Monday, November 30, 2009

Of Sickness and Appointment

I was down with flu the past week. And my cough was getting worse everyday. And the cold weather is no help for proper recovery at all. What with the swine flu still around, it is difficult to get an appointment with the GP. My first call to set an appointment I was asked to come at 11.00 a.m. but when they asked if I have fever and I answered yes, I was told to wait for a call from the Health Centre to determine whether I should turn up for the appointment. And of course after I told them I have fever, I was advised to monitor myself for the next 40 hours and only if my fever subside and my cough gets worst should I call again for an appointment. In the meantime I was advised :

(i) to continue with my O-T-C medication (that's nurofen and benylin mucus cough)
(ii) not to go out as I may "distribute my germs" to everyone else - and I felt so horrible imagining myself full of germs and as I open my mouth my "germs" went flying to a new host - double horrible!
(iii) not to attend class for the reason in (ii). When I asked for medicical chit, I was told that for the first three days of sickness I am allowed self-certified sick leave. I will only need to produce one if it prolonged. OK. So, I sent an email to my Lecturer and true enough he's OK with it and asked me to "Take Care" and "Get Well Soon".

And finally last Friday, after my fever subsided and of course my cough worsened (it came to a point where I felt like my rib cage is going to burst and my diaphram is getting loose every time I cough) I managed to get an appointment with the GP. And the verdict? It is showing signs of early bronchitis "But not to worry (the young GP told me) normally your own bodily immune system will take care of it - give it 2 - 3 weeks, you will be fine". Well, I thanked him and told him, since my phlegm is changing colour to green, can I at least have some anti-biotics? And can I also have a medical chit since I am going to miss classes and as we are talking, I have my Investment class going on". "Of course I can give you that. No problem at all." And with that I thanked him again and took my leave.

That's just the first part of it. Now, getting the prescribed medication is not as straight forward either. You have to bring your prescription note to the pharmacy, hand it over to the Pharmacist/Chemist and normally you'll be asked to come back in half an hour time for them to get it ready. You pay your £4 and come back for your medication at the given time - then only you complete your "medicational quest". Well, at this moment I really miss our family physician back in Shah Alam - Dr. Suzet. Maybe one of these days, I will give her a call and thank her for all that she did for us all these while.

Sources of images : Pills from; chart on bronchitis from

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pillar No. 2

My husband Mi had started work at one of the chicken factories in Forfar (about half an hour away from our place)since two weeks ago - a day after our two boys arrived. Each morning he will wake up at 4.00 a.m. and by 4.30 a.m. he is already out of the house braving the cold Autumn morning. And he will be back at 2.30 p.m. or 2.45 p.m. On days when I have classes to attend, he will send me to the School. On the days when I do not have any class, sometimes he will be called by the owner of Al-Noor Halal Food to work (he works part-time there on an on-call basis). So, he somewhat is juggling between two jobs.

Well, when we decided to my furthering my studies we already know that we are not going to go through an easy path. We sacrificed a lot really and one of those is the comfortable life that we have been enjoying for quite some time. Sending him off to work in the morning I can't help feeling sorry for him - but it is our decision - not my own.

Anyway, what I am going to write about today is about his employers. He works at the chicken factory as a slaughterman. His working hour is from 5.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. Monday to Thursday. And on Friday, it is from 5.30 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. to enable everyone to perform Friday prayers. Our Friday prayer is currently held at 1.10 p.m. Well, that's very different from what it is back home.

And now, his Boss at Al-Noor is Abu Ziad (not sure of his own name - Abu Ziad is simply the father of Ziad and of course Ziad his son is also working at the shop with him - an ex-Principle from Iraq who started his business many years ago). Well, according to Mi, he is very particular about cleanliness (oh yes, Mi's job at the shop is to cut the chicken into pieces according to customers' needs - they provided him with a week on-the-job training) and another thing he is very particular about is prayers. When it comes to prayers, he will be the one who remind his employees and ask them to perform their prayers - there are times when all of them will be performing prayers in jamaah with Abu Ziad and the Imam or sometimes, he just close the shop and walk together with all his employees to the nearby Dundee mosque to perform their prayers.

>Now, how many employers back home are doing this? How many even bother whether their employees are praying. Abu Ziad is one Moslem in a non-Moslem country understood very well about his utmost duty to his employees and his greater duty to his Creator - while back home, we call ourselves Moslem staying in a Moslem country where we do not have any problem or obstacle in performing our greatest duty but still we are not doing - I feel so small and so embarrased with the Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate coz I too have in many occasions back in my own country not looking at what He had set out in His Pillars as I supposedly be.

Is it true that being far from home one just cannot help but feel closer to one's Creator? And being far away, we are always thankful for Him for every bit of everything (no matter how small or in waht shape) that He send our way. I hope it is not due to the distance - I hope it is because we really want to improve ourselves and so this journey is not just a jihad but a pilgrimage at the same time (:-D

(Images from ordinance survey map, and

Life ... Dundee

Dundee is still considered relatively lower in terms of living cost than other cities in Scotland (cannot say the same with England, though). Or perhaps because we are here on our own funding we are very cautious about spending. Only at Errol (the biggest car boot sale at this part of Scotland) we can let ourselves offguard.

Errol has somewhat become like an epidemic for us around here, me included. Since our kindly neighbour Taufik introduced us to Errol the first Sunday we're here, we never missed it yet. In fact we are looking forawrd to it. It's like some kind of therapy on one side or just, hmmm... I'm not sure.

Well, here there is nothing much to do except going to class, library, having discussion and meeting your lecturers should you want to discuss anything further on the courses you are taking. This sem I am only taking three subjects. And that is 2 hour class each per week for each subject. In a week there are only 6 hours of class. Too little, you may asked? Well, though there are only 6 hours of class, the reading list for each subject can go as long as River Tay. At this level, one is required to be mature enough to have the responsibility of being able to study and to read all the journals and website of interest in the reading list - well, it is quite tough though!

So, Errol comes in handy as a place of therapy - here the price of each item on sale starts from 50p (last week I bought 3 Daniel Steel books - Wanderlust (Love it - read it for so many times before but still wanting to read it - that's it, after my exam ended on December 17, 2009), Secrets and Fine Things - all three for 50p. Weeks before, we bought a thick hardcover book of Thomas the Tank Engine for £1 but the seller threw a 2 or three smaller books as well, we bought 2 Thomases for £1.50 and we got two Thomas & Friends jigsaw puzzles for free. By the way, our Aqil is crazy over Thomas. And Mia, she got a dollhouse with all the accessories for £2.

Oh yes, did I tell you? It gets dark by 4.30 now. And though some days it's sunny, it is still cold and windy - though we have a playground close-by, it is too cold to be outside - so, as an alternative we let our children get the toys/books of their fancy each week to occupy their time. We can't let them be dull boys and girl can we? Even Danish and Hakim who had just arrived two weeks ago are looking forward to Errol.

Other than Errol, we made our purchases at Charity Shops - a lot of them around - St. Margarite's Hospice, British Red Cross, British Heart Foundation, Shelter, Save the Children Charity Shop and of course Oxfam. Though we bought my laptop quite expensively when we first came (well, brand new at Currys) now we know where to look for cheaper goods - none other than Dundee Gumtree - Life is quite good. But of course we frequent Tesco (their reduced item sections at the end of the day is not bad either)and Al-Noor Halal Food for our groceries, Pound Stretcher and £1 shop for things like laundry basket and the like, all-in-all it is bearable.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

They Are Here!!!

I saw them almost coming out of the entrance. But I can't embrace them. A uniformed officer came to me and said "I have to ask you a few questions before I can let them go!" Not wanting to go against any rules or regulations I succumbed to her wish. And yet deep inside, I became impatient - can't she just let me hug them first? It's been nearly two months and now this. Can't I at least hug them? Then I will answer all the questions even if it takes a whole day. But looking at her face I know there's no chance for me to apply my wish into practice.

Then the questions came. Though she kindly explained it is formality I can't help feeling intergorrated.
"Who are you?"
"You have an identity with you?"
"Let me have you passport please, for verification."
"What are you to them?"
"Why do you leave them in the first place?"
"What are you doing here in Dundee?"
"How long are you going to be here?"
"Where do you study"
"What subject did you read?"
"Who will care for them when you have to attend class?"
"What is your husband doing here?"
By the time we are finished, I was so.. exhausted.
"Ok. Thank you M'am. I have to do that - You do understand it is part of my job? And thank you. Believe me, your children have been very good and very pleasant to have. They are very polite and they have very good English - a credit to you. Please wait here while I get their passports stamped. Thank you." And she left. And we have to wait a few minutes before I can really embrace my children. How I miss them. Damia and Aqil who have been watching from far came running hugging their brothers. My husband who's trying to keep it cool just can't hang on anymore - How good it is to be united again. Finally after nearly two months I have all my family members with me. Danish and Hakim sre here in Dundee. With me. With us. Life feels so complete. They might be naughty at times - they may not be model children. But they are mine! And I love them fault and all!

Yes. They have been travelling as Unaccompanied Minors. Taking Emirates from KLIA with a stop-over in Dubai and taking connecting flight to Glasgow - I feel so proud of them! Though there are officers in-charged making sure that my children arrived safely in Glasgow - I can only thank them and pray that they have a good pleasant life - Thank you so much for bringing my children to me. And maybe for some, it is nothing but to me, I am proud of them for being brave in taking the journey - their first ever long-haul trip alone. And Thank You Al-Mighty for bringing my children back in my arms.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Get Me To The School On Time!!!

A few days after we arrived, Damia was asking when will she start schooling. I told her that I will work it out and she had to be patient. After meeting with the Asst Head Teacher of the school closest to our home and confirming that there is one place available for her (Well, actually we knew that there is a place for her as our kind neighbours Taufik & Aeni had informed us earlier) , we have to go to the Education Department to make the application.

It was quite a few days before we received the response - Just a short one - I hereby agree with your application for your child Damia Qistina to be enrolled at St Ninian Rc Primary School. Please contact Ms Veal, the Head Teacher for arrangement. She may start schooling after the break on October 19, 2009.

What a relief! And for the week before she started going to school, she kept on asking why she must wait for so long? Though we explained to her that it's because the school is closed for holiday, she kept on asking.

And finally when the day came, she was so excited. At one point, I was very nervous. Can she take the longer hour? School starts at 9.00 and ends at 3.15 here. Back in Malaysia, the nursery she went to is only from 8.30 to 11.30.

When we piled into Ms Veal's office that morning, she gave us an option, "Perhaps for these two weeks you may want to have her back during lunch time at 12? I understand how stressful it could be for her, what with the longer hour here and the stress of having to listen to different language the whole day. Come back at 12.00 and we'll see how she's doing. If she wanted too, you can take her home with you."

Now, that's a relief. We quickly accepted her suggestion. Then it was time to bring Mia to her classroom and meet her Class Teacher, Mrs Young.

After exchanging Good Morning and a few words, came the time when Mrs Young announced to the children "You are lucky today. We have Damia to join us..." And before she continue, a young voice came "Please Mrs Young, can I set a space for her? Is it ok for her to sit beside me?". "Oh yes... That is kind of you, Katherine, of course she can sit beside you." And Katherine came to the front, took Mia by the hand and said "Come, let me show you where we can put your lunch box and your jacket" and off they went hand-in-hand. And while all these are happening I just can't really explain how I felt - it is so sweet and kind of Katherine (did I tell you that all the children in Mia's class are only 5 year old?)and it is so beautiful to see how a child having no discriminating thought at all. Their act is so pure and it just gives you a lump in the throat.
When I mentioned that to Ms Veal, she smiled. "Yes, it does give you a lump in the throat" she said. Before we left, we asked Aqil to shake hand with the Head Teacher. As we trained all our children to salam cium tangan, that's what he did and Ms Veal was all smile in her face. "That melts my heart" she said.

When we got there at 12.00 and asked Mia if she wanted to go home, she politely declined and said "I want to stay". And Ms Veal was smilling, "That's easy isn't it? If more children are like this on their first day of school, I'll be having less problem."

Last Friday was the "parent-teacher meet" day. Since I have class to attend only my husband went to see Mrs Young. And we are glad that Mia is doing well and there's no report on bad behaviour.

Oh yes, did I mention that Katherine is her best friend? And now she said Olivia too. She asked me last week if I can give our address to Katherine and Olivia to come over to our house. I said I will have to meet their Mum or Dad first, asking for permissions. And until then, I will have to have another trip to Errol,....

(Note : Errol Airfield holds the largest car boot sale here in Dundee. It's every Sunday from 8.30 to hmm... I'm not sure. But here is where we spend our money - why spend elsewhere when we can get a "Barbie laptop" for £1.50?, children's books for 50p to £1 (sometimes they even give you free books and toys). Toys? it's between 20p to £1 - though 2nd hand it's all in good condition....)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away!....

It's been one month since we are here. Summer changed into Autumn. Though it's a beautiful sight what with the leaves turning brown, gold, red and yellow, it is hard
to enjoy the beauty - Rain marred it all. Though I like rain but if it keeps on raining whole day for a few days - sometimes day and night, well, it dampens the spirit and it affects sanity too!

Yes! It's been raining. Sometimes half a day but more often the whole day and night and lucky for us that we are staying further up the hill. If not, we will be joining our neighbours who are staying at lower places - it's flooding there last weekend.

However, last Wednesday was such a beautiful day. It's a day too good to spend inside. However, I have no choice. I have to be in the library for group disussion. All of us would love to just bask in the sun but the thought that we are here to study and that exam is just around the corner stopped us from doing so. Hmm.... (the downside of being a student).

Anyway, raining or not, I managed to get my husband to drive us around the area. Here let me share some photographs from our "short-drives" to Glasgow (to purchase tickets for my two children to come over), Perth (to Parcelforce Office to send the tickets to Malaysia - oh yes! by the way, the Royal Mail is on strike here!), Broughty Ferry (the beach), Abroath (buying fresh fish) and St Andrews (what else? Charity shops....!). Opps, the photos are not quite in that order(:< I am suppose to complete the first draft of my Corporate Governance paper this week but if it is not raining tomorrow I would like to go for a drive to the 5 glens in the Blairgowrie area. Not quite a devoted student am I?