went hiking in the mountains with daffodils blooming and had homemade scones 27 years ago. Hubby wants to visit Manchester and Liverpool. He’s devoted to Manchester United football team and well, the Beatles.

Tangent 3: I’m almost at the end of my second semester (okay, two more months but who’s counting? erm..) and as keen as I am to approach another new chapter, my parents reminded me about Ramadhan which usually takes place in summer. Yes indeed it falls on 11 August this year. Ramadhan here is quite a challenge. Generally fasting starts from 3am and not until 8pm, at least. There are days when it doesn’t get dark until 9pm. I know non-Muslims always find it bizarre and I’ve had many questions last year including something like “Don’t you guys, you know…die or at least pass out of hunger and dehydration?”. Yes, I did get that and it wasn’t from a child. It saddens me a little because even though I have a strong faith based on what I know, I actually know so little to convince people whose view on the religion is stained by media and such (and Muslims, humans as we know it, practise differently from one region to another which doesn’t really help). So one extra thing in my to-do list before this year’s Ramadhan is to read up more on Islam and have my faith replenished at the same time.

Replenished…now it just reminds me of breast milk.