Saturday, May 14, 2011

Everyone smiles in the same language

I got up late as usual. 8. 30 Am. had my breakfast and I stuff my tummy with two cups of coffee with milk or shall I say milk with coffee and munched the cookies. Then I went around the house, checking what the ladies were cooking and chatted to them with what-ever-words. The weather was super nice, sunny and with some wind. There were cous cous and cous cous and cous cous everywhere. The sheep was all gone to into the pot. Some children were sitting nearby the ladies hoped to be given some cooked lamb. They were successful. yes, withh those small pitiful eyes... And me? I refused it and said that I would it later with guest. Yes, I started to feel nervous. The lamb did give a strong smell. After “chatting” to them I decided to make a tour around the house’s compound. Sunny day best enjoyed on the roof. I climbed the stairs with my camera on my hand. There were the girls + a boy joking with each other. The youngest, Amal started to say something which of course I dint understand J so I took their photo. Amal as usual the clown of the family and she always know how to pose funny faces for my lense.

After a few circle around the yard plus the ups and downs the stairs, trying to be busy, I had to admit that I was not busy at all. I just had nothing to do. They dint let me to do anything, well not exactly but i couldnt find things i could do. it was 11 am, my sis in law, halimah asked me to go inside and started to "get ready". I was really excited to wear the new jubbah, the present from Baba which I had difficulties in finding the right size. suddenly i felt like i was in Malaysia, digging the stores' stocks for suitable size. that day, I spent the whole afternoon in Rouiba and Regaya just to look for XXL jubbah that pleased me. I had the eyes for violet this time, so I got mine a violet jubbah with elaborated beads and a pair of shoes two sizes smaller.

After being given permission by HoneyStar, I asked my sis in law for make up as I dint bring mind since I was thinking that it’s such a hassle to take it along and I only going wear it for once. My o my, her make up collection is more than me. She helped me to apply light shade on my face. Finally I did the finishing touch since I was a little bit horrified with the thoughts of having my face painted with the thick Arab make up style. Alhamdulillah, I only put some eye shadow and neutral colour lipsticks. i ended up looking like me :)

By 12pm, the guest started to show up, they are mostly relatives. So here again, me receiving enormous hugs and kisses. I was more than happy to be introduced to my husband’s friend’s wife who could actually speak English. So there were us getting to know each other, sharing stories. And then, it’s time to eat the “lamb cous cous”...arggghh I couldn’t. Time to look for my prey. Yes! Yusuf, my nephew was nearby. I made a cue for him to approach me. He was a little bit hesitate since the children were not supposed to disturb the adult eating. Luckily his mother was nearby and I asked her permission to give my “lamb” to him. She took the “lamb” and put it on another plate and asked Yusuf to follow her to the back. I was so relief. I finished my cous cous and the vegetable served with the soup. I like cous cous and had lamb cous cous before but this time, I just couldn’t stand it.

Honestly, by 3pm...I started to feel hungry again. I was telling myself to hold on since we will have the coffee break soon. I LOVE the espresso with warm fresh milk…yummy and I could say that there will be lots of cookies. I saw many guest brought all types of cookies...there were makrot, liled, charade, of course baklava and others which I don’t even know the name. At 4, the coffee and cookies were ready and I had two cups of coffee with milk and 4 cookies. Gosh...i was starving!

The guest began to excuse themselves and the family left one by one. The chicken now could rest peaceful in the chicken coop since the boys were gone. Only my nephew who continued to run around the house, climbing the fig tree. The day end soon...the ladies were done with the cleaning. We sat together in the “saloon” and unwrapped the gifts; I was busy taking the photos of it. Too bad we couldn’t take all of it back. I decided to give them to the family. I only took the jubbah, headscarf and of course the cash

Before I went to sleep, I turned to HoneyStar and said “terima kasih abang, I am very happy”. He smiled and replied “Wa ana kazaliq”. A start of another multicultural family and language doesn’t seem a barrier. Everyone smiles in the same language. And the “lamb” is not much of problem after all.

Friday, May 13, 2011

I love the sheep, not the lambs.

The ladies in the kitchen were talking loudly. I could hear them roared laughter once awhile. I have no idea what they are talking about, maybe jut catching up with each other. Two khaltis are here to help with the cooking. HoneyStar said it’s going to be lamb cous cous for the lunch. Since yesterday the air smell lamb and I’m feeling a bit dizzy. HoneyStar slaughtered the sheep and Baba was helping. The ladies helped to clean the internal organ and I was standing there watching. Yes, only watching I dint help at all I dint know what to help and the thoughts of me petting the sheep’s head couple of hours before its’ death is a bit disturbing.

That night, everyone was enjoying their “internal affair’. The menu for dinner was the sheep’s liver, pancreas and I don’t know what other internal organs. I’m not a big fan of lamb at all. I do eat but don’t favour it. Internal organs were out of my mind. I struggled to chew chicken’s liver being served to me the first few days I was here. It’s not their fault but me who does not like animal’s internal organs. I did eat once awhile and that was it. I remembered when they insisted me to have the first serve, a gesture of respect I guessed. I just took half of the liver and chewed it bitterly. Janna, the 2 years old girl was sitting next to me, enjoying her meal. I secretly dropped the piece of chicken liver in her plate and she ate it without the adult realised what I had done. I continued my dinner with a relief.

suddenly the "Black Sheep" crawled into my mind. well, you'll understand it if you've been living in NZ before, yikes!"

Tonight, I was offering myself to do the dishes as usual but my SIL, Khadijah refused. She told me in the language. I don’t understand a single word but through her gesture I know she meant that. She took a bottle of juice from the fridge and a clean glass. I accepted it and sat down, drinking the cold sweet juice while watching the foreign “family sitcom” with no subtitle in front of me. After some time, I excused myself to prepare the bed for the night. I bumped into HoneyStar and Khadijah was telling him something. He said the sister asked me to take a rest and let others do the work. Great! I have nothing to do. I finished the three novels I brought with me, the satellite TV is in my BIL’s room and I couldn’t understand the local channel. So I decided to blog. HoneyStar promised to take me to the bookstore after weekend. I’m not too excited about it since the chance for me to find English book is rare. The books are either in Arabic or French.

“Could I wear make up tomorrow?” “Where will you get the make up?” “I don’t know maybe I’ll ask the ladies, some kohl is good enough”. I wish to wear make up on my wedding, at least this time since I was bare-faced for my real wedding last year. It was a mixed gathering so I had no chance. This time, it will be a separate gathering so I was hoping to paint my face with some neutral colours. I though he would disagree since last night I was told that his tradition permit the family members of the deceased to wear henna. I was unsatisfied with his reason but I had to settle with the main reason which is to just follow what his father said, to take care of his fragile heart at the moment. So I was thinking that if I’m not allowed to paint my hands with henna which is pure how could I paint myself with the cosmetic? Then he uttered, “Just a bit, ask my sister for the “tools”. I immediately called Najma and asked him to ask her. I was surprised when she took out a bag of make up from the drawer. It’s almost complete set just without mascara. He asked again,” who will do it for you?” “Me, I’ll do it myself”.

So here I am blogging the story of the day before I set off to bed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

31 hours in a day

" Alger la Blanche, là je suis..

we arrived at 11 am local time. The long queue at the immigration was terrible. Some men started to yell at each other. “Welcome to Algeria”...Honeystar whispered to me, “You have seen nothing yet”. Things were worse for some foreigners who speak neither Arabic nor French…and I was one of them. HoneyStar kept reminding me not speak English at least not loudly. So I was in “mute”. Long after the immigration, here came the luggage…no, not yet. We waited for one hour and glad to see our two luggage on the sight.

We went out the terminal and there was my FIL, BIL and two SILs. We were greeted the “hugs and kisses” way. I could predict that it’s going to be lots of hugs and kisses while im here.

We are taken straight to the makbara visiting my MIL’s grave. Again, HoneyStar dint let any tears to run down his cheek. I had a mixed feeling. I was sad but I guess the fact that I dint have the chance to really know her made me less emotional. I remembered few phone calls and she would always want to say something to me. A simple greeting that’s all we had. I always planed to thank her for giving birth to the wonderful man that I’m married when I meet her but I had no chance. Prayers for her, May Allah granted her Jannah.

HoneyStar said...we don’t come back to mourn but to comfort the family. That’s the way a death should be.

A short time in makbara brought us back “home”. The family and relatives were waiting for us. I was introduced to them, one by one, from the eldest to the youngest. Hugs and kisses gain and again. I recited the same sentences again and again “wusraki? Alhamdulillah, Labbas”. The phrase is the only words I know in the dialect. Well, up to that moment and I was quite sure that I’ll learn more during the stay.

The journey was tiring, they constantly asked me to have a rest, to lie down but I just couldn’t. I just sat there among the elder ladies and smiled. Yes I smiled a lot. With 7 hours difference, I had more than 24 hours in a day. We had 31 hours a day. I remembered that I used to say what it will be like if we had more than 30 hours a day. In a way, I had it.

Finally I gave up and was dozing off by 7.00 pm. My SIL, Fatimah covered me with a nice soft fluffy blanket, 17 Celsius felt less cold with the warmth and loves in the house. I just could feel it. I woke up after one hour and had a dinner which I felt like having sahoor. It was past midnight back in Malaysia.

I continued to sit with the old ladies, “listening” to theirs stories.

Without my knowledge, my sister in laws prepared my bed and I retired to be as early as ten. Yes, another wish has been granted…a wish to have more than 30 hours in a day J

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Longest Journey

Today marked 10th day me in the country. I always wanted every single thing that happen while I’m here but I dint seem to be able to write it. Perhaps because there are too many details that I need to write and I end up not writing anything. I guess it’s normal, when you failed to write things that you wanted to write you end up not writing at all.

I got to write even though just few sentences, only then, I will get grip of my “words and finally the nonsense will revisit again.

Shall I start with the journey?

MIL passed away 11 hours before we departed from the international airport. .. at 8.00 am local time. I was still in the office packing things and getting ready for the long holiday. a friend called me to say Bon voyage to me and we had a chat. she conveyed her condolences to me..and i dint even know about it yet. she said that her husband just received the news. yes, our husbands are good friends and i was sure that news travel fast. Honey Star texted me an hour after that. I couldn’t imagine how sad he was at that time. i was shocked too. i didnt know what to say when i met him later.. i was wrong he looked calmer than i expect. I honestly adore his patience and courage. I dint see any single tears in his eyes. It's a great lost to us. i woulnt know how i would react if i was in his shoes. may Allah reward him for his sabr. may Allah grant Yammah with jannh. HoneyStar calmness convinced me that sadness shouldn’t be about tears only.

“When a person dies, his actions come to an end, except in one of three ways: A continuing act of charity, (or sadaqah), or a useful contribution to knowledge, or a righteous child who prays for him.” (Muslim, Abu Dawood, Al-Bukhari in “Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)...insyallah HoneyStar is the "child"

He went to fetch me from the office as usual and we went back to get ready for the long journey. My brother came and we had tea together. Honey Star even cracked some jokes. His mobile kept on ringing. Friends calling to convey condolences. i continued clearing the kitchen, making sure we dint forget to take out the rubbish.

We left our house at 8.00pm, stopping by to reload the petrol before picking his friend who’s going to be responsible taking care of the car and our apartment. We arrived at the airport, did check in and prayed isyak. His friend, Mustafa and wife were there too. So the men went to have drinks and me and the wife headed for some sandwiches. I was a bit hungry since the evening tea was just some leftovers I cooked on weekend.

It’s 11pm and time to go through the immigration. We took our time, walking slowly and waited by the depature gate. I was telling myself “it’s going to be a long journey”. 12 am our flight departed for Istanbul. 10 hours 30 minutes. 30 minutes more than my journey down under ages ago. so this is my longest journey by plane. First, I was planning to just sleep through out the hours. I was wrong. I could only sleep for 5 hours. Of course it’s uncomfortable squeezing ourselves in economy class but Alhamdulillah we could afford it and the most important is to be with the family.

The entertainment system offer a variety but I ended up spending my time flipping the channel with no interst of finishing even a movie. I tried to read my novel, unfortunately was too tired to read. I forced myself to drink lots of water which made me going to the loo for many time. At least I could stretch my legs.

Finally, after the longggg daunting hours, we arried in Attartuk airport. The temperature was 11 celcius. Great. I had my cotton dress only. It such a relief that we spent 4 hours in the terminal only. The terminal was crowded, perhaps because it’s not as big as KLIA and many flights land here. Lots of tourists all different nationalities.

We rushed to get our connecting flight boarding pass and had our fajr prayer. Then we just lingered around the terminal. HoneyStar decided to change some euro to Lira. He went to buy some food so We had some pastry and mineral water. Surprised to know that after converting to RM. We spent almost RM40 for two bottles of mineral water and a piece of local pastry which had a weird taste.

I was searching for the camera and got panic when I couldn’t find it. I started to grumble. Yeah, what’s the point of having holiday without taking photos for memory. Honeystart calmed me and helped me searching for it in our notebook’s bag. Alhamdulillah, it’s there. I was grumbling for nothing, poor Honeystar had to deal with it. Sorry, silly silly me

The next stop was the duty-free shop. Wow, they have lots of Turkish delight! I never imagine myself eating a “real” Turkish delight in TURKEY…I repeat, in TURKEY. They had tester for every single type. So I had my time testing it..well not too much since we bought one box only for the family. Kindda hesitate to eat more. Insyallah we’ll buy more on the way back to Malaysia since we are stopping by for 3 days in Instanbul.

Finally, the flight to Algiers departed from Atarturk aiport. It was another 4 hours journey. The Turkish Airline was quite empty, so we the row of 4 seats to ourselves. The lunch served was good, no more spicy food. Again, I couldn’t made up my mind in choosing what to watch and end up watching bits and pieces. I had a short nap but was a bit restless. The time difference and I sighed..jet lag had begun.

Ooo what a long wayyyy i had.