A thank you note

What I recall about mom, back when she’s of the same age as me today.

Year: Summer of 1985 (if I calculated correctly, back then I was quite an ace in mathematics)
Place: Most probably living out of suitcase at the Beach Hotel, Tripoli, Libya

A diplomat’s wife having just arrived in a very foreign land and maybe harsh environment which is very much different from her motherland / homeland (I do not want to be accused of being gender biased here). I doubt it was easy for her; however, she somehow made the easy transition from a working woman to a full time housewife / homemaker! That’s not an easy feat, I assure you, for someone who spends her time in front of the screen from 9-5, 6 days a week (that’s part of the life of a computer programmer). What more, with a difficult child by her side who is as hardheaded as one could imagine!

There’s so much time on our side, so mom took me on a “journey” of getting to know each other. All this while I knew her as a disciplinarian (she got that from my grandpa, a policeman), not much of a doting mother. She has always been very strict and stern that whenever my cousin and I hear the car door being slammed, we practically dropped whatever we do (shut off the TV) and ran to the bathroom to have our bath. Mom is very particular about our study schedule / timetable. We have to be all cleaned up by 6 @ 7, dinner, homework and revision, rest for a short while to catch our fave show on TV be it Air Wolf @ 21 Jump Street and off to bed (all in that order)! While on weekends our time was spent at the library or art lessons.

While in Libya, I used to watch her cook or bake and even help her do the chores as we often had visitors coming over for tea or dinner. She’s one fine cook, too bad I don’t inherit her “talents”! However, I discovered the joy of travel through my mom. She’s inquisitive and unafraid to travel on her own and to explore the unknown. She doesn’t mind visiting the slums in India, to see firsthand the condition of the schools there or to the government owned schools in Libya (high school students in their military uniform etc.). I guess she would have been a great Minister of Education, if she ever was interested in politics, but as we all know politics is dirty!

Well, yes, that’s my mom. She doesn’t lavish me with gifts or pamper me but she surely lavish me with knowledge, instilled in me the discipline that has shaped me into who I am today. I may not be the perfect child or individual, but I am ME and I am thankful for my parents, who have supported and encouraged me over the years. I could not ask for a BETTER TEACHER.

Thank you, mama!

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…missing my varsity life?

What do I miss? My alma mater or my lecturers or my courses or the friends I made? Actually, I miss all the fun things we did together! How young and “innocent” we were then!

I remember vividly the day we first met, all innocent, cleaned up and raring to start a new chapter in our lives. A week passed by, then a month, our lives unfold before us. We’ve blossomed into young adults, in search of our own identity. You’d recognize us from a far, in our checkered shirts, Levi’s or CK jeans, boots or leather sandals and JanSport knapsack which slowly evolves into dresses or  skirts with fitted t-shirts or blouses and sling bags (towards the end of our undergrad / senior years).

Remember this, and what we did later?

Remember the days when:

  1. we went on a study/field trip to the National Art Gallery/ the then Balai Seni Lukis Negara (overlooking the the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station) and decided to skip / ditch our evening class!
  2. traveled all the way to Lot 10, to get them free 98° concert tickets (did we play truant again? I can’t recall!) or some other bands! Back then it was the Corrs, BSB etc.
  3. catch a movie marathon at Sunway Pyramid, until we went giddy with hunger!
  4. sneaked out to catch a concert at Sunway Lagoon
  5. go on blind dates for God knows how many times!
  6. spend all your waking time on mIRC Chat Room (what a waste of time!)
  7. ….too many to remember…
  8. oh yeah, stalking your CRUSH! … Damn, those were the days! The dumb things we do! LOL
  9. But, one thing which I will always remember = our Pre-ESL Nite!
Those were the days, when we were young =)

Care to share what you missed most? I can’t list them all here….if I do, I’m afraid I won’t be able to stop! See….

Istanbul: A Recollection

Thank you, Bobby Chinn, for your show “World Cafe Middle East: Istanbul” has brought back memories of my short trip to Istanbul!

The places you’ve been, the food you’ve tasted, the people you’ve met & the culture you’ve experienced instantly took me back to the early Winter of 2005! I never imagined myself setting foot and breathing in the air of the once famous and fearless Byzantine Empire as well as the birth of the every powerful Ottoman Empire!

Istanbul is a mixture of the old and the new, the modern and the traditional, of European and Asian, the religious and the liberal, just look all around you. It’s a melting pot of culture! Why not? It connects the East to the West or specifically, Europe to Asia or vice versa!

Istanbul is rich with History and Culture, you’ll find historical sites within distance of each other. Sites left by the Romans, such as the Basilica Cistern that lie beneath the city itself, not far from the Hagia Sophia, which is within walking distance to the the Sultan Ahmad Camii or also famously known as the Blue Mosque for the blue tiles inlaid in its interior. If time permits, spare some Turkish Lira YTL and go on a tour of the Topkapi Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit its many chambers from harems to stables and galleries. Immerse yourself with history, transport yourself back to the Ottoman Period. Imagine what would’ve become of you, if you’ve lived then!

If you love culture, go ahead and experience Turkish dance and tradition at the Orient House, Best Western Hotel. Catch the belly dancing, whirling dervishes and enjoy Turkish cuisine at the same time! It’s quite an easy place to locate if you’re staying within the area of the Old City of Istanbul. Just 5 minutes walk from the Grand Bazaar and the other historical places! I remember it took us about 15 minutes walk from the Royal Hotel, Laleli, Istanbul to reach our destination! In fact, Istanbul is pretty safe compared to Madrid, as we were always reminded/warned about pick pockets! So far, we’re pretty lucky!

Another must not miss place to visit is the Galata Tower, built on a hill across the Bosphorus River. An ancient Tower with a restaurant on its upper floor which provides visitor with a 360 view of Istanbul and its surroundings! Go ahead and try to locate the Hagia Sophia, the Queen’s Mosque, the Goldern Horn etc. Down below, explore the avenues of Istanbul. As for me, I found İstiklâl Caddesi by accident. We were being adventurous or maybe brave or actually a little thrifty by deciding to walk back to our hotel! It looks simple from the top of the tower, imagining the route to take home, it didn’t look far either! In actuality, it wasn’t far! Anyway, we took the stairs, no it was the lift down. Bought some souvenirs from the Galata Tower Shop including a pair of evil-eye earrings (which I’ve lost during my 1st trip to Japan). Walked down an avenue, turn a few corners and realized that we’ve lost our way! Somehow, God must be on our side, we took a turn or maybe two and found the main street with shops and restaurants the whole stretch. With the number of people going through it, we’re confident we’re on the right track. In fact, we stopped by a few places to get Turkish Silk Scarves for me and Turkish Glassware by their ever famous glass maker, Pasabahce and then stop for lunch since we’re famished from all the adventure! Sated, we made a move and found ourselves at Taksim Square and realized we had just left İstiklâl Caddesi, one of the famous avenues of Istanbul! I guess that’s what you call adventure!

Oh by the way, we managed to hail a cab back to the Grand Bazaar before heading home, oops hotel! I felt right at home, here…damn, there! What more can you ask for? The warm Turkish Apple Tea, the fresh bread, Turkish Delights to spoil you, and obviously the beautiful people and the culture and heritage!

Galata Tower from across the Bosphorus
A bird's eye view from the top of the Galata Tower

Remember this?

 

Adnan wa Lina (Adnan and Lina) @ Future Boy Conan, what ever the title may be it is a cartoon produced by a Japanese Animation Company and was shown in Libya back in the mid 80’s.

It is set in mid 2008, humankind were at war (how ironic) which has brought destruction to Earth. Escape was near impossible, only a few managed to survive when their spaceship landed on an island . Years gone by and a boy was born by the name of Conan @ Adnan, one of the two inhabitants of the island left. The other is his grandfather. Not long after he meets a girl by the name of Lana @ Lina and their adventure begins from that moment. (Is this what he (the creator) sees? The end of the Earth, end of human race?)

It was translated into Arabic and I did watch all 26 episodes without fail, although my understanding of the language was next to none. I wasn’t the only one at home who was hooked on the show. So were my parents. Partly because there were limited programs to watch or aired then besides the daily propaganda. We recorded the cartoon and hope to share the great storyline with family members once we return to our motherland. The series was indeed a hit!

 

20 years has passed, it is still being aired and watched by millions (including my dad who is watching it right this moment on Animax, in English this time) all across the globe. It still manages to grab the interest of its audience of all ages and languages.

Memories … for Romana

What’s left with me are only memories, the objects can no longer be seen or found. Most have disappeared with time and travels. What’s left are only the vivid scenes in my mind and heart. How I dream to turn back time and gather all my belongings which I may have discarded on my journey home. Life taken for granted, thinking one will come back one day, how ungrateful one can be!

Memories … what’s left of it …

 

Where art thou?

The OCS Alumni web page is currently unaccessible due to some unforeseen reasons, it has been difficult for us to stay & keep in touch with the rest of the Alumni. The last news or message I’ve heard was from Reem Ben Halim aka Ocsgal. Reem, I’ve replied to your message, hope you’ll have a nice trip back to Libya. Do remember to snap a lot of pics of the school and Tripoli if or when you have the time. Plus if you do meet up with any of our friends or ex-teachers, do send them my regards.

What about the rest?

  • Üner – he is lecturing in Greece
  • Lana, Ban, Erin, Dimple Shah – in the UK
  • Arvind & Parisa are in the States
  • Timur – in Egypt
  • Asim – back in Pakistan
  • David – in Sweden
  • Yakub – Turkey
  • Cristina – Switzerland
  • Omar, Sheba – Canada
  • Dong Young – Korea?
  • Reem – Norway
  • Evelyna & Turis – Malaysia

MIA:

Ferial, Claire, Sevgi, Miroslav, Mikko, Hana Hilal, Hana Nafati, Ursula, Aeysha, Riham, Awet.

We’ve missed:

Elena Gent – You will always be remembered.