Little Women, Big Dreams…

Well,

I was trawling the articles on Buzzfeed and I came across another of their quiz that piqued my interest.

This one was about which Female Literary Figure I am. And, being the literary junkie I was, I jumped right in to do the quiz.

The result was:

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I could not have been happier.

Firstly, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is my absolute favourite book (and, the movie was good too!) and secondly, Josephine March has always been the March sister that I could relate to, the most.

I cannot even begin to recall how many afternoons, I have spent snuggled in bed, and reading the book. Revelling in the adventures of the sisters, and their neighbour, Laurie.

I loved it so much that I would share my love for the book to anyone and everyone that would listen. So much so that, for my 25th birthday, Adnin, a dear friend in New Zealand who is also a book lover, got me an early edition copy of the book (brown pages, and worn out covers… Need to check which edition it was but it looks like it may have been the 1st Edition!).

My love for the book was also recently ignited again, when I discovered an amazeballs online shop that caters to all book geeks. Out of Print carries a range of clothing & accessories that cater to the truly discerning book geek in all of us. I have already gotten quite a number of stuff from them but aside from my “The Great Gatsby” tote bag and pouch (which I love to death!), I also got a “Little Women” pouch from them too. For those nights when I do not feel like carrying a big bag around and/or if I am driving hence there would not be a need to have a bag on me.
recc-1003-2_2The “Little Women” pouches are sold out, last I checked. But, they do carry heaps of other book covers turned to compact pouches (or you could get a “Little Women” jersey). You may find something that appeals to your personal choice in the form of a Pouch. Have a look around, maybe you will find something unique that also triggers memories from a simpler time?

As always, I tend to digress. But that is what happens when I start talking about something and an opportunity to talk about shopping comes up.

Anyhoos, I must say, the description from the quiz result was en pointe. I guess, I am usually thought of as, “the leader of the group who always comes up with the best ideas for things to do.” Although, “best ideas” can at times be in the form of stupid ideas that end up being just that- stupid. But, they do make for great memories, down the road. Amirait?

And, another point worth mentioning, I am definitely someone who is “extremely passionate about the things you love and sharing that with others who don’t agree can get you riled up.” I am pretty sure, the people around me can vouch for this too. Hahahahahahahaha it really is uncanny how a few answers on a random quiz, could accurately define me. But then again, these are the same points as that of a Leo. And, although I am not a believer in the signs of the stars, I can’t deny that I fit the characteristics of a Leo to a tee.

So, if you would like to try the quiz out for yourself, head on over to http://www.buzzfeed.com/trickington/which-female-literary-character-are-you-ink3#.mqB7K3qNRb and let me know in the comments, who you got!

(I was banking on getting Matilda from the Roald Dahl book of the same name, but I am not too much of a dreamer or a person that likes to be by myself, I suppose)

Fahmi’s Surprise Party that Was Not so Surprised…

Well,
A couple of weeks back, the cousins planned a surprise Birthday party for Fahmi. His missus, Fuzzy, had orchestrated everything and got us all in on the action.

Since we sort of imposed our way to an invite to their crib, we decided to make it a potluck party, where everyone brings a dish or two, while Fuzzy ordered pizza for the whole clan.

The plan was to wait until Fahmi goes off for his isha’ prayers at the nearby mosque, before we all headed up to their crib, to hide away in one of their rooms, until he comes back.

But, unfortunately, as all surprise party tends to go, someone (or in this case a few people) will sort of ruin the surprise.

In our family, it seems to be a running thing that those nearest to the venue, would be inexplicably late. Honestly!

Their abode is in the east, and 90% of the Ummi Enot (my maternal grandmother) clan resides in the east. While, my brother and I (along with our parents, of course), are in the north, but yet, somehow, le brother and I managed to head to the east, pick up a couple of our eastsider cousins, and then head deeper into the east, to pick up the cake, and then promptly, made our way to the party venue, at the stipulated time (which was agreed upon by ALL the people from the east!).

But with four of us already at their place, a couple more cousins (shout out to eez n jhan!) made it just in time to hide out in the dark room, waiting to spring a surprise on Fahmi, when he gets home.

Meanwhile, the other 80% of the Eastsiders were… uhm… (might I say, dumb, without meaning any harm?) a little too obvious in hiding out in their cars in the basement parking of the place, where the birthday boy was entering, to go park his car in.

Without a doubt, the birthday boy saw their cars but he feigned ignorance, when he went up to what he thought was his empty- save for his wife- apartment.

After settling on the couch, the wifey texted us to come out and surprise him, to which, my dear brother (bless his heart), took it upon himself to go all tactical, military stealth mode, and lead us to literally “spring” a surprise on him.

Birthday boy was, to our amusement, mighty surprised, that he hid his face in his wife’s arms! Were we an excited bunch when that happened! Hahahahahahah! We have a video of the actual surprise, but unfortunately omertà prohibits me from sharing it. =p

Guess, it was a successful surprise, nonetheless!

The rest proceeded to come up to the apartment and, slowly, stories of how each of us had a hand to play in ruining the surprise, unfolded.

We proceeded to prepare the food that we each brought, while waiting for the pizza to get delivered… I broke a vase right of the bat. I am really sorry, Fuzzy! I was trying to be helpful but ended up being a nuisance. Hehehehehehehehehe.

Anyhoos, heaps of pictures coming up!

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This was the spread of food we had, BEFORE the pizza arrived.

I contributed the fried fishball skewers and marble cake in the top left hand corner, while main beetch did her famous sambosas, and the Keswi and Corn Pudding at the top of the picture was courtesy of Hanim. Mas brought the Indian Rojak and those Grapes were balance from le main beetch and I’s, cheese platter (pictured below).20150131_212515Without giving too much of a cultural shock to le family, we started with milder cheeses in the form of cheddar (I KNOW!) and brie… Thank you to the lady of the home for the mad awesome cheese board… =D Need to invest in my own, if I want to actually start proper cheese board arrangements in the future… 10958710_10154030798509619_6864909812163142678_n

Here’s a picture of the ladies sans Hanim. Le main beetch and I are still busy with our cheese board, as you can tell.

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A selfie to try and get the early birds in on one shot but as usual, the guys (excluding le overly enthusiastic brother), would never actually entertain our selfie-ness… -_-
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When the pizza came, everyone was quick to get a plate and get in on the action. By then, it was already close to 930pm and, everyone had missed dinner on account of trying to make the party.IMG-20150201-WA0013

It is always nice to catch up with the family over food. We had a good catch up of what’s been happening with the world, with the family, and also made some jokes about our “failed” surprise. We also decided on some future plans that should happen soon. (Cousins’ Paintball… Fug Yeah!!!)20150131_224124

Our lovely hosts… The Birthday Boy and the awesome wifey, with the kick ass Ice Cream Cake. Mad delicious too! Wish I wasn’t full by then, I could have helped myself to a second helping of cake! Hmpppppph… Dreaming of that Sticky Chewy Chocolate Cake!

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After that, we began the games. And, it was Cranium up first. It was a Girls vs Boys affair, and well, as expected, us ladies wiped the board clean with them boys, and their foolishness. Girls Rule!!!

It was nice as then, we moved on to play Heads Up with half of the room vs the other half. Well if we stuck to the rules, we might actually have had a definitive idea of who won, but since we did not, we cannot tell for sure.

Oh well…

Anyhoos, it is in gatherings like these that I feel truly happy to have been born into this family. With all our fights, arguments, and insults, we really are what family is really all about. When the going gets tough, I know that it is in these people that I can safely share my thoughts and ideas, and it is they, who will be there to provide a solution and an answer.
20150131_224034Well then, that was that. Would like to take this opportunity to wish Fahmi a blessed birthday, once again and may our family ukhuwah remain as strong now, and forever, inshallah. =)

Till the next blog post then, ay!? Keep on finding an adventure!

A Long Overdue Post… Updates, Updates, Updates…

Wow,

I am really not being “on the ball” with this blogging thing huh…

So much for documenting my adventures… I guess I am starting to realise another reason why my first blog is now, defunct. Not just that I was afraid of prospective employers judging me through my juvenile postings, but also because I never found time to sit down and properly pen down posts.

Hahahahahaha… So I guess, let me just list the adventures I had since this blog started, and strike off the mad overdued posts as I blog about them. I might blog about them not in the order listed as some are more picture heavy and others are more words heavy  (if that makes any sort of sense)

Anyhoos so I owe you guys:

Adventure Posts –

Turkey Trip with my Girls

Milan Trip with my Girls

KL Trip with my main Beetch (We met the brothers for dinner, there, high flyers dinnering in KayElle and shit…)

Lombok Trip with la famiglia (Mine and the main beetch’s)

Nas’ Wedding (Don’t know if I would want to blog about this, but it was somewhat a fairly emotional day for me)

Annual Family Chalet that totally rocked our socks off!

Random Cousins gathering (Brunch after chalet and Fahmi’s Birthday, mostly)

Upcoming Traders Putri Harbour Stay (Mad excited for this! Even if le main beetch and I are going up with our annoying as brothers)

Creative Writing Posts –

A short I am currently working on from my Phone

A prose I am attempting about daily commute (I know right! How much more boring can I become!)

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Wow!!! I have my work cut out for me.

Anybody out there knows how I can upload MULTIPLE images onto WordPress, at one time? As opposed to uploading one at a time?

Honestly, with my trigger happy fingers, I am always snapping away at the randomest shit but I hate that I have to upload it one at a time! And, I think I have typed “one”, “at”, and “time”, too often in the last two paragraphs!

Maybe I should not have jumped too eagerly on the WordPress bandwagon? Hehehehehehehe I remember blogger used to allow me to upload multiple pictures in one go, then all I had to do was wait for it to be embedded on the blogpost and then type out the contents.

I really don’t know. I wish I could just be writing here, all day err day but I obviously can’t. Actually, it is sort of therapeutic to be typing without a direction. It’s been awhile since I allowed myself to rant. Ahhhhhh I don’t know…

Anyhoos, do follow me on instagram @shahnazt if you would like to see my day to day adventures, live! 

Till then, it’s ADVENTURE TIME! =D

Fun Filled Friday

Well, yesterday was a very exciting end to the long work week. Met up with my two girlfriends of 17 years for a Murtabak feast. It was a long overdue meet up and the whole night felt like we never lost touch for a bit… Laughters were aplenty and it felt like we were giggling school girls again… So, we went all out with our feast… Ordered Briyani on top of the 2 large murtabak and 1 small one…

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I like my dhal while they fancied their murtabak dipped in curry…

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The delicious Murtabak that was quick to disappear…

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The briyani rice was fragrant and the lamb was perfectly spiced, without being too overpowering.

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Tried the Sardine Briyani and wasn’t a fan… Never liked Sardine if it wasn’t prepared by my mom or not in an epok-epok

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Ordered a second round of Murtabak, but accidentally got lamb instead of beef… Not exactly happy about the mistake but oh wells… Waste not, want not… Next time I have murtabak, I’ll remember that I want Beef Murtabak only… Even though beef is not exactly my favourite meat, outside of steak…

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Anyhoos,  we decided to take a walk along the streets around Sultan Masjid, and the sight of the mosque in the evening was truly a sight to behold… Majestic would be an understatement… We stood on Bussorah street just staring up at the mosque in awe, while we marveled at its simplistic, yet detailed, architecture…

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We ended the night with a mandatory stop at the Sarbat stall for a cup of Teh Halia and Teh Tarik, to cap the night off… It was an awesome night of catch up and discovering the city we had severely taken for granted…

Childhood

To see a world in a grain of sand

And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

― William Blake, Auguries of Innocence 

When do we lose our innocence? When does wonder and amazement cease to exist?

Remember those warm sunny Sundays spent frolicking in the green grass, without a care in the world?

Growing up, I would not say I was sheltered, but my parents provided an excellent environment for me to discover new things and grow. Yes, they were very strict parents, but they only reprimanded me for the things that I did, that may shape my future character in an unpleasing way.

I was a tomboyish girl in my younger years (still am to a certain extent). My first true play mate was my elder brother. Hence, that may explain the more boyish activities I was exposed to.

In Primary School, I found that the boys in my class were the ones who knew the games I was used to playing. Thus, it was only natural that I made friends with them and with that, spent my recess, gobbling down food as fast as I could, so that a game of “Rounders” could ensue.

Other times, the boys and I would sneak into the “Science Garden” and got ourselves a couple of tadpoles to keep, or spiders to “battle” with others’.

My Ummi would never get angry that I brought home those tadpoles or spiders. But, she would freak out when the tadpoles started turning into little frogs. She would demand that I release the frogs, but in those moments, the little girl in me would freak out and say “No!”, for as a girl, frogs will always be disgusting.

Since my family resides in the northeast of Singapore, while all my other relatives were in the southeast, my brother and I would rely on each other for games and company. Our imagination was admirable and would have been the envy of many children of the 90s (or naughties).

We were superheroes, long haul bus drivers, and GLADIATORS. We used to have “wars” between our rooms, all for territory sake, territory here, being the last chicken wing at dinner or control of the remote for a certain amount of time.

My brother also instilled a great sense of adventure in me. When we each got our first bicycles, the first thing we did was ride them to the furthest point away from home, which was permitted by Ummi.

Some 6 kilometres away from our home, we would set up a picnic of snacks and drinks to toast our adventure.

It was in these adventures with my brother that I discovered many things. I found out that rain water is okay to drink, when you are stranded in a thunderstorm, in a gazebo, in the middle of a park, 3 kilometres away from home, with nary a drop of water, to quench your ever growing thirst.

But the most valuable lesson I learnt from these adventures was, that my brother, although a typical elder brother that bullies his younger sister, would protect me from harm’s way should the need ever arise, no matter how minor the harm may be, in this case, a stray tabby cat.

Childhood is when simple pleasures and endless discoveries were bountiful. When life is made easy and love was free of judgements.

Why did we all have to grow up? Growing up means, leaving your childlike wonders and discoveries behind you.

As adults, we pretend our way through life. Although it is perfectly acceptable for a child to say that he does not know something, the same does not apply for an adult. As we age, we become more ashamed if we were not to understand something.

Plus, our perception of life changes as we grow up. Life experiences, education and circumstances cloud our judgements and hinder us from exploring new paths and ideals. It is in growing up that we realise, the simplest of an act, is made more complicated by the games that we, adults, play.

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.

― William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

My two cents. What is yours?

P.S My love for the works of great romantics is rooted from being a romantic myself. Expect quotes from works by Shelley, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Byron, amongst others, from time to time. Weren’t they brilliant?

Swimming to the Deep End

Let us talk a little about my background. Maybe with this, it will somewhat help you understand the tone and style that I write with.

Firstly, my heritage:

I was born and bred in a small sunny little island city, Singapore, an island city that boasts harmony among her people, who come from different races and religions. It was not always harmonious, but over the years, the people learned to live together, happily.

My family are, racially, Arabs. Hadhrami Arabs, to be precise. My maternal grandparents came over to Singapore in the late 20s, early 30s, to build a family in a new land, while my paternal grandparents were already 3rd generation Singaporeans (although, that term did not exist as yet, then). It really is far more complicated than this, but I am trying to simplify it by providing general information.

Arabs, they are proud people. Lineage was a big thing, then, especially so after the “great” migration back in the day.  The elders were afraid that moving out of their motherland, their children may lose touch of their heritage. Hence, my parents were match made, to keep the blood lines as strong as if we were back in Hadhramaut, and not in a little South East Asian island. They both share the same surname, hence, making my blood, pure BenTalib.

The Growing Up Years:

I was raised as any other Singaporean child. My parents adhered to the “Stop at Two” propaganda of the 80s, to curb over population (the irony today!). Plus, they were blessed with me, a daughter, after the birth of their crown prince, my brother. This, undeniably, made us the perfect family during the turn of the century.

I never could concentrate for long periods of time. But, I did survive education in Singapore. The end of my high school life, I realised, if I were to do well in life, my education must not be limited to Singapore. My creative mind, my rebellious trains of thoughts, were all far from the desired cookie cutter mind set that we were equipped with in school, here.

I knew.

I knew for certain, I had to leave my little island, my home, and, as cliché as it is, I had to spread my wings.

My Own Great Migration:

It was not the fairy tale I was lead to believe. Thanks to shows like Felicity, I thought living away from home, was going to be all rainbows and butterflies. One word,

F-R-E-E-D-O-M!

No one ever really talks about the perils of living on your own. No one tells you that when you are sick, sometimes all you need, is to just know that Ummi (READ: Mother) is within a 5 metre radius away from you, at all times.

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I lived in Wellington, New Zealand, 6 years of my adult life.

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Yes, it was not all rainbows and butterflies, but by God! It was 6 years of learning about what I am truly capable of. It was 6 years of finding out, what will truly break me.

Things changed. I changed.

I left New Zealand, with a stronger sense of knowing what I wanted in this life. I also learned what my “Kryptonite” was. This, inevitably, made me a stronger person, too.

Oh, and I also got my Bachelors there.

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Cut!

Well, that is the gist of my being. It still borders on being a tad too long (You Don’t Say!) but I feel that it is sufficient enough to equip you, as my reader, to understand my writing.

With that, it ties up my two part introduction. I know, I am abrupt like that.

I guess, the blogging will start now. I must admit, I am a little nervous. This would be the first time that I will be baring my inner most thoughts, on such a public platform.

But, I am hoping that my future readers, would be forgiving on my writing. I am all up for constructive criticisms, but be nice, ok?

Till the next time.

A Warm Welcome

.أهلا وسهلا

Ahlan Wa Sahlan.

That is the Arabic welcome greeting. Derived from an old Arab saying, it depicts our cultural penchant for showing hospitality to strangers.

In literal terms, it essentially means, “You are welcome, as family, to my personal space.”

This is a very warm welcome, indeed.

At the risk of you, thinking that I am utterly full of myself, I will be making a two part introduction. This post is the first and another one will be posted, hopefully, tomorrow.

For a small number of you, you would be all too familiar with my previous (now defunct) blog of the same title, hosted on a different platform. And, you may wonder why I am starting on a whole new adventure here, where I can quite simply pick up from where I last left off in the previous blog.

Well, for one, my last blog reflected a shallower, younger self. Although it was not my intention at all, it was being perceived as such by prospective employers (yikes!), then. I was mighty gutted that years of sharing my innermost thoughts and feelings, along with some personal highs and lows, were quickly dismissed as “shallow”. “Childish”, I can understand, as that space was started twelve (12!!!) years ago. Wow!

 

*pause for sudden realisation to sink in*

 

Oh well, water under the bridge now. This blog is a representation of the “adult” me. The one that may not be too concerned over the menial things. Hopefully.

Moving on to the second reason why I decided to pick up blogging, again. Well, for the simple reason that, I love writing. I love expressing myself through the use of words. I consider myself blessed that my current job allows me to write, for hours on end.

Setback to my job?

My writing veers towards a more corporate tone and, sometimes, when I do not realise it, it seeps into casual Whatsapp® conversations with my family and/or friends.

But, I still love my job. On most days. Except Mondays. Cliché. I know. Shut up.

Oh, word to the wise, expect me to digress off topic many times within a blog post. A million things run through my mind at any one time and I usually address them, before coming back to the right track (unless I forgot it! I apologise in advance).

So, the reason I picked up blogging again?

I would like to dedicate a small portion of my days to writing about the things that matter to me, to document my life at times, but most importantly, all I want is to pen a short story, or a poem, that may subconsciously mirror these thoughts in my head.

Whatever it is that I publish; I promise you that it will be one hell of an,

 

Adventure.