Friday, December 10, 2010

Reflections of Michaelmas Term

How time flies! It's the end of Michealmas term and what a term it has been! Adjusting to Cambridge and living the Cantabrigian way of life; rushing to attend all the thought-provoking seminars, formal hall swaps, dialogues and outings with friends, cooking, giving a book talk (complete with ondeh-ondeh and kuih keria), rowing amidst freezing weather on River Cam, studying until the wee hours of the morning, overcoming Fresher's Cold. So many things to do, so little time. argghhh...
I remember this conversation I had with John Stanley, my Bikeability Trainer:

John: So how do you find Cambridge?
Me: It's amazing... But I feel that I'm not working as hard as I should...
John(laughs): Whenever I asked this question to Cambridge students, ALL of you said the same thing!

And to top the madness of the term, there was the Burglary in my room in Week 5, leaving me traumatised, MacBook Pro-less, data-less... basically all my 'life' was gone in a mere dinner slot :( Well, at least I wasn't harmed... thank God.

As per Rumi, "Don't grieve. Anything you lose comes around in another form."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Where in the world is the Gedung Kuning Book? - Part 4

The Gedung Kuning book is in Oxford University's libraries!
*Thanks Helmi & Nik for the lovely photos :)

The GK book is now available in the British Library, British Museum, SOAS Library, Cornell University Kroch Library and the Ohio University Library. Hurrah!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Minah in Cambridge - Michaelmas Term

After all that misplaced documents and delayed visa drama, I'm finally matriculated at Newnham College, University of Cambridge. This Minah is now officially a student of Cambridge, the best university in the world! At matriculation (we were dressed in our gowns), we had to sign our names in the grand book only with a fountain pen.

"The reason why we need you to sign in this book, which will be kept in the university for eternity, is because when you win a Nobel Prize, we can tell the world that you were once a student of our college."

Such statement is so inspiring, unlike the statement given to me by a certain Malay community leader who said I will be a nuisance to society upon graduating from Cambridge. So that leader is implying that all Cambridge graduates (world leaders, countless Nobel laureates, scientists, acclaimed writers) are also nuisance to society? Has the Malay society regressed to the era of Hang Nadim, where young intelligent minds were killed by those in power when they could have otherwise nurture what could have been the country's future leaders? What a shame! Our community is in desperate need of good role models who are not singers, artists or glorified personalities with no real passion to help others. Sedarlah Melayu Singapura!

*See Cambridge photos on my Facebook

Where in the world is the Gedung Kuning Book? - Part 3

The Gedung Kuning book has found a home in the Cambridge University's libraries!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

So long, farewell...

I was supposed to fly off to England on 17 Sept... but alas due to some documents being misplaced and the delay caused, I only managed to do my visa on 13 Sept. Sigh... Cubaan! The trials & tribulations! I pray that I'll get my visa soon so I can fly off just in time to be at Cambridge on 1 Oct.

I do however enjoy the extra time spent with family and friends. Oh how I will miss everyone! :( Although it's sad to leave loved ones behind, this opportunity is too good to pass.

Here's to a new adventure, a new dream, a new hope, a new love.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Land of the Thunder Dragon

Yes, I'm back from Druk Yul (Bhutan), the Land of the Thunder Dragon. What an experience volunteering on the Singapore International Foundation's Bhutan W.I.R.E.D project. Tiring, as Faizah and I were travelling from one village to another every 2 days. Felt like a rock band on tour (yes Germaine, you're the best rock band manager!). Extreme weather differences, lots of mossies and creepy crawlies, winding roads, wonderful polite students, sexy men in Gho, marijuana (ganja) growing wildly along the roads. No wonder Bhutanese are the happiest people on earth! *grin...

More photos will be posted on my FB when I fully recover from the vomiting bout (yep, was fasting in Bhutan and the body lacks the fluid to wash down the Malaria pills...). Ahh, the joys of volunteer work!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Moi in Manja

Grab a copy of Manja magazine, August issue!
I'm featured in "Raikan lembaran baru' (Celebrate a new chapter) article - page 42

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Birthday Celebrations @ Darul Ma'wa

I thought I would have a quiet birthday this year. Lo and behold, Fauziah Hanim invited me to celebrate my birthday with the children of Darul Ma'wa! Darul Ma'wa is a Children's Home for orphans and children from disadvantaged families of various race and religion.

I'm so excited! I've ordered cupcakes from Kak Su of Lydia's Oven and I've prepared little favours for the children as well as gifts for the top 10 male and female students who excelled in their exams. I will be having a book reading and will give the home 2 books: my Gedung Kuning book and The Phantom Tollbooth.
What great fun it will be!

Friday, July 02, 2010

A Minah in Cambridge

Gwen, my former colleague and internationally-acclaimed designer (yes she is to us!) made this pencil holder-cum-coaster for me (her farewell gift). Aww... This can be the cover of my next book "A Minah in Cambridge" :)

Where in the world is the Gedung Kuning Book? - Part 2

The book has travelled to the Land of the Midnight Sun!
Magnus Harsem bought the book online from Norway.

His posting on 'Gedung Kuning Book @ Facebook': Hi to all... and greetings from the Land of the Midnight Sun. I loved Hidayah's book... all the short stories were recounted with love and a vivid memory and I am sure lots of interviews with loved ones.. I have been asked which was my fav. story.. and well it is a tough question, as they all convey to me an image, a story of a family spawning ...a few generations, they all add up the whole...a dynasty... I want to visit Gedung Kuning and ask if i may and if in season - share a mango with a friend, under the mango tree. Keep writing Hidayah and keep your reading fans... happy la.. ;-) warm regards from Norway

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

'Potong Andam' in Manja magazine

Grab a copy of Manja magazine, June issue!
'Potong Andam' short film & the Director (yours truly) are featured in 'Fragmen' (review of Sinema Showoff! The Balik Kampung Collection) article - page 66

Monday, May 03, 2010

Her World

Grab a copy of Her World magazine, May issue!
I'm featured in "What I Did For Her" article - page 188

Friday, April 09, 2010

Where in the world is the Gedung Kuning book?

The book has travelled far and wide! The book was spotted on Matthew Eaves' table at his Cleveratom office in Essex, United Kingdom.
Share with us your GK book photo!

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Note to God - Part 2

Dear God, you probably already know what I'm about to tell you, but here goes ... I haven't been well lately and lots of things weigh heavily in my mind and heart. As much as I look forward to being a Cambridge girl, I feel so sad at not being able to study medicine, disappointing myself and mostly importantly Emak (Mum) and Nenek (Grandma). And you know how hard I tried! I've always accepted the turn of events and put my trust in you. Remember this conversation I had with Emak?

Emak: Cik Idah, I would like to seek your forgiveness.
Me: Why? You haven't done anything wrong to me. In fact, I should be the one asking you for forgiveness.
Emak: Remember when you applied for law school many years ago and how badly you wanted to be a lawyer? Well, Nenek and I were so upset. It's not because we don't love you; we love you so much that we didn't want you to be a lawyer. We know how passionate you are and how you would work very hard to defend your clients. And when you're starting out, you can't choose your clients, right? We didn't want you to be put in a position that you have no choice but to do the unethical and the haram (forbidden). So we prayed very hard that you won't get in law school. And when you didn't, we were so happy that our prayers have been answered. Of course you cried and it broke our hearts to see you in so much tears. So pls, forgive us...
Me: Emak, it's ok... Ultimately it's God who decides. Besides, things turn out for the best...

God, when both Nenek & Emak gave their blessings for me to pursue medicine, it didn't happen too... why? I've purified my intentions and did everything I could to achieve that dream. It's not about the prestige or wealth, I really do want to help the sick. And now, I'm embarking on the Cambridge path... God, if this path is good for me, then pls make the journey easier...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Note to God

No, my chest pain hasn't subsided... and I would still wake up in the middle of the night, breathless and my chest in knots. Just like Bella in New Moon, I felt as if a knife is being stabbed into my chest. The doctor said that it was probably stress (dad, rejection from medical school and disappointing my late mum and grandma in the process, paying for Cambridge etc). Unlike Bella whose dad was there to comfort her after every 'nightmare', I'm alone to cope with the pain.

At times like this, I remember a song I heard in Amsterdam many years ago. Wat is mijn hart (What is my heart) by Marko Borsato. Although I don't know Dutch, I felt that I understood the song's heart-wrenching lyrics. Recently, I think the song to describe my current state of mind would be Charice's Note to God.

If I wrote a note to God, I would speak what's in my soul...

Monday, February 22, 2010

I dreamt of Emak

Last night, my father hit a car and all of us were stressed up...

What with all other matters weighing heavily in my head and heart, I suddenly dreamt of Emak. Emak picked me up in her car (she couldn't drive when she was alive) and I was gushing with happiness to see her. I hugged her and asked her for forgiveness. 

Emak then told me to wait with Hadi while she looked for something in the building. After a long while, we went to look for her. Someone told us Emak was hospitalised. We ran to the hospital (I didn't even care that I was barefooted). I saw Emak on the bed surrounded by some female relatives. Emak then hugged and kissed me, and told me how proud she was of her scholarly daughter. And as though she could sense the problems I was facing, she said, "Leave it to Allah."

I woke up crying. I miss my beloved mother, Asia Jofrie.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dr Hidayah Amin?

Last year during the holy month of Ramadan, I had the strangest dream. I was talking to my late mum (Emak) and complaining about how my father didn't care about me but gave his attention to my brother. Emak just smiled and then my late grandma (Nenek) came towards us carrying a crying baby.

Nenek: Cik Idah, pls help. The baby is in pain.
Me: How? I don't know what to do.
Emak: You must help this poor baby... Please!
I discovered that the baby had mouth ulcer. I took a scalpel and with the skilful hands of a surgeon, I removed the ulcer and the baby was fine! Both Emak and Nenek beamed with happiness and then Nenek took me by the hand and said...
NenekCome, let's go....
Me: What's this place?
Emak: This was Dr Aziz's free clinic for the poor villagers. But since Dr Aziz has passed away, the clinic felt into ruins. Now it's used as den for cock gambling. It's so sad.
Nenek:Even the kids are sacred of those fierce fighting cocks which chased after them every time they passed by.
Me: Don't worry, when I become a doctor, I'll monitor my clinic with my own eyes.

I woke up in a sweat. Oh God! Was this a sign for me to go to medical school and become a doctor? I decided to use the remaining money in my Wachovia account and make that tedious applications to Harvard and Yale again (last attempt).

Still no news from the schools so I suppose it's yet another rejection. Emak & Nenek, pls don't be disappointed. I've really tried my best (Kaplan classes in NYC, strong recommendation letters from academics and medical practitioners, my volunteer work at St Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem etc). It's more painful for me as this has been my childhood dream. We can plan but ultimately, it's God who decides. I guess, I'll be heading for Cambridge instead...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Eagle and the Wolf - Part 5

Many have asked me about the Eagle and the Wolf... Any continuation? Any plans to make it into a short book? Pls Hidayah, we want to read more!

As the eagle flies back to the canyon, Prairie Rose gets wind of the hyena which wrecks havoc and of the wolf whose seemingly sincere eyes speak of an unspoken secret... 

Suddenly Demon Wind burst into a tempest and the animals and plants stood still, afraid to breath. The tempest swirls throughout the canyon, its ferocious sound brings devastating news.

O God of Heaven, Prairie Rose whispers. How can the hyena do such a thing to her own flock? Oh how devastating for the eagle to hear the news from the hummingbird? And why is the wolf angry at the eagle for her warnings about the hyena? Doesn't the wolf know that the eagle's instinct is among the finest? Has the wolf forgotten their story, of what the eagle had done for the wolf, and of what she was willing to sacrifice for him? Or... Prairie Rose's petals suddenly quiver, has the wolf been playing games with the eagle all these while?

The tempest rages on. But it is nothing compared to the hurt and disappointment that are brewing in the eagle's heart...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Here's to many more mugs!

Just when I was about to pick up those broken pieces, I received another email from Cambridge. Oh my God... (*uttered in the same tone as Angela did when she saw Bella with Edward in Twilight). There's a new Cambridge girl in town! :) So, it'll be MPhil first; and then PhD. I'm sure it'll be worth all that punting! 

Of course, my brother Hadi asked me if it's medicine I'll be studying at Cambridge...
Well, come October, I hope to buy more of those mugs which my mother said I could...
But how about the funding for Cambridge? Argghhh....

Cambridge's Motto: Hinc lucem et pocula sacra (From this place, we gain enlightenment and precious knowledge)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Broken mugs, broken dreams

I remember many years ago, I was in the kitchen with Emak (Mum) washing dishes after lunch. Suddenly, my Cambridge mug (with all the colleges' logos printed on it) fell and broke.

Me: Oh no, I really love this mug! I bought it in Cambridge...
Emak: It's ok... When you study in Cambridge, you can buy lots of mugs to replace this one.
Me: But Cambridge is one of the best universities in the world... it's so hard to get in...
Emak:Have you even applied? Then how do you know you won't get in?

Oh Emak, you're always encouraging and confident of my abilities! When she passed away, and when my medical school dream seems so unattainable, I remember the broken mug conversation and applied for the PhD programme at Cambridge. But alas... I received the rejection email last night :(

Shocked, sad and disappointed. I was eagerly looking forward to learn under my supervisor Dr Tim Harper. I was so excited about the dissertation that I wanted to do. Oh well, no new mugs for me now. I guess I'll have to pick up those broken pieces and think...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Book Launch - 9 January 2010

Thank you to those who attended the book launch at the Pod, National Library!

What an amazing event! Huge turnout, good panel discussion, delicious homemade food, interesting gifts (door gifts: scented candles, handmade songket bookmarks to those who bought the book & homemade agar-agar kering or packets of crystallised jellies as parting gifts) & excellent performance by RGS Angklung Orchestra & Nuradee (who also performed the song I wrote!).

Book is now available at all major bookstores like Kinokuniya, Borders, Popular, MPH, Times & Select Books. Price (before GST): SGD24.90.
Grab your copy today!

+More photos on Hidayah's facebook