Rays of Splendour


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Everglow

“There’s a light that you give me when I’m in shadow, there’s a feeling within me, an everglow.”
Coldplay

I am sitting here in my room and trying to do my portion of a group task while listening to Coldplay’s Everglow. As the song progressed, my ears caught hold of some of the lyrics and I eventually halted my work as my senses finally comprehended the words that I just listened.

The song speaks of someone who lost a person he loves who has been a light in his life. He describes this person as someone who gives him an “everglow”.

Everglow. I feel this is a beautiful way of describing someone’s effect in your life.

As I relate it back to how I’m currently miles away from my loved ones and support system, I found myself being more acutely aware of the strength and effect that these people whom Allah has placed in my life have on me.

Alhamdulillah, I am grateful for the current acquaintances I made as well as the knowledge and new experiences gleaned while I’m in Seoul. Those knowledge and experiences had somehow fed some of the innate desire I had to see and learn more of Allah’s vast world. Additionally in their own little ways, the acquaintances I made along the way have also filled a small part of that huge void left by the people back home.

And yet during those moments when I received texts and calls from the people back home, my heart would leap with immense joy. That contact would ignite some warmth, happiness and positive energy in me that would last for the next few days to come. Like Coldplay describes it, they gave me an everglow.

I feel that this is one of the mercies of Allah –  out of the billions of people He has created on Earth, He blesses us by specifically choosing and placing individuals who inspire our soul and causes it to shine like none other can. Sometimes, that spark to our soul can be encapsulated in just one person. Sometimes, He places more than one person in our life for our soul to connect with.

Regardless, there will be at least that one soul whose presence and connection you share that would move, excite, rejuvenate and whose interaction with your inner self would be at a deeper and more compatible level than others. I also found that it is through this special connection that I derived some form of energy to embrace life with even more gratitude and also positivism to be the best that I can be. It is like through them, Allah is sending me a spiritual and psychological boost to enable me to work on being a better version of myself than I was previously.

The question is, do you recognize the existence of this everglow in your life?


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Queen of procrastination

So, I have a presentation to prepare by this Monday. However, I’m having such a challenging time psyching myself to complete reading 800+ pages of biography which the presentation is based on. The biography which is about the prolific leader Mao Zedong, has been an interesting read thus far but I just find it difficult to sit down for long and read it.

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The book I have to read by tonight!

I told myself to dedicate the whole of my Saturday to read the biography but since I woke up at 5am this morning, I have been doing things that do not contribute in any way to the closer completion of the book.

List of things I have been doing since morning till now:

  1. 6.00am: Decided after my morning prayers that I needed a proper meal to start the day so I cooked some rice for myself.
  2. 6.30am: Ate a full meal of rice and two side dishes.
  3. 6.45am: Convinced myself that since I just had a heavy breakfast, I needed time to let the food digest itself.
  4. 6.45am – 8.30am: Looked at clothes on FashionValet and read some news articles online.
  5. 8.30am – 10.00am: Told myself that the day was still early so I should take a nap even though I’m not even tired.
  6. 10.00am: Woke up and sat in front of the laptop, determined to start working on my presentation.
  7. 10.05 – 10.15am: Noticed that my laptop looked dirty. The idea of wiping and cleaning it seems most appealing. I swear I even thought to myself that if I did not clean the laptop immediately, I might end up spreading germs to myself.
  8. 10.15am – 1.30pm: I was positive I needed some form of motivation to get through the day of reading the thick biography so I ended up watching like 5 episodes of drama, back-to-back.
  9. 1.30 – 1.35pm: Finally touched the biography. Moved the book from my table to the bed as I had all intention to read on the bed.
  10. 1.35 – 1.40pm: Decided that my bed was untidy so I spent the next 3 – 5 minutes making the bed.
  11. 1.40 – 1.55pm: Resolved that since I’ve already started to tidy up the room, I might as well bring down the laundry which I had hung the previous night for it would have probably dried. Spent the next 10 – 15 minutes bringing down the laundry, putting away the hangers used, folded the clothes and placed them in the cupboard.
  12. 1.55 – 3.15pm: Honestly, this period was a blank for me! What did  do to procrastinate? I know for sure that I did not read and spent a few minutes putting in a new batch of clothes into the washing machine.
  13. 3.15 – 3.45pm: Had the idea to wash the bathroom before showering. So off I went to happily scrub the bathroom floors and sink!
  14. 3.45 – 4.30pm: Told myself to be serious cos it’s time to complete my afternoon prayers.
  15. 4.30pm: I was combing my hair and noticed that the skin on my face looked dry. Now hey… Where is that face mask I bought? It’s absolutely so important that I use the mask NOW. No such thing as reading biographies in my agenda. Nope! *denial mode going strong*
  16. 4.35pm: Hmmm…. I can’t possibly read with the mask on my face. Now what should I do next?? Time to hang the new batch of laundry for drying!
  17. 4.45 – 4.50 pm: Noticed some empty containers I haven’t washed although I’ve eaten all the snacks inside. Ahah, I should wash them now!
  18. 4.50pm: Hungry after doing the laundry and washing the containers. Need food. Searched the fridge on possible food to prepare for myself.
  19. 5.00 – 6.30pm: Made dinner for myself and sloooooooowly ate my dinner.
  20. 6.30pm: Too full (same story like during breakfast time. Arghhh!). So I ended up blogging.

Honestly, why do I do these kinda things to myself??

I’m just sabotaging my own presentation for this Monday!

Time.to.be.serious.

Now where did I put that book since the last time I touched it??

*starts looking for the biography*


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Wk 7/104

It’s been a busy, busy, busy Week 7.

Earlier in the week, I had to do a presentation for a Japanese society module that I am taking this semester. That presentation took a lot out of me because 1) It was based on a content which was entirely new to me so I had to read beyond the prescribed article and 2) I realized that my perfectionist tendencies caused me to be obsessed with so many details (like the way certain sentences were phrased, the placement of the photos, the flow of the presentation from one slide to the next, the things to say) that it considerably slowed down my progress!

Besides school, there were other things that made up my week which caused the time to just zoom by.

Cherry blossoms at Yeoido Park

Last Wednesday was a public holiday here in South Korea. It was a legislative election day for South Korea (pretty similar to the ones in Singapore where we cast votes for the ministers representing our GRCs/SMCs who will later form one of the members of parliament). Since my housemate was not working, she asked me to accompany her to Yeoido Park after my class (yes, I had a class on a public holiday but no complains. I kinda liked the class and teacher!) ended.

Her purpose in going there was only one: to get me to take proper photos of her which she intends to use for publicity materials.

My purpose even though I have a gazillion readings to do: Actually I had no plans to go there at all but because I’m there anyway, I told myself to use the time to check out the last bits of cherry blossoms left.

The Yeoido Park is located very near the National Assembly (South Korea’s version of the Parliament House). I’m not too sure whether the area sees throngs of reporters on other days but definitely on that day (and perhaps due to the fact that it was election day), there were many of them walking around the perimeters of the National Assembly.

When we finally reached Yeoido Park itself, I saw that the place was littered with petals from the cherry blossoms. It has been raining these past few days and that could have contributed to it. Also, the colours on the trees were already fading. The cherry blossoms, while still a pretty sight to behold, were not as resplendent as before.

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Fun English lesson at Chungmuro and thereafter, shopping at Ewha

Last Thursday, we decided to take our weekly English lessons outside. We made arrangements to meet at Chungmuro Station since I was keen to check out the paper and printing shop that the Korean lady whom I’m teaching has been raving about.

Entering the paper and printing shop, I felt like I’m a little girl being brought to a candy store. I was so, so, so, impressed by the efficiency of the place, how proper everything is and importantly, the quality of its printing! I’ve never seen printing shops of this scale and quality anywhere in Singapore or Malaysia which is opened to anyone regardless of the quantity of items they seek to print. This shop prints almost anything that can be printed on paper. Packaging boxes, leaflets, book covers, bookmarks, photo printouts, etc. Anything.

Best of all, the prices are so affordable given its quality! They were only a few cents per piece and for a fee, they will deliver the finished product right to our doorstep by trackable shipment.

The shop, Sungwonadpia, has a website but in order to get information on its full range of services, access the member site to make orders or to get a rough estimate of the costs of your printing, you will have to access the Korean version.

So after the high of visiting such an exciting place (What? Don’t judge me. It IS exciting. Hahah), we settled down for a drink at a nearby cafe for a proper English lesson. However, we veered off tangent and ended up talking about weddings. She was keen to know how the weddings are conducted in Singapore, its costs, and the married life in the Singaporean society. Obviously, I’m the last person one should be asking when it comes to these so it was pretty hilarious that I was even able to convey some information pertaining to it.

I proceeded to Ewha Women’s University as soon as we parted. All the shopping I did over there that makes me question whether I am sane or not. The sensible mind tells me I should not be shopping unless I start earning some money soon but that insensible side is always so, so, so, convincing in telling me that I’m “just spending a small amount for only this time“. I always tell myself that “it is only for this time” but looking back, my version of “this time” somehow happens all the time!

2D1N in Tongyeung

The professor for one of my modules decided to take us on a fieldtrip to Tongyeung. This city is about 4.5hours bus ride away from Seoul and located along the coast. I’ve been to South Korea for a few times but this was the first time that I visited a place outside Seoul!

We visited quite a number of places when we’re there but probably, one of the highlights for the trip was when we managed to get a view of Tongyeung City from atop Mt Mireuksan. Absolutely love the view from that vantage point. The air in Tongyeung was also much, much fresher and cleaner than in Seoul. Love that as well!

20160415_143318_hdr.jpgA glimpse of Tongyeung City from behind the greenery.

20160415_140312_hdr.jpgShort hike to get to the peak of Mt Mireuksan.

oi000118.jpgThe other female classmates and I doing a shadow shot.

We also visited Dongpirang. I found the place fascinating for its wall murals which were so nicely drawn.

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Since Tongyeung is located along the coast, seafood is one of the specialties of this area. All sorts of fresh catch – fish, oyster, eel, sea cucumber, etc – are sold at the market. One only has to just buy the fish from the shops in the market and then take it to one of the shops behind to have it cooked. Noryangjin in Seoul has a similar system but based on what the Koreans in my class said, it seems like the seafood in Tongyeung is way fresher and tastier than the one in Seoul.

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Last photo to share before I end off the entry. Here’s a view of one of the cabins on the ferry while in Tongyeung. It is an open area with heated flooring made for winter!

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Seeing this reminded me that different countries have their infrastructure set up to accommodate its physical environment. We never see such heated floorings onboard the ferries in Singapore or Malaysia. I feel that this is one of the beauties of travelling which I sometimes forget – the opportunity for a glimpse into aspects of a society that makes it unique. Sometimes, there are things one just never get to see in photos or whose novelty is lost just by looking at photos. It is only through experiencing it firsthand that one can recognise how unique certain features seen in the country are.


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Missing daddy

Last week for some reason, I thought about my dad and how much I’m missing him. Then while on the way back, I saw someone that resembled him. My heart did a jolt even though I knew it was not him. Yet, that incident which lasted only mere seconds made me miss him even more.

Then today, I came across an article about the heartwarming illustrations that portray the love between dads and their daughters. I found myself being able to relate so much to some of the photos like the following:

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I can remember many instances during my growing up years when my dad did all of the above with me. Even now when I’m all grown up and in my thirties, I can still relate to the scene whereby my dad moved himself right at the edge of the bed in order to give me space during those moments when I lay myself in between my parents to take a short nap.

Today as well, my dad was the most concerned over ensuring I was available to receive a parcel he sent from Singapore. For the past two days, he has been tracking the shipment of the parcel he sent and texted me updates about the current status of the shipment. The parcel eventually arrived and when I opened it, I was so touched to see a few packets of blueberry and strawberry biscuits – the ones that I love munching on so much – among the contents inside. Apparently, my dad had gone to especially buy them while on the way to work as soon as he received my random texts asking whether he could get them for me should he see it.

Thinking back, I realized that my dad does a lot of things for me and indulges me a lot. Sometimes during those moments when I witnessed how sincerely he goes about offering me his support and showing me his love, the thought that I hope my future husband makes a great dad to our child just as my dad has been to me, fleeted through my mind.

So I’m missing my dad a lot but I pray that each time I thought of how much I miss him, God will grant him goodness.

This is something else I realized these past few weeks of being here. When you’re miles away from your loved ones, the doa becomes a powerful tool with which you reach out to the person given the distance. What’s extraordinary here is that through the doa, you are essentially reaching out to them spiritually as opposed to the conventional form of connecting to the person face-to-face. Because of that, and because the prayers are offered when the person isn’t aware you have made a supplication for them, sincerity emerges.

That’s when magic happens; when your prayers are done and offered with utmost sincerity.


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Wk 5/104

A short entry for the week because the bulk of the time had been spent on school. School’s definitely a highlight – time spent exploring its super huge central library located on top of a hill, learning new things, uncovering even more new places in school – but for now, the other highlights.

Cherry blossoms have bloomed!

I guess the biggest – and one that trumped everything else – highlight for this week would be the chance to view the cherry blossoms. This is the first time ever in my life that I got to see this sight. I’ve always thought that I would never be able to witness the cherry blossoms with my own eyes due to work. The nature of my work is such that there is no annual leave so to even think of flying to one of the temperate countries in the northern hemisphere during spring is something I have never considered. All these years, I’ve contented myself with looking at photos of cherry blossoms being posted on social media.

Then, by the grace of Allah, I’m allowed to witness the cherry blossoms for myself yesterday! MasyaAllah. It was just so, so, so beautiful!

My housemate and I went to Seokchon Lake (석촌호수) located in Jamsil (잠실) to view the cherry blossoms. Unlike the cherry blossom viewing spot in Yeongdeungpo Yeouido (영등포유의도) which is a popular destination among tourists during spring, the one at Seokchon Lake is more frequented by locals. Also, the cherry blossoms could be found dotting the entire circumference of the lake which makes for a more leisurely and comfortable viewing as compared to the one in Yeouido which is found by the roadside.

I took lots of photos and spent almost two hours walking around the lake and enjoying the view of the cherry blossoms but I must say, the photos do not capture aptly the beauty of the scenery that I saw when I was there.

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*Sigh* Truly pretty. Truly grateful to Allah for granting me the opportunity to see the cherry blossoms.

There’s just one more view of the cherry blossoms that I hope to be able to witness at least once in my life – that would be the one in Japan!

Life is too short to be burning bridges

So another highlight for me this week would be the reminder that our life is too short for us to spend it on burning bridges. It is so short (and unpredictable). I mean, how do you know that today isn’t your last day?

I’m aware that there will be some relationships in our lives where the best path would be for both of us to walk away from each other. But here, I’m not focusing on that aspect. Rather, the reminder I was sent this week pertains to treasuring the existing relationships you have with people.

I was thinking how sometimes in our day-to-day existence, the instinctive response would be to either blow up in anger or cut the person off from your life whenever we encounter a set back with the said person. This set back can be huge or it can be as small as having a miscommunication with people. By engaging in an argument or cutting the person out of your life, we are either invoking to our need for self-preservation – that is, to protect ourselves from further hurt – and/or to appeal to our egotistical inclination to never lose out in the relationship.

Then again if everyone in the world were to respond in this destructive manner in their relationships with people, then human history would have witnessed a past replete with anger, despondency and brokenness.

But if we were to step away from the situation and view it from a more detached perspective, then you will realize that sometimes the best response would be to think only the most positive of the situation and the person and his/her actions and lastly, to simply to let go. Sometimes, it is pointless really to expand so much of our energy in responding to a situation negatively or to attach so much negativity to a person’s actions. It just sucks the life out of us and does not serve the way we connect and relate to the people in our lives.

Thus, this is a huge reminder for myself first before others to always perceive the good in a person or situation foremost, and regardless of whether the bad might materialise later.