A Time For Reflection…

And so, we’re in the last few hours of our last day of fasting. Fasting which is not supposed to just discipline us in not eating and drinking for 13 and a half hours, but also to discipline us in being patient, be closer to HIM through our deeds, to lessen our worldly desires and of course to curb our penchant for vices.

I always feel sad whenever this last day beckons. I wonder if I would meet it again the following year as we all know Death comes to us when we least expect it. Well, I can only hope and pray that I would get to meet it again, to enjoy the essence of it, to still be performing the Tarawih prayers at night, to complete reading the Holy Qur’an, to still enjoy the Bubur Lambuk / Masjid everytime we break our fast and experiencing the calmness it brings to an impatient and short-tempered person like me.

I am like any other human being, not spared from erring from time to time. As each passing Ramadhan goes, so too does my age. I know people might think why should I be sad during Hari Raya when it is a time for celebrations??? I’m not pious, neither am I religious as most people make me out to be. But I have a sense of perspective that says celebrations should be kept in moderation, better still as minimal as possible. The real celebration was the fasting month itself for all the rewards promised to us by HIM.

One thing I’ve learnt about the month and the significance of chasing after Lailatul Qadar during the last 10 nights is that we should not just concentrate on the odd nights as most people had pointed out but to go for the even ones as well. Why??? Cos there is a high probability it could fall on an even night. How could this be??? Well, we either start to fast a day earlier or a day later than our other Muslim counterparts in different parts of the world. In that sense, if theirs falls on an odd night, we’ll be experiencing an even one and vice-versa. Since nobody knows when Lailatul Qadar occurs, the rationale is to up the ante every single night and not drop the standards on the even nights. Your guess is as good as mine as to when it happened this year cos with the haze, it was difficult to ascertain when it happened the night before. Normally one would know when it happened just by experiencing the day after, with the weather being cool even with the sun burning brightly.

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Hari Raya is a time for reflection, a time for hope, a time for forgiveness, a time for reconciliation. Over the past year, I’ve seen many sets of friends, some who were sworn brothers, some treating the other like siblings, some treating the other like family members. But somewhere down the road, the close relationship that they had went down the drain. Who is to blame for all these??? From my observations, most of these cases resulted in lack of communication. When one felt aggrieved, the other chose to let it slide as though nothing’s happened. Then there is another case of blaming the other of things that they did not do. It goes on and on with no end. These are just a few cases I’ve seen over the past year which made me as a friend to most of them feel very much saddened by the state of things, not to mention how bad I feel in between two warring sides.

I have in the past, clashed with a few friends big time, no thanks to my big mouth. But once Hari Raya beckoned, I chose to move on and instead treasure the friendship and silaturrahim I had fostered in the past. Nothing is too big nor too trivial to be put aside for the sake of friendship. With that, this Hari Raya brings me hope to see all my friends who are at odds with whoever, to put aside their animosities, ego and stubborn-ness for the sake of our brotherhood and sisterhood in Islam.

I shudder to think that we’re not guaranteed Jannah if we were to cut ties with those we’ve forged. I too am guilty of it, which is why I’ll be the first to say I forgive whoever that has done something to make me feel aggrieved. In the past I adopted the “forgive but not forget” stance, but upon reflection, it only makes me hypocritical to say I forgive but inside I still harboured a little ill-feeling towards the person by not forgetting what he or she did to me. These things eat up inside in the long run and is never good for our well-being nor for the future of the just-rekindled friendship as it only invites distrust and doubts on the other person when we want to do something with them. That’s why when I say I forgive, I forgive wholeheartedly and start a new slate. And I hope my dear readers would ponder and see the rationale behind my belief.

With that I end this entry with hope that this past month has been fruitful for all of us. May Allah forgive us all for our past sins, may HE prevent us from being burnt by Hell-fire and being punished in our graves in the Here-after and may we all be better Muslims than what we were before. Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to one and all. If I had erred in my past entries, sounded pompous, arrogant, uncouth, brash, tactless and insensitive, I seek your forgiveness for it was never my intention to ever cast doubts in them. Enjoy the day, but enjoy in moderation. God bless…

Pricey!!!

Those of you in my MSN contact list would have noticed my nick the previous week, where I proclaimed my excitement at going to the showroom of The Premiere @ Tampines. I must say any decent person would be interested in getting a unit there. Well, for starters, it’s right smack in the middle of the town, with the swimming complex and Darul Ghufran Mosque just across the road, Tampines Mall, Century Square, the bus interchange and MRT station within walking distance and also the new Giant, Ikea and Courts mega complexes within 3 minutes of driving. With such amenities and the units to be built well furnished, it is no wonder that the price is quite steep. To be developed by a private developer, the condominium-like units come at a high price compared to normal HDB units.

My family and in-laws set off to the showroom as early as 10am in the morning. We considered ourselves fortunate to have arrive that early even though it was already crowded when we arrived. It was even worse when we left the showroom as the crowd had risen and the queue had stretched to the pavements outside. The showflats reminded me of hotel rooms, yes, it is definitely worth buying, but only if you have the cash to pay upfront. The modes of payment was a big turn-off. Imagine, if I were to take the biggest 5-room unit which costs $450,000. I need to pay 5% in cash / cheque during the first payment, which comes to a cool $22,500!!! Subsequently we need to pay every time they complete the building in stages. Appalling if you were to ask me and definitely not worth it when I think back that my old house, a HUDC unit which is bigger at 165 square metres is still there for me to move back in at $350,000 minus renovations. So for now, The Premiere @ Tampines is just a dream for me…

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For those of you who have Multiply accounts, you would have noticed that I’ve been quite busy for the past 2-3 weeks adding you guys into my list of contacts. I’ve never actually been a fan of Multiply initially as I feel that Friendster and Blogger are already sufficient enough. Hence I apologise if anyone of you who have tried to add me in Hi5 or what not, did not receive my reply to accept your request. I’ve had this account for quite some time, just that I have not added on to the 3 people in my contact list nor done anything to spice it up. The good news is that this blog can also be cross-posted to Blogger so for those of you who are visiting this blog via my Blogspot account, you can also read the same thing in Multiply (please click on this link). Another advantage is the usage of photos and videos which you guys can see, watch and comment on them. I don’t have the time yet to upload more pics nor videos but in time to come, I would add on to it, Insya Allah.

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I finally got my festive lights last Saturday after I’ve asked around without success over the past two weeks. And where did I find them??? Where else but Geylang Serai. Remember I said in my last entry that I could not find them when I went there 3 Saturdays ago??? Well what do you expect??? It was only the first weekend of Ramadhan and not many stalls were opened, especially at the time that I went then, which was about 3 in the afternoon. When my colleague said he saw quite a few stalls in Geylang selling them, I took into consideration to go last Saturday as I would be very busy with the Hari Raya preparations from this coming week onwards.

I actually went to Suria Raya Karnival in Bugis prior to going to Geylang. I managed to catch my good friend Fadhilah doing her “Ra-Ra Bazar” filming with her co-host Suffian but did not manage to talk to her as she had to rush off to change her costume. The place was not buzzing with people just yet as it was only 2 plus in the afternoon. But like the first time I came during its opening, the place was still not as enticing as they made it out to be. The festive lights sold by “Juta World“, the flower-themed ones which are the new fads these days were nice but made the lights dimmed, hence killing its beauty to illuminate our homes.
I actually went home first to park my car and went to Geylang with my brother-in-law on motorbike just to beat the traffic jam associated to the place during this period. Anyway we wanted to break our fast at home so taking the bike was a logical choice. After a quick reconnaissance around the place, we finally settled on the stall just opposite the “Prata Tumbuk” stall. There were quite a few varieties to choose from and we bought for our in-laws as well as for my parents’ home. I refrained from buying the money packets on sale as I just feel that they would bring the price down on Hari Raya‘s eve, so that can wait.

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I think it was extremely timely for Berita Minggu to publish a two-page spread on the protocols to observe whilst visiting the cemetery during this festive period yesterday. I have nothing but agreeing every word being said. While visiting it on the first day of Hari Raya is not encouraged, I think it is extremely alright for those who have recently lost their loved ones and have no mood to celebrate. After experiencing a few uncomfortable encounters in the past and also through learning about the significance of visiting the place on the first day, my family have refrained from going there after our Hari Raya prayers. Another thing I learnt, putting on the essence sticks that resemble joss sticks on the graves, is an absolute no-no as it is not part of our Islamic practice.

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I’m kinda giving up on this Cryptic Trax competition on radio. Everytime I got the right answers, someone else beat me to the phone line and to the prize money on offer. I’m not being bitter, just that I feel that luck’s not on my side. It was amusing that some people thought I was purposely raising the prize money on offer when I called in and gave all my answers wrong last Friday. Who would be silly and dumb enough to do that???
Speaking of radio, I’m kinda sick of the Hari Raya songs that have been playing since the 14th day of Ramadhan. In an ideal world, it would have been nice to listen to them during this last week cos really it kills the essence and mood once you’ve had a little too much dosage of it so early, no thanks of course to some of the overzealous listeners who have been clamouring for them since day one. I don’t blame the people in radio for leaning back so soon but it does however make me ponder what is more important to us Muslims nowadays (most notably the listeners tuning in and begging the deejays to play those songs as soon as possible), respecting the fasting period or enjoying the celebrations after that.

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Well, we’re only left a week before fasting ends. Last year, I lost about 6-7kg during Ramadhan. That was because I went to the gym five times a week and intensified my routines and I had started my fitness regime about two months before the fasting month. This year, I am using the month to kickstart my routine all over again (been lazy for the past 10 months… Heh!!!) so the start has been slow and steady. Have lost about 4kg so far which is still not a bad return. Why I am going slow this time round is because of my fear for the “plateau period“.

This “plateau period” is what a lot of people fear whenever they want to lose weight, the period where no matter how much you do in the gym, your weight stays the same and will only go down again after you’ve changed your routine or intensify them. I have always succumbed to the “plateau period” for God-knows-how-many-times before and am confident I’ve learnt from the past for my current quest this time round. I just hope the amount of sinful food I’m gonna consume during this festive period will not spoil the good work I’ve been doing this past month.

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And speaking of this last week, I hope we can all put to good use whatever time we have to do things that could make us closer to Him. I know that “Lailatul Bazar” is very enticing for most of us but I’m sure through good time management, we can change our daily routines to chase after “Lailatul Qadar” instead.

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Lastly, for those who are wondering how my wife is getting on, she is doing well Alhamdulillah and we’re just weeks away from welcoming a new addition to the family, Insya Allah. I really hope I can welcome my daughter to this world cos right now, things are quite touch and go at the moment. Aida had her scan last Friday and things did not look too good as the scan showed that the umbilical cord is entangled round her neck. From the scan, we could see our daughter’s hands on her neck, perhaps holding on to the cord to avoid feeling discomfort. We can only hope and pray she can pull through and I hope whoever is reading this would pray for us too.

My heart sank big time when the gynae told us about it and I must say the past weekend hasn’t been good in my mind as I only had negative thoughts going through my head. It still does and I kinda lost my appetite during break fast time just thinking about it. I know now how much it means to be a father even if the child is still unborn. We could see she has Aida’s eyes and my nose so she’s gonna grow up to be a beautiful girl, Insya Allah. She’s been very active inside her mother’s tummy, moving and kicking all the time. I can only hope she’s doing that to unentangle the cord. Me and Aida are so looking forward to bringing her up and we are praying hard we could welcome her, perhaps as early as end of next month…

Where Is The Respect???

It’s ironical that after the last entry, the word “Respect” comes into the fore yet again. If the last entry was me highlighting my apparent disgust towards Ken Lim‘s comments the moment Hady was crowned the winner of Singapore Idol Season 2, then this entry you will hear of my disgust towards a section of irresponsible people in the community whose actions are just getting out of hand. But first I would like to refresh my memory on what happened last Saturday.

The previous week, I had gone to the launch of the Suria Raya Karnival in Bugis. And from the last entry, you would know what a major disappointment it is. I just feel that having the local artistes to spice the place up is like papering cracks cos there is only so much they can do (and I don’t blame them for it), but if consumers and would-be patrons are not enticed to buying stuff on offer like those property apartments, cars and what-nots not associated to Hari Raya, then people are still gonna invade Geylang Serai like the annual norm they are used to. Furthermore, it was interesting to see what Geylang Serai has in store ever since the old blocks and market at Jalan Pasar Baru have been demolished.

Along with my in-laws and wife, we reached Geylang Serai at about 2:45pm last Saturday. The weather was hazy, overcast and gloomy, with drizzling here and there. “Cooling” is the word to describe the humidity level. As I have this habit of not liking to hang around at a particular stall / shop for more than 5 minutes, I took my leave and decided to walk around on my own alone.

Somehow whenever I walk around the bazaar every year, not many things look enticing to me. Maybe because I don’t have a home of my own yet, so these things kinda take a backseat. This year is no different. I just wanna see what things are available which I feel could be added at my parents’ home or my in-laws’. I was looking out for shops or stalls selling those fanciful festive lights or what we all know as “lampu kelap-kelip“. I dunno whether to be surprised or stumped cos there was not a shop or stall in sight that sells them. The closest thing I saw were two stalls selling artificial plants that have those lights embedded in them. Looks like the new trend now. If anybody knows where I can find those lights, please tell me so I don’t need to hunt high and low for them…

Mission 1 (the festive lights) was unaccomplished so I set off for Mission 2, which was to buy food back for Iftar. Normally when I go to the bazaar, I will only look out for the kebabs. Even then, I am very picky about which ones to buy out of the numerous stalls that sell them. Firstly, and also applies to other food stall, I would avoid those that have proprietors who are not fasting. I’m sure some of you would have seen some of these people munching away, drinking or smoking as they go about selling their food. Personally I don’t want to be branded as being in cahoots (subahat) with their behaviour and it turns me off from supporting their business.

Secondly, I avoid buying kebabs sold by Turkish proprietors. No, I don’t have anything against them but my tastebuds just cannot accept Turkish kebabs cos I feel that they are dry and bland after sampling a few in the past. I finally settled on the stall which is just next to the new Banquet outlet that replaced the old S-11 coffeeshop opposite the Malay Village. Oh and before that, I went to the India Muslim Confectionery shop at Onan Road to buy curry puffs. I just swear by their curry puffs that I don’t even buy those at coffeeshops or at the mosques after Friday prayers. Hehehe… So picky with food, yet I’m still so rotund!!!

As I walk around the area, I can’t help but feel angry and disappointed at certain sections of the community. Truth be told, our community still have a lot to do to live up to be a good society which can be respected by other races and religions. Teens and young couples with babies in tow having tattoos walk around and flashing them as though it’s something to be proud of. Then you also have the usual numbskulls who walk around with a lighted cigarette in hand or sitting down at a corner eating away in full view of the public.

But what stumped me the most were those volunteers who walk around with donation boxes or booklets in hand. Their intention to assist the organisations they represent is no doubt a noble cause to envy and follow but sadly their clothing left much to be desired. Some of the girls were walking around in short skirts, some were wearing tank tops, some were wearing jeans that they pull down to almost expose their butt cracks!!! I wonder if the organisations they represent had set a guideline on the dos and donts cos really it is reflecting badly on them. I was just waiting for one of these girls to come up to me so I could tell her off but none approached me. Which is why I ask myself, “Where is the respect for Ramadhan???

No matter how many heartland bazaars that spring up, be it in Woodlands, Chua Chu Kang or even in Bugis, the majority of people will still flock to Geylang Serai and savour the atmosphere and buy stuff there. It has been a tradition and most definitely in-bred in us that it is THE place to go annually, even if you are just there for a stroll around the place. Nothing beats going there but for me it could be better without the causes for eyesore, that is, those people who spoil the beauty of this holy month…