Eid Mubarak and Merry Christmas

I love Asia. I really do. An early Happy Eid and Merry Christmas to everyone.

Home away from home!

As I approach my third year of 'expat-dom' I realize that my life in Kuala Lumpur will come to an end soon. This thought leaves me homesick even though I am still here and have no idea when will I leave. Please note that by 'home' I am talking about Malaysia. How funny is that?

Below are some of the things that I love and will really miss about my home away from home;

  • The monkeys in the street I live in. Where else will I wait for a taxi with a monkey standing next to me?
  • The GREEN color everywhere especially when it rains. To me everything looks like a hand painted masterpiece and the vibrant colors feed my soul.
  • The smell of Durian! Yes, I love the smell even though I haven't had the guts to taste it yet.
  • The Food! But thats another post :)
  • The night markets. Is there anything more fun than walking around a night market nibbling on some satays and murtabak? I like to pretend I blend in - Satu kik kok, berapa? terima kasih :)
  • Touch and Go - my husband and I think its the best invention since sliced bread!
  • Bookshops. Need I say more?
Watch this space for more additions.

Ladies of Leisure

A friend in Cairo asked me how I spent my day. This incident took place a few months ago. At first, I was eager to share. I said that I went for a foot reflexology session with a few of my girlfriends then followed it with brunch and some shopping. I didn't realize how trivial I sounded. Like I was swimming in a sea full of massage, coffee, fancy malls and small talk. I could see the image I'd drawn out for myself and I didn't like it. Not one bit.

But I can't blame anyone for the thoughts they think when I say things like that. Before quitting my job, getting married and moving away with my husband, I thought of expat wives as women who have a lot of time on their hands; women who have an endless stream of maids abiding to their every request. I thought that they spent all of their time lunching and being the ladies of leisure that people thought they were. Have I found people like that here that fit the stereotype? Not completely. I can definitely understand where it stems from.

The cleaning service that we have hired come on a weekly basis. The girls who are sent are always different ones and do not speak English so I have a tough time communicating. I have developed super sign language techniques and walk around the house with a Bahasa-English dictionary. I have learned to say "tzans seet" instead of "change sheets". But do they listen to me? Mostly not. I end up having to re-do many things I asked them to. Am I lucky to have someone to clean my house "properly" once a week? Yes. Am I agitated every time they leave? Yes. And do I still have to dumb-down myself to communicate? Sadly... yes.

Oh, and something additionally not so glamorous, with a quiet house I've discovered that you can hear our neighbors' flush. Every time. Pleasant! :)

'Have you taken your breakfast yet?'

It never ceases to amaze me how Malaysians are totally intrigued by whether I have had my breakfast/lunch or dinner depending on what time of day it is. I am asked this question on a daily basis by taxi drivers, my hair dresser, receptionists everywhere and even at the laundromat. At first I thought the reason for this was because they had food on their mind 24/7 - just look around, people are eating all the time here. Have you ever seen a Nando's anywhere in the world with a waiting list at 11am? Anyways, it turns out that this is the number one social greeting here, without it you will face a very awkward silence. This is why I am still asked this even during Ramadan, when I am supposed to be fasting. One would think my veil would give me away but surprisingly (or not) it doesn't. Only in Malaysia Lah :)

I'm Essmat and I moved to Kuala Lumpur on February 15th, 2007 with my husband. I find it to be a very fascinating place and the mix of cultures keeps me entertained most of the time. Living in Kuala Lumpur is quite different than living in any other part of the world. Even though it is quite cosmopolitan with a million nationalities and the hustle & bustle of a major city, I feel like I am living in a cocoon sheltered from the real world. If you never leave then you might actually forget that there is life elsewhere. This explains why 9 out of 10 times when I am asked where do I come from, Egypt doesn't ring a bell. Occasionally though I get aaaaaah Egypt!! UAE right?? Trying to explain is sometimes futile so I recently stopped and just smile back politely.

As Sarah mentioned, time passes quietly here and as an expat wife with Google being your best buddy it can make you insane. Or maybe thats just me since the voices in my head were never this loud back in Egypt - lol. I think thats why God intervened and sent me Sarah, a great friend who shares a lot of my freaky thoughts as well as past and current life phases. Maybe I'm not that insane afterall! :)

Broccoli Bunches and Dew Drops

Wallflowers don't make for beautiful blossoms, but how can you change that when you are still blossoming and never considered yourself a wallflower in the first place?

I'm Sarah and I arrived in Malaysia on the 10th of March, 2008 with my husband and stepped into a world that I didn't know I'd come to find comfort in. Malaysia really turned out to be truly Asia. It's a fusion of colors and cultures and the people are emphatically friendly and erratically slow. The hours pass quietly, but the days pass quickly.

Kuala Lumpur in my opinion:
1. looks like giant broccoli bunches.
2. feels like drunk Chinese people trying to balance themselves on a tight rope. You can't help but join in the chaos and restlessness of right hand drive.
3. smells like Dunhills and food you've never heard of before.
4. tastes like dew drops that resurface when you wipe them away.

This is home now but for how long? And what kind of emotional ties am I creating with this country? I wish I could answer so many questions but the answers elude me. That's why I have Essmat, wedding cake extraordinaire, my friend, my partner in crime and now my blogging buddy. :)