Rays of Splendour


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Autumn and summer in three weeks (Part 1)

Here’s something for the record: November 2015 is the first time ever in my life that I got to experience two different seasons within a span of a few days apart.

Allah swt has made the world to be so beautiful and intricate. Every time I thought I had seen the most beautiful thing there is to see on Earth, there will always be yet another scene that by His grace, He allows me to experience.

And so, my November started off with Him allowing me to experience autumn. This is the second time ever that I get to experience autumn and masyaAllah, the scenes are as beautiful as ever. Autumn puts a new spin to the idea that there is beauty in death. Afterall, the reason why the trees are having red or yellow leaves is an indication of the leaves dying.

Hill slopes at Gwanak.Hill slopes of Gwanak in fall colours

With the paths at Gwanak being filled with pretty leaves like these, I couldn't stop looking down as I walked. The paths of Gwanak were littered with these small reddish maple leaves.
I couldn’t stop looking down at the ground as I walked.

Leaves that had fallen and covered many paths in Seoul after a downpour.The scene after a downpour along the streets outside Seoul Station.

One of the fall foliage that lined the streets of Myeong Dong, with the litted Namsan Tower in the distance.Fall foliage along the streets of Myeong Dong with the Namsan Tower in the distance

Since the parents came along for this trip, ensuring access to halal food was pretty important. Alhamdulillah, access to halal food in Seoul in 2015 is much better than when I first went there in 2009. In 2009, the choice of halal food was limited only to Indian or Turkish food. However I guess with more Muslims travelling to Korea as well the increasing numbers of Korean Muslim converts, there are now shops that sell halal Korean food. Hence the few days we were there, we managed to eat at some of these food outlets located in Itaewon where resources for the Muslim community are centralized.

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The streets of Seoul also had much to offer in terms of food though we had to be a bit more discerning when it comes to buying from these stalls. One of the things that we enjoyed eating while we’re there were roasted chestnuts! Pomegranate juice comes in a close second but we were too engrossed in drinking it that we didn’t take any photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA roasted chestnut push cart stall in Myeong Dong.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe chestnuts were being roasted in small wired-baskets like the above.
This caught our attention for a while as in Singapore, chestnuts are roasted in huge woks.

I had plans to take the family to visit the Gyeongbokgung Palace, the Nam San Tower as well as perhaps a day trip outside Seoul. However as this was a short trip with the main agenda being to introduce the parents to Seoul, we did not manage to cover much. Besides the Namdaemun Market which got my mom pretty excited due to the gazillion pretty brooches and dried anchovies, the other highlight of the trip was when we stumbled upon the Line Friends Store in Itaewon.

The youngest brother is into cutesy stuff and Line has managed to market itself in a way that appeals to those, like him, who are into this concept. We spent almost an hour just going around the store and taking photos. I’m glad we managed to stumble upon this place as prior to this he was feeling down however, this place managed to cheer him up tremendously!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI can’t believe my brother owns three of this bunny thingy in different sizes!

Like any other cities in the world, Seoul presents itself in a different way to different people. While we enjoyed our time together as a family going around Seoul, I also know that the family did not take an immediate liking to the city like they did for Tokyo. Tokyo (and Japan in general) still ranks as one of the top places in the world that we love.

Regardless, I believe that He is placing me here for a reason whose wisdom I’ve yet to grasp for now but insyaAllah, it will be for the best for all of us.


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Destabilized

For a few weeks now, I feel like I’m not entirely present in life.

I will be physically present and performing all the motions like working, communicating with my friends and family, in class, cleaning the house, cooking, travelling, praying or reading the Quran but somehow, I always get the feeling like I’m not 100% there.

I’ve been trying to rationalize why this is so. There must be some reason for this and I realized that I’m feeling very, very, very destabilized inside.

For the past five years since I started working at the current workplace, life has been pretty much predictable. It is so predictable that anyone can guess how my daily routine will be like and where they would most likely expect to find me.

But as of last month when it finally felt real that I will be on no pay leave from January onwards, I felt like the stable ground which I’d been standing on had given way.

That shelter of predictability which I had grown accustomed to over the last five years has now been shaken. It makes me feel very unsettled inside as I wonder what 2016 will bring.

It is a bit strange for me to discover how 5 years of predictability can change myself. Back in 2010 when I left my first job with no plans for the future, it had felt so liberating. The freedom and sense of contentment from having all those time to myself is a memory I still cherish to this day.

However at 31 years of age, I think that somewhere and something inside me has changed. The prospect of having all the time to myself is not making me as excited as it had back then.

Has time and age tamed me so much?

I never expected that there will be a time when I see this version of myself who finds comfort in stability. In fact judging by how I tend to think and consider more serious aspects of life these days like death, sickness, time, life decisions and others, it surprises me that there will be a time where I will actually be like this.

The irony of it all is that I didn’t even realize I’ve changed until I spoke to L. She was berating me on a decision I recently made and somewhere in the conversation, she spat out the following question in exasperation:

“Since when have you become like this?”

I guess, since predictability somehow entered my life? Since work happened? Since time passes? Since life happened?

Regardless, her question did nothing to ease the feeling of being unsettled inside.

So with that said, what do I do to settle this heart of mine that feels like it’s resting on unstable ground?

Perhaps at the end of the day, it could simply be a matter of finding again all those parts of myself which I had somehow lost over time. I certainly miss that part of myself that is willing to take a chance at life and being opened to where it leads me.

To have the courage to take that leap of faith.

Yep, that’s it.

Leap of faith.

Just…. Jump. Let go, and let God.