Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Aktiviti Musim Panas

Currently sweating under one layer of clothing and trying to hide the very visible sweat stains on my armpits.

This could only mean one thing.

Yup, confirm.com.my, I'm definitely home, home as in Malaysia. Tanah tumpahnya darahku.

It's been two weeks since my touchdown. Other than being completely disoriented under the jetlag spell for the first week, I've just been spending a lot of time with my favourite people. Nothing too interesting that I think is worth blogging about. Hence, the lack of posts.

If you've followed me on Twitter since Summer 2015, you might have come across my 'aktiviti musim panas' tweets all throughout my summer break that year. Those tweets were basically snippets of some of the more out of ordinary summer days, like that time I went for a roadtrip to Malacca with my family, and the day my friends and I went on a hunt for some good seafood lovin' at Pantai Remis, and the badminton games with the gang, etc. But I came to realise that I never wrote about the mundane days, the days of humdrum and being indoors and doing things ad nauseam, so I thought in this post I'd include those slightly less fancy things as well, just because.

So here we go, aktiviti musim panas (Summer activities) 2016.

I went to bazaar ramadan a few times. The first thing my tummy asked for was otak-otak, but I couldn't find it. My heart shattered as I walked from one stall to another only to see what, roti john, murtabak, nasi ayam, but no otak-otak in sight. I grew more and more irritated with each stall because isn't otak-otak like one of the syarat sah for a bazaar ramadan? It's not a bazaar ramadan if there's no otak-otak!!! Luckily my brother was a kind soul that day (other days he's annoying), he went to another bazaar and bought 10 otak-otak. I downed 7 in one go, and that was all I ate for iftar that day. Otak-otak was all I needed.

I've been doing domestic things around the house. I do the laundry. I sweep the floor. I clean my room. I try to do all of the dishes to make up for the fact that I don't cook in Malaysia. You might think, eh this girl, in London can cook, why in Malaysia cannot cook one? Dasar hipokrit, talam lima belas muka. Hahaha. I mean, that's not a completely baseless thought. In fact, your thoughts might mirror those of Mama's, Mama always prompts me to cook but every single time, I'd find a way to dodge her request. You need to understand, in London I cook because it's a necessary step to ensure my continuity of survival aka to stay alive, and I admit that I can cook, but that doesn't mean I'm good at it. Here in Malaysia, I feel like there's an unspoken kind of pressure about cooking for my own family. That Mama is one terrific cook doesn't help either, she sets the bar way too high and in a way, I feel like I ought to be at least half as good as her. Ke mana tumpahnya kuah kalau tak ke mulut kan. Ironically, though, I get scared of falling short of her & my own expectations of my cooking. So I cower in fear, with all these expectation clouds hovering densely above me, instead of rising to the challenge. In my case the kuah spills all over the table and creates a huge mess. We'll see how it goes, maybe one fine day I will find the courage to cook something for my family, but that one fine day is not today. Hehe.

I've also been seeing my best friends Amie & Almira almost every day, on some days I even see them 2-3 times in the same day. It's crazy how we cling onto each other as though we've always been doing it, as though the 9 months that I was away never actually happened hahaha. But I guess that's the kind of normalcy for me with them, we try to do everything together since we're literally just a 5-minute drive away from each other. We performed terawih prayers at the same surau, we went to the mall together, we moreh together, we crashed Amie's place to watch her bake raya cookies. We're basically inseparable, and I love that hehe.

And the other day we had moreh with a fraction of the gang - gang here refers to a group of my high school (lower form) friends who I've considered like the family that I get to choose, friends who I can tease and will tease me back and we go back & forth that way, sometimes it feels somewhat like a competition to see who teases better haha. I have yet to meet the whole gang because they always have some other competing needs that are more imperative than their need to see me >:( , so the quorum wasn't complete, yet. But it's okay, I'll take what I can get hehe.

I helped Mama & my aunt bake some raya cookies also!

I dragged my lazy arse and hustled my way to KL one day, and see, I've never been particularly fond of KL frankly speaking, but it was worth it, because I got to see Atika!!!! We went to the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, the one near Masjid Negara, and it was amazing. We were in awe throughout our whole time there to see how well the Islamic arts & scriptures were preserved. And to see the diversity in the arts as they come from different parts of the world. It reminded me of something, and that is, Islam was never about uniformity. But Islam celebrates the melange of our differences, in unity.

What an experience to visit the museum!!

But most importantly, Atika & I, we got to see each other, and it didn't actually matter where, as long as we're together we're good. Half of the time we're just jinx-twist-snap-ing each other and making bad puns but hey, that's my definition of having a good time hehe.

Summer also means I'm back to my Kakak Sheera duties. This time around, my duties commenced even before I set my foot in Malaysia. The call of duty beckoned me forth when I had a 9-hour transit in Doha, Qatar to see my uncle and his family, which includes Danish & Dayyan, the Double Trouble.

The scope of my Kakak Sheera duties includes helping the kids assemble the dinasour skeleton toy that I bought for them (and attempting to abate their frustration afterwards because I couldn't do it. That thing is so difficult even with instructions!!! Hahaha. Note to self : buy easy toys to avoid making a complete fool out of self in the future).

I thought that was a pain, but after reaching Malaysia the pain was only brought to greater intensities.

If you follow me on Instagram you'd know I spent one night playing this game called Freeze with Aqil, Fahim, and Arisha. What you don't know is that they made me play the game 7 times that night. And we also played hide and seek 4 times.

The other morning after Subuh prayer, Aqil came to me with shiny eyes asking for my permission to use my handphone. How do I say no to this little boy?! That's the thing, I don't. So I gave him my phone. And I spent a good 30 minutes listening to his stories about school, and some Arabic words he learnt at school, and cars. Cars. That boy loves cars. So he went on googling his favourite cars, and I knew NOTHING about the cars that he was showing me. And it wasn't even gibberish talk, he was telling me about horse power whatsoever, and it sounded legitimate, albeit rather alien to my ears. I kept listening to what that 8-year-old boy had to say. I love it when he's in the zone and his words come out like bullet train while he tries to simultaneously form coherent words for his age and get as much content in his head out in the open as soon as possible, lest he forgets what he wants to say. For all I know, he may have just bullshit-ed his way about the horse power stuff but I was fascinated. Kids and their boundless dreams & vehement passion. I love it, I love being a Kakak Sheera for the little ones in the family.

My History that morning. Bear in mind that Aqil typed everything himself

I had iftar with my MRSM friends!!!

I went back to my hometown one weekend to see Atuk & Nenek!! Hehehe. Atuk was ecstatic when I gave him a tshirt that boasts large block letters spelling LONDON! It was so cute to see his reaction which lasted for like 5 minutes before he retreated for his afternoon nap haha. Nenek made me sit next to her so I could put in the thread into the hole of the needle for her sewing machine, because she's too lazy to put on her glasses and do it herself. And I was more than glad to just sit there next to her & the chugging sewing machine. Honestly, family time is always a good time to me, be it just one quiet afternoon when Atuk is napping and Nenek sewing.

If you're wondering why the photos are a bit more HD.... Well. Hehehe.

I saved the best bit for the last.

My Zorro came back to life!!!! Remember I wrote about how it just died on me while I was hiking? It did!! It died!!! But now that it's in Malaysia, it just... Somehow... Nonchalantly came back to life.

I was dumbfounded when Ayah tried to turn it on and it just did, it turned on, just like that. And then Ayah started questioning me if the camera was even broken in the first place. I had a hard time convincing Ayah that it really was broken! Omg felt like I was being trolled by an inanimate object there for a second but never mind, Zorro is alive now. Zorro came back.

Bukan EXO je yang buat comeback k, Zorro pun. Hehe.

The past two weeks have been lovely, exactly how I want my summer break to be. How has your summer break been??

Oh and it's the last 10 days of Ramadan! I'm so thankful that I made it to the last leg of this magical month, now I'm just hoping that all of us will make it all the way through till the end. I hope Allah bestows upon us the strength to remain steadfast in search of His blessings. I want to come out of Ramadan not just losing kilograms, but also my greed, my envy, my resentment. Hope you achieve whatever your Ramadan goals are! Take care everyone!! :)

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Year 2 ✓

Second year of uni, done & dusted! Is it just me or did Year 2 just fly by like a G6? Though it went by swiftly, it sure was a turbulent ride. I had my fair share of good times and bad times in Year 2, so I thought maybe I'd write about some of them. So yeah. Here we go, danger :

1. KHouse

Allow me to just continue from the cheesiness in my last blog post and take the cheesiness up a notch by 10 factorial with a rhetorical question : What would I do without KHouse?

Cheesy, I know, but cheesy is what it is with KHouse. You can go through my posts labelled KHouse but what you'll find are just the stories that I decided to divulge to public. Truth is, there's a whole bunch of embarrassing & hilarious stories of KHouse that never saw published life outside my drafts, stories that would do more harm than good to our images in the hypothetical event of them escaping the draftland haha. KHouse have seen me at my worst and my best and consciously made the choice to stick by my side & continuously provide support for me.

I'm the kind of person who always gets worked up over exams, I'm your typical kiasu Asian who worries about exams like it's a matter between life and death. And it's not helping at all that I have exams every 2 months. KHouse taught me that it's perfectly fine to play card games for 15-30 minutes even when I have an exam the next day (17-year-old Sheera would have shaken her head in disapproval at the idea). KHouse taught me that it's of vital importance to get enough healthy sleep during exam season. KHouse took care of me when I fell ill a few times. KHouse legitimately worried for me and asked me to consider professional help because I talk to myself too much (but that's just because none of them would layan my endless ramblings...). KHouse always made my tummy happy because they're such amazing cooks. KHouse listened to my stories about bizarre cases and patients. KHouse blasted their playlists while showering, giving me that daily dose of radio DJ vibes. KHouse saw me in good hijab days and bad hijab days, and they also saw me in that horrifying period of time right after taking off my hijab when my hair's all flat and just... Ugly.

It's a miracle how we kind of clicked and got along right from the beginning. Sure each of us took our time before we went full gear showing our true colours and our weird habits transpired hahaha, but we're pretty much ngam ngam ho right from day 1 methinks. Here's some of our earliest photos together :

Genuinely laughing in the two photos above. Can't remember what we were laughing about, probably Emma, because we always laugh at Emma. Even Emma laughs at Emma, hahaha.

Our default seating arrangement. Emma on the sofa, Ulfah on the left side of the photo, me on the right side. This is where we have dinner, where our bond's severed over card games,...
... where we watch Running Man and The Return Of Superman and Exo's Showtime and Exo's music videos,...

... also where watched the live stream of Thomas Cup!

KHouse will forever remain as one of my fondest memories of uni life, and KHouse is a story I shall recite to my grandkids in the future (if I live long enough & fortunate enough to have shiny curious eyes looking up to me calling me 'grandma', that is).

2. Our landlord

is arguably the BEST landlord any tenants in their right mind could possibly ask for. He's always very considerate, caring, kind, thoughtful, always making sure that everything is functioning well in the household. If something gets broken or needs repair/maintenance, more often than not he came to rescue himself, bypassing the agents and their tedious procedures & whatnots, even for matters that didn't need urgent attention. I feel like we're downright spoiled tenants man haha. Sometimes when he came over, he'd sit down and talk to us about arts, history, and his past experience, over coffee. One time he showed off his skills of doing the crane origami with his eyes closed (!!!), and then told us the story behind it. During our exam time aka the time the stress (my stress, especially) was at an all time high, he came to check if everything's in order and if we're doing alright. He asked about our revision and exams and to Emma, about her dissertation.

He dropped by before I left for my flight back to Malaysia and gave me a card, which was really, really sweet of him.

Tertinggal H tapi takpe dimaafkan

What did we do right to deserve him as our landlord?!

I'm forever thankful to him for choosing us as tenants because his house is just... Perfect, for KHouse. It felt right to come back to the house from a long day at uni and call it our Home. I felt like we truly belong there and there's no where else I can imagine for us to take shelter from, other than his house.

3. Our neighbours

Monica (I think I mentioned her once before), we rarely see her but she's no less of an angel than our landlord. When I first came to view the house, Monica was still living in the house. While looking around the house & immediately falling in love with the house, I made small talk with Monica, and I saw her cat so I couldn't help but to squeal at her cat because I love cats & I don't get to see cats that much in the UK so the squeal was rather inevitable. She let me pat her cat. A lot of people came & showed interest in the house, so our landlord had to choose which tenants he deems best for the house, and I was told that Monica was the one who convinced our landlord to choose us. Cue EXO_Heaven.mp3 please because that 'Hello angel' line was written for her because that's what she is because what else could she be!! Honestly, I can't imagine where else we'd live if it weren't for Monica! Bless her. And also our next door neighbour who's a sweetheart for always trimming the wild grass at our back garden because none of us can be bothered hahaha. The men who operate the small convenience store literally 15 steps away from our front door. The man who sells fruits who we pass by every day on our way back from the tube, we call him Abang Buah because we don't know his name hahaha. The people we buy cheap veges and cheap chicken from. Iceland. Sainsbury's. Life at KHouse would be so difficult without these people so thank you!

4. PBL Group C6 Squad

The liveliest, loudest PBL group I've ever been in hahaha. I was sad that we had to go into new groups for the new modules because I grew really comfortable with the C6 squad. They're so funny and even though half of the time I don't get their British banter, I still find them funny!! I remember one time I explained to them how the Malays in Malaysia don't really use the surname system, they just lost their shit and they couldn't comprehend it.

Hahahah. They made PBL a fun learning experience for me and I really appreciate that. I'm rather timid in the UK, my self esteem just plummets to the core of the Earth whenever I'm surrounded by the locals here, because they talk so fast and it's difficult for me to keep up. I end up feeling stupid most of the time, but that's not the case with C6 Squad. They actually explained things very well to me whenever I don't understand something. That means a lot to an international student like me.

5. EXO

For accompanying me during boring tube rides, studying, working out (sit ups & planks je but shut up it's the effort that counts), showering; thank you for singing for me, EXO. I fell in love with them all over again (not that I ever fell out of love anyway...) when they dropped their double-title comeback!!!

No, you don't understand, I was anticipating for their comeback. When I accidentally watched the full leaked video of their dance practice, I instantly liked the English demo song, so I was honestly pumped up for their comeback. I continued watching the leaked video at least 100 times a day, every day. I kept up with the teasers and fan-made theories that came shortly after each teaser. With every teaser the levels just kept rising. It wasn't easy to manage my inner fangirl when my final exams were just around the freakin corner okay so when they released the music videos, I thought, goddamnit this better be worth it. And ugh, it was. They didn't disappoint.

EXO continues to surpass my expectations man, I don't even understand. In the demo song I thought something felt amiss during the second verse, like they missed a beat or something, and in the music video I noticed it again but MRJKPOP explained that apparently there's a subtle rhythmic variation thing going on??? (I love watching his videos because he analyses the musical aspect of songs, giving productions the justice they rightfully deserve, while I tend to focus on the vocals. 95% of the time I can't even follow as he marches on and on with some weird terms, but I was so happy I noticed the missing-beat thing that he pointed out! Made me feel smart for like 2 seconds haha) I love both Monster and Lucky One, but I love Monster a teeny bit more because of the intense music and fantastic choreography, but Lucky One's rap is so much catchier to my ears. A small part of me wishes they'd retained the English version of Monster's rap though, it's like a mantra, addicting.

Anyway, it's safe to say that Monster has officially replaced Exodus from my number one favourite EXO song. I LOVE IT. I didn't think anything could top Sehun's "Shawty Imma party 'till the sun down" or "Eommaya" or "Never don't mind about a thing", but "That's right, my type" proves me wrong.

And they've also upped their singing live game, like, all of them. Before this I was only confident about Baekhyun singing live, but this time around Jongdae has come a great mile in terms of controlling his breath, Kyungsoo can hold his notes a lot more stable, my boy Sehun has improved tremendously in his rap, Jongin has proven that he can indeed sing. And everyone just looks glorious in this comeback. I think Jongin must have given the rest of EXO lessons on how to play with facial expressions during performing because I see most of them pulling that smouldering gaze while dancing now, like they're all trying to get into their charisma in the performance. Which is good because it means they exert their stage presence with a certain kind of force & claim absolute attention in the entirety of their performance, keeping eyes peeled on them & the insane choreography. Honestly so, so impressed and proud of EXO. I love you EXO saranghaeee! Look at how regal my boys are haih :

Special thanks to SM for keeping Sehun's and Baekhyun's hair black.

6. The only constant is change

I'm a creature of habit and routine. There's a sense of comfort that comes with having things done in a certain order and a certain system. After A is B, and then C, and then D, and so on and so forth. It involves getting used to, it feels familiar, it becomes a safe zone that leaves very little room for spontaneity. But when something unexpectedly shows up and tampers with my conventional order of things, I perceive this as a signal of haywire, so it sends me into a mania.

Maybe that's why I survived boarding school, the order in which I carried out my daily activities - from waking up to sleeping at night - gave me the chance to build some sort of momentum to keep me going through the days. Thing is, that was boarding school, where everything was dictated. And that was Malaysia, where the length of day & night is only slightly variable throughout the year. In the UK, I tried to employ the same system/routine that I had in boarding school, so I can just simply follow and things will work out the same way they did in boarding school. But if there's one thing I learnt about studying abroad, it's that nothing stays constant for very long here. Subuh is around 7 a.m. during winter, and Maghrib around 4 p.m. My biological clock, for some reason, associates dinner time with maghrib, but it felt wrong to have dinner at 4 p.m. So some adjustments were necessary. Just as I was about to get the hang of my Winter routine, Spring kicked in, and then Summer, where Subuh is at approximately 3 a.m. and Maghrib around 10 p.m.

It was exhausting for me as I kept finding the right ways to accommodate for my sleeping hours and revision and meal times. That explains why my sleeping hours were completely wrecked during my finals, because what with Ramadhan, sahur, iftar, revision, exams; there was too much on my plate. I was basically a walking zombie.

And it's not just that. Disruptions, to me, can be in other various forms. Like, for example, after I come back from uni I try to make sure I recap everything I learnt from that day, to consolidate the information further. That's the drill. But obviously I can't spend 3 hours recapping the day's lessons in my room when I have friends coming over, right?? Obviously I have to entertain the guests. Or when Ulfah suddenly said "Korang jom main card!", obviously I can't just say No to that kind of distraction haha.

I don't know about you, but this sort of thing messes with my peace of mind. In Year 2, however, I slowly began to learn to just, go with the flow and let loose a little. Be a little less rigid about having things done my way, and more receptive to changes. I learnt that I need to listen to my mind and my body with regards to their oscillating needs, and act accordingly. My routine in boarding school may not be the best for my uni life, and that's okay. I learnt to find what works for me. And sometimes, things work only temporarily, and become obsolete after a certain amount of time, and that's okay, I guess? I don't know if I'm making any sense here.

7. God and His alchemy

I reckon that tough times are akin to a tunnel - dark and unknown and possibly winding. But I also know that a tunnel is not a cul de sac, there's a light at the end of it, but the only way to get there is to brave through the darkness. And I believe if God puts me in the tunnel in the first place, he'll get me through it, via his mysterious ways. Not once did He abandon me.

Monday, 20 June 2016

KHouse : Finale

(This post is WAY long overdue but I have to do this, before my memory fails me because this took place the week before my finals started)

If you follow me on Instagram, you'd know that Ulfah was the first among us to go back to Malaysia (because her exams finished early), so Emma & I sent her off at the airport, and you'd know that something happened.


It happened.

It FINALLY happened ; a photo of me, Emma, and Ulfah doing the Showtime pose. Without coercion. A photo with valid, informed consent. No shameless begging of "Korang jom lah buat pose Showtime, please, please, PLEASE??" from myself involved. No funny faces from Emma & Ulfah ensued.

God must have heard all my prayers :')

But what good is a mere photo; a static, motionless tableau of the three of us with the end result of the pose when the magic only shines through the process of striking the pose??? Since this is my blog and you are my readers and you must have been severely deprived of my posts, I shall treat you to something more than just a photo, because a photo is worth, like, what, a thousand words?

Pfsh. I'm Asian, not Bsian. Why stop at a thousand right? Go bigger. Aim higher. Make it billions! GAJILLIONS even.

Voila :

"A gif is worth a gajillion words" -Shahirah Hasbullah, 2016.

There's actually a riveting history behind this success. You know what they say, Rome wasn't built in a day, I definitely didn't get my wish served in a silver platter & handed to me as breakfast in bed upon request, I mean have you read my previous posts about how hard it was to get them to do this pose??? I worked for it ok so I earned this.

So sit back and enjoy the chronicle of my story of success. And take notes, kids.

One fine day, Emma & Ulfah went out to Westfield Shopping Mall in Stratford while yours faithfully had to answer the call of duty of being a student facing her final exams thus had to attend some revision classes at uni. After the revision classes, I went through an uneventful journey home and arrived to a room that screamed "EXAMS!" from every corner.

I put down my bag (read : the burden of a student weighing down my shoulders), and sighed when I took it all in : My room. The papers. The books. The empty house. The sheer terror of exams coming to attack me in a few days' time, a warfare was imminent. I was about to go on a lockdown as final exams slowly began sucking the life out of me and then

my phone quivered in my pocket. The screen lit up.

It was the KHouse whatsapp group (then, the group was named 'Yeoreobun' because that was just about the most Korean thing they could tolerate on their phone screens, I had to make do with it).

Emma sent a photo of Ulfah wearing a pair of white sneakers.

I knew those sneakers the exact moment I saw them. Emma'd been eyeing those sneakers for monthsssss but she never got around to actually purchasing them (we didn't allow her because she kept splurging her money on something else so the sneakers were never justified) but what got me flummoxed was the fact that Ulfah was the one wearing them in the photo that day.

Then suddenly Ulfah sent "Weh korang jom beli sorang satu".

Oh my God Emma brainwashed Ulfah into liking the sneakers as well..... Apparently Emma took her own sweet time in the retail shop being indecisive about whether or not she should buy the sneakers, too long of her sweet time, that Ulfah turned irate she decided to try them on herself. Fate had it that the sneakers felt nice on her feet, so now Ulfah wanted to buy them. But she wanted me to buy them as well.

Aka she wanted all of us to buy the white sneakers.

Aka she wanted the three of us to look like we just scored a buy 1 free 2 deal from a nearby thrift store, which isn't exactly a bad thing I mean I am a cheapskate after all hewhew.

They were still in the grey area of limbo between buying and not buying at this point.

That was when I saw my chance.

I told them if the three of us were going to buy the same sneakers, they'd have to promise me that we'll take a photo where all three of us strike the Showtime pose. And I told them there was no other way to get me into buying the damn sneakers than making this promise. Take it or leave it. I wanted to sound like a firm, no nonsense, no bullshit lady boss who has the world wrapped around her finger. I saw my chance and I took it. That was it, that was my last ditch effort to get a photo I'd been dreaming about.

And then it was the waiting game. There's a time for everything and when it's time to wait, you wait. So I waited for their final word. To seal the agreement, or to call it off altogether.

Will I ever get the Showtime photo that I'd been praying for all this time???

Or were they just toying with my feelings, raising my hopes up only to let them go on a free fall, face first into the ground??

Ulfah replied "OKAY" (all caps, guys, all caps), followed with "Anything for new shoes!!!".

Okay cun onz.

I immediately changed the Whatsapp group name.

Oh the sweet, sweet taste of glory.

So, we bought the same sneakers, all three of us. Kasut tema KHouse.

The next day we went to the airport sporting our new impeccably white sneakers. I think some people in the tube noticed but oh what the hell. It was our last day as a complete, fully functional unit of KHouse before Ulfah flew back, so I was going to seize the day, no stranger in the tube giving side-eye can take it away from me.

They told me to think of each one of the pair as from each of them. Meaning one of my pair of sneakers is from Ulfah, another from Emma. One of Emma's is from me, and another from Ulfah. One of Ulfah's pair is from me and another from Emma.

How cheesy is that???


But ugh I like cheesy. And I think this warrants something along the line of "I love you KHouse" as well. Haih. But I'll save the cheesiness for another post dedicated entirely to my Year 2 Journey, which is largely about KHouse anyway to be completely honest, maybe, idk, should I??

But that, kids, was how I got the Showtime photo. That was how I finally turned my KHouse dream into a reality. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it.

Kemain hahaha.