Thursday, June 23, 2005

Glorious Essex Days!

I was taken for a trip down memory lane two Sundays ago when I received a surprise long distance phone call. Normally, when a person’s first words to me are “Oi! A**hole! Where have you been?”, I’d reply with some profanities from my own dictionary. But, it was Rose, my flatmate-capati maker-cook-confidante-lookalike of three years from my Essex Days. So instead, I shrieked with joy, instantly recognizing her voice. And, off we went catching up on lost time. There was much to say, since, after all, it’s been a good two years since I last heard from her!

The years I spent in Essex were, without a doubt the best three years of my life. I made great friends there, most of whom I am still in touch with till today. Many, of them I talk to once in two to three years (like Rose) but whenever we do talk, we could talk for what seems like forever! To add to my list of friends I was reunited with this month, yesterday, I was in touch with A.J a course-mate of mine for three years from Sri Lanka. He was one who used to camp at our flat to do assignments and to study. (Actually, he was just looking for someone who’d make tea for him!). It was fun then; even during every exam season! Exams usually fall every summer, and A.J would bring tubs of Haagen Dasz to our flat and we’d binge on ice cream while mugging! (hence, note the "tembam"ness in the photos!) There were a few others (Sam, KV, Asad etc etc) that later joined our study etc group. Oh, we had a whale of a time studying (ha!ha! Boleh percaya ke?)

When I think of Essex, I remember the days we spent in Colchester, a quaint, small university town where we used to lepak after classes. Our favourite haunt was Tilly’s, this little coffee shop in town that had this delicious iced-chicory coffee that tasted almost like cendol but minus the cendol. I also remember lazy Sundays spent walking to Wivenhoe, a pretty little fisherman’s village just 15 minutes away from our campus.

For more excitement and fun (and when duit scholarship masuk), we’d take a half an hour bus ride to Clacton-On-Sea, and spend some time at the Pier where they have fun rides or go dipping in the sea. Actually, only us Malaysians had the guts to go dipping in the freezing British sea. I wonder what the Brits around there thought about us then. Whateverrr! It was fun anyway

Essex was also known as a party uni. I won’t lie and say that I was so "baik" and that I never visited the dancehalls at uni. Those who studied in England probably know that, Essex is popularly known as THE partay uni of England (or so they claim) and “boasts” of parties every day of the week. Every Wednesday and Saturday, we’d have something (read: majlis tari menari) at the Students Union and on other nights there would be other events (read: majlis tari menari lagi) organized somewhere else and I did go once in a while to let off steam. Ok lah, I had my share of fun.. .and apparently, I was quite a d.a.n.c.i.n.g q.u.e.e.n according to some! *cough-COUGH! * Which is funny actually, when I think about it. Cos these days, I have no idea how to move to music anymore, much to my son’s dismay! I'm so out of it, and more like a kayu now!'s time for change anyway..

BUT, BUT, BUT! To keep myself “balanced” and as to beringat as mom perpetually reminded me to then, I had my “sisters” and "brothers". These blessed souls, were the people from the Islamic Society whom we had discussions and Quran recitals with. They were a neat group. One sister whom I remember oh-so fondly of, is Sister Rafah Kayali, a Jordanese who has the purest and sincerest heart in the world. And such a strong woman too! She was like a “big sister” on campus. I was the more feminist one in the group. Always arguing on women’s rights in Islam. Whenever we had discussions with the brothers on campus, especially on Polygamy..I was always called to debate the issue. (Setakat itu je lah Ustazah Anedra boleh ceramah. Itu pun tunggang langgang. Lain, belum berapa pandai! )
Image hosted by the lovely sisters

Then of course, there was my Big Crush, for a certain someone called, S, a coursemate of mine who is Irish-Pakistani and had this broody look which is to die for! He was also a "brother"...and I helped him with our coursework (of course, I was more than happy to do so!) I think I possibly had this on-off crush on him throughout the three years. heart still flutters a little teeny weeny bit, whenever I see his photos. It was a silly CRUSH and went no further than that, though. S and I are still in touch till today and he is married now. Alhamdulillah... A.J brought him up in our conversation yesterday and was teasing me about it. You see, S was his house-mate for a while, and A.J knew what I was up to! Teee-heee-heee! Come to think of it, my monkey-crush on S was quite hilarious! Sighs.. Silly, silly me! The things we do at that age huh?
Image hosted by Photobucket.comgraduation day with mama and a blur aunty
Well, it’s been a good 8 years since we graduated in the summer of 1997. Rose is now the Head of Research in a local hospital in London, married with a daughter. A.J is now running his family’s gem business up in Sri Lanka, also married and expecting his first, this August, while Sam is married to a coursemate of ours, Aisha and they have a daughter. The rest of us are scattered all over the world, KV in Paris, S=Essex Crush is in London running his own business, Pash in the States is about to marry a CNBC reporter, and A in Canada is an Amway high-flyer!(?).
Image hosted by mom, dad and moi
If you had known us 8 years ago, you wouldn’t have seen much potential in us to be where we are today and what more as parents. We were this carefree bunch of students, always laughing and having the time of our lives each day. I can’t recall a day in Essex when I was feeling down (but then again.. I do suffer from extensive memory loss!). How free we were then, no worries, not much responsibility except to study (and exams were only once a year at that!).

Time really flies! Its such a wonder how we’ve “grown up” with time too! My Essex days were truly oh-so glorious. And the most glorious thing of all is that I met and made life-time friends while I was there.

I could go on forever talking about the good ol days. There are just so many feel-good stories to tell and so many friends that I have not mentioned in this post. I probably won't even ever manage to write it all down! So, I'll just keep those memories in my heart where it belongs.

I have to say, it was fun to walk down memory lane with Rose and A.J. Especially when we're older and more mature then we were the last time we met. I had a good laugh, and shed a few silent tears somewhere in between. It was good to catch up. It was GREAT. But the best thing about it was that we discovered that some friendships, like ours, do last forever.


Blogger narfnarf said...

Hrm...I think my cousin went to Essex...not quite sure, I too suffer from memory loss. Her name's Maria Mamat, do you know her?

6:03 AM  
Blogger Kak Teh said...

Oohhh - i do remember that graduation day!!!

6:14 AM  
Anonymous Rose said...

Heh reading ur blog just bought all the happy and sad memories back to life. Geezzz it sure does not feel 8 yrs, its just seem like yesterday.
Man i have changed so much in 8 yrs. It hard to beleive it.

6:14 AM  
Blogger anedra said...

narfy: There was no Maria during my time..BUT,there was a maria who went to another uni but had a boyfriend in Essex??

kakteh: remember when you cried over that crippled boy in my batch? and later found out he was drug dealer! hehe! funny!funny!

ROSIE darling: You made it here!Believe or not honey, IT IS EIGHT years! You've not changed a bit to me, and I still miss those chapatis!!

6:51 AM  
Blogger Ms.B said...

It's always nice to read about someone's trek down memory lane, because more often than not, you will trek down your own one too. :)

*I can't begin to imagine what would have happened to me had I studied overseas - sure tak graduate punye! Even in bleak old KL I could STILL pain the town crimson and get myself into all kinds of trouble!!*

7:27 AM  
Blogger faux diamante said...

u know what, i did some research at essex a while back. i suka itu pakcik prof. robin cook( i have fond memories of him) and pretty much everybody at the linguistic dept. colchester is indeed a lovely place.maybe i'd like to grow old there if i could convince the other half to leave singapore.

btw, didn't realise u made a reference to me in ur tribute to ur dad till kakteh pointed it out. thank you.*tersipu-sipu malu diri yg kerdil ini*

8:12 AM  
Blogger narfnarf said...

Heh, was never quite kept in the know about whomever she dated. Methinks she's around your age, so it might be possible. I think she studied law, and was quite a partay gal too. Ah well.

8:17 AM  
Blogger shidah said...

i was naughty as well.... opps I still am.... heheheh ;)

9:14 AM  
Blogger atenah said...

woi talk abt a small world, during my 1st yr I was in Keynes 6.6. now what say you?

oit, oit, tiada CSI di antara kita wokeh?


12:42 PM  
Blogger Ely said...

ooooh, mcm gini rupa si anedra nih. manis sungguh :)

isnt it nice to walk down memory lane and wishing that we could turn back the clock?

4:44 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

blabs: sounds like you had quite a good time too huh? Those good ol days!

nazrah: colchester is nice kan? very quiet but still not too far from London! My dad visited the uni once a long time ago, before I went..he liked it too and was mighty pleased when I got there!

I wonder when I can go back again..

Shidah: waaah..tell me! tell me yr stories!

8:04 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

atenah: Wey hey! waddaya say?? we studied at the same place??? WOWW! Okay, my first year I was in Bertrand Russel 16.1. Second year we were living in the new housing on campus, not the Towers for half a year and then moved to the Tower next to Keynes..Can't remember which one anymore. Third year went back to Bertrand Russel again!

OKlah..uni mates also still cannot CSI aaah?? OK lah.. OK lah..

Small world aye?? JOm kita balik Essex beramai-ramai dengan Nazrah sekali??

8:07 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

narfnarf: Hmmmm..maybe it is THAT MAria, cos she did law too but not in Essex! She's now married to the Essex guy and they're somewhere in UK working. Maybe huh?

Ely: Yeah, I sure do!.. I wish I were still that SIZE too!

8:10 PM  
Blogger atenah said...

i suka gi beli ikan kat wivenhoe village then masak asam pedassss, that pic was in square 3 kan

8:40 PM  
Anonymous nourclaire said...

Thanks for sharing! Does bring back memories..I've added you up in my blog, if you don't mind?


8:55 PM  
Blogger OOD said...

Sure sounds glorious!!

Ooohhh.. is that your pix (kalau tak sapa lagi kan?). Goody, lepas ni kalau jalan mana-mana and ada stranger tepuk bahu, that will be me. Jeng jeng!

10:08 PM  
Blogger Jane Johan said...

Anedra! reading this made me walk down MY memory lane.

I was in Hatfield Poly and went to visit a friend in Colchester for a week during winter break. I tried to recall the year... it was in 1985 and you know what that means? That's a 20 good years already!!! uwwaaa....

1:08 AM  
Blogger anedra said...

atenah: the fishmonger at wivenhoe and colchester town dah kenal our faces. The weirdies that want the fish-heads! He gave it to us for free! Mat Sallehs tak makan kepala ikan, they don't know what they're missing! Yup! Don't remember what the Square number was, but its the one in front of the shop that sells groceries etc!

Nourclaire: No problem at all! In fact, I am honored! But, still don't have the access to yr blog! How?

OOD: Remember what I said about FAT+BLEMISHES+STRETCH MARKS+THINNING HAIR?? Add that on to the pictures of me! Kalau tak, takut you might tersilap epuk bahu! Jeng!Jeng!Jeng!

Honeytar: Hatfield is along the train line to London if I am not mistaken, right? 20 years is a long time! BUT you're still feeling very young I bet!! ;) And..thanks for dropping by!

9:42 AM  
Anonymous atn said...

anedra: he he he bab kepala ikan free itu mmg dari dulu sudah tradisi students Msia kah kah kah plus makan smoked mackarel with cili padi & kicap

huwah i think if we meet satu hari tak habis gebang ni

9:03 PM  
Anonymous nourclaire said...

oops sorry about that anedra! What's your email? I will fill you in..sorry la..the search engine captures my nick and currently I'm being 'stalked'...;(

11:25 PM  
Blogger narfnarf said...

kak anedra: tak kut...she's married and living in KL now.

eh eh eh, if you and kak tenah meet to bergebang...nak ikut!! :o) (muka tak malu tak abih lagi ni)

7:14 AM  
Blogger anedra said...

atenah: wivenhoe tu is a good place tu "bawa hati". I really like that place especially on Sunday mornings..And the market at Colchester on Sunday mornings as well!!

Hai..memangle tak boleh habih cerita pasal Essex!! Hopefully we can meet someday to cerita panjang!!! What do you call it "gebang"? Amende tu?

Narfnarf: Jom!! ikut sekali I bergebang dgn kak tenah! But dunno when that will happenlah!

6:53 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

nour: how to give u my email?

6:53 PM  
Blogger narfnarf said...

man. I am so looking forward to August. Can't wait to meet you!

6:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

faith said...

i still have this regret of not putting Essex Uni as my first choice of place to study. I went to Leeds instead (and mixed with Malay students only - should blog 'bout this one day!). Visited my aunt who lives in Colchester few days after Christmas in 1996, and also visiting my friends at the uni hall, I must say I liked the place quite well.

perhaps u've seen a malay woman working at the students' union cafe before? that's my aunt. Now I can understand why she's quite crazy 'bout dancing, she attends dancing classes and berjaya pujuk her hubby to be her partner in one of her dancing competitions. She's now over 60 years of age!

8:58 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

narfnarf: August it is then!! Can't wait too! Where shall we go makan then??

faith: I hate to say this but..yup! Big mistake!! Essex was pretty balanced. ENough malaysians for us to lepak with when we feel homesick, and few enough for us to have a little cosy Essex Malaysian family with. But not too many that we became clickish. I had 12 Greek flatmates in my first year who were like sisters to me, and throughout the three years made a lot of friends with non-Malaysians. Its good exposure!

Yes, I think I remember that aunty. She was in dancing competitions? Cool!

9:06 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

faith: I was there in 1996. did we meet by any chance?

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I thought u satu uni dengan cik bad and asmalinda. They were in Warwick, right?


9:15 PM  
Blogger anedra said...


I satu uni dgn asmalinda at essex., che bad was in warwick.

9:17 PM  
Blogger atiza said...

sama uni with ipah, atoy and aed (both my ex-roomates at KPP)la nih, eh?..

10:16 PM  
Blogger anedra said...

atiza: nama-nama tu tak pernah dengar pulak. I was there between 1994-1997. maybe different years kot!

11:24 PM  
Anonymous nourclaire said...

Anedra!You've figured it out! Smart gal!;)

6:19 AM  
Blogger atiza said...

aiyoh...salah tempat...depa kat exeter..

awat la masuk planet lain y'day

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come back and work in my shoe shop!

Mrs B

7:49 AM  
Blogger anedra said...

nourclaire: dah berjaya!!

atiza: aha! so that explains..

Mrs B: this time round I'll BUY the shoe shop and you work for me! Can?

5:53 PM  
Blogger Bustaman said...

Aaaaah...memories! May you never lose them.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Susan Abraham said...

This is a lovely post, Anedra. I enjoyed reading it very much. You wrote it beautifully. *love*

5:30 AM  
Blogger Susan Abraham said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:30 AM  
Blogger anedra said...

Pokku: I am quite convinced I've lost lots of em! Blame it on MSG!! But haven't lost the important ones though...not yet at least!

Susan: thank you!

7:05 AM  
Blogger narfnarf said...

dear dear kak anedra...anywhere, everywhere! :o) lemme see...i don't really know where all the good eating places are in kl so you'll have to suggest and i'll go willingly.

11:13 PM  
Blogger lion3ss said...

I just discovered your blog..and loving it!

I went to Essex too, but in 1998. By then, less than a handful Malaysians were left. In fact during my batch, there were only 3 of us in first year! I stayed in the Sounth Towers with a mixture of locals and of course, thse funny Greek guys. We frequented the Student Union for dancing outings as well!

Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

8:38 PM  

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