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The ‘Little Indian’ in Me!

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With my mum-in-law, brother-in-law and his family and us. Groupie time 🙂

It’s been more than a month since we came back from our short vacay in India. I couldn’t believe it myself that it was more than one month ago! I didn’t even know what had occupied me since our return. Of course we’re seriously catching up with our back-to-homeschooling itinerary and the lessons that we needed to complete before November end; we also made a visit to an ex-colleague whom we haven’t seen for sometime. I couldn’t believe it too that it was almost two years from the last time I saw her. Time just don’t fly,  it soars! Anyhow, enough of my expat ramblings. So let me tell you, it was a fruitful and refreshing trip; a mini-reunion with our Indian part of the family and the privileged of meeting again one of our dear friends.

In case I haven’t mentioned to you yet, my hubby is an Indian/Cambodian descent, though most of my friends and family members wouldn’t agree the first time I made the introduction. Most of them teased him of being a Filipino disguising as another nationality. That is because he got more of his mum’s Khmer features. He fluently speaks both the languages and still very much connected to both his roots. After marriage, the adjustments we made with each other were so minimal probably being from the same continent and sharing almost similar ancestries (it’s easier to just put it that way 🙂 ). When you marry someone either a foreigner or your townsman, adapting to each other’s culture is very vital for harmonious relationship. So, after years of ‘fine-tuning’ and accustoming, I have grown to love that ‘little Indian in me’ :). Collective effort, I must say.

From that time on, my ‘little world’ has never been the same. I have been a part of more than ‘one nation’ and grateful for the new things I’ve learned and still learning. My husband’s family have accepted me together with whatever baggage I carry along with me. I appreciate them for re-arranging their lives for me, too. The feeling that we are a part of each other has been mutual.

Few members of the family are still in India. We’ve lost my dad-in-law in 2005 and my mum-in-law is aging gracefully although often sick. She’s a very strong-willed woman and refused to sometimes be treated as weak. I guess most of the parents if not all, possessed that common notion that they can still function the way they used to 5 or so years ago. They are inured to take care of their ‘flock’ rather than being the one taken cared of.  Don’t we just love our parents 🙂 My youngest brother-in-law and his family are her constant companion. I commend them for their love and commitment to mum :).

Well, we don’t know when to meet them again, but we look forward to our next visit! Phir milenge! (we will meet again).

Here are some of our ‘happy-moments-snaps’ and the etc’s!

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Cousinshood!
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The joy of meeting one of our good friends. They are currently based in India but who knows, where we will be meeting next. 🙂
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And, my favourite! Crispy Paper Dosa with masala potato as filling. It’s made of Rice and Lentils served with Coconut Chutney and bowl of Sambar- ! Yummy!
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And the cold sodas that I can only enjoy when in India!

 

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Eight Things to Consider Before Marrying a Foreigner

As an expat, we are exposed to the possibility of being romantically involved and eventually, maybe end up in marrying a foreigner. I have number of close friends, including myself, who have been married to a different nationality. For me, every day is brand new as my husband and I continue to embrace our differences and honor our uniqueness.

I am sharing this not as a hard rule, but just a friendly reminder. Bear in mind that your promise of ‘for better or worse, till death do us part’, is not only witnessed by people, but also by God.

  1. Audible confirmation. Very important. If you have been praying specifically for a foreign husband or wife, make sure that it is the audible voice of God that you hear for confirmation and not just the voice within you. Sometimes, we only listen to what we wanted to hear and neglect the rest of God’s specific instructions. At the end, we interpret and manipulate the ‘voice’ we heard. Be careful, you might just be listening to your own. God’s ways are unique and His voice is gentle. Be sensitive.
  2. Food galore, get ready to explore! Prior to my marriage, I couldn’t eat spicy food at all. I wouldn’t dare to touch nor try anything with fresh or cooked chili on it regardless of its size or color. Contrary to ‘my man’, he wouldn’t enjoy a bland dish or a meal without the piquancy. My ‘no-no’ to spicy food somehow needed revision and so was his, if we both wanted to enjoy our dining together. We then decided to meet halfway; I have moved forward from non-spicy-to-mild spicy, while he moved backward till where I can endure pungency. Start telling to yourself – ‘no harm in trying’!
  3. Chum Ree-uhp Soo-uh (a Khmer Salutation). Study says that children can easily learn three to four languages simultaneously. I wish I could say the same thing for adults unless mastering a new language is your passion. Not that ‘effortlessly’ for me. I have twisted every muscles in my tongue to learn my husband’s Cambodian dialect but still lots to learn. He is doing a much better job though in mastering my mother tongue. Well, I am not giving up and hoping that one day, I will finally conquer. You may start early with a tongue-twister. 🙂
  4. The possibility of leaving your home, for good. The first time I have told my mother that I am marrying a foreigner, she didn’t agree although she eventually approved of our wedding. It wasn’t because she disapproved of my choice but mainly because, it was not exactly a mother’s wish for her daughter to live so far away from home and the possible chance of maybe, to leave permanently. Of course arrangements can be made for visitations but no guarantee of the frequency. Your foreign spouse may understand and respect your parent’s concern, but your heart must be ready for this inevitability.
  5. He might not be as romantic as your Dad nor will she be as a good cook as your Mum. My mom-in-law is one of the best cooks I’ve ever met. I am nowhere to stand next to her in the kitchen as far as cooking is concerned. I can prepare a dish alright, but nowhere closed in comparison to hers and I do not intend to compete. 🙂  My husband knew my limitations in the kitchen prior to our marriage; but had he not accepted that fact, it would have been an everyday struggle for him to enjoy his meal. I might have had slightly improved on my cooking, but I was grateful that no ‘comparison’ had taken place. On the other hand, I could have expected for him to be as funny and romantic as my dad, but I preferred not to. He is a unique individual who has a great capacity to love. No comparing please; otherwise, you’d be spending the rest of your married life being unhappy and dissatisfied.
  6. New status, new friends – be flexible. Once you marry, the number of your single friends will reduce and will be replaced by married couples. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. And since you might marry a different nationality, your type of friends will also change. Be open-minded and try to fit in as long as your ‘free will’ is not being compromised. You will also be invited to various gatherings that you are probably not accustomed to. You will need to learn your ‘new crowd’. There may be things acceptable to you but not to them; you know, differences in culture, habits, food choices (as I pointed out in No.2), etc. Always remember, your spouse may also take interest in knowing your ‘own kind’ as much as you will adjust in knowing his’/hers. The more, the merrier!
  7. Know the law. Regardless of what nationality you are getting married to, you must recognize the law. The local embassies and government courts will help you and guide you with all the necessary requirements needed to legalize and register your marriage. Do not commit into anything you will regret before checking first your options. Do not assume or it may be too late.
  8. Be one in faith. Both my husband and I came from different religious backgrounds, however we already shared the same faith when we met each other. It was our destiny to get married. Not only we pray and believe to the same God, but we’re both committed to serve Him. There is no such thing as perfect marriage; one way or the other, your relationship will be tested. But it brings us joy and so much peace when our unity in faith aids us during those challenging times. My prayer for you – may you not only find who your heart desires, but the one who God desires for you…

Well, that’s it from me! I am sure the list can go on more than eight! Do feel free to share your own thoughts by leaving a comment below:)

As I end, allow me to share to you a brief encouragement from one of my dear friends, who has been blessed with courage and love.  Meet the Elavia Family!

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 Joan is a Filipina, happily married to Zubin, an Indian Parsi. They are now based in Canada with their son, Nathan. This is what she says:

“To be on an inter-racial marriage is challenging especially in the beginning stage as we have to learn and adjust with our way of living, beliefs, religion, culture, and even on our food preferences.  These factors can sometimes lead to disagreements and misunderstanding, but we never allowed them to affect our love and respect for each other. Just like a typical couple, we remind ourselves every day to honor the vows we made to each other 20 years ago. We also wanted to make sure that our son will be raised knowing and loving both our cultures. I guess the most important ingredient to maintain peace in our marriage is RESPECT”. 

Home Schooling Journey – ‘A Father’s Love’

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One of the many challenges of home schooling our child is to constantly monitor her focus and attention to the lessons. To ensure this, we must be creative, multi-functional, sensitive, and knows ‘when and how’ to apply discipline. Not for the faint-hearted 🙂 ! We are on our second year of homeschooling Jade and though we face occasional ‘distress’ in-between the process, we ‘triumphed’ at the end! Especially whenever we see the fruits of our labor, our endeavor has been rewarded.

This year is extra effort for Jade due to the additional materials that she needs to work on to comply with the *Kto12 curriculum in the Philippines, which apparently received its approval after a lengthy discussion and consideration. Anyhow, Jade’s summer vacation has been shortened to dedicate extra hours to complete the additional lessons before she begins with her Level 5 materials. As always, God has been so gracious and continue, we go!

Recently, Jade’s dad had helped us reorganized our lesson plan in order to maximize our time without consuming much efforts. They were indeed helpful and attainable. Along with that improvement plan is what Jade needed the most; encouragement. Dad and Jade had a good talk with his assurance of help in case Jade will be needing them. Somehow, my daughter takes heed of her Dad’s assurance more than mine, and I am saying this without any jealousy or hurt. Just made me contemplate on my ‘assuring abilities’ :).  I guess as a mum (or more like a woman whose words multiply five times of a man), I gave her so much instructions more than she actually needed at a time. In most cases, they might have been repetitive without me even realizing it. I got the feeling that she has become familiar with them, that only half of those instructions do sink in! So, it is a ‘breath of fresh air’ for Jade each time she hears those same instructions and reminders from her Dad. At least, the delivery is less and more straight-forward 🙂 .

All the more I’m convinced how special God made Dads. Not only they are capable to love and care for their family, but there’s something remarkable about them in every way. Jade’s Dad is no exemption. He not only is a good provider to us but a friend, a wonderful companion, a Dad who can discipline and love at the same time. A Dad who encourages but firm with his directives. But above all, he is a Dad who teaches Jade to appreciate, to be grateful, to pray, and to never forget that her help comes from the One who is far Greater than he, the One who will never fail to love and watch over her.. her Creator and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jade’s home schooling journey continues and so is ours.. parenting never ends. As we celebrate Father’s Day today, allow me to quote from a book about Fatherhood by Derek Prince….

“As a priest the father represents his family to God. As a prophet he represents God to his family. As a king he governs his family on behalf of God”.

Celebrating God’s promises to all the fathers!

What is Kto12?

*The Kto12 Program covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School [SHS]) to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship. – Courtesy of The Official Gazette of the Phils

Home Sweet Home

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Arrived in the Philippines few days ago for my less-than-a-month of vacation to visit my family and our home. Grateful to God for the opportunity and to my supportive hubby who allowed me to go for a quick visit. Started with a busy schedule of tidying up our house which I’m sure is quite common when it is not being regularly inhabited. Begun working on some errands as well while in the city, since the hot weather was starting to get into my pace. Month of May is not a very favorable time to travel to the Philippines due to extensive heat and humidity, which happens normally before the rainy season starts. However, I’ve decided to seized the moment and motivate my mind and body on the resisting-the-heat mode, spend as much quality time with my family as possible, and to finish what I came here for. Just need to think of ways to keep our bodies hydrated 🙂 !

Not much have changed from the last time I was here almost six months ago. Aside from some beloved relatives who started to walk slower than usual which is inevitable; God bless them. I also came to know of some friends who have already left the country to work abroad, and was speechless after seeing some nieces and nephews who have grown taller than I am (and wiser, too). I wonder what kids ‘eat’ these days! They shoot up so quickly like bamboos! I still remember how I used to bent down for an eye-level contact when talking to them. Wow, I couldn’t believed how much I have missed being away for only six months. Or maybe, I just hardly noticed the changes over the period of years that I have come and go…. Time really flies! This is a usual sentiment of contract workers who are missing out lots of details from home and couldn’t do so much about it, but to catch up.

Few days ago, I was happily reminiscing with my sister on how we used to spent our summer vacation in our grandma’s house in Bulacan. The house was pretty old and trite, but there’s no place we would rather be spending our summer holidays with our cousins. We built memories in there. Closeness we made that lasted till today. How we wished for our children to create similar memories with their cousins and enjoy each other’s company while they are still young. Before the ‘pressures of adulthood’ finally come into being, may they find time to fully enjoy their youth the way we used to!

I hate to admit but sadly, gone are the days when young people have shallow but meaningful definition of fun. How simple pleasures like fishballs and ‘gulaman’ made our snack-time complete; how the games of ‘piko’ and ‘sipa’ with friends were our after-school delights; and many other of our so-called perks and rewards that are now considered perhaps, ‘boring’ and ‘less interesting’! I know, I know… I need to move on and fast-forward to the 21st century, where gadgets and social media replaced the ‘fun’ I used to know!

Well, one thing that could never change, there’s really no place like home… Though nothing in this world is permanent, there are things worth preserving and keeping even only in my memories.

Let us not stop making memories; they last a lifetime 🙂

Love Never Fails!

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‘Baddhaiy Ho’! It was year 1990 when they first uttered their ‘I do’s” … 25 fruitful years later, their celebration of love and life continues! In the year 2040, the golden celebration will be something worth looking forward to!! (wink)

Congratulations again, to Mahesh and Ridhi on the recent celebration of their Silver Wedding Anniversary! May the Lord bless you and keep you, together with your two beautiful daughters, Abbey and Anisha.

Weddings fascinate me… the idea of two people beholding each other with a promise of ‘till death do us part’, is not only profound but overwhelming.  I cry on weddings, including mine :). Not due to sadness or anything related, but because of the unexplained joy and unforeseen adventure of two imperfect individuals attempting to create a life as one, on their own.. Isn’t that exciting!?

It’s been a while from the last time we attended a Silver Wedding celebration; we almost forgot how elaborate and detailed it could be. The silver wedding celebration of Mahesh & Ridhi reflected the intricate planning that must have initiated months back.  The 4-days  of themed-events plus the one day of the bride’s Mehendi (Henna) preparation can be exasperating, if they weren’t planned well in advance.  From the venues, to food choices in the buffet, the wedding cake, gowns, program, special numbers, personal services, and all the other grand celebration essentials were visible! Well done to the organizers, I must say; well-planned and well-attended too! Close friends and families flew in to Dubai from London, South Africa, India, and Hong Kong, in order to wish the couple personally and be part of this glorious and memorable occasion. The couple’s two gorgeous daughters were on their best hospitable gesture as well, who diligently ensured that all guests were greeted and well-treated :).

The couple begun their celebration with a night of traditional Thanksgiving Ceremony, followed by three consecutive nights of exuberant celebrations.

Party highlights were the Mehendi Night, which took place at the Dubai Creek and Golf Club. The party was set outdoor overlooking the creek, beautifully lighted and settled comfortably under the night’s pleasant weather.  The ‘diwan’ was brilliantly decorated, however hardly sat-on by the couple due to the ‘call’ of the dance floor. The dancing lasted till 3 in the morning, as I can only presumed that nobody wished for the night to end.  All were in awe as the bride & groom entered riding on a big, posh motorbike, in reminisce to their dating times while roaming on a motorbike where apparently, it all started.  A night to remember!

The Cocktail & Dance party took place the following night and was flamboyantly celebrated in Raffles Hotel, where the couple’s grand entrance to the ballroom was much awaited.  They entered walking hand-in-hand in a procession, followed by their children on a sort-of-like-an-aisle setting in the middle of the ballroom.  The bride looked stunning on her long, purple, sequined-slightly off-shoulder gown, while her groom looked dashing on his black tuxedo. The stage was glamorously decorated in white, the dinner buffet was filled with delectable dishes, and the music had enticed every guest to the dance floor! This space won’t be enough to write all the specifics, but one of the unforgettable scenes of the night were the surprise dance numbers, bravely presented by close family members and friends for the entertainment of the couple. It was superbly organized by Abbey and Anisha, who themselves showcased their dancing talents that evening. As a finale, the couple also presented a special dance number that brought the ‘house down’! All performances were well-cheered on by the guests and definitely enjoyed and appreciated by the ‘bride and groom’ 🙂 !

The fourth-day of celebration was concluded with a theme called the Flashback Friday, an evening of music, laughter, and memories.  This final day of celebration was to commemorate their friends, who have shared their love, life, and trust with them over the period of years.

To the newly wedded-couple (again) :), may you continue to BELIEVE IN LOVE that is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast.  May the LOVE THAT BINDS YOU together remains to be not self-seeking, not easily angered, and does not keep record of wrongs. May your LOVE FOR EACH OTHER continues to rejoice in the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always persevere…

Love INDEED never fails!

Chef in the Making

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One of the many talents of the Khmers (Cambodians) is their expertise in cooking.  We’ve just been acquainted with some of them recently and as an affirmation, most of them work as Chef or Sous Chef in some of the most popular restaurants in the UAE.  One of the promising aspirants is my husband who never ceases to try out his hidden talent in the kitchen.  This didn’t surprise me at all as his mom is one of the best cook I’ve ever known; she and her cooking pots are ‘inseparable’!  You could imagine the pressure I was in after we got married! I thank God for my extended family. I’m blessed and loved.

My husband’s natural flair in cooking still needs constant practice and attention.  As the saying goes, ‘practice makes you perfect.’ But due to high demand of his time at work, he couldn’t cook as much as he used to. However, whenever he gets a chance for more than a day off, he would prepare some yummy dishes he grew up eating.  One of my favourite treats is ‘Banh Hoi’. It’s a combination of different veg and herbs with rice thin noodles, sautéed chicken meat, all wrapped in fresh lettuce and a dip sauce made of crushed roasted peanut/light vinegar with few green chillies, carrotts, and jaggery (palm sugar).  It requires a lot of chopping and preparation hence pile of pots and pans for me to cleaned-up afterwards! I guess there’s always a price to pay after eating a free healthy, scrumptious meal! I should be more than grateful 🙂

His ultimate dream is to put up his own restaurant one day after his retirement from the corporate world.  He often says that ‘dreaming is for free, so why not dream big’!  He is right about that.  For a hard-working man as he is, with prayers, right insight, and a ‘green light’ from above, one day I know it can come true..

For now, he will need to feed and satisfy his most faithful costumers – the wife and the daughter!!

Simple Pleasures: Walk in the park – Sharjah Corniche

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One of the simple pleasures my family and I enjoy on a pleasant weather like this is a walk in the park. It doesn’t cost us much, refreshing, and the probable chance of meeting new friends. My daughter will enjoy her moments of freedom riding on her bike, while my husband and I will be sitting on one of the wooden benches sharing a cup of coffee with our fave doughnuts from Krispy Crème, which is available close by.  More than my need to unwind is my hubby who works on erratic shifts, where his body clock will definitely be begging for mercy if only it could scream out loud! Sooo, a relaxing time outdoor where the breeze, night air comforts his soul will do him tons of good…

As we strolled further ahead, we passed by a Dhow Restaurant that was anchored along the corniche. We were able to speak to one of the service crews who were standing just outside the restaurant’s entrance to welcome the guests. As we inquired out of curiosity, he’s gleaming with excitement talking about their Friday Arabic Buffet that costs AED50 per person and 50% off for children. What a happy chap! Maybe it’s worth a try one of these days… can’t help to wonder though if the pictures of the food on their menu taste as good as they look (wink)!

There were lots of people mainly families with their children enjoying their time at the park, less bothered of the haziness due to slight sand-storm … just like us, they too are taking advantage of the tail of the cold season before the summer finally begins. As for now, we’ll worry less and enjoy this lovely weather until it lasts.

By the way, it looks like the road facing the Sharjah corniche will be undergoing a major make-over! The whole stretch of its parking lot has been blocked by road cones and barriers.  The traffic this may cause looks inevitable.  Anyhow, “beautification and improvements require sacrifice”!

Hold on to thy peace 🙂