Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Child's Hug

Everything has its end. I knew the time will come but I didn't expect it to be very emotional for me. My wife and son have been staying with me for more than 3 months and last night they have to leave for Kuala Lumpur as my wife's school term will start before a long holiday in December.

So after an early dinner I sat on the sofa and watched TV. My son suddenly came to sit besides me and we watched TV together. This was one of those rare occasions when he wanted to watch TV together instead of jumping and playing around the house. So I just started talking to him about what he was going to do that night, going to the airport, flying to Kuala Lumpur, behaving good in my absence, listening to mama, meeting Atuk and Nenek and he occasionally repeated the words I said like aeroplane, Atuk and Nenek. I just talked to him and didn't expect him to understand anything at all. It was just talking, to get him occupied with me.

But I underestimated my son. He actually understood. He started to calm down and looked up to my face when I was talking to him. He rested his head on my arm and hugged me. He never acted like that before ! I was so surprised and touched.

I stopped talking and patted his back. I didn't know what to say, I just lost for words. My ego and macho armour as a man and a father slowly melted down like an ice cream. It felt awkward. For a moment, I tried very hard to hold my tears by swallowing my saliva and focusing on a scene in TV, but it was hard. Tears brimmed quickly in my eyes !

I just could not hold it anymore when my wife came out from the bedroom and looked at me hugged by my son like that. Drops of tears slowly fell from my eyes. I tried to talk to my wife but I was so overwhelmed with my emotions. I never experienced this feeling before ! I never felt so touched, never by a man that small.

My wife whispered to me that I shouldn't be too sad as they will come back after a month. I wanted to say 'Yes, I know' but the more I opened my mouth, the greater the emotions. My lips just trembled and oozed some inaudible words. Finally I just succumbed to the feeling and let it takes over everything. My wife understood and quickly snapped a few pictures of us.

I was stunned not just for the fact my son understood the situation but because of his simple and honest gesture of hugging me. It was the very right response. I didn't expect it to come at all.

My son finally fell asleep on my chest, letting his father to deal with his newly found emotion.

It was my first cry for the love of a son. I felt embarassed at first (for shedding tears) but eventually felt very natural. It was indeed a lesson of life and fatherhood. And I praised God for the wonderful feeling.

I love my little man.

I was speechless

My, life is tough sometimes

"It is a child's hug that permeates our soul and thus we are graced"

Salvador G. Valdez

Sunday, October 18, 2009


After a year in Dubai I can say that I feel more confident about my career in this country. My law firm is not badly affected by the economic crisis as our litigation practice is booming. I am also becoming busy day by day, with banks and clients trying to make money out of new deals and products post 2008 crisis. Everybody is talking about recovery and becoming wiser for the years ahead. World economy is speeding up as peoples feel better to spend again.

To mark my first anniversary in Dubai, I decided to buy myself a car. This has been a plan since my arrival here but because of the economic crisis, I put it on hold for fear of being laid off. All this while I rented a basic sedan car (Toyota Yaris)which cost me AED1800 a month. That is double than what I paid for my car in Malaysia which is of the same model (Toyota Vios).

Now I have settled with a new set of wheels which is more comfortable and within the same budget. Presenting Dodge Nitro SXT 2009. It's a truck based-SUV and pretty much share the same specs with the new Jeep Cherokee. Equipped with 2W and 4W drive capability, I think it answers my dream of driving a 4x4 on a desert. I has the look, safety features, 6 CD changers and big cargo area. The only setback, are that it's quite thirsty (of course la) and the headroom is tight (same like hummer). But the overall good factor, I bought it after 10k discount as a last Ramadhan promotion stock. Ok la.

One thing for sure, no matter how cool my car here, I can never own it forever because the car is a left hand drive and too expensive to be exported to home. I can only enjoy it when I am here. At the end of the day, it is the same like renting a car only that I get a better one.

Talking about cars, when I was in UK, I found it interesting that the British don't really bother to drive big fast cars. Everybody drives a small compact car (I think Perodua Kancil can have a good market in UK, why there are not there?). But in Dubai, the automotive trend calls for big super cars. Almost 70% of cars in UAE are four wheel drive cars. It gives an advantage when one have to drive on the desert sometimes. It also works as effective armour when one is driving in the fast Dubai superhighways and busy Sharjah streets.

In the meantime I have passed two licences in Dubai, one for driving car and another for riding motorcycle. It has been a challenging experiences for me to obtain these licences starting from the costs up to passing it through. Thank God, I passed both licences with only one test. I am saving some moneys now to buy my dream motorcycle. I have to be careful though not to incur more debts as it will defeat the purpose of working here. But purchasing that life-dream motorcycle is a great motivation for my struggle in this dusty city. The price of my dream motorcycle in Dubai is 3 times cheaper than the price in Malaysia. One good point is, I can export the motorcylce to Malaysia at a reasonable tax in the future. It also has a high second hand value in Dubai and Malaysia. This is a dream which makes me smile whenever I wake up for another day.

Also, my wife and I have been making a lot of friends lately and becoming closer to the ones we knew, which is a greater thing to a social animal like me. Friendship takes time, effort and reciprocity. Life would be meaningful if we can share it with peoples who listen and care. My wife and I are so eager to get to know our new friends and understand their interesting lives that sometimes we have to remind ourselves that our new friends may need more times to accept us in their circles. At the same time, we are keeping close watch on our friends in Facebook. It is a great feeling when I can laugh to tears in front of a laptop looking at pictures and leaving comments to my FB friends.

Winter is approaching and that means a season of outdoor and social activities in the Middle East. Cafes and restaurants have opened up their summer curtains and arranged their chairs and tables on the pavement, alfresco style. Peoples bought air tickets and booked hotel rooms to bring in families and friends. Birds have started their long journey to escape the harsher winter in the western and northern hemisphere. My mind now is busy thinking how to make it merrier and busier than the last year.

Yeah...I am open for any invitation, friends !

I like the look of the front fender..tough !

It's a truck

The front grills

The Horns !

Grab Life by the Horns !


Monday, October 12, 2009

It Has Been A Year

It has been a year since I missed my first flight to Dubai and boarded another flight on the next day. It has been 52 weeks since My First Day In The Office. It has been 365 days since I looked in amazement at the snowy Ski Dubai, the wide Sheikh Zayed Road , the air-conditioned bus stop and the tall Burj Dubai. It has been 12 months since I winded my watch to be 4 hours behind Malaysia's time. Yes, it has been a year...for today marks the First Anniversary of my life in Dubai.

This morning I woke up feeling very refreshed after a good night sleep. My wife was still sleeping besides me. Adrin was also sleeping but has moved 360 degrees from the position I placed him last night. I got out to my dusty balcony and looked at the workers constructing a building near my apartment. A building which blocked half of my view to the neighbourhood. I focused my view to the left of the building and felt relief to see a blurry image of a row of highrise and Burj Dubai Tower guarding the Sheikh Zayed Road under it. I smiled.

chilling in Jumeira beach

Time flies very fast. I still could recap the feeling of dilemma and confusion on 12 October 2008. I analysed it for a while and concluded I was not confused anymore. I knew my way around in Dubai. I felt at home when I arrived Dubai from my UK trip about 2 weeks ago. I am used to the extremity of weather between a hot 48 degrees to 16 degrees celcius. I bought a new vehicle last week. I have been back to Kuala Lumpur twice for the past 12 months. I played my first musical show last weekend. Most importantly I got my family and friends here in Dubai.

View of Sheikh Zayed Road from Metro Station bridge

The past one year has taught me a lot and opened my mind up to a new horizon. I learned about survival, integrity, hardwork, respect, honesty, friendship and family values. I am very grateful to Allah for giving me opportunity to experience a life like this. At the same time I feel ashamed that I have not done enough to show my gratitude to Him.

View of Dubai Creek from Dubai International Arbitration Centre office

I look forward to do more in life and even more for Him. I prayed that my happiness and joy are not a prelude to something worse in the days to come. I prayed that I will never forget my purposes, responsibilities and more importantly my path to Him. Moving forward I will try very hard to be better as a Muslim, a husband, a father, a son, a relative, a brother, a colleague, a friend, a lawyer, a musician and a person.

My wife and son will leave for Kuala Lumpur in another 1 week. They will come back after a month together with my parents, brother and his friends to enjoy winter with me in Dubai. I hope they will enjoy their trip and my company soon Inshallah.

Now that I had survived a year and breathing. So lets do it for another year...Yeah !



Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lands Above the Wind - part 1

Just after I thought that the summer was over when the first stream of cold water ran through my body this morning, it slowly felt lukewarm and warmer and warmer and hot ! But it is not a bad thing, really..I like summer. It's just that I am having a mild flu right now and kept telling my wife that it was an indicator for a change of climate in Dubai. So I was hoping I was right.

Anyway talking about summer, let me share some exciting trips that I have done recently. For the first time in my life I celebrated Eid-ul-Fitri outside Malaysia this year. To commemorate this, I have decided to go a further mile. Whilst Malaysians in UAE packing their bags to come home to Malaysia, I dragged my wife and son to fly to the Lands Above the Wind (translate in Malay - negeri di atas angin). In Malay folk literature, Lands Above the Wind refer to the European continent. To be exact, my family and I celebrated our Eid in 3 countries - Scotland, England and France.

The idea of visiting Britain has been stuck at the back of my head for quite some time. I thought I would be able to do it when I was about to retire. This was when I was working in Kuala Lumpur. But ever since I worked in Dubai, I realised how achievable the idea was, considering the geographical location of Dubai and hence the affordable airfares. It was also fueled by the opportunity that my good friend Zulkifli Hasan is studying in Durham and offered to be the host for my visit at anytime. Well, I took his invitation at "anytime" literally and decided to go there during Raya.

Coincidentally one of my younger triplet brothers got accepted to study in School of Pharmacy, University of London. His arrival in London also happened on a day earlier than my booked flight. So it was all a happy good plan for me.

Zulkifli Hasan and his family have been a great host during our stay. He basically arranged everything for me, from his house, hotels, train tickets, my rental car and even my own navigator which he managed to bid and bought in ebay, days before my arrival. May Allah bless him and his family with all the good things in this world.

It was on 18 September 2009 when we landed in Newcastle International Airport. It was 7 days after the anniversary of September 11. I was prepared to be stripped naked in the airport, in a worst case scenario. Not that I have ever been in the black list, but my skeptic brain was worried on the fact that my passport has never gone through any western security system before, so who knows..But to my relief, Newcastle International Airport was such a quiet airport. After we filled up the visa form, my wife and I noticed that we were the last persons to approach the immigration counter. In fact the corridor lights were being switched off behind us whilst we were walking towards the immigration counter. When we got out from the airport, Zul and my brother were waiting for us and the weather was at a cool 14 degrees Celsius. Nice !

We were greeted by the sight of greens and hills planted with grass on our way to Zul's house. Zul lives in Bowburn. He calls it Kampung Bowburn. It is actually a residential area next to Durham University. My first impression of Bowburn was a quiet and peaceful old residential estate. Besides the local whites, it was populated by students with families like Zul. After Iftar and Isha' I felt so tired and skipped my chance to pray Terawih in UK for a cold bed. I was trying to close my eyes when it became so apparent to me that the area was so quiet that I could hear buzzing sound in my ears. Dubai must have been a very noisy place.

The next day was the last day of Ramadhan. Again we planned for something special. Equipped with a hired Ford Focus and a navigator, I drove to Edinburgh, Scotland. The journey took me about 4 hours. It was worth every penny I paid for the expensive British petrol (GBP20.00 for not even half tank !). We enjoyed the clear air, cloudy/sunny day and the magnificent English countrysides. In some parts of the places I saw, it resembled the houses and areas in some old places in Malaysia, especially Ipoh and Taiping. It could be these places were landscaped during the colonial era to look just like home by the British architects. I was surprised I didn't sleep at all during the entire journey.

Peoples in the street at the foot of the Castle's hill

Edinburgh Castle

In Edinburgh, we were more excited. The whole city looked like a film set to me. I have never seen any city like it before. Every structure in this city was older than a hundred years. I imagined what my forefathers were doing when the Scottish built this city slowly. Our first visit was the Edinburgh Castle. The castle was situated on a rock hill overlooking the sea. The hill itself was a very ancient habitat for men dating back 850 BC. Oh yeah not to forget, in this city I got the chance to see men in mini skirt. The Scottish's traditional costume are a cashmere shirt and tartan kilt. A tartan kilt is made of a heavyweight cashmere. The design on the kilt represent a clan in Scottish society. In this clan aspect I share the same tradition with the Scottish. For I come from a Mandailing clan of Nasution ! After the castle we stroll along the Road Mile, a street in Edinburgh which ends on a seashore. Very nice. But we didn't complete the entire street to its end as we have to ruch back home for the last Iftar.

Wife, Adrin and me strolling along Road Mile

Zul and me

On our way back, we detoured to Alnwick Castle. I have never heard about this castle before but Zul's wife, Nani explained that this castle's other popular name is Hogwarth School which none other than the school of Mr Harry Porter in that kids' movie. It was a majestic building and we snapped a lot of pictures for our Facebooks...hehe

Alnwick Castle

We reached home on time for our last Iftar for the Ramadhan 1430H. It was sad to say goodbye to this holy month. I never knew for sure whether I can see Ramadhan again next year. Nevertheless, I told myself this whilst sipping my hot tea..."Edinburgh, been there, done that..Alhamdulillah..burrpppp".

To be continued...

I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad

George Bernard Shaw


Related Posts with Thumbnails