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.
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.
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
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
George Bernard Shaw