Alhamdulillah it is Friday and that marks the first week of this holy Ramadhan. I just want to rant on the 10 things that I miss about down under as I am in reminiscence mode at the moment. So here is the shout out!
(Playing tourist at Sealife, 121216)
Since Ramadhan is the reason why recently I keep on towering at the old days in the kangaroo land, this should be the first. Inevitably it was a bit different than in Malaysia. I personally feel more content, more spiritually-connected and more lively of Ramadhan when I was is Melbourne. I guess it comes down to the culture itself and also the fact that we were not native there. We seldom hear or see or face any commercial ads etc related to the eid during Ramadhan, let alone thinking of the eid preparation. People are just focusing on the holy month and you can potentially make the most of your deeds in this period of time.
Another best thing that I will forever remember and miss is the masjid hopping there. You can spend your whole Ramadhan not having to cook (for iftar) and having place to sleep (during the last 10 days) as you can make masjid your second home! It was lovely mashaAllah I really miss this. Of course the masjid may not look like the masjid in Malaysia with dome, minaret etc but the jamaah is there! I recall the closest was Albanian Mosque near our home, we literally wear the praying veil and walk about 1 km to go for tarawikh at the masjid. There was this one Turkish, Fatih mosque at Dandenong where we had the whole 20 rakaat tarawikh prayer finished in an hour. There was also this Indonesian community Surau Kita where we managed to listen to tazkirah in between tarawikh from my favourite author Ustaz Salim A Fillah, Huhh the list can go on much longer but my favourite was the one and only Melbourne Madinah. The community was warm, iftar was good and the atmosphere is just what I love to spend my Ramadhan at.
By the way, it is winter during mid year in Melbourne so we spent almost the whole Ramadhan in winter! I remember walking home from Melbourne Madinah after subuh prayer and it was zero degree Celsius! And since the day is shorter than the night, we tried to spend our day wisely with more beneficial activities and among them that I cherish is giving charities to homeless people, food and necessities kit.
2. Warm greetings
People in my neighbourhood area was really friendly and chatty. I bet it is just the awesome mate culture of Australian. I had many people that I at first barely know, greeting me and talk to me about weather and other random things that I did not even think a topic to talk about when I was in Malaysia. Be it on the road while gardening, walking back home or even in the elevator, we just talk as if we were friends before! I will not deny that islamophobia is real but alhamdulillah I never had any related incidents during my stay there. One exemplary thing to be brought back to Malaysia is of course this, despite all the prejudice that we face now in the society.
3. Multiracial international friends.
In my batch, there was only another Malaysian besides me. Like it or not, I needed to befriend with other people and to my excitement my friends come from all sorts of different parts of the world. Absolutely English is the only language that we speak the same but we managed to teach each other Malay, Mandarin, Urdu, Spanish, Arabic etc and it was fun! Mind you, groups for assignments were decided by the lecturer so we could not decide in which group we would want to be and we need to work with all the members accordingly. It was actually good as I managed to work and make friend with different people at many points along the course. I used to have a very committed Christian friend, interested to talking to me about religion particularly Islam and I also used to get provocation from others haha but hey that what makes my life a colourful rainbow.
4. Walking and cycling culture.
I do not really tell people but besides driving a long journey, I love to walk, stroll or anything that you want to call it. It is just another of my medium to self-contemplate and have a private moment for myself or sometimes make time to finish my mathurat hehe. I used to walk almost 8 km a day (which I do not mind as long as it is not summer with scorching hot weather) and I found it rather relaxing. Another best thing is, pedestrian is the king here! So those who walk will get the privilege to use the road before cyclist, car driver and sometimes tram and it is so different here in Malaysia. I still get confused a lot in this situation though!
As for cycling, that is not the most favourable ride for me. I used to buy a bicycle but I was too scared to use it on the road so I in the end sell it to other people. Nevertheless, the cycling culture here regardless for recreation, commuting and sport is no doubt a healthy one plus the good cycling lanes on roads, easily available parking rails, many bicycle hire systems etc.
Another thing that I miss is of course the parks. Parks almost everywhere! At my neighbourhood alone, there are three parks where people go for sports, exercising, relaxing, having picnic, barbeque, so readings, sleep, getting dogs for walking and what not. I myself have several spots where I always go to in times of need and do whatever I like there. I recall the hot air balloon sight-seeing many times during good weather as they landed at Royal Park behind our apartment. We love to wave at the people on the hot air balloons and a few times they replied to us haha. Oh yes the Princes Park in front of our apartment, they have this Swordcraft thingy every Friday night and we always see people in costumes and it was amusing how people do various things to end their working week.
6. Drinkable tap water.
Like many other western countries (Australia is in the east actually), the tap water here is drinkable unless told unfiltered. Super convenient! For people who drink water a lot, we can have a refill almost everywhere. Even on the road and at parks they have a drinking pipe and water re-filler. Super cool! You do not need to buy expensive drinking or mineral water and just have a good size of water bottle and you are good to go. But take a note here, only drink cold tap water as the hot may have chemicals in them so bare in mind.
7. Cheap dairy products.
I love milk. Drink it alone, cold or hot, or put it into my coffee, tea and hot chocolate etc. Milk is cheap mate! You can get a litre of milk below a dollar here. If I were to change the currency into RM, it is still cheap. And not only milk, of course the cheese as well, creams, spreads ets they are really affordable. Since I am a mild lactose intolerant, I took the chance to substitute ordinary milk with other milk such as almond milk and it is still cheap. Of course if you want to have a better buying value, go for home brands (if in Malaysia it is like Tesco or Giant brand) and the quality of the goods is still good. Inevitably one of the things I miss here as milk is very expensive in Malaysia huhu.
8. Weather and climate.
Four seasons and I love all the seasons. But what I miss about Melbourne is its unpredictable weather! We need to make it a routine to always check on the forecast of the day as Melbourne is pretty frantic with it’s weather. It can be really sunny in the morning and suddenly turn out to be a storm in the afternoon and it is normal here. We refer to the weather as a woman, with mood swings during her PMS hehe.
9. Tech savvy.
This is not the best word to describe what I meant but I miss the high speed internet, 5G etc. I also miss the easy kaching (mobile money transfer) without any charges even if you were to transfer money to and from different banks. I also miss the self-payment counter, various types of vending machines etc, I know it sounds silly but I made my life a lot more easier and I just realise it when I am here in Malaysia. So it may not be tech savvy but something that bring ease in this modernisation and globalisation era.
Last but of course not the least! I cannot get enough coffee when I was in Melbourne. Subhanallah, the scent of coffee itself can made my day. Heaps of coffee shops in the university and in fact almost everywhere! This is like a coffee heaven. I was so indulged that I need to make coffee off-day as one of my iqob (self-punishment). I spent maybe hundreds on coffee during my early time here, trying different kinds of coffee at different coffee shops. Very not cost-wise and I just realise it maybe by the end of the semester huhu. However I learn from the best and I started to make my own coffee, buy coffee machine, use re-useable coffee cups etc and alhamdulillah money spent better afterwards. I occasionally buy coffee whenever needed though as it usually cost about $3-$4 and you can even get it for $1 at 7eleven. Yes way cheaper! That is what I always go for if I am in a rush (usually I bring something to eat to school), a cup of $1 coffee and a $2 muffin on-the-go. Sadly, I can hardly find any affordable coffee shops in Malaysia so I will just go for kopitiam and still have my crave fed alhamdulillah.
p/s: moved-on and a little bit of throwback would not hurt :)