The Advice I Needed To Hear

I’m in bed, about to turn my computer off and go to bed, but before I do, I just want to remember today.

Imandatory Read #16 was published today (sixteen already!? Oh my goodness, I’m going to run out of things to write about soon!) and I’ve received an endless loving stream of messages and comments about today’s column. I wrote about what it felt like to be a boy-crazy girl in a world where no boys loved me back, haha.

I texted my editor last week and asked her feedback on #ImandatoryRead – what could I do better? How can I improve my writing? Is there anything I can do to make the column more interesting?

She told me to “talk more about the general implications [of my stories], it would be more about the readers, and less about me”. That was earth shattering advice. No one is that interested to read stories that are point blank just about me every two weeks, it gets boring.

But if I could share about how my story relates to the readers, that would definitely be more hard hitting.

I faced a wall when I sat down to write #16 – I tried to churn something out for days but everything didn’t come out right. I always try to come out with a ten-word sentence that is the ‘purpose’ of my article, and in the middle of watching Last Chance U (on Netflix – highly recommend!) I typed out “Don’t look for the guy, let him come to you”.

The words just flowed.

I wasn’t always the person I am now and definitely had challenges in finding a partner. For many years I doubted my self worth and felt shitty for being single. I decided to shift the narrative to myself and focused solely on being better for “me’, and not for a guy’s attention.

I was nervous about how this piece was going to come out, but the response proved my nerves had nothing to worry about. I am so so so happy my message resonated with so many people, that they took something away from my thoughts and how I could’ve possibly helped in shifting some people’s views about how they’re feeling about their relationship status.

I mean every single word I shared in this week’s article (and every week!), and I feel extremely grateful airing out my insecurities has made this kind of impact. I promise I’ll try to keep producing pieces like this and to never stop sharing my truth with you. If you’re reading this, thank you for your support and love – it means the world to me.

 

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16) What Was Wrong With Me 1

August 2nd 2017: What Was Wrong With Me?

16) What Was Wrong With Me 2

August 2nd 2017: What Was Wrong With Me?

Posted in Imandatory Read, Self Development | 1 Comment

Imagining The Worst Car Accidents

I have been fearful of car rides ever since my accident last year. I want to cry every time Ashraf gets to close to the car in front of us or when he has to brake really hard. My heart goes into my stomach and get extra anxious.

I think it’s because I’ve heard the “crunch” sound two cars make when they collide, and the feeling of losing control. These are some of the worst things in the world.

I always (regretfully) imagine what it would be like to fall off a flyover and on to oncoming traffic, or flipping over after being hit and landing on your roof. I don’t know why I picture these horrible situations in my head, but I do!

In a way I am thankful that my first accident happened the way it did – no one got hurt, our cars were in repairable condition and I am not too badly scarred (emotionally). I share a bit more about it in this week’s #imandatoryread – I hope you like it!

PS: How gorgeous is the model on the front cover of Flair this week?! #girlcrush

15) Getting Back Up 115) Getting Back Up 2

Posted in Malaysia, Self Development | 1 Comment

Why I Don’t Take Photos

This is somewhat a very awkward thing to write about.

So we’re just going to talk about and if it comes across weird, then I’ll just have hit the ‘edit’ button several times until it comes off right.

I take my job very seriously. It is something I love to do and I always want to give it my 110%. However I do understand how the concept of being a Personal Assistant may be lost on some people – what exactly is it that we do? When are we officially working? What are the boundaries?

Our job scopes are not written in stone and honestly my work is something I have had to learn as we go for the last two years.

I suppose being a PA to a typical (but this I mean non-“celebrity”; ugh, I feel very uncomfortable using that word!) boss or manager is fairly straightforward, but my work is personally a bit more complex than that.

I understand that girlboss is extremely popular and very much loved by her readers and followers. I mean who can blame them, she’s fantastic! So I understand their excitement when they meet her, want to speak to her and take photos with her.

And I am more than happy to take their photos, videos, boomerangs, etc – it’s so nice to feel like I was a part of making their day (also I feel like I know girlboss’ angles best so I prefer to take the photo myself, haha!)

However I personally feel uncomfortable when people ask me for photos when I am working. Ugh, again, I feel so weird saying this because I don’t really get it. I do think I am just ‘me’ and nothing close to the mega-charm that is girlboss. It boggles me as to why some people would feel nervous or excited to see me, because I’m just Iman. The same old Iman who does boring things and has a normal job (okay fine, maybe not too normal, but still, you know what I mean!)

In the beginning, I obliged because I didn’t want to seem rude, but it came to a point where taking photos with others affected my quality of work, e.g: girlboss had to wait for me to finish taking a selfie with someone (that’s so not cool), I couldn’t be there for her when she needed me because someone pulled me aside for a picture, etc.

So I decided to be firm and politely decline when people ask me for photos at events, or when they see me working. It does get pretty awkward, when they ask and I answer “I’m so sorry, but no thank you,” or “I’m sorry, but I don’t take photos while I’m working” but I truly feel that it’s my right to decline while I’m working because it affects my job.

I mean, you wouldn’t ask a surgeon for a selfie while she’s in the middle of a heart surgery would you?

I know that’s a very extreme comparison, but like I said, I take my job very seriously #workaholic

Sometimes people understand, smile and say “okay”. But other times they can get quite aggressive and forceful which in turn makes me feel bad because I don’t want to negatively impact their day however I feel PAs need to be firm and consistent otherwise it’s easy for people to walk all over us and not take us seriously.

There are times when I relent, when I read that the situation will only keep persisting with “no lah, come lah, please please please” or when girlboss asks me to enter the frame.

I suppose it’s also because they maybe don’t understand that I am there to assist girlboss, and not as a secondary ‘persona’. Once at an event, when I declined a photo by saying that I don’t take photos while working, the person responded “What? You’re working?”

Hahaha, I guess that’s the misconception, but if you see a PA and he or she is with their boss, it doesn’t matter where we are – in the office, at an event, in a grocery store, having a meal – we are working. Our jobs are to accompany, assist and be there for our people and as long as we’re together (and sometimes even when we’re not!), PAs are on duty.

It’s not that I don’t want to say hi, be friendly or have a chat with you – but perhaps it’s better for when I am not working! For me, when I’m on the job, that comes first and I thank you for understanding my position and circumstances.

So I’d truly like to say a big fat warm sorry to any of the girls reading this who I might have unintentionally offended by declining a photo or selfie. I think you’re beautiful and anyone would be lucky to have a picture with you ❤

Happy Sunday, friends!

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Posted in Self Development, Work | 5 Comments

Hong Kong Tips & Tricks

It’s been almost a week since we got back from Hong Kong, and boy, what a difference a week makes. Two Mondays ago, I was probably just getting on my third rollercoaster ride. Now I’m currently upstairs writing as everyone else is having lunch #gantipuasa

We’ve been very very blessed to be able to go on a trip abroad every year since we got married. Bali in 2015, Maldives in 2016 (I never got around to that blogpost huh?) and Hong Kong in 2017. Mashallah, we’re so grateful #thankyoupaycheckandsmartsaving

A big reason on how we chose Hong Kong was because it was the cheapest flight out of KL on the dates I was looking at. It was simply that! I’ve been to Hong Kong (from now on shortened to HK) before when I was in high school with my family. We did a four-day trip to Disney and I remember loving everything about it.

Ashraf has never been to a Disney park so I was determined to make his first trip one that we would remember! We learned a lot about HK, each other and our travel habits during this trip. I’ve listed a few things I thought would be great to share with you:

1. Use the Airport Transfer

Once you land you should buy a ticket from the Hong Kong Airport Express. A round trip ticket is obviously cheaper than a one-way ticket. They also provide a free shuttle to your hotel. Inform the salesperson which hotel you’ll be staying at and they will tell you which stop you should get off at, which shuttle you should take and which stop your hotel will be.

We stayed at Ibis Hotel in Central and Sheung Wan, so we got off the Airport Express at Hong Kong Station, boarded the H2 bus and our hotel was the fourth stop. It was extremely convenient and we didn’t have to worry about getting lost!

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2. Invest in an Octopus Card

We decided to use the MTR to get ourselves around town and it was the fastest and relatively ‘cheap’ way to get around. Ashraf used the Citymapper app which he highly recommends. You can buy an Octopus card at any MTR station from the customer service booth. It’ll cost you HK$ 150 and the card will have HK$ 100 preloaded into it for you to use right away. So the card itself will essentially cost you HK$ 50.

Trams are the best way to move around the city if you’re not in a rush because they are a bit slower. But as a tourist it’s a great way to watch the city go by and admire it! One ride will cost you HK$ 2.30. Remember, board through the back, alight at the front.

The MTR will be a bit more costly. A way one trip to Disneyland from Sheung Wan station (which is a pretty central location) cost us HK$ 25 per person.

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We had to top up our cards a few times during our 6 day trip. All in all, I think we loaded about HK$ 300 onto our cards, each (this is including the initial HK$ 150 we paid). The cards are also great because you can use them to purchase things at stores! Kind of like an all-in-one card – you can use them at most restaurants, 7-11, other convenience stores, grocery stores, almost everything!

3. Don’t rush Disney

If you’re deciding between a one or two day ticket to Disney, trust me when I say go for the two-day ticket. The price difference is not much: HK$589 for a one-day ticket VS HK$629 for a two-day ticket. It’s just a bit over HK$40 for a whole extra day. This is a no brainer.

This also allows you to be calm throughout your time in the park so that you do not feel pressured to squeeze everything in one day!

There are lots of secondary sites that offer Disneyland tickets, but I always prefer buying from the main park/attraction itself. They also run promotions so it’s good to check out what you can get

4. Sub-tips from Disney

  • Bring an empty water bottle and fill it at the many drinking fountains you’ll find around Disneyland. A soda or bottle of water will cost you roughly HK$38 per bottle #insane
  • Bring snacks to hold you up during the day. Disney is going to offer you many many MANY tempting snacks (I am sure the popcorn killed a part of my soul) but do not give in. A box of crackers from Malaysia will still keep you standing straight (even though it may not taste as good as grilled squid…)
  • There are several Halal restaurants in Disneyland for Muslims to eat at. Yay! A hot and delicious meal will seriously make a difference in the middle of the day. Ashraf and I would play till about 3PM, and then made a pit stop at the Explorer’s Club Restaurant in Mystic Point for lunch. I chose from the Korean and Japanese menu, and Ashraf had the tandoori chicken set from the Indian menu for both days. A meal here will set you back about HK$139 per person, but it’s worth it
  • If you’re looking to pray in Disney, they have a room right behind Explorer’s Club that’s closed off with curtains which you can use to pray. They’ve even installed a ‘Wudhu Mate’. Just bring a pair of socks so you can cover up will you pray (or bring telekung too if you want)Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
  • Make full use of the Fast Pass!
  • If the wait for Winnie the Pooh ride is under 15 minutes, you should wait! This is the only ride we missed because the wait was hours long and we could not justify waiting in line.
  • Rides to NOT miss: The Iron Man Experience, Hyperspace Mountain (we rode this 3 times), It’s A Small World (I might have cried. Might), Mystic Manor (so underrated, but so awesome), RC Racer.Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset
  • Shows to NOT miss: Philharmagic, Lion King, Mickey’s Story Book of Wonder (it was in Cantonese, but they are English subtitles)Processed with VSCO with a6 preset
  • Claim your piece of Main Street sidewalk by 7:10PM. The parade will start at 8PM and you want to make sure you have a front row seat!
  • Stay for the fireworks at 9PM and go as close as you possibly can to the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. For some reason, the people with us that night didn’t sit down #rude so we all had to stand. Usually in the other Disney parks I’ve been in, everyone is courteous enough to sit down to so everyone can see the castle and fireworks.

5. Eat all the Dim Sum and Roasted Duck you can!

We googled and found amazing recommendations for Wai Kee and Islamic Centre Canteen.

We had lunch on our first day at Wai Kee and had the roasted chicken and duck combo. It’s to die for, you HAVE to eat there. It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing location, but trust me, you’re there for the food. Order a Cream Soda too #omgmymouthiswateringrightnow #sissabar

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The Islamic Centre is also a super place to go to for dim sum. We went there for Sunday lunch and Monday dinner. It was packed on Sunday lunch and completely empty on Monday night. Processed with VSCO with a6 presetHow it works: you walk up to the dim sum table (you’ll know it when you see it) and point to the menu to which dim sum you want (or if you speak Cantonese/Mandarin you don’t have to point) and carry it to your table. If you want heavier things from the menu (meat/beef/seafood dishes, rice, noodles, soup, etc) you call a server over and place an order with them. We stuffed ourselves silly.

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On Monday night though, it was almost empty and they didn’t have any dim sum, so we could only order from the menu. Ashraf recommends the mutton curry!

6. Have cash. LOTS of cash.

HK is a highly expensive city. We ‘sorta’ expected that but we also assumed that they would be a credit card friendly city (y’know, being the centre of Asian commerce and all) but they were surprisingly credit card averse! There were several times where we had to count our dollars to see if we could buy lunch at a restaurant. It boggles my mind how they don’t accept credit card at majority of the stores/restaurants. Our fallback was – McDonalds always accepts credit cards!

So, carry a lot of cash if you don’t want to feel uncomfortable. We had to exchange our money once and withdraw once as well from the hotel.

7. Look into buying an iVenture card

I bought us a 3-day iVenture card. I have used passes like this before in London and New York, where you pay a fixed price and the pass gets you into all the main attractions in that city. I LOVED the London and New York passes because it got me to the front of the line AND it included a transport pass (especially important for London because the pass included attractions that were outside Central London).

I thought I was going to love the iVenture card too, but honestly I’m a bit ‘meh’ about it. We bought the 3-day pass and honestly there are very limited attractions we could choose from. Granted perhaps there aren’t many ‘attraction’ options in HK. These are the ones we went to:

  • Rickshaw bus: It was a good drive around the city. I just wish the bus came with a guide who would tell us more about HK history and significance of the places we were seeing. Getting to the pick up point took us such a long time! It was all the way in Central Pier (number 6) and I think we must have walked for 40 minutes trying to find the booth. We were so sweaty.

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  • Victoria Peak: Hop on to a funicular and ride up the Peak – it is amazing. When we got to the top, I expected just a look out point. But of course there was not one, but TWO malls #Asia. You could go up and spend a day on Victoria Peak if you wanted, but we were just there for the views and hopped back down after a cup of coffee. Processed with VSCO with a6 presetThe iVenture card got us basic tickets to the top, but we had to pay an extra HK$100 (I think) per person to get up to the 360 degree viewing deck – it was worth it! But I wish it was made clear that the viewing deck was not open to the public early on. We also had to wait in line for 1 and 1/2 hours for the funicular ride up. There is a combo ticket you can buy from Victoria Peak + Madame Tussauds + Fast Lane, but we did’t think it was worth it. It’s okay, we played 20 questions while waiting. You can also take a bus or taxi up to the Peak, but trust me when I say you want to experience the funicular.

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  • Ocean Park: This theme park is pretty old but pretty amazing. It had more thrill rides than Disneyland so it’s not a repetitive visit and I definitely recommend. They also have animals that you can visit: penguins, pandas, dolphins, seals, birds, all kinds! Almost like a zoo and an amusement park. I recommend buying their fast pass because it gets you 10 ‘cut the line’ passes which is amazing – saves you SO much time. It was worth the HK$250 (per person) that we paid. I cannot recommend this fast pass more!Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset
  • Ngong Ping Village: Tung Chung Station is even further than Disneyland so be prepared to carve out a chunk of your time to visit Ngong Ping Village. Once you arrive Tung Chung, it’s pretty clear how to walk to the Ngong Ping cable car station. Yes, you read right – cable car! We experienced a 5.6KM cable car ride through the trees and the views were extremely spectacular. When you’re getting on the cable car, make sure you get in one that does not have the frosting on the windows – because you won’t be able to see outside! We got into a clear car on the way there – awesome, and then into a frosted car on the way back – no good. Processed with VSCO with a6 presetProcessed with VSCO with a6 preset
    Once you’re at Ngong Ping, take it easy and walk through the little village before making your way up to Big Buddha. You might not want to climb up when you see those steps, but the views up there will make it worth it.

Ride this one:

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NOT this one!

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8. Have fun!

Hong Kong is a fabulous city and I wish we were still there. If you’re looking for a city vacation filled with little treasures and many adventures, I recommend Hong Kong. Make sure you bring an umbrella (mucho important!), comfortable walking shoes and cash (I can’t stress this enough, haha)

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Posted in Marriage, Travel | 1 Comment

Colour Confused

I was driving down a long stretch of highway when I noticed the continuous stream of billboards advertising skin whitening products and collagen and all sort of ‘white’ beauty products. Why are Malaysians so obsessed with being fair? I just don’t get it.

I know I also went through life associating being fair as being more beautiful, but how were we fed with this mindset? I am so interested in finding out why we think this way. I suppose it’s in a way the same as equating being tan as “looking healthier” in the West.

It’s just this whole ‘colour’ thing that I don’t get. Sometimes the way people look at me and Ashraf, I feel they think we’re in an interracial marriage, hahaha! Anyway, I digress – this week’s Imandatory Read is below for your reading pleasure.

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FV is finally on our raya break and I spent today doing community service outreach with some of the team, did errands (almost all day) and read the first 15 pages of China Rich Girlfriend in Kinokuniya while I waited for Ashraf to finish work. We’re now rolling around in our RM 150 white Ikea sheets (there is just something about white sheets that make sleeping sooo luxurious!) before bed (I know it’s 9:30PM, we’re old people k)

We have to pack for raya tomorrow – heading to Singapore with the in-laws again this year (it’s supposed to be my side’s turn, but my parents aren’t here #abandoned). I hope you guys have your baju raya all ready!

 

13) Rise Above The Dark Side 113) Rise Above The Dark Side 2

 

Posted in Imandatory Read, Self Development | 1 Comment

dUCk X Chanel

I’ve been re-ordering my life and getting on track with my ‘to-do’ list. I have several lists and a couple of side lists which sometimes makes it hard to keep up. I feel that a lot of my life sometimes is just keeping my head above water and paddling as fast as I can.

One of the things on the list was sharing the dUCk X Chanel feature! It was so fun to be a part of the shoot, because I’m usually chilling out behind the scenes (which honestly, is where I prefer to be) but it was pretty fun to get glam for a bit and do photos with my friends and girlboss.

We did the shoot so long ago, I almost forgot about it. The photos turned out great and I’m so happy with the spread, eventhough Ashraf did say that I have not mastered the “model” stare. #thankyouforyoursupporthusband

I didn’t think our photo was going to span the whole cover! My face is on the back, but whatever, it still counts.

It was also pretty cool that the 12th Imandatory Read was also in the same edition. I have a huge A3 folder when I have everything laminated and organized, almost like a huge book of just Imandatory Reads #narcissist

I hope you like the feature!

Posted in Imandatory Read, Work | 2 Comments

Chewing on gummy worms

The room is quiet and the only thing I can hear is Gavin James humming in my ear. But I’ sure girlboss can hear the tap-tap-tapping of my fingers on the keyboard and me chewing away at the Haribo gummy worms I bought earlier.

We’re in Brunei right now, finally resting after a long day. I got up at 2AM, was in a cab at 3AM, got to the airport at 4AM, had the bags checked in and ready to meet girlboss at 5AM, and was finally on the plane at 6AM. Travel is not as chic as it may seem to be.

Girlboss worked super hard today as a judge for the #AirAsiaRunway Ready Designer Search in conjunction with KLFW that’s coming up in August. I love tagging along for the judging sessions because I learn so much and it’s fun to pick favourite designers and cheer them on till the end.

The pool of designers from Brunei was pretty small compared to the other ASEAN countries – which is totally fair because they do not have a design school here and this is the first year AARDS came to Bandar Seri Begawan. But what a great pool! There’s definitely amazing and untapped talent here, there were a few contestants that I really liked. Hopefully we get to see them next year!

So girlboss is taking some much needed rest-time before we head out for dinner with Nabeela (better known as the super famous, extremely chic, uber cool LipstickMyName) and her husband *girl-crush sighs*

I better go get myself together before we head out.

And, I’m going to leave this one here, just in case you want to read it 🙂

8) The Everyday Of Marriage 1

April 12th 2017: The Everyday of Marriage

8) The Everyday Of Marriage 2

April 12th 2017: The Everyday of Marriage

 

Posted in Imandatory Read, Work | 1 Comment