JUNE 6 — I left Malaysia many years ago in the spirit of adventure. I went simply because the idea of doing something new in unfamiliar territory sounded like a lot of fun. I have now lived in the UK for 10 years.
Here in the UK we live a life of “relative isolation.” My wife is the third of seven siblings while I am second of five. My kids are two of 11 grandchildren. When you include uncles, aunties and family friends, life becomes a circus of birthdays, weddings and family functions. When you live thousands of miles away from your relatives, weekends are exclusively for your precious little family.
Yes, you miss your parents and siblings. But they visit. In our situation, quantity is substituted with quality. They are here for a week, sometimes two. My parents love shopping while my in-laws love sight-seeing. Bicester Village for the former is Buckingham Palace for the latter. Our parents dote on the little ones and they in turn absolutely adore their grandparents! For a week or two, we will have dinner together at home or at a restaurant as a family. Pure bonding over food and chit-chat, uninterrupted. Each visit is extremely special for us and we count the days to the next.
Brits talk about the weather all the time. I have lived here long enough to really understand their fixation with the weather. Summer here is simply gorgeous. Spirits go up a notch. Cycling in the park with children in tow, wading in the public fountain and rummaging through Diana’s shipwreck in Hyde Park. There is simply no substitute.
Winter is miserable for many but for me it’s absolutely beautiful. I can recall the first time I held snow in my hands. Waking up on a cosy winter’s morning, with the world outside the window blanketed in virgin snow. A sight that never fails to bring a huge smile to my face. And our children. They have built countless snowmen, each one growing a little bit taller over the years.
My eldest child is now at school. It is great watching her interact with her school friends who come from all over the world. Last Christmas, she took part in her first Nativity Play. I sat in the audience with other proud parents, to watch her playing the part of a cute little sheep. Out came the shepherd and the farm animals. Then came the bit where they sang praises to Jesus. As a not very pious but responsible Muslim father, that was the moment when I figured that I have to close the curtains on this chapter of my family’s adventure.
It has been a great 10 years. I love this country to bits. And I love the super fantastic gorgeous city of London. I am sure there will be more snags along the way should I continue here, as life is not one happy clapping ride to Nirvana. But we are already looking forward to our next adventure and planning our next move. Maybe back to Malaysia? Singapore, Oz or Dubai perhaps? Who cares where really! Another adventure beckons!
Quit moaning and live your life!
* We asked readers to tell us in their own words why they migrated. This is one of the stories.