Why I Write ...

Purely as a form of expression to the emotions that run riot in my life at different junctures. This blog has seen several title revisions that also reflect the state of being and evolution I am constantly in. If one were to remain stagnant in hope of never changing their temporal present, one will awaken someday to much regret. Life is about living, evolving and adapting to the constant changes all around us.

My spot on the web is essentially a journey along with my monologue ramblings of my coherent mind accompanied by the incoherent thing called life. Read me if you like ... if you don't it is not the end of the world. I am at the very least a believer in humility lifts us further than pride.

Happy trails

26 June 2012

Mid-2012 Rambling ... June 26, 2012

I have to be honest and say that my blogging momentum has obviously ebbed.  Not from the lack of having anything to say but more from the fact that rambling on about specifics in my life as it stands will likely bored the hell out of anyone.

I think also I'm kinda reached a saturation with how every time I write something that's bugged me and the rollercoaster ride it takes me on before I reach some plateau of self acceptance with the obvious or inevitable, my support team kicks in to reinforce my self worth and juicing me up to the next bump in the ride.

I mean sometimes I admit, I do see myself as a little bit of a superwoman - considering all the bloody juggling I've been doing these last 10years.  I've grown up somewhat.  Grown older most definitely.  Grown wiser not necessarily.  I go through these endless cycles of ups and downs I sometimes think I should change my name to Rollercoaster Ani hahaahha and if anyone dares find some sexual lewd innuendo in that - I beg your pardon! I was referring to the constant challenges that come my way, even when I distinctively remember putting all effort to avoid unpleasant situations.

One big thing I've come to acknowledge is that life is what we make of it.  And when my mind is cluttered and troubled, I tend to see myself as some tortured soul.  But don't get me wrong here. I am NOT asking for sympathy from anyone.  If anything it is at those times that I inadvertently make some incredible self discoveries about myself.

  1. I've learnt that I have an amazing level of patience when I least expect it, but when I should display some, my nerves get raw and edgy and **kaboom**.  
  2. I have grown a little worn around the edges and don't cut as sharply as I may have in the past.  But again when I should fake fawn over jidiots in my path, I am like a triple blade Gillette razor.  
  3. The capacity with which I tend to accept injustices served upon me is unfathomable.  And I explode when I reach the threshold (tahap membimbangkan) and then I'm not someone you want to irk some more. 
  4. But all in all I have learnt, as life keeps serving lemons and pickles, I've had to learn to take it all in stride and try to make something other than lemonade or zezz up meals.
And it is this taking it all in my stride which is really something that bugs me the most.  Because it almost seems cowardice of me to settle for less than what I am worth.  I want to be able to just walk up to the people who make unhappy and asked them not so politely "What the fuck is your problem really?" but the rational side of me says to the warrior me "Step back ani, step back.  Not worth it engaging into battle."

Bringing the girls over has changed my existence in Dubai tremendously.  I used to count cracks in the wall.  Now my days start at 5am and usually end around midnight.  And still I feel like I am not doing enough for the girls.  I feel I am not encouraging them enough in developing into better people.  I find myself exhausted coming home from my day job and changing into the roles of cook, maid and laundry queen.

After 2 years, apparently I was on a Consultancy contract - hmmmmm aren't Consultants paid heaps of moolah? Why is my bank balance still dark bleeding red then???????? I now was given the designation of Project Operations Manager (whoa isn't that 2 roles for the salary of 1) in the renewed contract.  I also seem to be the only employee with a 8:30am to 6:30pm official working hours - hmmmmmmm everyone else is a 9:00 t0 5:30.  I need the job - so shaddupurface ani

Reduced housing benefits - which effectively sees me having to put aside another 20k to top up my housing in ever costly Dubai on top of the school fees and external tuition fees which effectively means 46% of my per annum wages.  The balance 54% is spent on food, bills, and the occasional treat for the kids and even more rare on myself.  

If the telephony and utility bills are anything to go by ... that takes another 20% of per annum income.  Food and consumables is another 25-30% of that per annum sum leaving me anything between 4-9% of total per annum wages for the emergency, the incidental, the nice to have,  the wishlist and well balances from back home.  

Almost makes me want to slit my wrists and bleed the same colour of my bank balance every month.  But I keep telling myself you have a job, you are making ends meet, you are still better off than most.  That's my mantra.  

I'm no superwoman, just a very challenged woman trying to make the best of things and keep all those who depend on me, look up to me happy.  That's all I can really do at this point.

Am working on putting a Focus Feel Good Positiveness Board/Wall up in my room - so that the first thing I see each morning are words that give me strength and courage. Words that make me smile more, count my blessings and give thanks that God has seen it befitting I should be alive this one more day to try and make that difference only I can make by being true and honest to myself and all who are around me.

But if there's one glaring point I have to admit to myself is - at 41, and with all the stress, my body is telling "Slow down girl slow down."  Circumstance however says, "Move that fat-ass now momma or you gonna be flipping burgers to feed the family."

So writing which was my escape and vent point has had to come to a halt as I juggle everything else going on with my life and still try to smile my toothy gap grin.

Life is not bed of roses.  Never known it to be, but for all the hardwork blood sweat and tears I'm sure someday I'll get the privilege to sit back and watch the world go by knowing I paid my dues in full and more.  

3 April 2012

New Chapters .... Apr 03, 2012

WARNING: Time for an inane worthless rambling coz there are other issues cluttering my mind and this is a form of diversion.

With the many upheavals and sudden unforeseen challenges of Q4 '11, some decisions had to be made.  And I guess you can say, given the circumstances there was not really much time for me to think ponder and plan through even though I'd been looking around at some options since moving to Dubai in May 2010 of bringing my girls over to join me and for the 3 of us to have our own little family unit away from all the usual dramas of past years.

So in having found myself in a reactive state of being, I had to expedite a lot my decisions to what was going to be good quickly in the short term solution for the kids and me.  I decided that's it the girls are moving to Dubai pronto.

Now saying that out aloud is a lot easier than the actual process of it.  They were on 3rd term holidays when this was decided.  All the British/American curriculum schools in Dubai new academic term starts in September after the summer vacation.  Indian curriculum new academic years commence in April.  What do I do???

Cost wise the former would be a liver and spleen every month.  The latter would be the same for maybe quarterly.  So I opted with Indian - started my school hunting - not much luck with some of the 'prime' schools - they didn't even entertain my inquiry calls.

Finally I came upon GIIS and the Registrar was extremely helpful and was able to understand my predicament about school placement for the girls.  When they were here in December, I had them do their assessment tests with a decision to embark on French as a 2nd language instead of Hindi.  Thankfully they were accepted and were scheduled to start April 1st.

Now began the next phase of exercise - getting them into Dubai on a Dependents Residence Visa and me being the sponsor.  I swear to you this being a typically Patriarchal society, I hit the first wall when I was asked for the No Objection Cert/Consent Letter from the father.  Are you kidding me? The man hardly even pays his monthly maintenance on time, so we had to find a proper way forward.  And thankfully having FINALLY gotten my divorce decree, and registered my divorce back home at JPN and getting copies and attestations done for an arm and a leg all the way.  Everything had to be done at Ministry of Foreign Affairs Msia, then at the UAE Embassy and then again at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs UAE - and everything at some exorbitant cost.

(Note: Jacob if you troll my blog - yup these are YOUR two daughters as they are now since you've not since them in 10years)

I got rejected the first time by some patriarchal ass at the Immigration Dept.  So I went again, with all my paperwork and went to the Ladies section and explained and showed more papers, paid more fees, more typing fees, more translations fees, more attestation fees and FINALLY I got my approval for Entry Permit for the girls to travel into Dubai on.

Coughed up 2 adult fare one-way tickets and the kids flew into Dubai in mid-Jan as UMRs - they had fun flying in and the next day I was back in the Immigration Dept waiting to process their Residence Visas - thankfully I got the same ladies who congratulated me - some empathy was a reassurance that not every point of this journey was going to be a nightmare, there'd be pockets of rainbows and sunshine, I left with the much needed Residence Visa in their passports.  I did it with a little help from friends and well-wishers who come out of nowhere and help me when I'm down.

So school placement down, Visa in hand - then came the school fees and transportation fees, books, uniforms, clubs, games, shoes, bags, tuck boxes .... in a month I have written cheques amounting to over AED65k just for 2 kids - 1 academic year.  How am I managing this? By cutting back on everything else I can think off and going bare essentials.  

The kids started school April 1st and are settling in to the new routine.  They've had an extended vacation since arriving in Dubai after attending about 3 weeks of school back in Seremban.  Ashna as usual goes neat come back neat, Kasha is my little messy queen - goes pretty comes back like a ruggamuffin ahahahhaha oh well, reminds me of my brother as a kid - goes in white crisp uniforms returns in some shades of brown.  Here's to Ash and Kash and their new adventures at school and in Dubai.  Life's a rollercoaster girls, learn to smile as you ride it.

And people are wondering how this old lady is doing lately - this a picture of me on a REALLY REALLY Good day .... imagine what a bad day looks like then if this is a really really good day - GAWD!

Anyways am coming up to completing my 2nd year in Dubai.  A lot has happened since and a lot more will continue to happen.  I mean there's no use in fighting the obvious cycles of life.

I figure after all the time it took me to get through my divorce, make a decision to look abroad of opportunity for myself and finally moving the girls so it's ani and the BratAngels in Dubai (for now) it's a constant evolution we are in.

I'm not getting any younger.  But hopefully getting a little smarter along the way - Not too sure about this though.

I do however note my patience levels are on extreme ends these days - either saintly enduring or demolition derby.  The objects experiencing the former are lucky bastards because if it was the latter am in a very vile bile spewing mode now and smashing faces would be an extremely pleasant time pass for me.

But then that's just raw me, a mishmash and I make no excuses for me.  Kinda decided I'm tired from living for others.  I mean I still am sorta living for others but this by choice, for my kids.  But otherwise the proverbial 3rd finger is freely used because at the end my sanity is at stake and mental health in jeopardy trying to please everyone else especially when none of what you do is ever enough for their own demented little minds.

We're into Q2 '12 but nothing's  really panned out the way I planned, only good thing is kids and me are together here in Dubai.  We got our little simple place we call home, they have school, I have a job to pay those bills and fees.  It's not the Gulf Dream of wiping my ass with Dirhams and swimming in pools of it.  Everything in modest amounts almost embarrassingly humble but our hearts are happy together - that's the bottomline.

Happy Trails everyone, my mind is a clutter of too many things, but eventually everything sees light at the end of the tunnel.  There's God and there's Karma - both will eventually make me smile someday.

11 February 2012

Winter Desert Style ... Feb 11, 2012

When I came to Dubai for my interview in Dec 2009, I didn't really notice it was winter. Perhaps just too excited about the prospects then of change.

Winter 2010-2011 was a pretty interesting experience. It was cold from Dec to Apr and then summer kicked us in the face with a scorcher.

I went on a trek to Hatta - my first attempt at climbing anything vertical, but braved myself for the slips slides and plain bumps as we tried some slopes around the Hatta Dam.

I also had a day out in Fujeirah with Tony, Michelle and their son Lucas and maid Nani on a day trip picnic on the beach and shopping at the Friday market on the way home.

There was the BBQ at Creek Park with Sunu, Lal, Shanti, Sudhir, Anil and Savita with their kids. A whole day of lazing in the winter cool, with food on the bbq.

Last was the 8 hour marathon with Suzanne, Raja and Marcus in Ibn Battuta Mall. We walked so much it was more than a marathon clearly confusing everyone with a Filipino looking Msian chinaman and 3 Msian Indians speaking Malay and cackling like mad.

All too soon winter was over. The summers make you less likely to plan outdoor gatherings.

Winter 2011-2012 so far has had the girls here with me. So we had more things to do.

We went to Al Ain Zoo, up the Burj Khalifa, to Outlet Mall, on a trek up some pretty misleading looking slopes in Fujeirah, a picnic in Mamzar Park, a whole day out in Umm Al Quwain for a picnic on the beach and a late evening BBQ before heading back.

There are still plans for another trek, another picnic, an overnight camping trip to make the best of the cool weather before the mercury starts to rise.

Its been a fairly active winter. Let's see how we wrap it up. But with the girls here, it has been great better than the last one. And we are together. That's all that matters.

What you been up to lately? Till next time, happy trails

1 February 2012

Communication Is An Art .... Jan 31, 2012

Anyone who has ever met me usually remembers me as the noisy one. Always talking, sometimes strong opinions. Other times non-committal. But always clearly audible.

That may not have always been a positive thing. But honestly it was my way of covering up my own nervousness.

I can still talk both sense and nonsense with earnestness with most anybody. Even strangers find it easy to have a chat while waiting in queues or on flights.

But I find two terrifying circumstances when I should speak that I completely lose my art of communicating.

1. When in the work environment. And especially when I've had a few obvious indications my opinion means nothing. So even if I know it's worth sharing, I hold my silence. Does me favours obviously in my advancement. I get frustrated. I have all these powerful sentences stewing in my mind but never verbalised.

2. When its my immediate family. My sister calls it the ani syndrome. When something upsets me I choose to crawl into a well of silence or immediately change topics and avoid addressing the matter. Once again detrimental to my own sanity.

If I can wax lyrical and be so eloquent in other circles, why am I challenged with these particular scenarios.

Come to the conclusion that I am afraid of saying my mind (in being typically cautious ani) and burning bridges all around. Family is important and well pay cheques keep bills at bay and food in the belly.

Casual interactions, forums, workshops are all meant to explore and define oneself. Work and family on the other hand perceptions are precariously pivotal. And yet I realise these are the two areas one should be truest to oneself. Otherwise the perceptions become skewed.

Whilst one would assume by now I'd be a communications specialist given my verbosity in general, I'm, to be honest, still learning the minefield.

Now there's creating communications effective, honest, open and evolving with my BratAngels. We've all been through some tough times. It's now to forge those ties that bind mother and children. That is the legacy they won't forget that they always could talk to me. We're teething now. Tweaking and working towards communicating without prejudice. Wish us well in our journey in the beautiful art of communication.

Happy trails till we meet again

31 January 2012

Time Keeping in Dubai ... Jan 30, 2012

The one thing that is seriously a pet peeve of mine is keeping time with regards to appointments.

I mean there's jokes enough back home about Malaysian time i.e. being late, here in Dubai you gave a different demon to deal with.

Aside from a rather similar affliction of Malaysians, we have the Subcontinent version of time keeping.

Take this example. I made an appointment for 10am because I had to go do something first and then be home to get the errand related to this appointment done. What happens????at 8:20 I get a call saying there in 10minutes. This of course now messes up my plans and to add insult to injury the wait becomes 30mins. Ok so it gets done and I can go with life.

The other kind gives you 9am so I'm up and waiting and if I see the end of a whisker about 5pm of the said day I feel blessed by the dungu turning up at all.

It could be worse. No show and 4 days later receive an irritable call for not being there at dungu's convenience. I mean seriously. Of course then there's the "someone will call you back for an appointment" which incidentally is now 4 weeks and not a whisper.

If you need after sales care or customer service or maintenance work done.... Good luck in keeping your sanity intact. It's either too early, too late or not at all. It's never at you the customer's convenience. You have to take time off your work/life to wait in bated breath.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr for Pete's sake keep to appointments - makes for less grief all around.

Happy trails

27 January 2012

2011 A Year That Was ... Dec 31, 2011

When 2011 came into being, I'd had sort of crawled into the year not too sure what was ahead of me and how I was going to make this move to Dubai anything of a success for me let alone for anyone who mattered in my life.

Every step of the way is always stopping pondering weighing if the choices I make are for really the good of those I care about.  But 2011 January came with me feeling sorta like in a limbo and no direction of what was to come.  The feeling of loneliness in a strange land kept a stronghold grip on my neck.  And to be honest, I have to look back and realise I was having a mild bout with depression.  Thankfully though I am somewhat resilient in these deeps and valleys and after some rounds of self pity - which serves no purpose in rectifying the issues, I tried to crawl out of this wallowing and move along.

In February we had an office move.  Being not really specifically assigned to any task per se, I decided to attach myself back to what I was familiar with - IT and thankfully the IT Manager here being another Malaysian understands the frustrations I felt/still feel at my state of limbo.

We started the move, I offered to coordinate, to help with inventory control, to label desk and network points and send update emails in my usual tongue-in-cheek manner.  Some people liked it, some people bitched about it and generally well things moved a little.  Apparently I suddenly created a visibility for myself in undertaking this with the IT team.  

Then as the move settled in, and the hiccups and the whining that some primadons in the office got addressed it was like oh-oh what do I do now.  Then came along a new little venture.  The company was opening up and office in DWC at the new airport and the space we had needed to be set up.  WOW MOMMA that was really like out in the boondocks with just sand for miles and every sandstorm meant triple cleaning to make the place look inhabitable.

But with the IT guys Raja and Vallie, we got down to making it happen.  There was also  Gen. Mahesh - whose unlimited resourcefulness in finding solutions for the interim and long term we made it happen.  4 brown people making things move and shake and from a sand caked warehouse and office space, we got desk and chairs and phone lines and cleaning services into place.  This went on till May before the Ops team there decided to take over the coordination side of things that I was handling.  Slowly I phased myself out coz I understand I'm not into politics and when it rears its ugly ass-kissing head, I make exit stage right pronto.

But in May, my dad had another bout with gangrene and this time a decision was made.  In order to give the patient a quality of life - one not regulated by constant visits to the ortho-surgery for amputations, the advice was to amputate till below the right knee where blood flow was good and healing of the wound would be better.  Dad agreed, but it meant he'd lost his mobility.

3 months he spent at a nursing home post surgery coz he needed constant care.  My brother undertook the shuttling around.  Mom was handling the kids in Seremban.  When dad was coming home in August, I went home for a few days in conjunction with Eid break here in the Middle East.

At that time we started talking about the girls coming over to Dubai during their December vacation.  It was should they travel UMR or should I come back and get them which would mean 2 return tickets *ouch ouch ouch* on my pockets - so ok they agreed to UMR i.e. travelling as Unaccompanied Minors on Emirates.

But fate as it would decided things were to be different.  

In November we learnt mom had found a lump in her left breast, the mammogram and biopsy said cancer and surgery would be needed immediately - that was the first action required.  I flew back to Malaysia for that, dad was again put into a nursing home for his care.  The useless maid we've had for 7 years was going on a vacation - so we left her to carry on.  I was there for the surgery, but left with the kids back to Dubai.

Now obviously with mom's health issue, something had to be done.  So kids came here, and sat for assessment tests and got admitted into a school here and well it was all sorta rolling into a big snowball of activities.  We went home together for a Christmas that was silent and quiet since dad was still in nursing care and mom was in recovery preping for her first of six chemo sessions which doctors say will cull the spread of the cancer any further.  We pray all this goes well.

Thankfully my sister arrived end of December to be with mom for the first chemo session and so the plan of moving the kids had to go into full gear now.  We managed to run around in December when I was there with the paper work. And left more with my sister and brother to complete.

We spent the last day of 2011 at home making mutton currypuffs that my grandma is famous for.  I cooked some lunch and we took it up for dad's dinner at the home.  After spending some hours with dad, we got home and had a little dinner at Gaban - a restaurant we used to frequent before with school buddies back in the 90s.  Then home to welcome the new year in a quiet manner - it was not a festive year 2011.  And I had packed and was ready to leave New Years Day back to Dubai.  

I would have to say this has had to be one of the most trying of years.  We had many along the way in the past decade that really tested us.  I am blessed that my siblings have always stood by me through my hard times.  I am blessed that I have beautiful smart kids who I shall soon have with me in Dubai.  I am blessed that despite whatever happens, God always carries me through it better prepared for the next challenge.  

Bring it on 2012 ... what doesn't kill you makes you stronger they say and I've not been killed so far so you know I am stronger :))

Happy Trails and Happy New Year!!!!