My return to Brisbane

It’s been 11 years since I graduated and left Australia. Brisbane holds many fond memories for me… 3 years is a considerable amount of time to spend in a country. Today, I landed in Coolangatta airport and traveled by train to Brisbane city. Proudly, I showed Alex where one place relates to another, where my university was, and related stories about how I used to travel around by bus and car, and even driving to Sydney and back from Brisbane in my old 1985 Honda Civic. Yup, my friends and I made it without the car breaking down.

Seeing my old room in my uncle’s home where I used to stay for 3 years made me a little sentimental. It’s funny, I think I recognize the 3 plastic gerberas that are sitting in a vase in that room. I am sure those were the flowers I left behind 11 years ago. Gerberas were my favourite flower then.

After our first meal in Australia (dim sum at a Chinese restaurant, haha!), we went to visit Jeta Gardens, a retirement and aged care resort that is based on eastern values and philosophies. My uncle sits on the board of directors and ever since we heard about it, we knew we wanted to visit the place.

In Malaysia, if you talk about going to a retirement home, there is a stigma involved. Most people would feel guilty about ‘abandoning’ their parents at an old folks home. No one wants to be left behind at a place where they sit, stare at the 4 walls and await their ‘time’. At Jeta Gardens, there is a completely different mindset. People who come here are at various stages of their life. They see this place as a resort, a place where their needs can be met, a place to socialize and make new friends, and to be independent. Some of the elderly who live here are really able-bodied. They can drive, are fit and full of life. Then there are those that need 24 hour care.

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My sis and I

It’s quite a rare thing that I appear in magazines. Especially not when I am featured at ages 9, 11, 15 and 31. Some time back, I was contacted by a writer from Her World, asking my sis and I whether we’d be interested in a feature on sisters. We said yes… and this April issue, the article is out! Can you spot which childhood photos are mine on the first page?

Actually, I wish the article gave a more balanced perspective, since they interviewed both my sister and I. But it was written from one perspective only. Well, at least the photo of us together is nice! Secretly, I wish that features like these would highlight my skills as a photographer, not as a sister! Narcissistic? Of course not! *grin*

PS: I know the paper above is wrinkled! My father was a little enthusiastic when he saw the photo of my sis and I.

Our Home

350 square feet. That’s about the amount of space I have for myself since Alex and I moved out of our home last August. It was stressful looking for a new house when you have to move out of your old place by a certain date. Well, we’ve purchased a new place, and started the renovations end of last year. After going through a few hurdles like waiting for ages for MBPJ to approve our renovation plans, things finally picked up beginning of this year.

My 350 square feet of space is Alex’s old bedroom in his parent’s home. I am not complaining, because I completely enjoy having home cooked meals waiting for me when I get home from work daily! Yup, totally spoilt by my wonderful in-laws.

According to my contractor, the home should be ready by May. Frankly, I don’t completely enjoy looking through the details of what needs to be done for the home, how many lights to buy, what kind of roof profile we should have, how many inches should the switch be from the door… I am not a very meticulous person by nature. Combined with my short term memory¬†(we have to call the termites guy to do the treatment… what? you mean he’s already done the treatment? when?!!! *alex rolls eyes*), it becomes a recipe for disaster – especially for my relationship.

Alex and I have gone through many tense moments while planning for the house. Today, I went to the tile shop to purchase tiles, proud that I had brought all the measurements with me… only to find out that I didn’t bring the designs from our ID! Alex wasn’t overly pleased. My puppy dog look didn’t help at all. So, people, if you want to test your relationship, go buy and renovate a house together.

Luckily for me, Alex is a rather forgiving person. And I’ve learnt to say sorry… many many times.

Turning Older…

Another year has passed and I am older yet again. On my trip from Istanbul to Cappadocia I met 2 students (from Portugal & Italy) who are on holiday. They are amazed that I am 10 years older than they are. Hahaha… good thing I still have my ‘youthful’ looks. Birthdays are not so special anymore as you get older… in fact, I had to calculate my age as I could not remember how old I was turning!

My clients in Turkey, Edwin and Dawn, were so sweet and bought me a chestnut cake. It was delicious! And the best thing was that we managed to share it with all the people traveling on the public bus we were on. Tonight, we will be going to a local restaurant, and hopefully I get to try the famous clay jar meal in Cappadocia!

I am reminded of this phrase today, quoted by Steve Jobs… “Live every day as it is your last, for one day, you will be right.”

It’s a reminder to me that life is so temporal. Yes, I am celebrating life today, but who knows what tomorrow will hold for me. If I am spending my life doing things that I do not believe in, then one day, I will surely regret it. I need to live each day with the conviction that what I am doing is eternal, and that it is leaving a legacy. I believe in living life to the fullest… but not alone. I am grateful to have Alex and my family and friends with me as I walk this journey of life. But most importantly, I have God by my side.

The 14th of February

Valentine’s Day. It brings back memories of childhood infatuations and dreams, wishing that that guy would somehow notice you and give you a rose. Even if it was only one rose. Or a little note. Or maybe even a phone call.

But of course those things never happened. And when you’re 15 in an all-girl’s school, seeing those other kids receiving roses from the boys in the school-next-door, you kind of feel… neglected. I tried to convince myself then that Valentine’s Day is nothing special. Roses are expensive anyway, and who cares whether you got one or not? But one day, I received roses. A dozen of them. And surprisingly, I was embarrassed. COMPLETELY.

I wanted the attention, and yet I didn’t. You see, I didn’t expect it from this guy!

Well, years later… I still can’t recall a good Valentine’s Day memory. The importance of Valentine’s Day faded and I didn’t really care whether my boyfriend and I celebrated it. Now that it’s my fifth year of marriage, I think about it even less. But little did I know that I was in for a surprise this year…

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