I might have gone a little overboard…

So, pardon a mother of one son when she goes a little crazy each time she sees cute, pink dresses and mini-me type of clothes.  Actually, as I like shopping as much as I like going for a root canal,  I am very thankful to have a low-maintenance type of boy-child. Shopping for him is like going on a whirlwind tour of H&M – look at list, pick, pick, pick, pick – dad takes him to fitting room, mum lines-up at cash register, son hands the clothes that he likes, we pay, and we are out of there. This generally happens twice a year and takes up a maximum of 45 minutes each time.

However, sometimes, I do get a little nut-so when Chicco or Debenhams or Baby Next – you know – those baby outfit outlets go on sale.  I have to be grateful to my brother and in-laws for providing me with little nieces play dress-up with!

The past few weeks, I have been on the prowl for things to buy and then came across Chicco in Olaya Street – they were having Clearance Sale and the rest is history:

 

 

There’s more, but I am a tad sheepish now – though, most of the stuff were bought at 70% less of their original price, if that’s any consolation!

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Shai bil na’na’ – Mint Tea

Tea cup for Arabic Tea

One of the things that I have grown to love about being in Saudi Arabia is the tea. Even in the hottest weather, the best drink one can have while being blasted by arctic gales from the air-conditioning has to be tea with fresh mint. It is very easy to make and while it is possible to buy  teabags of green tea with mint, for me, the best has to be home-brewed. It has to be sweet, it has to be fresh, it has to be scalding hot. By the way, for those interested in the prepared teabags, Twinnings Green Tea with Mint is pretty good.

However, for those interested in making a good teapot of Shai bil na’na’ with your own fair hands, you will need the following:

500 ml of water

2 teaspoons of green tea (the best tea I got so far was from a little roadside shop on the way back from Madinah)

A handful of fresh mint (best tasting ones are usually grown organically in your own backyard)

4 tablespoons of sugar (or, you could always put 1 or 2 small lumps of sugar in  each of the saucer provided with the teacup)

Method:

1) Heat the water till it just begins to boil (don’t wait till it’s on rolling boil)

2) Put in the tea, add in the handful of fresh mint and switch off the heat.  Let it steep for 5 minutes.

3) Add sugar (if adding to the whole teapot) and stir.

4) Transfer the tea into a cool looking Arabian teapot.

5) Best time to serve this is after dinner, as the mint tea will aid digestion. I also like to serve this as we break our fast in Ramadan.

Packing Up

  

So, tomorrow is the day that the packers will be coming and the past 3 years of our lives will be categorized into boxes and shipped out.

ACK! Nightmare!

There are a few considerations in our case:

1) We need to live out of our suitcases for 2.5 months, with Eid coming – this is not the best time to be living out of suitcases…

2) The household items will need to be shipped first to Peninsular Malaysia before going on to a further journey to Borneo. So which ones do we leave in our house in Selangor, and which ones do we take with us to Sarawak? Or do I even want to go down that route?

3) I have no idea what our house in the new place will be like – whatever it is, I am pretty sure that a sizeable kitchen will be needed.

The whole house is in a state of mess of unbelievable proportion! Tonight, I am packing our suitcases for the rest of our stay here. Tomorrow, I guess we will need to pack room by room. Downstairs – kitchen, the living rooms, dining room stuff are nearly done. It is our living area upstairs that fills me up with worry – clothes, books, toys, bedlinen etc. etc. I am grateful for the fact that we never move with furniture, because that would be an even bigger nightmare!

After the packers leave tomorrow, it should be easier and we can go on to Mecca for our farewell umrah. That will be emotionally tough for me personally – and I would rather not think about it.

For now, pack, pack, pack.

Last Few Weeks in Riyadh…

Wadi Haniffa – view from our window

Well, our days of desert wandering is coming to an end. It has been an eye-opening experience, one that started with plenty of trepidation but is now ending with plenty of sadness amidst a little jubilation. What did I know about Saudi Arabia before coming here? Very little, to be honest. My earlier expectations were mostly coloured by stereotypes garnered from readings off the web. Hence the worry and uncertainty.

What was I worried about? Well, for one, the heat and the dryness. In general, the Sahara desert. Of being lost in the dunes. Of course, I was also a little worried about camels and being bitten by one, (yes, I read about those camels and their tendency to bite people’s head!) I was also worried about wearing the abaya, the black cloak and head scarf anywhere outside (those things have got to be heat-traps!) Being used to zooming about Kuala Lumpur in my little car, going 160 110 km an hour along the highways at night after drinking cups of coffee al-fresco with friends at Pavillion – having to depend on my significant other to drive me around was definitely daunting. Most worrying of all – no cinemas… gasp! What are we to do at weekends???! My poor son will be so deprived!

Today, I look back at all those items that caused such worry with not just a tinge of sadness and nostalgia. Hot? Yes, Riyadh is hot. However, it is dry heat. So, yes, while walking outside in the peak of summer has been likened to being in hades and at times one wonders if the soles of one’s shoes would hold it together and not just melt onto the tarmac, and one’s eyeballs do feel like they might explode in the glare, one hardly ever sweats. And darling, the antartic blast of air-conditioning is available everywhere! As for being lost in the Sahara… well, the roads go in one direction. You are more likely to get lost in Sahara Mall than the dunes. And the camels? They are so cute when strapped into camel-seats at the back of the trucks, squinting at the wind as the truck zips by. What about driving? Honey, trust me… you would not want to drive in Riyadh even if you could! Cinemas? Who needs cinemas when you have OSN at home? Microwave a bag of cheesy-blast pop-corn and open a can of Bebsi and you are good to go.

Of course, being in Riyadh required some adapting, but the changes that we had to make have been good for us. Despite what people say, yes, one can survive without cinemas. The world does not come to a halt just because genders are segregated. We get to spend so much more time as a family because hubby has to drive us everywhere. Living in a compound is wonderful for our child – he gets to run around free with his little posse of friends, within reason of course. And yes, I love wearing the abaya and the scarf as there is a sense of freedom in blending in with the rest – you feel less self-conscious, and there is little need to colour-coordinate.

It has been the most wonderful 3 years of my life. I would not have changed a thing. I am guessing that the next few posts will remain on Saudi Arabia, perhaps interspersed with those on moving and packing etc. So, while I look forward to going home to the bosom of our dearest family and friends before opening another chapter of adventures in the rainforests of Borneo, I have to look back with fondness to the memories of the Kingdom.