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.
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.
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.
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:
Getting my paper accepted for SLA AGC Bahrain 2017
Organizing a panel session on Web Discovery with 2 librarian friends from Duke University, USA and Singapore Management University (SMU).
However, I was not able to attend SLA AGC 2017 due to urgent family commitments. Nevertheless I was happy that it went well.
Thank you Stephen, my colleague, for standing in for me for the panel discussion session.
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.
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).
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).
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 …)
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
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.
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.
We came back to Singapore for Eid / Raya celebrations 2016. The journey took us more than 15 hours on the road: starting from the time we left home to the time we reached Singapore. Flight was delayed by an hour. To top it up, the airport was full due to other flights being delayed as well. Journey was uneventful but most importantly, we arrived safely.
(Btw, I recommend travellers to use the porter services whenever you’re flying off from the Jeddah airports. They can help you with the checking-in of your baggage and know their way around the airport especially when it’s crowded.)
Touchdown and one of the things that couldn’t wait was ‘Murtabak’ – a local food. Something that all of us were craving 🙂
One of the highlights of our vacation: Food. Yes; local food that is. The list sounded something like:
Mee Hoon Goreng
Here are some of the food pics:
Here are some of the foodilicious places (my personal fav)
We had a short family vacation to Kuala Lumpur during our recent home vacation in Singapore last July-August 2016. Visited relatives on my wife side. Been more than 5 years since we last met them. Took AirAsia. Journey was OK until we were about to land at KLIA 2 terminal. Lots of clouds and it was a little bumpy with an air pocket to go along with it. The flight was OK but my wife who wanted to taste the Nasi Lemak was disappointed as it was unavailable for both flights. Lesson learnt: If you want to taste some of the food on AirAsia, it’s better to make the order online prior to the flights 🙂
The walk from the aerobridge to the immigration counters at the airport was far as well. For those who are travelling with elderly passengers, I recommend getting the wheelchair services.
Prior to the holidays in Malaysia, my wife recommended me to get a private driver to bring us around KL city. I’m not keen on driving in the busy streets and getting lost and stuck in the traffic jams. I agreed to her suggestion. We stayed at a hotel very close to the old Pudu Prison – Berjaya Times Square. We like the location of the hotel; close by to eateries and easy to get around.
The main event for this trip was the visits to relatives whom we have not seen for a long time. Enjoyed meeting them; food was great and the moments spent were priceless. Here are some of the pictures:
My wife managed to eat one of the fish dishes that we could not get in Singapore – Terubuk fish. We got them at Kampung Baru.
And getting those elusive “jeruk”
Managed to met up with my cuzzies for a dinner at one of the restaurants in the hotel.
To top it up, my son loves to take pool-dips at hotels.
and below are the rest of the pics that we took during our stay there:
Last thoughts: Some of the advantages of using a local driver are
knowledge of local roads; the lanes
style of driving
if you’re lucky, they take the initiative to get some of the stuff that you crave due to their local contacts
advice on where to go and best buys
By the way, If you are visiting Mid-Valley Mega Mall, they have a complimentary wheelchair service for the elderly. We took advantage of this service as we were travelling with a senior citizen (my mother in law).
I have been off the grid for a few weeks now. Not because of work-related matters. More of taking time out – vacationing in my hometown – Singapore. Just returned from the trip. Will be posting some of the interesting stuff that I did together with my family soon.