Life Back Home

 Singapore, Marina Bay
Source:  https://flic.kr/p/oa6sWm

It’s been almost three months since we’ve touched down to the sunny (and sometimes wet) island of Singapore. Been nearly nine years since we left her shores to explore the Kingdom. Must say that we missed our family, friends and relatives, food and the ease of getting around from one place to another. On another hand, I do have fond memories of the times working with the various nationalities back in the Graduate Research University.

We are re-adjusting back to Singapore life. My son has since eased back into the education system. Enjoying his rugby with his new found friends. As for me, I am now working as the Assistant Director with the Advisory and Consultation team at a university here. The team is excellent with a mixture of experienced ‘veteran’ librarians together with the young, vibrant, dynamic and tech-savvy ones. My wife is happy; being close to her family especially her mom while both my daughters are exploring the places that they missed growing up away from their hometown. Also, being close to my parents is one of the things that I treasure as well.

Things move very fast over here. Most people say that life is very hectic. And I agree with that. I noticed that people walk and talk very fast. Trains move quickly, cars (if there are no jams) tend to zip off. I used to drive back in the Kingdom. Now, I take the chartered bus to and fro from work. Better this way. I had considered getting a car, but the car prices over here are astronomical. Crazy. Alternatively, I thought of traveling by public buses and MRT, but it’s always crowded. On top of that, the trains had a nasty habit of ‘slowing down’ due to some faults.

All in all, we’re settling in pretty well. Just need to tweak a few things here and there. Anyways, the three words that I’ve always keep close-by: Patience, Persistence, Resilience.

Journey diverted and a New Adventure begins

road

It’s been a busy 2018.  To summarize, I have made the decision to move back to Singapore after spending close to 9 years plying my trade in a Graduate Research Library in the Middle East.  It had been an eventful ‘ride’.  I have never regretted making the move to work in the Middle East.  I will always treasure the friendships I’ve made, fun and laughter, sweat and tears during those 9 eventful years.  I’ve learnt a lot.  It has truly  been an eye-opener.  Thank you all: friends, colleagues and acquaintances.

 

 

 

2017 Highlights: Life as an Expat Librarian

Alhamdulilah (Thank God). December 2017 marked 8 years of my stint in King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).   Yes, it has been 8 years after I made that leap of faith – moving from Singapore to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  During those 8 years, I’ve learnt a lot about expat life over here.  One of the things that really stands out is the kind hospitality and generosity of the locals.  This, I will never forget.  Thank you my friends – you know who you are.

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Looking back: I’ve worked with and made a number of friends  from different countries; walk of life; varying degrees of work experience and different cultures. We’ve exchanged views, discussed, agreed to disagree; most of the time about work.  Coming from different work cultures and working style, we may have different way of executing tasks but in the end we always have a common goal – meeting our user demands and needs at the same time providing them with the best user experience (UX).

Highlights of 2017:

Alhamdulillah, I’d like to thank Dr Vijay (KAUST Library Director and Acting Manager) for allowing me to attend these conferences and trainings.  The experience had left an indelible mark on my career life.  Made new friends, discovered new information and shared know-how with peers.  I would also encourage my fellow librarians, if given a chance, to give conference presentations a go. Don’t miss it.

On top of that, I gained knowledge and friendship by participating in international library committees and library boards such as Electronic Resources and Libraies (ER&L),  ACM Library Advisory Board, IFLA Asia and Oceania Section as well as IGeLU Summon Product Working Group.

My gratititude also goes out to my parents, my family (esp my wife who has been my bedrock) and close friends.  Alhamdulillah.  Thank you for hearing my joys and pains.  I wouldn’t trade you for anything.

Looking forward to 2018: for new adventures, new discoveries, new inspirations. InshaAllah.

Never forget the 3 important keywords: Patience, Perseverance and Resilience.

2017 Reflections in Pictures:

And here’s to my library comrades:

Library Day 2017

Ramadan – Kaust 2017

Alhamdulillah, today mark the first day (27 May 2017) of the blessed month of Ramadan.  This is the month where Muslims all over the world observe ‘fasting’ or ‘sawm.’  Muslims abstain from eating and drinking from dawn till dusk.  Muslims also abstain from sexual activities.  “Those who are sick, elderly, or on a journey, and women who are pregnant or nursing are permitted to break the fast and make up an equal number of days later in the year.”  (http://www.islamicity.org/10254/about-fasting/, Accessed on 27 May 2017).  In addition to that, “avoiding immoral behavior (for example backbiting) and anger and showing compassion is part of the requirements of the fasting.”  (http://www.islamicity.org/10254/about-fasting/, Accessed on 27 May 2017).

Some useful sites on Ramadan:

Over here, there are some things to note:

  • Working hours are shortened for Muslim employees
  • Operating hours for shopping malls, banks, offices (some) and shops are changed; some would start around 2 pm; others would start around 5 pm.  All of them would be closed for prayer times, iftar (breaking of fast) and would open after isya and Taraweeh prayers ( around 1030pm) and would continue until the wee early morning hours (around 3 am) the next day.
  • Isya’ and Taraweeh prayers start 2 hours after the breaking fast.

Information about Ramadan is shared throughout our campus community.   For non-Muslim and first-timers experiencing Ramadan here, a number of talks, activities and information sessions are conducted to inform them about the meaning of Ramadan and what do Muslims do during this blessed month.  Community areas are open till early morning.  A whole range of activities is organized for the family and individuals living on campus.  Our community is also treated to a whole range of Ramadan treats and not forgetting the Arabic coffee.

We have spent close to 8 years over here.  There are many beautiful things that we have experienced during Ramadan.  The spirit of hospitality and generosity are prevalent.  During this time,  neighbors exchange food just before Iftar.  (Community spirit).  Being an international community,  we got to taste the different kind of food from all around the world.

It is also a time to increase our spiritual activities and to get closeness to God.  Our Grand Mosque on campus is always a hustle and bustle of activity during this month as congregational prayers plus the Qiyam (early morning prayers) are conducted.  Muslims would also spend time in the mosque reading the Holy Quran.  (especially during the last 10 days of Ramadan).  Muslims also visit the 2 holy cities of Makkah and Madinah during this time.

Even then, we still miss Ramadan back home in Singapore.  We miss going to the food bazaar to buy food for breaking fast,  miss breaking fast with family and Singaporean friends (though we occasionally meet with friends over here for Iftar) and the Taraweeh prayers at our local mosques (plus attending the nightly Ramadan sermons that constantly remind us of life as a true believer).

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Growing banana without going “bananas.”

I’m not into Gardening that much.  About 3 years back, I grew a little banana plant in my backyard.  Tried to see how far it would go.  Did the usual stuff, watering and fertilizing the plant.  A few days back, I saw this:

Anyway, I did some research on the best time to pluck the banana from the tree.  Got to the following links.  Anybody out there has other information on this.  (Not the alternative facts please …)

I’m wondering when I should pluck those bananas. Won’t want to do it prematurely 🙂

What I have been up to….

Working

It had been a whirlwind period – Dec 2016 till Jan 2017.  I was not able to post due to lots of stuff that had taken place recently.  In the nutshell, here’s a quick overview:

  • Attended CNI (Coalition for Networked Information: CNI) conference in Washington DC in early Dec 2016.  One of the nights, me and the other hotel guests had to evacuate due to a fire. Spent more than an hour in the freezing chilly DC morning
    (4 am).
  • Flew back to Singapore to close the deal for our new home. Yes, as last, I got a house. (Alhamdulillah).
  • Down with flu for most of my vacation leave in Singapore Dec 2016 – Jan 2017.
  • 2017: Preparing for my panel session as well as paper session for SLA AGC 2017 inshaAllah
  • Completed the first phase of the electronic resources management system project, now leading the implementation phase.

Stay tuned for my upcoming posts.

Open House @Little man school

Attended an Open House event today at my kid’s school.  He’s in Grade 3 now in the PYP (Primary Years Programme – IB).  Listened to his quick presentation on what he had done so far.  Interesting to hear him speak about the Human Body Digestive system,  skeletal system,   his drawings etc.

Impressed by their class rules:  “I will raise my hand to answer”  – Good rule to implement during work meetings where sometimes people shout across the room, interjecting without giving others a chance to speak, dictating the meeting proceedings etc etc.