I never expected we would celebrate Hari Raya this year. I thought it would be just like any other day, in which T will head to work and I’ll be doing my things at home, and the only exception would be us going through the ritual of seeking forgiveness from each other, and having Skype sessions with our families. But I guess life is always full of surprises and I couldn’t be happier!
3 days before Raya (Sunday)
*While watching Breaking Bad Season 2*
Me: I miss my mum’s suji cookies.
T: You make kuih lah. Then I can bring office also.
Me: Lemme think about it.
2 days before Raya (Monday)
For the past 11 years, my mum had sold home-made kuihs for Raya and so, along with my sisters, I’ve been exploited to go through the hard labour of baking the tiny things. (Haha, just joking Mummy! Don’t get angry when you’re reading this, haha!) Because of this experience, I have a love-hate relationship with the festive desserts – love because I love how visually pretty and tasteful they are; hate because it’s a bloody painstaking job and somehow it breaks my back more than sitting in office all day long. But above all, the experience made me appreciate food made from love and to stay away from factory made ones sold in Geylang, heh heh.
So anyway, I woke up and decided that I’d make 2 types of kuihs: honey cornflakes and suji cookies. They’re pretty easy to make and I don’t need a mixer. I went to the various shops to get the ingredients and containers (I miss the convenience of having everything at Phoon Huat and Sheng Shiong.) and started with the first kuih.
With Raya songs playing in the background (Yay Spotify!), I did whatever I had to do. Along the way, I cursed myself for deciding to do this alone ‘cause it got boring and y’know, macam tak habis-habis, bile nak game? And haha, my back was aching. It didn’t help that I decided to make more than one batch at a go. Pandai, kan? But the mental and physical pain went away when everything was done and they turned out golden and crispy!!!
Tak sia-sia Mummy ajar buat kuih raya, hehe 😀
1 day before Raya (Tuesday)
All ingredients for suji cookies were ready before me. I was reading the recipe for a final check when it dawned to me that I don’t have a weighing machine! “Like, wow, good job, how are you going to bake this when all the ingredients are measured in grams?” and “I can’t wait to buy a mixer and a weighing machine and a rolling pin for my own home!” were running over and over in my head. Hah. I decided to rely on Google to change the measurements from grams to cups, but it was a bad decision. Very, very bad decision. My cookies turned out, as what T complained to my parents, “Tak sedap. Rase tepung aje. (Not nice at all. Only tasted of flour.)”. They looked pretty ugly too ‘cause they cracked too much. HAHA! At night, I tried to salvage them by dipping the baked tasteless cookies in chocolate, with the help of T, but it was just pure failure. HAHA! They did look cute though, like mini ice-creams. Sigh. (p.s. If you’re wondering why they’re not round in shape, the answer is simple: My patience ran out after making 20 pieces. Heh.)
But my spirits were lifted when I knew the rendang I cooked turned out pretty great. It was my first attempt and I had only my mum’s vague recipe and a month’s ago instructions to rely on. (All her and my mother-in-law’s recipes are vague, agak-agak style. Heh.) The texture of the kuah turned out the way I wanted it to be, the only thing that was short was the spiciness. But I’m happy still with the product 😀
I was further elated when I met Mi and Er to break fast at their place! They invited me over the night before and it’s really nice to end Ramadhan with people whom you regard highly for. Mi cooked the Raya specials and I just can’t ask for a better way to spend malam Raya…
A week ago, Mi invited T and I to follow her, Er and some other Singaporean Malays for house visiting. T couldn’t get leave and so I decided to just go alone. It was a lil nerve-wrecking when I thought about crashing strangers’ houses, but I think the mentality of #OkGoDon’tScared which I’ve developed since moving abroad made me more excited than anxious 🙂
On the day itself, T surprised me awesomely when he shared that his boss asked him to take leave for Raya! Yay, I get to spend the day with the husband! 😀 😀 😀
We went to 4 homes in total, all about 1 to 1.5 hours apart, from apartments to huge ass houses. In each homes, I had various conversations with countless people. I believe it’s ’cause everyone knows that it can get difficult sometimes to uproot yourself from Singapore and start a new life, and that’s why they were all very approachable and keen on sharing their transitions stories and advices. It was truly heartwarming and some of their adventures were very inspiring! My worldview opened even wider that day and at the end of the night, I was crazy thankful for having Mi and Er to ask us along…
Apart from the people, the best thing about going to Singaporean Malay homes is the Singapore Malay food! I ate proper and delicious suji cookies! I also had more rendang, satay, sambal sotong kering, bagedil, sambal goreng pengantin (favourite!!!), etc. The only difference I could make was that we didn’t have F&N drinks ’cause we prefer the hot tea and coffee in the cold weather…
We reached home at about 10pm and wanted to Skype with our families, but they were too busy for us. Honestly, we would never understand how people say their mums cry on Hari Raya ’cause they miss their children. Heh. We had to wait for more than an hour before they were ready and haha, the conversations were just like our usual weekly conversations, nothing special. But oklah, it was nice to see them and share with them about our day… 🙂
Day 4 Raya (Saturday)
T and I were out having dinner when Xa texted me to Skype. We got to know that my mum’s side were out for house visiting and my dad wanted us to show our faces to the big family. We made our way home and had a really cheery chat and hahaha, some jokes from my cousins prove that they will never grow old 😛
Day 5 Raya (Sunday)
Mi and Er organised an open house at their place. T and I met up with some old friends and a lot more new friends… I think my greatest takeaway from the gathering was that it is perfectly fine if one does not get a child immediately or almost immediately after marriage, especially in terms of biological clock. And that childcare here is exorbitant – $130 per day! It made sense why some families have decided to have a sole breadwinner while the other partner take care of the kid(s). We had great fun learning about other things too… And hehe, my favourite person at the gathering was definitely the young and handsome and super active boy, Ik.
Raya away from Singapore could not have been any better… 🙂 🙂 🙂