Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A New Chapter

I finally got a job. Been working for a month now. Loving it! Mainly because now I have more challenging tasks to be tackled everyday instead of harvesting my crops on Farmville! Looking back, I seriously do not know how I passed 15 months, jobless (yes, I said 15 months!). Mind boggling, really. And during those months, those close to my heart have continuously reminded me to enjoy the time I have (being jobless) because when I do get a job, I will miss having all the time to myself. Proud to say, I spent my time in those many months well, cherished it and now am ready to take on the world! Okay, one step at a time..

Tomorrow will be an exciting day. As Thursday is the start of a 3-day Eid Ul Adha holiday here in the UAE, our boss has kindly (and rather surprisingly) arranged for a company paintball event. And has also given us half day off as to make sure we arrive at the paintball venue on time. Great, I have a feeling I will get hit severely this time around. *please refer to previous entry on my paintball experience*

After the game, we will all be treated to dinner and then I have to rush back home, gather my stuff (and my husband) and join Bak and friends on a trip to Musandam, Oman. The rented coaster will leave at 11pm. I hope I make it on time.

I'm not really sure what we'll be doing in Musandam, but Bak did mention snorkeling and dolphins. Sounds interesting. Even more interesting, the trip will be 2 days and 2 nights, with no sleeping arrangements. Meaning, we will sleep in the coaster, by the side of the road and will brush our teeth at any restrooms we can find. Nice. I haven't roughed it for quite some time. And I don't mind it at all, really. It will be quite refreshing I'm sure.

Well, I have to go pack now. I need to dig for thick clothes for the paintball gig. And gather my bathing attire for swimming with the dolphins. Hope I'll be back soon with pics from my trip.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Cousin Is Married!

Yes, I have kicked myself repeatedly for not updating. Not so much because people will have nothing to read (god knows if people even read my blog!). But it's more about discipline and fulfilling something I've started in my life.

So, cousin Aida got married on the 3rd & 4th of August. The solemnisation ceremony was on the 3rd and the reception was on the 4th. It was a beautiful wedding. I especially liked the 'nikah' (solemnisation). It felt like we were in a different world. With fairy lights and flowers everywhere, I imagined myself in a private garden far away from the city. In reality, Aida's parents house is just by the side of a fairly busy road!

The few weeks coming up to the wedding, I spent most of my days at Aida's, helping prepare all sorts of stuff. From gluing coasters on gift boxes, to cutting ribbons, to gluing ribbons to bottles, to filling gift boxes with nest-like paper. I also had to accompany Aida to the designer's and buy last minute bits and pieces. The weeks were hectic, but I loved every minute of it as I reminisced the days and the fun I had leading up to my wedding last year.

Speaking of my wedding last year...


Yup, today is our one year anniversary! My god.. has it been a year already?? Doesn't feel like it. I think I should take life as it comes and stop counting days and years. That way, I'll always feel young and not take my age into account. Hmm, yes, I'm in denial. Let me be..

It's not a good feeling to celebrate your anniversary away from your hubby. I am still in Malaysia and Cha is in Dubai. Can't wait to give him a big hug when I return to Dubai in mid August.

Back to Aida, or should I say Puan Aida ;) Congratulations! (again). Hope you and Azman will live a beautiful life together and be blessed with many darling little children.

We're waiting for Adelin now..... ;)

Thursday, May 14, 2009


My friend 'L' reminded me I had a blog. :D

I am now back on home soil, fabulous Malaysia! I'm glad to be back, just a bit heartbroken to leave my hubby in Dubai. Will be seeing him soon in July when he comes back for cousin Aida's wedding.

I am not kidding when I say Malaysia's heat is just unbearable. When I left Dubai, the temperature over there clocked in at 43degs Celsius. Yes, its a big number but somehow not as deathly draining as Malaysia's 30 something degrees weather. I was told it hasn't been raining for quite some time so maybe that's why I feel like I'm trapped in a sauna.

And because it has been so hot, with the sun beaming its delightful rays upon us, my skin has darkened significantly. I actually feel burnt! My mom just commented a week and a half ago when I touched down at KLIA that I had gotten fairer living in Dubai. Well, since I've been home-bound jobless for the past nine months (if I had gotten preggers, I would have had a baby right now), its no wonder I lightened up from lack of sun exposure. And now, after just a mere one and a half weeks, my efforts of pale-ing myself have been thwarted. Damn.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Gets me everytime!

I was watching an episode of Oprah and she talked about the 'Christian the lion' video which had generated millions of views on youtube. I had seen the video a few months ago and cried my eyes out as I am such a sucker for things like this. Later that day, when my husband came home from work I showed him the video and cried my eyes out again watching it with him. Then the next day, I emailed the video link to my mom and for fun, I watched the video again. And cried my eyes out again!

And yes, you guessed it! I was bawling like a baby when I saw the clip again on Oprah! Thanks Oprah. I needed to clear my eyes out of Dubai dust.

So anyways, last Saturday I went for Coldplay's concert in Abu Dhabi with my husband and a couple of friends. Weather forecast showed that it was going to rain that day and I was sooo hoping that it wouldn't as the concert was outdoors. Or at least rain during the day so we could enjoy the concert at night.

As if on cue, it started to rain lightly when we were lining up to get into the venue. Good thing we had plastic bags to put our mobiles and other stuff in. It continued to drizzle for quite some time and still I was hoping it would stop before the concert started.

The rain did stop, thank god. Coldplay came out on time and started performing. They were so great! The sound system was superb. We were singing along and jumping up and down. All the while, thunder was rumbling and lighting was illuminating the sky. And then suddenly, probably halfway through the concert, when Coldplay was performing Yellow, rain came pouring down like mad! I was drenched! The only thing I had to cover my head with was a pashmina. It's not plastic. So it didn't help. I had to wring water out of it once in a while and put it over my head again. Even so, Coldplay continued playing so we tried our best to pay attention through the cold shower.

Like Coldplay's performance, the skies gave it their all and the rain stopped after about 30 mins. The show went on and we continued to scream our hearts out to their songs. Since that day the whole world was celebrating Earth Hour, I noticed Coldplay only put minimal lighting for most of their slow songs. There was even a time when Chris Martin asked for the lights to be turned off and he asked everybody in the audience to hold up their mobile phones' lights.

Another highlight of the concert was when Chris brought a lady up on stage because it was her birthday that day. Apprently, the lady's sisters were screaming at Chris (they were all standing right in front of the extended stage) and he heard, and he said the right thing to do was to bring her up on stage since it was her birthday and it had been raining. Lucky her!!

The concert ended with an encore where Coldplay played The Scientist and Life in Technicolor. It was a great concert. The best I've been to so far. I can't stop watching the video clips I took. Gives me goosebumps (not tears!) everytime!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Border Shock

Last Friday my husband and I took a one hour drive to the Hatta - Oman border to do my visa run. I've been doing visa runs ever since I arrived in Dubai. When I first touched down at the airport last August, the UAE immigration granted me a 30 day visit visa, just like any other visitor to the UAE would get. Before the 30 days are up, you are supposed to well, leave the country or go do a visa run. A visa run is where you go to a UAE border (in my case, the Hatta - Oman border), get an exit chop from the UAE immigration, enter Oman, exit Oman and re-enter UAE with a fresh chop for another 30 days stay in the UAE. There are only a group of countries which are allowed to do this visa run and thankfully, Malaysia is one of them. Syukur..

Another easier way to avoid doing visa runs is to apply for a spouse visa under my husband who holds a UAE resident visa. Spouse visas cost a few thousand dirhams and as we had just got married when I came to Dubai, we decided not to opt for that. Aaaaaand, we were so so sure that I would get a job within the first two months in Dubai and usually when you get hired, the company you work for will take care of your visa. So that would save us the few thousand if we were to apply for the spouse visa.

On my first visa run in September, I was granted the same 30 days as before. Then I heard stories of friends who went for visa runs after I did mine that the rules have been changed and visit visa's are now granted for 60 days instead of 30. Okay, so I missed out on that. No worries. So when we went for my second visa run in October, we were happy to know that I was granted a 60 day visa. I went for the next run on the 27th of December 2008. Again, just to be sure, we asked for how many days my visa was valid for. The officer said, '60 days. Even though the chop in the passport says 30. We have not received the new stamps which states 60 days. But here in the computer it states your visa is valid until the 24th of February 2009'. Such words of assurance.

The run I went for last Friday was 4 days before my visa was supposed to expire. I reached the counter, handed my passport to the UAE officer and waited for him to slam an exit chop into my passport. Instead, his brow creased and he looked annoyed. Then he started talking VERY loudly to his colleagues in Arabic. I didn't expect anything to be out of order as the Arabs do have the tendency to talk to each other and totally ignore that you are standing in front of them. Then suddenly, he shoved my passport back to me and growled, 'Go see manager in that building. Go see manager!' pointing to a building across the road. If you were me and saw how huge this officer was, you would also stop yourself from asking 'Why?' and just go and see the manager like he says.

So Cha and I walked over and asked to see the manager. An officer (we'll call him Officer B and the earlier one Officer A, ok) at the door asked why, and we told him Officer A sent us but he didn't say why. So Officer B asked for our passports, told us to wait and vanished inside the office. 15 minutes passed. At this point I definitely knew something was wrong. My crazy mind started imagining handcuffs and rough shoving. I shuddered to think what was going to happen when I didn't really know what was wrong in the first place! At the same time, I noticed many other different nationalities going in and coming out of the manager's office. A few minutes later, Officer B came back with our passports and said sorry it took so long (yes, he was one of the rare few who were actually polite). He said nothing was wrong and told us to go back to Officer A and tell him there was no problem. Still, absence of explanation.

I went back in line at Officer A's counter. More people had arrived who I suppose were there to do visa runs as well. So I had to wait for quite a bit. When my turn came, my husband handed over our passports and told Officer A the manager said there was no problem. He gave us a look and started punching at his keyboard. And again, he started talking loudly to his peers. Only this time he looked and sounded really, really angry. Still not saying anything to us, he picked up his metal stamp and flung it across the counter. Thank god he was inside the cabin and we were outside, separated by see-through counter barriers. Then he pulled off his identity card which hung from his uniform pocket and threw that too on the counter. As if to say, 'I don't want to do this job anymore'. I was really scared and confused that I didn't dare to even look, much less ask him anything as he continued to now shout a string of Arabic words around. After this went on for about 10 minutes plus a few minutes that Officer A was on the phone probably talking to the manager, our passports were shoved back to us with words - 'Go to manager. You overstay. You overstay!'

Okay. So the problem was I overstayed. But that was not possible as we were assured two months ago my visa is valid till the 24th of February. We went back and asked to see the manager. To cut the story short, the manager checked my passport details on his computer and said I did overstay. We told him what the officer in December had said. He told us to talk to Officer Hassan (that's December officer's name) and said he couldn't help. Officer Hassan it seems, was out and would only be back in an hour. So we waited, and waited and waited. I asked Cha what would happen next. He said we'd have to pay a fine for the days I overstayed and only then can we get the exit chop and proceed to enter and exit Oman. Cha was shaking his head in disbelief as he said we'd probably have to pay thousands as the first overstay day would cost us 200 dirhams and the following days 100 dirhams each. We sat in silence the rest of the time as I was shocked and sad, and he was shocked and angry.

During this time, I noticed some faces I had seen throughout the day queueing up at the immigration payment counter. One Korean lady and her English husband were complaining to the officer at the payment counter as to why they did not accept credit cards as no one carries thousands of dirhams around. I knew that in a few minutes or hours, I would be facing the same situation.

We finally got to see Officer Hassan and asked him how is it possible that I have overstayed my visa when he had assured us the visa would be valid for 60 days. His reply was that the government changed the rules on the 26th of December that visas would only be valid for 40 days instead of 60. My god! 30, 60 then 40 days?! Can the UAE government please make up their mind!!

'But I came on the 27th! Why did you tell me I had 60 days when the rules changed one day before?'. He said they had not been informed at that time. And I said, 'But this is not my fault! How was I supposed to know the rules had changed?'. He said, 'I know. But everyone also has the same problem. Everyone else also didn't know. You have to pay the fine'. There was no other way out. There was nothing we could do.

The computers showed I overstayed for 16 days. Guess how much I had to pay?

1700 dirhams!!


(if I was hooked up on hospital equipment, that line above indicates what happened to my heart. It stopped beating)

We were lucky we had the cash between us. And that was the last of what we had to spend for this month. We are now officially broke. Until my husband gets his salary for this month. Even so, this calamity will definitely rattle our financial plans for months to come.

After we paid the bloody fine, we had to go back to Officer A's building to get an exit chop. Thank god he was not around anymore. Maybe his shift ended. And as another officer took care of some paperwork regarding my passport, I saw a woman carrying a toddler in one hand and holding the hand of her daughter in another, plead with the officer behind the counter next to mine. 'Please sir, I didn't know the rules have changed. I do this every time. Every time I get 60 days. I didn't know. Please sir, help me just this one time. Please', she begged. The officer just sternly replied she had to pay a 1700 dirhams fine and that was that. I turned away as I did not want to see the disappointment in the woman's face.

I finally got an exit stamp in my passport. As I was walking away, I glanced at the counter next to mine as an Englishman's eyes bulged just as he was told he had to pay a 1500 dirhams fine. Another victim to this merciless drama.

Everything went on smooth after that. Went to Oman, entered, exited and re-entered UAE. Five hours in total was spent that Friday for something that usually only took 2 hours.

But it got me to thinking, in this time of financial desperation, is this some kind of conspiracy played upon us defenseless expats as an easy way to swindle money out of us? Just imagine, if one overstaying person had to pay 1500 dirhams each and there were say, 30 people on that dreaded Friday that had to pay the fine. Hmm.. you do the math.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Desperate Times

Today (as I do everyday), I checked up on a few sites I have bookmarked which lists jobs available in the UAE. One thing I have noticed over the weeks is that the 'jobs available' list is getting thinner and the 'jobs wanted' list is getting heavier! So many architects with years and years of experience are posting ads looking for whatever scarce architect positions are left in Dubai. And that just diminishes any hope of scrawny me (scrawny in experience, unfortunately not physically) ever landing something the near future. *sigh*

There were two posts on one of the job sites that really caught my eye. One of them was offering DHS10k and the other DHS5k to anyone (recruitment companies or individuals) who would offer and secure a job for them in their related field. One is an events manager and one worked in a bank. Both have been retrenched. I find it very sad that some people have to resort to such desperate measures to find a job. And as these two are men, I cannot bring myself to imagine the worry they must have for their families.

Although I myself have been job hunting for the past 6 months, I am thankful every single day that my husband is still employed and can care for the both of us. Alhamdulillah..

On a lighter note, I am proud to announce the blogshop my cousins and I have started. I have a bunch of talented cousins who have nowhere to channel their creativeness. So my cousin Wien and I set up shop called Kazens Studio and we had the others post stuff there to sell (mostly jewellery) and share with the world. Please do check it out. And maybe buy a thing or two! ;D

So far, so good. Most of the stuff have been sold or reserved. And we hope to come up with more things to sell soon. At the moment, the only thing I have to offer on the blogshop is the 2009 Planner which I co-designed with Wien and her sis, Finaz. We still have a few copies of it left so if you're one of the unfortunate who is still scratching your head looking for a planner/diary, this is the one for you! Check it out on the blogshop.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fat Factor

I've left my blog hanging for about two months now. Really didn't know what to write about. My sad life revolves around the daily routine of waking up, breakfast, tv, laundry, internet, cooking. I feel like a hermit who just doesn't care about the world anymore. Haha. Nothing interesting happening, so nothing interesting to blog about. One thing that shocked me was, last Friday Cha and I went out for lunch and as I stepped out into the sun, my eyes hurt and my skin felt like it was jumping for joy. And then I realised, I haven't seen the sun for the past five days! Gosh!

I know it's bad, but I really don't have a reason to leave the apartment. Other than taking out the rubbish and buying some stuff at the groceries. Even this I seem to do when the sun has set! And I would SO LOVE to go jalan-jalan at the malls, even just for window shopping. But I live so bloody far from the city that taxis would cost a bomb. My husband leaves for work so early in the morning I just can't picture myself waiting around for the shops to open. Aaaannddd.. there's the money factor. As I have yet to be employed, we can't afford to be spending unnecessarily.

So, back to my blog title. No, I'm not getting fat. Eventhough I have bound myself to the confines of my apartment, I have been eating healthily (grains, oats, fruits, veggies. And we have not had rice for more than two weeks now) and I do light exercise everyday (like push ups and sit ups and stuff). What I wanted to talk about is how weight seems to be the center of all conversation these days.

What made me want to write about this is the recent news about Jessica Simpson's weight problem. Its everywhere on the tv. What's the big deal anyway? If you're a fan of hers, good for you. If you're no more a fan coz she put on weight, then go find someone else to be a fan of. Just leave her be. I don't know why they have to get all hyped up. But then again, she's a celebrity. Who is always under the eye of scrutiny and whose little stories like this will bring much fortune to people like the paparazzi and the magazines. So is it ok to talk about her coz she's a celeb? Because she chose the life that got her recognised all over the world? Everyone knows you, everyone will talk about you.

But what about people who aren't celebs? The media has made weight issues the centre of everyones lifestyle that everyone ALWAYS has something to say weather you're gaining weight or losing weight. And what hurts the most is that people do that to people they call friends.

I have a lot of experience on this. And I want to make it clear, I AM NOT FAT! I've never thought I was fat. But sometimes what people say to you makes you think you are. And that's sad. I had no problems in high school. Everyone was happy and everybody loved everybody. Nobody really cared who was thin and who was fat.

Then I went to college. I had never experienced the minds and thinkings of people outside the girls school I went to. And they were harsh. I guess I put on a bit of weight 2 years into college and the shallow minded male friends of mine started asking me, 'Why are you getting fat?'.

Its a known fact that guys always pick on girls when they see one of us putting on some weight. But the sad things is, I have girl friends who do the same. And this has carried on and on and on and is still going on. I have Facebook pictures with friends commenting on how I have put on weight, how my husband has put on weight or how a friend in my pictures has put on weight. Then I browse through pictures of other friends and see similar comments from other people as well. Is this how shallow of a person we are? That the only thing we care about our friends is that how he or she has put on weight?! Do you even care weather they are happy or not and if they have a good life or not?

And it really, really pisses me off to have friends stare and smirk and sometimes comment when your friends are trying to eat or do the same thing on what they are eating. Please, grow up!! I had a friend do that to me, something I did not expect from an over 30 year old person.

I guess I'm venting my frustrations because like I said before, I really don't think I am fat. But when friends imply that I am, it really does effect my self esteem. And I know I'm not the only one. So to all of you who are reading this, please love and respect your friends for who they are. And when you find you are about to say something about your friend's weight, stop and swallow it! Unless of course, the weight problem is effecting your friend's health.