Monday, June 29, 2009

Work, Work, Work - The Trip

Work last week had me traveling all the way to Sedeli, Johor. I was in Felda Air Tawar 5, in DUN Penawar from Thursday till Saturday. Actually I was hesitant to leave folks at home, especially after Farah’s H1N1 scare. But this was one assignment I could not just delegate to my staff as it required establishing protocols with VIPs and some top ranks from client’s organization. So…H1N1 or no H1N1, I have to turun padang lah…sigh.

The program that we were doing was in conjunction with the AKOK event in Tanjung Sedeli, Johor. My team had gone down a couple of days earlier to conduct the “…bersama komuniti” program and activities. The closing ceremony was a combined community event and the YB ADUN Penawar had agreed to be the our VIP guest of honour.

The drive there took us almost 5 hours. Nasib baik I wasn’t driving. We had a driver booked for the trip, but still, sitting in the car for a two to three hours stretch was still somewhat an agony. Sakit sagala sendi-sendi di dalam badan, almaklum lah…di usia yang sebegini....errr “muda”.

As there were no nearby hotels, we put up at a homestay place in the Felda scheme. I was very, very skeptical with this arrangement in the beginning. I never like sleeping at other people’s house, well other than Mom’s of course. Even at MIL’s pun, I’d make all sorts of excuses to not do so. So this homestay adventure was going to be my first “sleep-over-at-another-person’s” home stint after the last one which I could no longer recall when. Takpe lah I told myself, if others could go through it, I was pretty sure I could too (sambil keeping my fingers crossed all the time)

Program participants practising the theme song - Our Children Our Future

That evening after we rejoined with the team which was already in Felda Air Tawar 5, we went over to Pantai Telok Mahkota in Tanjung Sedeli. Apparently this place was known as Jesson Bay last time, and this was going to be the AKOK site. Nothing much was seen at the site. Well the program wasn’t going to start till Saturday anyway. Unlike in the city, folks in the kampong area was very calm, no rush, no harsh sounds from motor vehicles of what sort. I asked myself if I could survive in such an environment. Well, my guess is, max I’d give myself a week. After that I was sure I’d be terlenting-lenting wanting to return to the concrete jungle.

Jesson Bay @ Tanjung Sedeli

That night we drove all the way to Tanjung Kapal for dinner. The restaurant offered us a spectacular view of cargo ships waiting in queue to unload at Pasir Gudang Port. Service was slow but he food was good at the restaurant – de Kapal, located a few km after the Sungai Rengit fisherman village.

The home where we stayed...all in all there were 7 rooms in the house

Spacious and well kept garden

We headed back to our homestay after that. This was it, my moment of truth was getting closer. When we got to the place….ahhhhh…all my worries flew out the window. The house which belong to Mak Sam and Pak Mail was beautiful, and it offered such a comfort. There was even a hot water heater in the bathroom. Ohhh thank you..thank you!!! Dalam kepala dah fikir dah, if tak de, hai terpaksa lah mintak permission nak boil water in the morning in order to have my bath. Urrgggg…tak ke mengundang soalan-soalan cupumas nanti.

Fruits from the garden - pulasan

the purple mangosteen

We were served dinner again when we arrived at Mak Sam’s house. Hai..dah kenyang but terpaksa makan jugak. Kena lah jaga hati tuan rumah kan. As we sat having dinner, we heard the soft ”boom” sound. One of my girls said, “Haa…itu durian gugur!!!” Ayoooo…got durian dusun lagi at the homestay!!! No wonder lah when we entered the house, I detected the “pleasant” aroma. Musim buah rupanya and the couple had all sorts of fruit trees planted in their backyard. Mak Sam said they have mangosteen, pulasan, rambutans and not forgetting the durians.


That night after our second dinner, the team dijamu with durians. Me?? I had to politely excuse myself, saying that I don’t eat durians. With that declaration, I received weird stares from everyone else.

Zapin pembuka acara

YB giving a speech

At tea, kueh abok (if I heard the name well) and Kopi-O...fuhh terangkat

My team and I were busy the following day preparing for the closing event. Come what may, the show had to go on. I was happy that everything went well that day. There were dark clouds indicating that it was going to pour. Fortunately, those clouds moved away and it remained dry till the event ended.

The loving couple..Mak Sam & Pak Mail... (she calls him "yang" adussss.....)

I must pen down my appreciation for the southern hospitality we received from folks in Felda Air Tawar 5 during our stay there. The food was great and so was everything else. Mak Sam and Pak Mail the ever so loving couple now becomes such great inspiration to us all.

Thank you…thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Work, Work, Work - The Scare

Phewww…last week was another “killer” week. Work had me traveling up and down from the office in Subang and then to Putrajaya. Two days in a row I was late for my meetings. Bila the partners called asking me where I was, seperti biasa the standard answer was, “On the way…”. Padahal baru nak take the elevator down to the car park. Tak tau lah apa hukum nya buat coverline like that. Bohong sunat kot, but I somehow knew that the other party also knew that the answer was somewhat…errr not the exact truth. At times I am just so “amazed” with my ability in doing this juggling act. Pagi meeting with the team in Subang and then scramble to Putrajaya. Then dah settle in Putrajaya, run pulak to KL** for another meeting. Ishhhh….penat!!! But, tak pe lah, work is also ibadat kan.

The already busy and hectic was petrified by the Farah’s H1N1 false alarm. She called from school last Monday saying that her teacher had asked her and a few friends to go home as one of her classmates was tested positive for H1N1. Apparently Farah had come in contact with the girl. Me being the lurus bendul (and so, so bedul) Mom asked her to go get herself checked. Faris took her to our panel clinic but was told that the clinic does not accept such cases and they were asked to go get checks done at Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital (TARH) in Kelang.

At the screening area, Farah was asked many questions. She told them about her umrah trip and how much contact she had with the classmate. Tau-tau lepas tu she was taken to the quarantine ward. H1N1 or not, that was to be determined later. Can you imagine how I felt when I received the call from Faris saying that the sister was taken “hostage”?? I was in a meeting in Putrajaya, terus tak boleh focus, came out from the meeting room and made calls like a mad woman.

When the meeting ended, I drove all the way to TARH, hoping to see her and to get the exact story of her being quarantined. It was visiting hours at TARH and had to drive 2 rounds until I got a parking space. Went straight to level 8 and …….all I saw was the NO ENTRY sign. There were guards placed on the floor and the signage showed “H1N1 WARD”

Huhhh??? Apa sudah jadi ni??? I stormed at the guard demanding to see Farah. But she told me, NO ONE is to enter the ward. I demanded to speak to the doctor and she replied, “Puan kena tunggu.” By then I was furious and was practically shivering due to my unexpected discovery.

I didn’t know if it was the government hospital ambiance that cheesed me off or the fact that they had my daughter “kept” inside, all in isolation. Okay lah...I told myself, all “airs and egos” aside, now let’s get to the bottom of things. I finally got to meet with the staff nurse on duty and this great lady gave me the assurance that there was nothing I should be worried about. They just wanted to be sure that Farah was not H1N1 positive. Then the specialist came to talk to me and he told me that it didn’t look like H1N1 but they just wanted to be doubly sure. He said two things he wanted to establish – one was dengue and the other was H1N1. He told me that Farah’s throat did look a bit sore, but she wasn’t having a fever, so H1N1 was very much unlikely the case here.

My next question was, “When would we be able to know the results from the tests?” He said in 24 hours and this meant Farah had to spend that night in the hospital!!! Upon hearing this, my eyes were welled with tears. Entah lah…fear, exhaustion, anger, all the other mixed feelings cooked inside of me, causing me to break down. The nurse calmed me down and reassured me that there was nothing to be worried about. She said there was nothing much I could do there at the hospital so there was no point waiting. She gave me the contact number of the ward and told me I could call anytime to check on Farah’s condition.

Leaving me with no choice, I left with a wearisome heart. Headed back to the office and buried myself with piles of documentation already waiting for my approval. That took my mind off what was happening in the home front.

I stayed in the office till almost 11.00 pm and a text message from Farah helped ease my worries. She reported that things were okay in the hospital, just that she was bored - no tv, no music and no nothing. I replied saying to take it easy and just sleep off the night.

On my way to work the next day, I received a call from the hospital saying that Farah was free to leave the hospital. Results from the tests concluded – H1N1 negative and so was dengue, Alhamdullillah….syukur.

Part 2...coming up real soon

Friday, June 26, 2009

He's Gone....

He’s gone…MJ, the King of Pop is gone.
Received the news via FB this morning. First it was Farrah Fawcett and hours later it was the shocking news of MJ’s passing.

photo courtesy Associated Press

Michael Jackson is so synonym with the 80s and my days in UW – Madison. I remember queuing at a record store the moment his Thriller album was released. There were just a few left and I managed to get one of them. Both Abe and I have a few songs of his that hit us right in the heart. “Wanna be startin’ sumthing…wanna be startin’ sumthin” and the rest is HISTORY.

RIP Michael Jackson.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Retail Rewards

Madinah wasn’t just all tears for us. Madinah is a vibrant and colorful city, and Madinah is also a place where one could shop, Ummmpppp….shopping??

My late grandmother often cautioned us about what we say or do prior to trip to the Holy Land. According to her, many times the opposite would happen.

When I was budgeting our expenses, I said to myself, this Umrah trip would be one trip where I wasn’t going to shop...heh...heh. Macamlah tak tau perangai diri sendiri kan, shopping tu dah macam second nature. So obviously when I said “no shopping”, it went without saying that the two words did not take much effect.

That morning after our ziarah, Mom gave the green light to go do some shopping. She said we would not have much time to gallavant the shops in Madinah. So whatever we needed to get, we'd better get them right away. Not that I needed her approval, but with her blessings, both Farah and I felt as if we were on cloud nine.

Penat juga walking around in the intense Madinah summer heat. From Taiba centre to the outlets in Movenpick, berpeluh!!! From cotton materials to abaya to little items for friends to little trinkets, we just couln't leave them aside.

This posting is a short one as I’m going to let the pictures tell the story of Mom & Daughter in action.

The Bodyshop outlet

An operator, about to open business for the day

Farah infront of the bin Dawood outlet

Check out what's in the plastic bags :)

Cotton heaven....had a tough time choosing the ones we liked because we liked ALL of them.

All smiles...coz mission accomplished

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Garden of Paradise

We were informed at breakfast that the itinerary for that day was the ziarah luar of the Prophet’s mosque. I asked if Mom wanted to follow the group. It would mean walking for some distance around the mosque. The mutawif would show us the significant places within the compounds of the holy mosque.

Mom said she was not up to the walking. I kind of expected that answer from her. The last time when we did this ritual together at Haj, I saw how it took a toll on her physical state. I was okay with not doing the ziarah luar. But I wasn’t too sure with Farah. Upon checking her later, she too indicated that she was not keen to walk around the mosque, not under the hot Madinah summer sun.

So we decided to do our own ibadat program. Mom said it would be best if we try do the ziarah to Makam Rasullullah (saw) instead. Of course, both Farah and I were so looking forward to it.

Breakfast at the Dallah Taibah Hotel was scrumptious. Since I’m very much a bread person, I had no complaints about the spread. Never mind if there wasn’t any nasi lemak or nasi goreng like back home, as long as there’s bread I know I’d be fine. We took our time at breakfast and started to mingle around with the other jemaahs. This was the other thing I enjoyed about the trip. We made new friends and even met some long lost orang kampong. Beginilah significant nya acara ibadat ini. Thus, I guess that’s why it is something which is so much dituntut by the religion.

View of Masjidil Nabawi

After breakfast, we got ready for our ziarah makam. Got our wuduk and we took the lift down and headed towards the mosque again. Mom who’s been here many times told us to be prepared, for the place would be crowded and you’ll never know what could happen in there.

There are three timings for visiting Makam Rasullullah (saw) for women. We got into the Makam area in no time. Even though there were groups waiting to go closer, they were not given permission by the lady guards there. By then, my heart was beating so fast. I took out my doa book and started to read doas and verses from the pages which I had marked earlier. Tears started to roll as I got closer to the Makam area. We said our salam to Rasulllullah (saw) and para sahabat Abu Bakar and Umar. We also sampaikan salams of friends and acquaintances who had asked to do so.

Shades to protect from the glare and sun

It takes a lot of patience and physical will to be in the Makam area. The ultimate destination was the area of where the white pillars were located – the Garden of Paradise, the Raudah. Inside the Ruadah, there were women from different ethnicities, speaking different languages, all gathered in this place for one reason: the love of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

The rest of the ladies around us were much bigger than us. Some were pretty aggressive as they tried to inch to the Raudah area. Some pushed their way to the front whilst the smaller ones like us had to give way to them. Despite the pushing and rushing, each one of these ladies looked with love to one another, with tears filling their eyes. Praising and thanking God for enabling them to stand in this blessed place.

Alhamdulillah, we managed to inch ourselves to the front. Mom squeezed in between the big ladies and managed to push Farah all the way to the front. Very quickly she told Farah to perform her solat sunat. Space was so limited, Farah could hardly rukuk or sujud had she tried to pray the normal way. Instead, she opted to do her solat sitting down, at that little small space she had secured. My heart gave in when I saw her so calm and peacefully doing her solat, oblivious of the commotion created by the crowd behind her. She must have performed like two or three times of the solat sunat. After her solat, she did her doa and then she stood up and walked to make way for the person behind her to do exactly what she had done earlier. Mom who was seated on her right did her solat too and I who was on her left, then completed my solat and doa at the Raudah area.

Mahabesar Allah, Maha mulia Rasulullah, Alhamdulillah diperkenankan permintaan ku. Semoga Allah SWT mengabulkan, semoga Rasulullah menolong. Sesungguhnya Rasulullah yang mencintai umatnya melebihi dirinya. Subhanallah.

Salam dan salawat buat Mu ya junjungan, jadikan hamba umat Mu sebagaimana Kau rintihkan menjelang maut menjemput ke rumah

Engkau berkatil lah, umatMu, pengikutMu.
Masukkan hamba ke golongan yang Kau cinta Ya Rasulullah.

It didn’t seem fair to be spending too much time to oneself, as there were still others wanting to do so. My heart felt heavy leaving the Raudah area. How I wished I had spent more time there. Mom said way back in the 80s when she did umrah with my late father and sisters, the place was empty. So much so they could sit there and recite the Yassin!! Now, you’d be lucky if you could do a two rakaat. Tak pe lah, itu memang dah rezeki masing-masing.

Once finished, we moved to the less crowded area. I did a few more solats and said lots of doas. As I sujud, tears welled up and just rolled. Didn’t know why I was feeling so sayu, but that was just how I felt naturally.

We must have spent like a whole hour at the Makam and Ruadah area. It felt good and so rewarding. As a servant, you put your forehead at the lowest point that you could. Asking for forgiveness and raising our hands praying to God to forgive our sins and asking Him to grant them our wishes in this life and the Hereafter.

We were rather quiet as we completed solats and doas and walked to the exit area of the Makam and Raudah areas. I thank God Almighty for paving the way and making it easier for us ladies to experience this significant moments.

When opened these shades gave that umbrella effect to the whole place

Once done, we headed out and at the door, we could see the sun was already up and bright. “Time to head to the hotel,” I told Mom and Farah. And that was what all three of us did. Penat and feeling as if we had completed the Ironman competition, we got our neatly wrapped slippers and headed straight back to our hotel. It was only 7.30 in the morning, but it felt like we had achieved a world. Subahanallah….God is Great.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Love you DAD
For all that you are
Sending hugs and kisses
In this Father's Day wish

from FAfandi, FAlisha, NMaisarah & Moms

Saturday, June 20, 2009

First Subuh

The soft morning breeze presented us with an astounding feeling as we walked towards the entrance to the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah. Though it was only 3.30 in the morning, the place was so much alive. I could almost hear the pitter patter of my heart, as I paced faster to the mosque.

“I’m back, dear God. I’m setting foot in your holy mosque again.” Syukur…syukur alhamdulillah.

Distance between our hotel and the mosque was about 150 meters. Farah with her long strides got there the fastest. I got her to slow down a bit, and be on a constant close watch of her grandmother.

The security checks at the entrance was tight. There was already a group being stopped and checked by the lady guards.

“Let them check your bag,” I told Farah, “Open it and allow them to check what’s inside.” It wasn’t just the bags, they even did random body checks. They were just doing their duties so I wasn’t going to make a fuss. I had earlier left my hand phone in the room. It’s ibadat time, so let’s just concentrate on that for the time being.

The moment I stepped into the mosque, the feeling was indescribable. I felt sad, yet there was a certain calmness inside me. I turned to Farah and reminded her to niat iktikaf in the mosque. “Besar pahala beriktikaf in this mosque.” I was merely echoing words of Mom to me the first time I made my presence in the same mosque years ago.

We headed into the prayer hall. Again I turned to Farah and told her to perform her solat tahiyatul masjid. All three of us then went about with our solats. From taubat to tahajjud to hajat and closing it with witir, all I wanted to do was to sujud and do nothing else but bersujud kepada Nya. Ada ketikanya, airmata berlingan dengan sendirinya. Ya Allah, ampuni lah hamba mu yang alpa ini. Ya Allah, terimalah taubat ku ini. Ya Allah engkau permudahkan lah dan lapangkan lah jalan kami untuk melakukan ibadah kami ini.

Just as I completed my witir, the sound of the call for prayers, the azan reverberates through the large mosque complex. Subhanallah….how it called to awaken the soul, to open one’s mind, eyes and ears.

The Imam recited verses from Surah An-Nisa (if I was not wrong at guessing) during the two rakaats of the subuh prayers. Again, verse after verse arrowed at me. From the little Arabic that I was able to comprehend, I could feel the significance of the verses read, so apt to us - the all girls (nisa means girl in Arabic) team.

After the subuh prayers, I wanted to read the Quran for a while and Mom wasn’t too eager about rushing with the massive crowd exiting the mosque. So we stayed on. I leaned against one of the big pillars. Ahhh how reposeful it felt and how unruffled was the mind, body and soul.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Madinah Al-Munawarrah

Our flight landed safely at Madinah Prince Mohammed Airport around 8.30pm local time. Earlier on our aircraft the Saudi Airlines Airbus 380 had made a quick stop in Riyadh. It somehow caused a bit of a confusion amongst the jemaahs. Many thought that we have landed in Madinah. I helped calm the eager group by informing them that Riyadh wasn’t our destination. Got the pakciks and makciks to stretch their arms and legs, and told them once the aircraft had finished refueling, we’d be up on air again.

View of Riyadh Airport

Farah and I chatted with the cabin crew. Farah said that the ladies were not as pretty or friendly as the ones on MH or AA. Iyer lahhh….ni mak arab, mana ader finesse nyer. Unlike the golden girls (of the yesteryears, something I must stress here) they were so much loved by the passengers. I told her not to be critical as this was an umrah trip, silap cakap nanti susah. It wasn’t easy toeing an opinionated 16 year old. But Alhamdullillah, I was happy with Farah for she managed to bite her tongue, not just this time, but many times during the trip she has kept comments to herself. It must have been those slow talks she had with her Daddy and also that friendly tazkirah by our family doctor, that helped keep her sharp words at bay.

Our plane took off again after the refueling. No new passengers joined on board. The flight from Riyadh wasn’t long, in an hour we were already in Madinah. I must admit one of the reasons why I was more inclined in choosing the umrah package from R*yh** was because of the direct flight from KUL to Madinah. Unlike packages offered by the rest, flight goes to Jeddah and jemaahs would have to travel by bus to Madinah. That’s like another 6 hours ride. When one travels with senior citizens, my advice is, do consider the former option. Reason being, less exertion is best for them. I couldn’t imagine having Mom sit on the bus for another 6 hours after enduring an 8 hour flight. During my first Umrah trip, we went through this and I saw how exhaustion took a toll on my parents (incidentally it was arwah Abah’s last umrah trip).

We disembarked at Madinah Airport, nothing big and sprawling like KLIA or those of our local equivalent. I must say, it’s something like Kuantan Airport, so both immigrations and customs clearance was fast.

There were two buses already waiting to ferry us to our hotel. We were in bus No 1. I got a Bangla porter to help us with our bags. During the initial negotiation on price, he said, “Sedekah..sedekah.” Haa..iyer lah tu….and I just smiled at him.

Once the bags were lugged into the baggage compartment in the bus, si Bangla mulalah keneng-keneng at Mom. He asked for a sedekah of 30SR. Mom said he earlier asked for 20 je, but now asking for extra. Tak pe lah, I told Mom, sedekah je lah to him.

The ride to the hotel was not long. The ustaz gave us a brief intro about the holy city and the significance of the place. Once we were within the boundaries of the Tanah Haram, he coached us with the doa. From the rows and rows of new buildings sprouting I could see how much the city had developed from the last time I was there. There were already malls and new commercial areas have come up like mushrooms.

Somehow, behind the bright neon lights, I felt the spirit of peace and tranquility. I felt so calm here. Perasaan sayu started to envelope me. The last time I was here, Abe and Mom were with me. Now, I have come again, with my Mom and my daughter as my company.

Dear God, “I'm here, I'm finally here, All praise to you Almighty who brought me here again."

“Ya Allah, Ya Rahim, I’m here with my loved ones, both Mom and my daughter. Guide us, lead us in our journey.”

As our bus approached the hotel, I managed to catch a glimpse of Prophet’s Mosque, Masjidil Nabawi. The moment my eyes fell on the minarets, tears started to fall.

When the bus came to a halt, we got down and both Farah and I took charge of our luggage. The porters from the hotel took them out and we gave them our room numbers and they were to send them bags up to our room. We then quickly went up to our room – Room 930 at the Dallah Taibah Hotel. Dinner was next and when I checked the time in Malaysia it was like 3 in the morning. I just ate sekadar alas perut and we went up to our room again. We did Isyak in the room after that and local time was only around 10pm. The street opposite our hotel was still buzzing with activities. Folks were indulging in Kebabs and briyani at the eateries across the street.

Farah's first view of the mosque

I told Mom that I wanted to go check out the route to the mosque, particularly the route to the ladies entrance. Farah came along with me. I did a quick orientation of the mosque with her, showing her the nearby surroundings and buzzing “jual beli” activities as night time falls in Madinah. Farah was amazed alright by the beauty of the mosque. I told her, “Wait till you see the inside tomorrow morning.” She kept quiet and I didn’t add anymore to my words. I just wanted her to experience it herself.

Solat times in Madinah

We then got some titbits from the store across the road. Mom had earlier pesan that I got her an alarm clock since she left hers at home. So pi lah jumpa this one Tok Sheikh at his shop and got Mom a 20SR alarm clock. It must have cost less else where, I supposed. But tak pe lah, since we needed it, halal je lah to the Tok Sheikh. Tak de alarm clock nanti, kot lah tak terbangun pulak. Though I assured Mom earlier that my BB does make some pretty irritating alarm sounds to ensure one gets up from slumber. But tak kisah lah, ader jugak souvenir from Madinah nanti nak dibawa pulang.

That night all three of us slept like logs. The alarm from both my BB and Mom’s new alarm clock woke us from our slumber at 3am. We took turns to get ready and in no time we were making our way to the mosque, just as the others around us.

As I placed my footings, I couldn’t help but wondered if I were stepping on the ground that the Prophet's feet once touched? Could I be sitting in a place that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) once sat in? And I prayed, "Oh God, let my feet touch a spot Prophet Muhammad's feet once touched."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Crazy Week

I feel as if I had completed a marathon. Right from the time I landed at KLIA two Sundays back, there has been no stopping. Work, work, and continuous work. Minutes after I switched on my BB that afternoon after I arrived, e-mails came in almost every second, so much so I feared that BB might go hay wire. Thank god it didn’t. Perhaps I should have more faith on this machine.

My earlier “cita-cita” to take off on Monday (day after my return) remained a dream. There were meetings already pre-arranged and there were also the anxious clients to go meet.

Still jetlag and a cold brewing from the umrah trip, I had to gagahkan myself to get going. There was the Cyberkids camp to support the entire week and most importantly the training of the supervisors from 13 – 15 June. Before I left, I had drawn up a checklist for my team to work with. Nothing new, the usual tasks involved in preparing for a training event. The boys and girls have been at this for sometime, so things were routine to them. However, it was the dealing with the client that was giving them the most headache. And this they said, “Biar Puan je lah yang buat when she comes back.” Hai….pandai you all eh. But I don’t blame them for feeling this way. There are times when I too feel like errrr……… never mind lah…no need to cerita. Tak habis 3 postings nanti.

The last eight days saw me out of the house by 9 am and back by almost midnight. Nasib baik lah the kids are used to me being chipsmore, now you see me, now you don’t. Faris and Bibik as usual ran the domestic front. They went to the market and got whatever provisions needed. I never saw what was for dinner as by the time I came home, Bibik would have kept the food in the fridge. Plus I would have gotten a quick bite from wherever I could.

Because of the training we were conducting, I missed a few weddings over the weekend too. Abe went with Faris and Farah. Of course they were posed these subtle questions , “Mama mana?” or “Mama tak datang ke?” And their answers would be the well rehearsed line, “Mama kerjaaaaaaaa”. According to them, they got to see a variety of responses, ranging from those friendly puzzled faces to those real beyond explanation perplexed looks.

Let's shake it, girls!!!

Group discussion

Photo time :)

The training went well, Alhamdullilah. It was the team work that ensured it great success, and I am so very thankful to my boys and girls for their hard work. I gave everyone a day off today. If I needed today to chill, I’m sure they have the same yearning as I do too.

So since dah cuti today, I took the opportunity to get myself fixed. Had a two hour massage at Santai Spa in Kota Kemuning. Ahhhh…what a bliss when the therapist worked her soft hands on my aching body and no words could describe how I felt after the session. R-E-C-H-A-R-G-E-D and so R-E-J-U-V-E-N-A-T-E-D. Then it was lunch with Abe. Dah lupa how long ago since we did this cuti-cilok (me cuti, he cilok) stint.

I still have a few more hours till the mad rush starts again tomorrow. Guess I’ll knock off early tonight, hoping for a good dream.

Ahhh…how I wish everyday is like today…..

Friday, June 12, 2009

25.05.09 SV 833 KUL - MED

That morning I woke up feeling free. My deadlines completed and it felt so relieved not having anything above my shoulders. Even though I had slept rather late, the burning of midnight oil was all worth it. All emails replied and the electronic handover was completed. I had gone the day before to the office to clear my stuffs. HR informed me that when I come back, I would start at the new office. I just didn’t want to dwell with this so much yet, for it would be another new chapter all together.

The last check on our luggage was done much earlier. Abe had helped us to ensure most items on my checklist went into our bags. Once my toiletry case went it, I’d just had to put the locks on the bags. We were given bags by R*yh**, the travel agency and I've decided to just use them. If during my other trips I'd insist on using our hard boxed Lojel suitcase, for this umrah trip, the purple canvas would do. Horror stories of baggage handling by airport workers in the land of the Arabs have never ceased to fade.

I took my time getting ready. Got out my best companion doa book and flicked to the page where it showed steps on doing solat musafir. It felt very calm when I did the two rakaats of the solat. It wasn't till I recited the doa in BM, that tears started rolling. MashaAllah, I was actually going. God has stood all the way behind me and helped me, for there I was standing before him asking for more help, more guidance to complete this journey. Subahanallah...

Farah at the umrah taklimat - 1 week prior to departure

With close friends, I have shared the ups and downs in the path taken in embarking on this trip. There were times when I just felt like giving up. Work was crazy, and working with folks who refused to respect the work processes was the ultimate test of my patience and credibility. It wasn't said in so many words, but put it this way, I've sensed it all along. Me being the "operational" me, was only interested in getting the work done. I don't play politics and my work speaks for itself. Apparently, that's not how some people work, thriving on relationships rather than professionalism. Well, if that's how the game was played, so be it then. I wasn’t going to be in any part of it.

So this journey has been tough all along. But words of my late father, have been a pushing factor. I am also very grateful to Abe for guiding Farah with her mengaji and solats. Ensuring that her sebutan was correct and at times giving short tazkirah about the Prophet s.a.w and the Holy Land.

Saying good bye to Nissa wasn't easy. She was not well earlier in the week. And again because of work commitments, the time I got to spend with her was so limited. It was only during the weekend before that we managed to spend quality time together. I pampered her loads that day. Got her new clothes, stuffs she needed and even got her a new watch. The only thought playing on my mind was, if anything happened to me, I’d want her to have that weekend fresh on her mind forever.

That morning, she had gone to her mengaji class. I knew she just wanted to see as little as she could of me making my preparations. When she came home, she told me that she's going to be bored, all by herself at home during the upcoming school holidays. It broke my heart listening to her pleas, but this journey was something I had to do, more so as I was doing it with her sister. To cheer her up, I said, one fine day, she and I would embark on the same journey too, InshaAllah.

Abe drove us to the airport, another change of plan from the initial arrangement where Faris was to be behind the wheels. Abe earlier on had a meeting, but he somehow managed to reschedule. He said he’d dropped us off at the gate as he was to still rush off to his meeting. Fine by me, coz I'm one of those non supporters to having the entire clan seeing one off at airports. I know about the "berkat" thing, but I’d rather say my good byes in private. So the drop off at gate 5 KLIA was a brief one. We salam-salam and exchanged pecks on the cheeks. Both Farah and I got our trolleys and headed towards the check in counter.

I called my sister who had come to send Mom. The original plan was to have Mom come over to my house the day before. Anyway, a few things came up, and she decided to go direct from Seremban. In a way I was glad with the change of plan. Reason being I was still so kelam kabot with my things. I had only completed my packing around midnight. Something that would definitely cause displease in Mom.

The baggage check in process went smooth despite the big group that we were traveling with. I was told that there were 80 jemaahs all together from R*yh**. Apparently, the flight was full and 80% are jemaahs performing umrah. All bags were tagged and off they went. We managed to grab some quick bites at McDonald’s. Had my usual fillet and by the time we finished our food it was almost zohor. I told Farah and Mom to go perform their solats first and I'd wait at the counter for our passports and boarding passes. The other thing that I had to look into was our mahram. Well, you see since there were just us girls traveling, it was necessary for us to “latch” on to a mahram - mahram tompang they called it. It was a requirement by the Saudi government. No arguements about that. Alhamdullillah, R*yh** had managed to find us one and the person had kindly agreed. Again I am so grateful to God Almighty. I finally met the kind person, just the two of them - him and his wife. They were both from Seremban.

Bye bye KL

Immigrations clearance was smooth and we headed to gate C1 for boarding. Our flight took off on time. I sent out text messages to my siblings and Abe informing our present status, only my sister TM responded. I knew Abe was in his meeting, so I didn't expect any replies from him.

It was a long seven hours flight to Madinah. I managed to do some reading about Madinah and cara-cara ziarah. Other than that, it was zikir and salawat to the Prophet s.a.w. as we reduced the distance between us and the holy land.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Salams to all.

I'm back, arrived slightly past noon today. Alhamdulillah syukur, all of us are fine. A little beat from the long flight and the extra long wait for our luggage at the airport.

It was a truly good trip in many aspects - spiritually, emotionally, devotionally, courage wise and one indescribable grandmother - mother - daughter bonding experience. I believe certain things are best left unspoken, best to be treasured by just the three of us. It is at times easier to hold a wave upon the sand than to pronounce the essence of one’s experience.

A pic Nissa sent me earlier

It feels good to be back after the two weeks of being away. Ahhh…tonight I shall retire on my own comfy bed and the comfort of the air cond breeze. Nissa is overly excited now that her sister and I are home. The first week of her school hols was ultimately monotonous, well that how it was put to me in her text messages while I was away. Looks like I have to plan a simple and fast get away activity to make up for the lost time.

And…ohhh…there’s work to start cracking on too. There are already a few meetings lined up for tomorrow. Ummmpppp…..guess this is life yah.

InshaAllah, I will blog about my umrah experience. There are lots to share with all of you.

Lastly, thank you all for your doas, beautiful words of encouragement and support. I am so humbled by all of them.

Thank you, thank you…shukran jazilan.