Thursday, December 29, 2011

Say what you mean

I think I have lost count of the life lessons I learn from Hamoodi. Here is another one. I can't believe there are moments of me being such a girl - the saying one thing but meaning another thing part.

Hamoodi: Why did you come to the camera shop with me?
Me: Because I want to learn photography!
Hamoodi: ... Not because of me?
Me: .... And also because of you.
Hamoodi: You don't have to say that if you don't want to.
Me: What do you mean by that?
Hamoodi: You don't care about me.
Me: What?! How could you say that? Of course I care about you!
Hamoodi: But you did it for your own benefit, not for me. You are selfish.
Me: Well, I said that because I don't want to sound like I am your hero, that you cannot communicate with people without me helping you.
Hamoodi: But I do need your help. Why couldn't you just say you went there to help me?
Me: Because I don't want you to feel like I am doing you a favour by going to the shop with you. I went with you not because I wanted to help you. But because I like to spend time with you, talk to you and stuff. I don't want you to thank me for that.
Hamoodi: But I did say 'thank you'.
Me: Exactly what I don't want you to do. I don't want you to feel like you owe me. So I lied. Fine, I am sorry. I should have told you that I went there because I cared about you, that I worried that the boss may not understand you the way I do. Do you really think that I like photography? If I like photography that much I could have bought my own camera and stuff.
Hamoodi: Then why didn't you just tell me this the first time I asked you?
Me: Because... *declared defeat* Because girls say things that they don't mean! You have to listen in between the words we say to get what we say.

To cut things short, we resolved our conflicts :) I am glad that we talk things out. Effective communication and attentive listening are very important in a relationship, any kind of relationship. The more a person means to us, the more reasons for us to communicate properly to ensure we stay the same page and understand each other better.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Can't wait!

Hamoodi: So we will be exchanging gifts on Christmas day, ya?
Me, totally puzzled: 'Exchanging' gift?
Hamoodi: Yes, on the 25th! :)
Me: But I've given you your gift! Do you remember that gingerbread man?
Hamoodi: No, Christmas gift must only be given on Christmas day.
Me: =.=

I need to have a word with whoever comes up with this 'rule'. It's not the matter of shopping for Christmas gift (again). Friends who know me well will understand that it's always a torture for me to buy a gift and KEEP IT till a particular special day then only I get to give it to the recipient.

Christmas faster come! :)

Friday, December 16, 2011


I just read Sweek's blogpost about re-connecting with people. It reminds me of an incident happened recently which also reminded me on this issue.

There is a friend whom I become close with, and share a lot of concerns and secrets with, too. But we don't get to have long chats everyday, you see. Both of us are busy with our own life and having different group of friends doesn't help the situation.

There was once, I really wished to talk to someone about something happened that day. That friend of mine is an ideal candidate because he's known the background of the issue, I don't have to start all over about it. I went to him, but he was in the middle of something, and he asked me to wait. I told him that I only needed a little of his time. But I waited nonetheless.

When he was done, he came to me, as promised. He told me he didn't want to just give me 10 minutes to let me 'get it over with'. Because he needs me more than I need him. I didn't understand, so I listened.

Only then I realised there had been many things he wanted to tell me but was put on hold because we were both busy. And those were the things he didn't tell anyone - not his friends, not his roommate, not even to his family members (for some valid reasons). I guess the reason he only told me was similar, that he didn't have to start all over with the background and everything surrounding the issues, and the fact that I am a neutral third party that will not affect his social life because we have different group of friends.

The point here is, little did I know a pair of listening ears were needed. I thought I was a disturbance to him, to want to tell him things as vague as emotional feeling, my tensed and frustrating day at work, my dilemma, and so on, at the time he was busy, late at night. I re-learnt that a relationship needs effort from both (or more) friends to maintain it. If you don't have time, then MAKE time for each other, and really spend quality time with each other, not just 'touch and go', 'just to inform'. It shouldn't be just me dumping my issues to him and not expecting him to do the same, assuming his life is all rosy and smooth.

In the end, we talked to each other till 3am. Neither of us realised time passed so fast that we only had 4.5 hours left to sleep. But it was worth it. Burden was liften up. We were re-connected. And the best part was, this was not done virtually.

Face-to-face conversation is always the best, if we can afford it. The sad thing about current society is, even when we can enjoy the human touch for a conversation, we choose to bury our heads at phones and tablets and have conversation over the virtual world. Have you ever seen a group of friends, or even a family, sit around the dining table, not talking to each other but was busy with their gadgets in their hands? That's what I meant.

Of course I wish all my friends have life that is peaceful. But have I been sending silent message that I do not want people to come and talk to me about their trouble? I think I need to take the initiative to show that I do care for the people around me.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Things to ponder this Christmas

Last night, Hamoodi and Hemo had their friends come over for some home cook Arabic dinner. They started their cooking at 11:30PM. Neither of the above sentences is a lie :)

I was excited at this because
1. I got to taste Arabic food!
2. it was really impressive to watch 4 guys cook!

They let me help them to wash the rice. That's all. They did all the peeling and grating carrots, chopping beef, slicing tomatoes, squeezing lemon, washing, and the cooking of the sauce. I thought I was only going to observe how they cooked it and go to bed. But I couldn't sleep because I wondered about the end product. So I stayed up and waited with them. And in the end, I ate with them, at 3AM. What an experience!

As I was talking to Mahmoud, one of their friends, I realise that many of the impression we get from media about conservative Arabic countries are twisted. But I am not sure if they actually know what is written about them in those mainstream media, because they have relatively poor English. That is what worries me - if it is wrongly portrayed with intention, neither the subject nor reader will know. And that is probably why the gap between us is getting wider and mutual understanding seems like a fairy tale.

For example, women were not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia (I think they recently passed a law to allow women to drive). It's actually a privilege for the women because they get to be chauffered around by the men. And as a son, if his mother asks him to drive her (sometimes the sisters may come along too) to shopping mall, they cannot say no to their mother. If their sister wants to go out but he is not free, she still has other brothers to go to. Generally they have big families. In some cases, even if the guys dislike going to shopping mall, they will still send the women there upon request, and the guys will stay in the car while waiting for the ladies to finish their shopping. Only a tiny percentage of women demanded for freedom to drive while the rest accepted the culture well.

They agree that their country gives little freedom to the people. But those restrictions are there for a good reason. Take alcoholism. Yes they don't have the freedom to drink. But they think it is a good ban to begin with. Because drinking alcohol is bad for health, not to mention it is ultimately a sin in their religion. Period.

I always thought Arabic countries will take their stand to help the Palestinians at anyway possible. I was wrong. It is easier for them to come to Malaysia than to travel to other Arab countries, he said. For some of them: Palestinians who were born and raised in Saudi Arabia are not considered as citizen in either country. First is because Palestine is not a recognised country so Palestine does not have 'citizens'. Second is because, well, the other Arab countries don't really welcome them. In Mahmoud's case, he gets to come to Malaysia with a passport he receives from Egyptian government with a blank space at the nationality column. And strange enough, even though the passport is from Egyptian government, the latter itself does not appprove the validity of the passport.

And about Taliban. Taliban is everywhere, he said. And the reason the Taliban will always exist because each of the member has lost their father or brother or son to the American soldiers. They're in to 'kill those who kill'. Say, if a village was bombed by the American soldiers and someone lost his father during the casualty, he will want to join the Taliban to fight back. And if he dies in the war, his brother will want to join the Taliban to revenge for his brother and father. And the US will add more troops because the Taliban is still there and kicking. It is a vicious cycle. If only forgiveness, reconciliation, mutual respect and understanding come easy for both parties.

It is something very relevant to ponder upon and pray about especially during this Christmas. Don't you think so?

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Hamoodi and Hemo have never eaten ginger bread man. They have only seen it in TV. So is their Christmas experience. I have had quite decent Christmas celebration in recent years. Yet I realise neither have I tried any gingerbread man before, even though I did read about the runaway gingerbread man during my childhood.

When Hamoodi asked me about gingerbread man, I thought they can be easily found in most bakeries, even during normal time of the year. I honestly didn't relate them with Christmas until Szuchen suggested that it should be easier to find it now because of the festive season.

At the end, when I was about to give up searching for it in Empire, the relatively higher end shopping mall in my area, I found it in Coffee Bean! I thought I saw bright spotlight illuminating the basket of ginger bread man on the counter when I stepped into the cafe.

So I bought one for each of them. When I whisked out their advanced Christmas gift from my shopping bag to show them, their expression was priceless! Yeah, I do have 2 kids in my house :) The best moment was when they excitedly cleaned their study table and laid the two gifts nicely on it to take pictures of them. I still find it really amusing and adorable. Things that I take for granted, such as celebrating Christmas, is actually something new to them.

Of course I do hope they will understand the reason behind such celebration, which is our Father who loves us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us, so that we shall no longer be separated from Him by sin. Christmas is more than just buying gifts or fancy decoration or even roast turkey for dinner. It's the spirit of generosity and care, forgiveness and thanksgiving, with love.

It is through them that I rediscover the joy of Christmas. I am still trying to fast for Christmas, as I spend my lunch time praying and reflecting about Christmas. An ideal Christmas would be sharing this message of love and warmth of this festive season with others.

Merry Christmas in advance!