Monday, December 26, 2011

Stoning of Devil; Hajj Trip - Part 5


After the Mahgrib prayer's over, we patiently waited for the announcement. Since the Nilam group is big, we were divided into smaller groups. When my group, known as level 5 and 6, was called, I picked up my bag of pebbles and my cane, or nickname by my roomies as transformer cane and headed to the front gate of the camp. My hubby was waiting for me at the tent near the gate.

Our group was led by a young man. Everybody was excited and eager to get the stoning ritual done. We started slowly and walked towards the Moassem tunnel. My first impression of the tunnel, whoa...very long. I started to count the big fans on top of the tunnel. Halfway through the tunnel, we, the old, sick and unfit, lost the leader and others. When I reached the end of the tunnel, I felt relieved. I was so relieved to be out of the tunnel, but it was still a distant far to reached the Jamrah

Along the way, there were many other pilgrimages from other countries heading to Jamrah. The most common groups were from Indonesia. As we headed towards the Jamrah, we saw more tents. Some were built very near to the Jamrah. In fact, there were hotels that, I was told, cost 5000 Riyal per night, and they only have to walk for 150meters, compared to me who had to walk more than 2 km to the Jamrah.

As we got nearer to the Jamrah, there were so many people outside the complex. Some were resting waiting for the next stoning ritual, which is scheduled the next day, and some were there sleeping at the roadsides.

Since it was still quite a distant to reach the Jamrah, I stopped for a while. While resting, I watched some groups passing by and they were very united and always ensure that their team members were together. Not like my group. Their leader always chanted 'Laibai Kallah' all the way to Jamrah.

I also saw the complex from far. It was four storey’s high. Directions were given to go each level. As my group was heading to level 1, we have ‘to climb’ the ramp on our way to the level 1. The ramp was quite steep, and when I got midway through the ramp, we took another break. By that time, my drink was almost finishing.

After a few minutes rest, we continue our walk to the end where the Jamrah Kubra was located. Before that, we passed by Jamrah Ula, and followed by Jamrah Wusta, but on this first day, we only need to perform the stoning ritual at Jamrah Kubra.

I was happy, as there were not many people. We could go right to the front of the Jamrah to perform the ritual. I took seven pebbles from my sachet, and said the prayer that we need to say. Well, we cannot throw all seven in one go. It has to be one at a time. For the ladies, we cannot raise our arm high when throwing the pebbles. After completed all seven, we walked to the side and said the dua for the ritual.

After that, my hubby took out the small scissors to cut off some of the hair. I did for my hubby, and then he did it for me. With this, it indicated the end of ihram and the man are allowed to wear normal clothes. The 10 restrictions were also lifted.

We then headed back to our camp, and on the way down from level 1, we saw the activities at ground floor were quite packed with people. Since my husband wanted to cut his hair shorts, we decided to stop by at the barbers stalled that were nearby. He went in for about 10mins and came out. 'I think I'll cut it in Mecca," he said as he was not really comfortable with those crowds.

On the way back, my leg sort of cramps, but I fought it. We walked very slowly towards the camp, and when I saw the tunnel, I know that we are almost reaching the camp. I looked at the fan again and started to count it. When we reached the end of the tunnel, I was really exhausted. When the THTS employee pointed the way to camp, I was relieved. I hurried my steps toward the camp, and when I reached my tent, I was glad. I was really, really glad that I made it.

Okay, I stop here and would write more on the stoning ritual for day 11 and 12 Hijrah late.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mina and its Challenges - Hajj Part 4

The trip to Mina didn't take long. It was another short trip to our camp, known as Maktab 100. Well, it is one big area and one could easily lose their way if you didn’t know your tent number and bed. I was assigned to tent "L", and it was quite near to the toilet. It was a big tent, and there were more than three hundred of us in there.

We were given sofa bed, blankets and pillow, but, unfortunately, there was no pillow for me nor for my roommate, "Yam Turkiye". "Ahhh... Problem. How to sleep without pillow," I told Yam Turkiye.

The main challenge in Mina is the toilet. The toilets were very limited, and we had to share the toilet with others from different camps. Phew! The queue can be very long if you go to the toilet at the wrong time. Most of the time, I went late at night, as there would not be many people.

There were only four sitting toilet out of sixteen, and these toilets were reserved for old folks and people like me. But there were times when people cut queue because they were in ‘emergency’ situation. Well, you could have easily gotten upset especially if you have been standing in line for so long, but you are expected to compromise and be patient. Normally, if people cut my queue, I would politely point her to the back of the queue, unless the person is an old person, or she started doing her emergency dancing.

While waiting for my turn, I would keep myself entertained by looking at other pilgrimages’ dresses and antics from other countries passing by our camp. Eh! I can only see them if I stand on the steps leading to the toilet.

The most common pilgrimages’ were from Indonesia and Turkey, but there were few times I saw pilgrimages from Chicago, US, Brazil, and UK. Some I didn't recognize their flag.

At Mina, my bed was known as end lot, because it is at the end of the row. Next to me was the entrance to the tent. However, the cover sometimes didn’t close properly, and it left some gaps. Next to our tent was the tent for men, and since we were still in ihram, we had to ensure that we did not expose our body parts. 

At Mina, besides prayers and zikir, we have to perform the stoning ritual, which took place on 10, 11,12 and 13 Hijrah. The distance from the camp to Jamrah and back is about 6km. Malaysian pilgrimages were slotted for the stoning ritual after the Maghrib prayer.

However, Yam Turkiye, my brave little Ustazah, went with her husband in the morning. When Mar, my other lovely and brave roommate heard about it, she also decided to go early, but for Datin and me, the oldies, we patiently wait for Maghrib.

There is a reason why people wanted to complete the ritual early. With the completion of the stoning ritual, and snipping off some of your hair or shaving the head for men, it marks the end of 10 out of the 13 restrictions. The remainder three restrictions are performing marriage, sexual activities, and action leading to sex , and we would be out of ihram once  we completed the Tawaf and Saie.

Okay, I stop here and will continue with Stoning of the Devil later.

Salam

Friday, December 16, 2011

Mabit di Mudzalifah

After the Mahgrib prayer, we were told to wait for the announcement for our bus. While waiting, we heard that there  are no water or drinks in Mudzalifah, and was told to pack some water.

Upon hearing that, my friends and I took two bottles of water and a packet of juice. I can't fit those bottles in my bag and had to carry additional bag to carry these bottles.  When my hubby saw what I had packed, he just shook his head, as I had to carry my chairs too. Since my bag was heavy, I swapped with my husband and carried his lighter bag.  Oh yeah, he also carried additional bag, but it was not food in there, but mats.

The trip to Mudzalifah was not long. It took about 15-20 minutes to reach there, but our bus had some problems.  Along the way, we smell burnt tire. Either the driver didn’t know how to drive, our something wrong with the brake. We prayed  that we reached Mudzalifah safely.

When we reached Mudzalifah, other pilgrimages from other countries were already there.  The bus dropped us at the roadside, and we have to walk about 200 meters to our designated place. As we walked by, there was food distribution. Everyone was given a packet that contained bread, biscuits, apple and a packet of fruit juice.

Mudzalifah didn’t have any tent like Arafah nor bench or chairs for us to seat. Only toilets are there, and they laid tarps for us to sit and lie down. The place is not a flat land but hilly and rocky.

We chose a place that was not far from the exit gate. We laid our mat and sit under the sky with moon and stars shining above us. In Mudzalifah, our activity is to collect pebbles.  After taking a ten minutes break, we started looking for pebbles. We have to collect seventy to eighty pebbles for us to use in Mina.

We were reminded to bring our torchlight for this activity, and the size of the pebbles that we need to collect  is small. It is only as big as a green pea. Since everyone was collecting for pebbles, it took some times to gather seventy pebbles.

After we had enough pebbles, we went back to our place and counted it to make sure we have more than seventy pebbles. I kept these pebbles in a sachet that we bought from home.

We were told to continue to zikir and to get some sleep. At the same time, we were also to do some reflection on what we have done, what we have lacked in our ibadah and to continue to seek forgiveness.

After two hours of sitting, and  with nothing much to do, my husband fell asleep. Heh! I took a picture of him sleeping in his ihram, lying on the mat using his bag as a pillow, but I can't share that with you.  I leaned onto my bag and after some time, I fell asleep too, but I was more of dozing on and off.

I'm not sure at what time the buses came because I didn’t bring my watch with me. We were woken up by an announcement that the buses had arrived.  Collecting our things, we started moved to the exit gate and waited patiently for our turn to board our bus to go to Mina.

The short time that we spent at Mudzalifah was one of the best times. It was breezy and not too cold and peaceful. I felt so relaxed, and I have not felt that in years.  Such a great feeling before heading to Mina, which has it, own challenges.

Okay, I’ll stop here and will continue with Mabit di Mina.

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Hajj Trip - Part 2: Wukuf Di Arafah

Clear Sky in Arafah. 
After the Umrah, we have few days to rest before the hajj started. While waiting for the actual day, we were advised to rest as the activity will be very hectic and tiring.

For the next four days, we spent our day reading Quran, zikir and praying. Most of the time, my day started very early, that is at 3.15am. My room mate, Mar would be the first to wake up, and would be followed by me. At 4am, my husband and I would walk to the mosque.

Well, we like to pray at the roof top, but it’s cold. As I entered the mosque, I took off my slipper and headed to the designated women section. Normally at that hour, there would not be many people yet. I can choose where I want to be. I would set my praying mat and chair. Hmmm…. I had to use chair because of my knee problem and back problem. This is one of flexibility in Islam where you can pray sitting or lying on your back, if you are not well.

Once I settled down, I performed Solat Tahayatul Masjid, a special prayer to pay respect to the mosque, Solat Tahajjud, Solat Taubat while waiting for the Subuh (morning) prayer. One hour before the Subuh prayer, the first azan would be called by the Muazzin.

By then, people would start coming in. Sometimes I would have Arab ladies, or Turks ladies or Indonesian ladies next to me. Once I had an old Chinese lady next to me, and we shared foods.

The subuh prayer, would start at 5.25am and the second azan would be called. When the second azan was called, people started to get ready for the prayer. After the prayer, there would be Solat Jenazah, a prayer for the dead.

We would return to hotel after the prayer and then straight to the dining room for breakfast. Since we were still having our jet lagged, most of the time, we would be dozing off. We would only wake up around 9am.

While waiting for zuhur prayer, we performed solat Dhuha, zikir, read Surah Yaasin and Ma'thurat. By 11am, we would be heading to mosque again for afternoon prayer, and the routine continue for asar prayer. Sometimes I stayed until solat Isyak and sometime I went back to the hotel, but the mosque would be packed with pilgrimage. There were times when I had to pray outside the mosque.

On Wednesday, 2nd Decemeber after dinner, there's briefing on our trip to Arafah, Mudzalifah and Mina. We were told that we would be leaving for Arafah on Friday after 4pm, and were asked to get ready for the trip. We were told to pack our clothes in our hand luggage only. We were also given our tent locations..

On Friday 8th Zulhijjah, after the Asar prayer, we get ready for our trip to Arafah. All of us have to wear our ihram again, and the 13 restrictions that we have to avoid started. We were very careful about the restrictions, or else we would have to pay the penalty.

At 10pm, we received the call to come down to the lobby. We quickly grabbed our bag and headed down to the lobby. Before that, we ensured that our bags and our things were locked.

The trip to Arafah is not far. It is about 7km from Mecca, but due to everyone is heading to Arafah, the traffic was very congested. It took us almost one hour to reach Arafah.

It is a must for all pilgrimage to be at Arafah, even for a second. If you are not there, you Hajj will be void, and all other rituals that you do would be for nothing. Even those who were sick would be ferried down by ambulance to Arafah. This is known as Wukuf at Arafah, and it is between noon (Zuhur) until before the morning prayer on the 10th Zulhijjah..

Once we reach Arafah, we headed to our tent. There were 16 of us in the tent and each of us was allocated with mattress, pillow and blanket. There were two portable air condition to keep us cool.

At 3am, I got up and headed to the toilet. There were 10 toilets to be shared with hundreds other pilgrimage, and we have to queue. After I clean myself, I took my wudhu (ablution) and headed back to my tent. I prayed, zikir and read Quran while waiting for the Subuh prayer.

After breakfast, we took a slight rest before we continued with more prayers. We also have a special guest who joined us in the afternoon prayer and read the khutbah. He also lead the zuhur prayer.

The temperature at Arafah is known to go as high as 50C. As the day progress, the temperature rose. Most of us by now sat outside our tent and continue to pray and doa in silent.

After the zuhur prayer, the special guest led the doa seeking forgiveness from Allah. As we said our doa, without realizing it, we cried especially when we seek forgiveness for our parent. After the doa, most of my tent’s mate, had red eyes. Luckily we have our sunglasses with us, so the red eyes can be hidden.  Well, the doa was not only for us, but also for our parents, spouse, children, our sibling, relatives and friends.

We continued to say our doa until before the Maghrib. At 7pm, we get ready for our next stop, that is 'Mabit di Muzalifah' or Overnight in Mudzalifah.

Okay, I would stop here first and would continue with 'Mabit di Mazalifah' in my next update.

Salam.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Hajj Trip - Part 1

I'm already home for a week, and I still feel tired. The trip was very hectic, but I have no complaint. The experience I had from this trip was very fulfilling. I left for Mecca on 30th October.

I received my flight detail and my accommodation information from Tabung Haji Travel Services to report to Tabung Haji Complex in Klana Jaya at 8.30am.

Few days before I left for the trip that is on 26th October on Deepavali day I went back to Kuala Pilah to visit my aunties and my hubby's grandma and auntie. We received quite a number of tips and advices from them, which were all very helpful. The trip was also for us to seek forgiveness from them.

On the way back, I stopped at my mom's place and took her with me to Bangi. My kids were very happy to have my mom over, and my girl shared her room with her grandma.

Since I was on leave on Friday, 28th October, and I didn't get a chance to visit my dad's grave on Wednesday, we made a quick trip to Seremban. As usual, it would be very emotional for me. As a common practice by us, Muslim, we recited Al-Fatihah and Surah Yassin. After that, my husband left me for me to have my time alone with my dad. If my dad is still around, he would be proud of his children. Two of his daughters were selected to be the guest of the Holy Land this year.

I didn’t start packing until Saturday. My mom was panicking when she saw that my bag was still empty. Well, I told her not to worry as I have all my things ready.

As the day progress my sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews came to my house. Some of them slept at my place. I didn't get to go to bed until 12 midnights because my kids were too excited to have their relatives over. At least, it helped them to forget that their parents would be away for a month.

At 3am, I woke up. My husband was already up at 2.30am, and I saw him going through the checklist to ensure nothing important was missing. We were required to wear ihram from home as we were heading direct to Mecca. I wore a white, three quarter length gown with pants and mini telekong. The only parts exposed were my face and my hand. My husband wore two pieces of unstitched white clothes known as ihram. One piece was wrapped around his waist, and the other was wrapped around his body. There is no other material can be wear. Not even underwear. He wore slippers with no sock covering his feet.

Before we left for Klana Jaya,  a doa was said by my father-in-law, and azan and qamat were said before we stepped out from the house.  My Bang Ngah drove us to Klana Jaya, and joining us, was my mother. My kids went with their uncle and cousins.

We were not the first to reach there, and since we reached there during subuh, I went to the mosque, to perform my subuh prayer first. We then waited at the tent before we checked in. While waiting, THTS gave us our id tag  and few other things. Oh yeah, we brought food for breakfast, but I didn't have an appetite to eat those foods.

At 8.30am, we were called in. I said goodbye to them, and at first I didn't cry, but when I kissed my mom and asked for her forgiveness, I cried. My kids didn't cry. They were excited to shake hand and to kiss me.

As I passed them into the building, I waved at them and dragged my luggage through the door. All the scanning of the luggage were done as we enter the door, and from there, we picked up our passport, and our boarding pass. We were then ushered to the hall on the first floor.

A final briefing were given by Tabung Haji, and at 11am, we left for the airport. Again doa was said, and azan was called by the Ustaz. We left on buses to the airport and was escorted by police to KLIA.

The flight from KL to Jeddah took eight hours, and when we reached Jeddah Pilgrimage Terminal, it was almost five o’clock. We were asked to wait for Immigration clearance. The immigration clearance process was very smooth. After the immigration, we then have to go through few more checking before we were cleared.

As we were heading to our rest area at the airport, there were foods, drinks and umbrella given freely to all pilgrimage. After waiting for four to five hours, we were then called to board our buses. Before we get into the bus, we have to leave our passport to the Muassassah, who were the team responsible for our stay during the Hajj period. They would hold the passport until the day we will leave for KL again.

The trip from Jeddah to Mecca took about 1 hour plus, and on the way more foods and water were given. When we reached our hotel, it was midnight. Instead of resting and sleeping, we decided to proceed with the Tawaf and Saie  so that we can complete our Umrah earlier.

We wanted to complete the umrah earlier because during ihram, there are 13 things that we must not do or avoid, or else we have to pay for the penalty.

After I changing my clothes and taken my wudhu, we headed to Masjidil Haram.  At that time, the area surrounding the Kaabah was still not packed with people. We quickly joined the flow and circulate the kaabah.  We circled in anti-clockwise, and our left shoulders must always face the Kaabah.  We have to circle the Kaabah seven times, and each round, there are different doa that we need to recite.

On the fifth round, I was pushed until my left shoulder didn’t face the Kaabah. Because of that, I have to do extra round, but overall I completed the ritual without any problem.

It was almost four in the morning when  we completed the tawaf.  At first, we wanted to continue to do our Saie, but my hubby has slight headache. We decided to  rest first and continue after breakfast.

We continued with our Saie at 9am in the morning.  If tawaf is going around the Kaabah seven times, Saie is walking seven times between two points. It started from Bukit Safa and ended at Bukit Marwah. The total distance for the whole Saie was about 2.9km.

After we completed the Saie, the next ritual is to cut at least 3 pieces of our hair from our head. With the cutting of the hair, we were no more in Ihram, and all the 13 things that we need to avoid are lifted.

We completed our Umrah, and it means that hubby can wear his clothes again, while I still continued to cover myself as required for women.  After the afternoon prayer, we went back to our room. We have four days to rest before Hajj where we have to travel to few places and complete the ritual.

Okay, I stop here first, and insya allah will continue tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Thanks Roommates!!!

Salam.

I have been home since Saturday, and I’m already back to work. Alhamdulillah, I didn’t face any major difficulties during my one month stays in Mecca and Madinah. I completed all the rituals as required with minimal difficulties. I have to thank my hubby, who was there all the time to assist me also my four room mates in Mecca and Madinah. They are wonderful people. Only Allah can repay their kindness.

I was glad that my roommates and I clicked immediately even though all four of us came from different background and age. In Mecca, two of my roommates were housewives, while the third roommate is a manager, but we are all equal.

The youngest in the room was 38 years old, but we called her Ustazah Kecil or Cik Yam Turkiye. The first nickname was because of her know ledges in Islam, while I’m not sure how the second nickname came about. Even though she the youngest, she is not afraid to give advised or shared her knowledge when it deems to. She is also very helpful and caring.

The oldest in the room was 54 years old and a Datin (equivalent to Lady). Eventhough, she is a Datin, she’s very humble and down to earth person. We respect her not only because she is older than us, but because of her involvement in the society. She also liked to share with us about her kids and her grandchildren. Oh ya! she was awarded AMN (Ahli Memangku Negara) for her leadership in BAKAT.

My other roommate is also highly knowledgeable in Islam, and between her and the Ustazah Kecil, I learned a lot. Hehehe....... She is also an IT savvy, so I don’t feel like a geek there. Since she works for Kelantan government, it was very interesting to understand what was really happening there. Among the four of us, she would be the first to head to the mosque at 3.30am in the morning. Sometimes she stayed at the mosque from 12am until 7.20pm. I admired her for her determination to stay in the mosque even though our hotel, which is Hotel Royal Eiman, is only 80 meters from the Baitullah.

We were in Mecca for three weeks and nine days in Madinah. Datin didn’t join us in Madinah as her husband has some urgent works that need his attention. The night before she flew home, we had pizza for dinner, thanks to Datin.

Since Datin didn’t join us in Madinah, we have a new room mates. Actually we already knew her in Mina. She is as good as Yam Turkiye in term of her knowledge in Islam, but a little bit reserve in sharing her knowledge. She would join the discussion when we asked her. She also clicked well with the three of us. In Madinah, she was also the earliest to get up and get ready to mosque. Normally, she would leave the room by 3.40am.

In Madinah, we stayed at Movenpick hotel, which was only 30 meter from the mosque, but due to limited space for women to pray in the mosque, she and the other lady would leave early so that they can pray inside. For me and Yam Turkiye, we normally left our room, earliest by 4.45am, and we would be praying outside under the open sky and cold weather.

In Madinah, I’m the oldest in the room, and Yam Turkiye is the youngest, but she played the role of a big sister to all of us. We didn’t spend all our time praying, or reading Quran. We also have time to shop, and most of time, we did our shopping in the morning or after dinner.

My roommates are good at shopping. They know where to hunt for good things, and they know how to bargain. Every time they came back from shopping, they would show to us what they had buy and how much. Sometimes I just smile looking at them.

The best thing shopping in Mecca and Madinah is that, the shop people speaks Bahasa Melayu, and it made it easy for us to bargain. At first I was surprised to hear them conversing and bargaining in Bahasa Melayu, but after some time I also spoke in Bahasa Melayu to them.

Okay, I think I stop for now, and would continue tomorrow for more stories from my trip.

Salam.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

So many things to do!

It's less than a week before I make the journey to the holy land. I have been very busy at home and work, also getting myself ready for the trip.

I haven't packed yet for the trip, and there are few more things that I need to do and buy. When I look at the things that in my list to bring, WOW,  it is a long list. Well, I have to make sure that my supply for a month stays is enough.

My friends who have made the journey last years have been giving me a lot of tips and I'm very grateful for that. The common advices that they gave was to bring a strong antibiotic, a strong cough syrup, flu medicines, ointments and an extra pair of glasses. I can get the others, but to make another pair of glasses with only 3 days left is a challenge. I hope and pray to Allah that my glasses will survive the journey.

Since there will be  lots of walking, I also bought a good pair of shoes. What is it? Not Crocs. I thought of getting one, but after I look at what they have in the Crocs store, I decided to buy a different shoes.  I bought a pair of anti fatigue shoes from Timberland. I had seen it a month ago, and at that time, the store didn’t have the size for me.,  Oh yea, I have started wearing it, and so far, I’m liking it.

And a week ago, my sister texted me on the limited amount of money we can withdraw from Tabung Haji. Well it is true when my Along (eldest sister), who is now in Mecca also advised me to bring lots of cash. But, some of my friends advised me to open up an account in Al Radjhi Bank, and just make  withdrawal from the ATM.  Might has to do that.

Whew! There are so many things to do in these last few days, and to make it difficult, I have to work until Thursday. Between now and Thursday, I have to do handover to my backup, and on  Thursday morning, I have to do a short briefing  to my department.  Ahhh!!!! I wished I had more time to do all these thing so that I can go on leave and do whatever last minute shopping I need to do. But I take this as part of the challenges for my journey.

Okay, I can't spend much time here, but I would try to post one or two more blogs before my trip.  Salam....

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

They wanted a cat.

My kids wanted a cat for a pet. They have been talking about it for months. They have been luring stray cats to the house, and tried to keep them, but the cats know better. They better be guests to this house than becomes a permanent resident.

After months of waiting patiently, they cannot wait for it anymore. On Saturday, they asked me to go and buy them a cat for them. I told them to ask their dad first. Zaki was the first to go and asked his dad.

“Ayah, we want a cat,” said Zaki.

“No,” replied his dad.

“Why?” he asked.

“Are you going to clean the cat poop, pee and everything?” asked his dad.

“Yes.”

“So there a cat poop outside, Go and clean it. If you can do it, you can have the cat,” he said.

“Okay,” he said, "I do it," but didn’t move a bit from where he was.

Their dad looked at the rest of them, but no one went to clean the cat poop.

“See, I made my point,” said the dad.

“But the cat that we want to buy has been trained,” said Amir.

My hubby continued to read. They didn’t give up.

On Sunday, after the music class, they persuaded me to take them to the Pet shop. They were very excited thinking that they would get a cat, but before they get down from the car, I told them not to expect too much.

When we went inside the shop, there was no cat. They were disappointed but didn’t give up. They asked me to ask the girl in charge.

“Yes, there are two, but they need to be cleaned first.”

They were excited when they heard that.

“Oh, how much is it?” I asked further just to appease the kids’ curiosity.

“These two are expensive,” replied the girl.

“Yeah, how much?”

“It’s Persian, and the price is RM1600 and RM1800,” she replied.

I turned around and looked at them. “Expensive,” I said.

They still wanted the cat, and when I said I didn't have that much cash with me, Zaki said, “Use your credit card to buy.”

Huh! There’s no way I’m going to fork out that much for a cat until they proved to me that they knew how to take care of their pet. Meanwhile, let them continue to dream their dream cats.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The boyz new toy

My husband has a new toy. A typical man with its big toy. Not motorbike, not car or any remote controlled toy. It's his new brand lawn mower.

He wanted to buy it months ago when we moved to our new place, but I have been holding it back. I asked him to use the Pakistani guy that we hired earlier to cut the grass. He did use the Pakistani guy for a few months, but he was not satisfied with the results. He told me that the lawn needs to be cut using the lawn mover.

"Why?" I asked.

"Look at the grass. It is not cut evenly," he pointed to me.

I looked and didn't make any comment. He was not happy with my reaction. So to prove his point, he took me to a house in my neighborhood and pointed out to me the difference between our lawn and our neighbor's lawn.

He managed to convince me, and I gave the green light to buy. He was delighted, and last weekend, he bought his dreamed toy. It was not only him that was delighted, but the boys too. They were so eager to start the project with their dad.

So on Sunday, the day after we bought the machine, he and the boys started his lawn cutting project. But as usual, he will read the manual first. Together with Syafiq, they took half of Sunday morning to finish cutting the grass.

When he finished, I heard him called the Pakistani guy. When I asked he said the edge and those near the wall or under the shrubs cannot use the lawn mower. Hmmm.... I wonder whether he will want to buy the Bosch grass cutter after this?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

She's sad....

Last weekend, I went out to buy things that I need to bring with me for my Haj trip. I was happy to find my size in the shop. Normally it was not easy to find one as my size is an exceptional.

I bought 3 pairs, and I still need to buy some other smaller things that are required. The next challenging thing is how to fit all those into my luggage. One big luggage and one hand carrier.

I wanted my kids to be part of my preparation, so I showed them what I bought. The boys gave some comments, but Zara didn't. She looked at it briefly, and then continued to watch TV. From her face reaction I know, she didn't look for the long separation, and she looked sad.

I asked her what she thought of the baju ihram, but she just raised her shoulder. I asked her and Zaki to follow me to my room and explained to them where I'm going and for how long. I showed her the calendar when I would be leaving and when I would be back.

"Oh!" she said and still trying to understand what did it means to her.

Lately, every night she would come to our room and crawl into bed with us. I told my hubby to let her knowing that she won't be able to do that next month.

For the past two weeks, she would wait for me to come home and have dinner with me. It didn't matter whether I reach home early or late, she would patiently wait for me, and then she would sit with me and told me what she did for the day.

The last time I was away from home was when she was three months old, and she didn't know what's going on. This time, it's different and I really hope she would not get sick while we are away, and I have to leave it to the creativity of her aunties, uncles and cousins to keep her occupied.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Halo Moon

Last night we saw the halo moon, but, unfortunately, I didn’t take any picture of it. It is because my phone battery was running out.

We were on the way out from Pizza San Francisco, when Zaki spotted the moon. He pointed it out to us, and every one of us was excited to see the moon. It was very clear and beautiful.

Syafiq was curious and wanted to know more about the halo moon. The moment here reached home he logged and searched for information.  After a while, he came to Zara’s room and told me that normally there would be a disaster.

I don’t want to confirm what he said. The only thing I said to him was that this is not the first time it happened. He still worried.

After that, I didn’t give much thought about it until lunch time today, when one of my colleagues talked about it. He managed to take a picture of the halo moon and explained to us how it happened.

It pricked my curiosity, and during my free time this evening, I google about it. Wow, there’s a lot of people blog about.  In fact, the whole country is talking about the halo moon..

So what is this halo moon and how does it happen?  This is what I get from the Indiana Public Media website -  http://indianapublicmedia.org.

Moon halos are caused by tiny ice crystals that have gathered twenty thousand feet above the ground, as thin, wispy clouds. These clouds are so thin; you might not notice them at night, if it weren’t for their effect on the moonlight. Incoming light rays from the moon are bent or diffracted by these ice crystals at an angle of 22 degrees.

This means that, in addition to the direct moonlight, you will also see diffracted moonlight in circle 22 degrees away from the moon. This is about the distance of your fist, held at arm’s length.

Like a rainbow, this halo can even be slightly colored; red on the inside, and blue on the outside.

There’s also a belief that something will happen to earth when this happened.  Whether it is true, only Allah knows. Wallahualam.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Am I Ready?

Tonight, my sister will be flying off to Madinah before heading to Makkah. She was very excited as I could hear it in her voice when she called me yesterday.

I’ll be going to see her at Kompleks Kelana Jaya. Besides seeing her off, this would also give me an opportunity to assess what time I need to be at Kelana Jaya.

My sister told me that we needed to be there at least two hours before the checking time. Since my checking time is at 8.30am in the morning, I have to be there latest by 6.30am. And what it means is that I have to leave the house by 5am in the morning. That’s very early for my young kids.

Ah, I’m not sure how my kids going to take it. To get up by 4.30am and getting ready to say goodbye to their parents. Ahhh…Thinking about that make me sad. But there is a high possibility that my house would be busy with relatives who would be coming to say goodbye and sending us off.

I know my mom would be at my house that weekend as I plan to bring her to my place on Friday. I would also be making a trip to the Tuan Haji Said Cemetery, and have the special moment with dad. He would be proud to see me off to Hajj because when he was around, he always reminded us to go to Hajj at the young age. Thinking about him brought tears to my eyes. I miss him a lot. He was my inspiration who spurred me to do well in my life. Thanks abah for that.

I still have a lot of things to do. I still have not done any checklist on items that I need to bring with me. And also I need to find a time to sit down with my kids and tell them to listen to Syafiq, their grandparents and aunties during our absences. And the most important thing is not to skip school.

Yup… it’s going to be an emotional moment for us.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Labaik Allahuma Labaik

I’m so so happy. My sister, Along, is leaving for haj this Friday. She and her husband would be reporting to Tabung Haji Complex in Kelana Jaya at 9.30pm, and they would be in Mecca for 46 days.

When I first received my letter of offer, she didn’t get hers yet. But, Alhamdulillah, her constants praying and believe that she would be the guest of the Holy Land, she was selected to go to Haj this year. She would be flying to Madinah first and would be in Madinah for few days before leaving for Mecca.

Well, almost all who received the offer accepted it. If you rejected the offer, you would then back in the waiting list again. And believe me, you don’t want that to happen because the waiting list is, not five years, but more than twenty years.

When I first planned to go to Haj, I set my target that I would go before I hit fifty years old, and I’m glad that I would be going there in my 40's.  I started saving for the trip when I started work, and in 2005, I registered to Tabung Haji through online. In 2007, I went to Tabung Haji personally to confirm my registration.

Last year, I did received the
 offered , but I was put on Standby list. Since I was not ready, I declined the offered. Luckily, they stated in the letter of offer that if I decline the offer, I would still be going to Haj this year. So when I received the letter in March, I have already prepared myself for the trip.

Since my husband didn’t get the offer, we made an appeal for him to be my mahram, or else I can’t go. Within two weeks, we received the reply that his appeal has been accepted. “Phew!” I said.

So from the day we accepted the offer, we becomes focus on our trip. We put aside all the plan to decorate our new house.  We were asked to select whether to go through the travel agencies or through Tabung Haji. We opted to go through Tabung Haji Travels as advised by my brother. He went for his Haj trip last year.

After choosing our prefer destination, Mecca or Madinah first, we were asked to go through medical checkup. I was worried that I might not pass the checked up. But Alhamdulillah, I passed all through with no problem. The doctor was quite surprised to see my results.

After the medical check up, we have to submit our passport for visa, attended the two days intensive course and finally the final practical training at Masjid Sultan Abdul Aziz Salahudin in Shah Alam. The final training was very tiring.

And on 30th October at 8.30am, I would be leaving my kids and fly to Mecca for 32days. I can’t afford to go for 40days or more as I do not have many leave left. I have to take unpaid leave to cover the 30days. Between now until my departure date, I would be busy planning and preparing for the trips. In other words, shopping!

Monday, October 3, 2011

I love to challenge my brain

I love playing games. Any games especially games that challenge my brain. May it be puzzle, Sudoku, Scrabble or the latest craze, Words with Friends.

I guess my interest started when I was young when my dad always brought back home the Scrabble set from the officer mess. I was ten at that time. He thought us the rules and how to play it. With limited vocabularies, my sister and I would sit down with him for hours learning to play the game.

As I become good in the game, I started to play with my brother in law, who has a good command of English, and my older sisters.  Slowly my vocabularies grew, and my loves for scrabble become stronger. After I had gone to college, I stopped playing scrabble until I started working.

My office mates were into scrabbles too, and whenever there was a free time we would play the games. We stopped playing after we were assigned to different projects, and slowly my day of playing  scrabbled ended.

I was lucky that my husband loves scrabble too, but he quit playing against me when he got beaten every time we play. Since then, my only opponent was computer until I found Words with Friend.

I was so excited, and I persuaded my sisters to play with me. It was during second Hari Raya. Instead of visiting relatives, we were busy playing the game. My sisters are good especially Ami. She has beaten me few times, but we have not played for quite some time.

I also enjoyed playing with random opponent.  When I don't have anyone to play with, I would just select random opponent. Some of them really good, and gave a tough fight, but some I just waltzed through them.

I also played with few authors that I know, and oh boy, it was fun and tough. I have to be on top of my game or else, they would slaughter me. Besides having to have a good command of vocabularies, the Words with friends or Scrabble also a strategy game.

The game requires you to think how to defend your scores, and, also how to ensure you didn't open up the opportunity for your opponent to score big against you.  My sister is good in this where she would force me to make a mistake and open up the game.  She would then happily place her tiles at the triple letter and triple scores squares. Hah! I guess it is time to invite her play with me again.

If you do play Words with Friends, please look for me. My username is arzai49, and I welcome any challenge as it helps to improve my vocabularies and my brain.

Salam.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Special gift from special friend

Look at what I have here with me? Isn’t it beautiful? Yes, it’s a gift from my dear friend, BP, for my house warming party last week.

She wanted to come, but she had a major crisis that she needed to attend to. Ahhh…not personal crisis, but system related crisis. Such an important person she is.

She was really looking forward to the party.  In fact, she and her girls were ready to leave the house when she received a call from her staff about the problem. Well, BP next time. Insya Allah.

What do you think the vase is made from? Clay? Nope. You are wrong. When I first saw it, I thought the same, but when I held it, it was very light. Lynda, who was with us, was also surprised when BP told us that it was made from wood.

Now I need to find a place for this beautiful vase. I been thinking of putting it on the coffee table, but I’m scared my kids would use it to keep all the trash in there. So, where do you think I should put it?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

When I was surrounded by.....

Today I took kommuter to go home as I don't have my car with me. Well, I sent my car for service this morning, and I thought that it would be ready by evening. At 3.30pm, the service advisor called me and informed that the brake pad and disc need to be replaced.

Since I have not changed it before, I gave the go ahead, and the moment I said proceed, he told me that the car cannot be ready by today. I called my hubby and told him that I would be taking kommuter home since the car is not ready.

I didn’t leave early knowing that the station would be crowded with people. So I left office late as I want to take the 7.30pm train thinking that there would be less crowded. As I had my teh tarik with Yati, I was thinking of how I would enjoy the quiet ride home, and read my BAD BOYS DO book by Victoria Dahl.

I was surprised. When I went down to platform 6. there were so many people waiting for the train. I was lucky that I didn't have to wait long. I went into the first coach, and it was packed like sardines. I looked around and saw very few women in that coach.

“Where are the women?” I asked myself.

I didn't know what happened to the ladies, until I reached my destination. I found out that  KTM has reserved the middle coach for women only.  Ahhh... No wonder when I looked around, I only saw men. I was in the wrong coach.

My dream to enjoy my book was totally dashed. Instead of reading the delicious Jamie, I was hanging like a monkey, holding to the holder and leaning into the rail. Furthermore, I was carrying my backpack and handbag.

When I reached the UKM's station, I was hoping my hubby would be waiting for me. Again I was disappointed. He was not there, as he has to go to the hospital to send his dad first. Ha ha finally while waiting for my hubby, I could enjoy my little Jamie. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Missing Schoolbag and House Warming Party

Zaki lost his school bag. Could you believe it? Actually he didn’t really lose his schoolbag.  Don’t know what happened on Friday at school that he totally forgot about his schoolbag.

Guess when did he realize it that he didn’t have his school bag? It was on Sunday night when he wanted to do his homework.

Gah! Sunday night! No one in the family has lost or misplaced it before.  The whole Sunday night was spent looking for his schoolbag. Did he worry about it? A little bit. He scared how to tell his teacher about his missing books and bag. I told him no matter what, he still has to go to school and face the teacher.  Finally after searching high and low in the house, he called his grandpa in Seremban, thinking that he might have left it in his grandpa’s car.

Pity the old man! He has to get up from his bed and searched for the bag too. We almost gave up when his grandpa suggested checking with the school’s guard.

Early yesterday morning, my hubby went to his school to ask the guard, and the bag was there the whole weekend waiting to be collected. The guard found the bag and kept it with him. Alhamdulillah for that, otherwise we have to replace the books, and it is not easy to purchase these books because they are loaners and not available in bookstores.

This also will serve him a lesson to  remember his bag.

Oh ya! On Saturday, we had raya open house cum house warming party. It went well, and the food was just enough. Not many leftovers.

Well, the party was to get to know my neighbors. I have move to this new place for almost 10 months, but I didn’t know my neighbors except for my immediate neighbors. So this gave me the opportunity to know them better.

The party was also to celebrate Hari Raya too, and to welcome my families, relatives and friends to my new house. What did I serve them? It was Nasi Minyak, Ayam Masak Merah, Ayam Goreng Berempah, Dalca, Sayur Acar, Satay, fruits and local kuih.

Hah! Could you spot what was missing? No? Yes? Well, there were no Raya cookies there. My kids have eaten almost all the cookies.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Can they cope with the separation?

Finally, I received my flight detail yesterday. Yes, I have been waiting for it for two weeks, and now with the flight detailed in hand, I can breathe easily, and focus on preparing for the trip.

I would be away for 32 days, and my kids would be left behind with their grandparents and with their aunties. I hope they would be able to adapt to that. Their aunties had made some plan for them, and they looked forward to that.

We also did a simulation last weekend. We left them with the grandparents and put Syafiq in charged of his siblings and the house.

We told Syafiq to make sure the brothers and sister do their homework, checked the doors and windows at night, no light on the stove and switched off the lights at night before going to bed.

He did that and text me at 11pm on the status. The two brothers completed their homework while the girl went to bed as usual, and the house was in order. Hah! I felt relieved knowing that I could depend on him.

But being away for a month will be a real challenge to them, especially for the younger two. They are very close to me, and I’m not sure what would be the impact to them later. I can only pray to Allah that nothing wrong with them when I’m away.  Insya Allah.

From now until the day I leave, I would have to prepare them for the separation.  Amir and Zaki seem to understand what I would be doing and where I would be going, but my little girl has not. She thought that I would be going for a short trip, and can come back as and when I want to. I really hope that, by the end of October, she would understand where I would  be and for how long.

So for now, I have to focus on them. Entertain them; spend as much time as possible with them, and slowly explained to them the benefits of this journey and why I have to do it, and pray to Allah that I would attain the Haji Mabrur.  Insya Allah.

May Allah bless us…. Amen.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

When too creative can cause trouble

Aduh hai! Zaki has been very creative. Too creative for me to be proud of.  It is not creative in writing or drawing, but creative in causing trouble.

Well, what did he do? He cut his hair with his scissors. Just a spot on his hair and its not a small either.  It can be clearly seen from far.

I don’t know when he did it, but I do know it was yesterday. Normally we didn’t let him keep the scissor, but because of school works, we gave him expecting that he would cut the pictures and paste it on his books, and not his hair.

When I saw it last night, I was speechless.  He thought he looked good. When I told him that I had to shave his head, he went, “Nooo.”

Luckily, it was just one spot. What happened if it is more than one spot? It would be really disaster.

I don’t know what will be my husband reaction when he sees Zaki’s hair.

It is not the first time he had been creative with scissor. He cut his school uniform pants, his pajamas and few other things. He reminded me of Syafiq at his age. He too cut his school pants, but not his hair.

Because of this creativity, my husband and me didn't want to give them scissors, but most of school works required them to cut and paste pictures. Ugh!! I hope he will not cut Zara's hair because Zara has been complaining about her hair.

Ahh!!! That's the story of my kids. Without them, the house will be quite, and if they are around, my house will be the nosiest in the neighborhood.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Oh! I'm in pain....

I’m on medical leave today. I hurt my backs two weeks ago when I fell down at Ikea.  For two weeks, I was okay until yesterday in the office when I felt slight twitched on my back.

I thought it would go away, but it didn't. The pain had gotten worse last night. I couldn’t move or turn. Every move I made, it hurts. The whole night I didn’t sleep. I guess my husband didn’t either because I made a lot of noise.

And today, I had to walk very slow. It was the slowest walk I ever had because every step I took was very painful. My hubby took me to the Emergency Room at Hospital An-Nur, and the doctor referred me to my Orthopedic Surgeon in Ampang Putri. He gave me painkiller to reduce the pain, but it was not enough as I still felt pain every time I made slight move.

I thought I could use my ING at Ampang Putri, but ING declined saying that Hospital An-Nur is not their panel. I need to go to my normal GP to get my referral letter.

I was stumped. I didn’t go there for fun. I was in great pain, and I need to see a doctor immediately. Since I was in pain, I didn’t want to make any fuss. I just want to see the doctor and get my treatment. I told the receptionist that I would pay myself. However, I would not stop pursuing this with ING, as the cost of the treatment was more than 3 digits.

When I went in to see my doctor, the first questions he asked me, where was the  pain and do I felt any numbness along my leg. I said no numbness just pain. After more than 30 minutes of discussion and lectures, he gave me a bunch of medicines, and one of it, would have caused me nausea, dizziness and drowsiness.

“A-ha,” I said. “Now I know why the last time I felt dizzy every time I took my medicine.

“Yes, it would do that to you, but for only three to four days. So please, don’t stop.”

Ughh!! I hate to take medicines, and the doctor said two of those medicines, I need to take it like, forever. Ahh!!! It reminds me of my dad and mom and their medicines’ boxes.

Oh yea! On the brighter side, I was given four days of MC...Yeah!!!

Monday, September 19, 2011

A weekend at Masjid Sultan salahuddin Abdul Aziz

I was away with my husband during the weekend for 2 days 1 night stays. It was not a vacation. We attended the final practical training for our upcoming Haj trip in October.

The event was held at the Masjid Sultan Salahudin Abd Aziz in Shah Alam. There were 4,000 plus people attended to the event. Well, the training was actually a simulation for all the rites that we have to perform there. It is also a good training for my children to adapt themselves to be without us for a month.

The training started from 2pm, and during the registration, we were divided into 8 big groups. Every one was asked to wear ihram, and for the men, they have to wear. It is jus a simple two pieces of white cloth which has no stitches on it. The organizing committee kicked off the day, and after the Asar prayer, the practical training started.

The first training was Tawaf, circling of Kaabah, seven times. It was about what do we need to do and what kind of prayer do we need to cite. Wow! I was sweating especially, and by the time I reached the final laps I was very happy.

From Tawaf, we did a practice on Saie. It is another 7 laps of walking between two distances, which is known as Bukit Safa and Marwah. I did okay here too, and I was glad that my knee and my back didn’t cause any problem.

After the training, the leader answered questions from the group before we break for dinner. Ah, Dinner! We have to collect it under the tent where it was packed in a container. It was rice with fried fish, beef curry and one vegetables. I didn't finish mine as I was too tired to eat.

I took the opportunity to take my bath, which I was glad to. There were a limited number of shower stalls, and I have to queue for 20 minutes. The event continued after the Isyak prayer with a forum and followed up by more practical.

I started to feel pain in my back, and I told my hubby that I needed to sit. At that time, it was 12 midnight already and to end the night, we were given coffee or tea before calling it a night.

Hmmm… I wonder where to sleep since so many people. Some slept in the mosque, some around the corridor and for us; it was near the escalator at the main entrance. There were not so many people there. Before that, there was an announcement made that the next event would start at 4am in the morning.

Well, it was a challenge actually to sleep. First, I’m not used to sleep without pillow, and secondly my back and legs started to hurt. In fact, I had difficulty to sleep that night, and I don’t know when I finally slept.

When I got up, it was almost 3am, and I quickly took my things to the toilet again. Whoa… there were so many people already there. I had to wait for 45min before I can have my shower again.

The second day event started with qiamullai and followed by the morning prayer. After the prayer, we met again at the lower level of the mosque to continue with the second day activities. I was not really looking forward to as my back was getting really painful.

When they announced that there’s a change in the plan, where it would be replaced with Q&A session instead of practical training, I was relief. The Q&A was done very well, and any doubts and things which we were not clear, were addressed by panels of experts.

After the breakfast session, we continued with the session. It was basically, a feedback session where the head of the programs, provided feedback based on the observation made.

The event ended at 11.30, and the closing ceremony was graced by the Tunku Panglima Besar who represented the Sultan of Selangor.

By the time we reached home, it had been 1pm, and the kids were very happy to see us. After spending 20 minutes with them, I took my nap. It was the longest nap. Four hours of sleep.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Funny faces and pictures

There is an application on iPad2 called Photo Booth that my kids love to play with, and it produced funny looking pictures. The application can produced 9 different pictures, and you just have to select which version you want to capture.

Eventhough there are nine type, my kids love to take their picture using the stretch and the squeeze methods. Here is how they look like using the squeeze...


Zaki with his alien's look. Look at his happy face and his big head, small nose and small mouth. Will you run if you see him at night?

Wow...he really has a big head. In fact, he can share his brothers' songkok.

 Zara an alien girl. I can't see her mouth, but it is there. She looked happy here because she got my iPad. Sneaked it out from my room. Hah.. she's the only girl, and my hubby little princess....

Syafiq looks like a cartoon - using the stretch mode. A sad looking boy... with a big eyes, big nose... Ahh... he was taking a break from his study. Yup, he still has a few more papers to go through in his trial exam...


Amir with a stretch option too... He looks like a happy boy, big mouth, big nose and big eyes. He loves to laugh, and his laughter can be contiguous.

I have a lot more of their pictures either in squeeze, stretches or twirls. Sometimes when I need a good laugh, I would look at these pictures. It never fails to tickle me.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Zara and her Hari Raya gathering

Zara had a Hari Raya gathering at her school today. She had been looking forward for this since the teacher told her last week. When she got the letter on Monday, she called me and asked her brother to read the letter to me.

And when I reached home on Monday night, she was waiting for me with the letter. The moment, I sat down she showed me the letter, and asked me to read it there and then. She was very excited about the gathering.

She already planned what she wanted to bring and wear. Last night, before she went to bed, she told me that she wanted to bring nugget. “Nugget?” I said as I planned to pack curry puff for her, and she nodded. I try to convince her to bring curry puff, but she refused to budge.

So this morning, I fulfilled her wish. I fried the nuggets for her, and while I was frying it, she came down. Wow! I was surprised because it would normally be difficult to get her up for school. Usually there will be lots of drama.

She also told me that she wanted to wear the new baju kurung. Her dad gave her the old baju kurung, and she refused to wear. Her argument is that teacher said everyone must wear the new baju kurung. She defied her dad, and went to her wardrobe, and took out the new baju kurung. Her dad just shook his head.

Don’t you ever wonder that our kids listen more to the teacher than us? Every single word that came out from the teacher’s mouth sound like a law. If I said the teacher was wrong, she would defend the teacher. That’s how loyal she is to the teacher. It is not only her, but the rest of my kids too.   That’s why, teachers have to be careful what they said and do.

When I came home tonight, she updated me on the gathering. She was happy because her nuggets were very popular among the kids. She further said it was fun, and there's a lot of activities.

Haha…I bet school would not be fun anymore next week, and the drama would definitely continue, again tomorrow morning.