Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Ad: Food Review - The Olive Tree @ Plaza Damas

Hello hello everyone! I know it's been forever since I last wrote a food review, so I'm going to try and go on a review spree. Try being the operative word here haha. Ok, so first up is The Olive Tree located at Plaza Damas, opposite the Hartamas Shopping Centre. It is relatively new; it opened earlier this year. I dined there with Tanvir in mid July (yes, that's how long I've been putting off my food reviews). The Olive Tree serves North Indian food (yummmm!). We purchased discount vouchers from I Love Discounts for RM18 per person so it was definitely a steal! The normal price for the lunch buffet is RM30 per person.

Ok so first, let's talk about the location. I'm not very familiar with the Hartamas area but it wasn't too hard to find. I had called the restaurant beforehand to ask for its exact location and the employee answered "It's right opposite Hartamas Shopping Centre". This was true, I'll give him that, but Hartamas Shopping Centre isn't exactly a small place and I definitely did not know how to get to the other side. We found a connecting bridge that led to Plaza Damas but got lost after we crossed it because believe it or not, there was no way down. There was an elevator which led to the carpark, but it did not lead us to the ground floor where the restaurant was. It was extremely frustrating because we could spot the restaurant from the bridge but had no clue how to get there. So after going up and down repeatedly, and asking a few of the security guards how to get there, we still couldn't find our way there. As you can guess, I was getting impatient. I hated being late. Eventually we decided to go to the lowest floor of the car park and walk out of it via the car park entrance/exit (yes, where cars go in and out). So we made a bigggggg round and then had to walk uphill to reach the restaurant. Nice right? I guess it was a good way to work up an appetite!

We arrived a little later than scheduled (duh) but found that the sign on the entrance of the restaurant still said 'Closed'. We just stood there staring at the sign. Fortunately, one of the waiters came over and greeted us, flipped the sign to 'Open' and led us in. The first thing I noticed was the pleasant aroma of air fresheners. Hahah it smelled fresh and clean - definitely a plus! We were the first and only ones there, and they were still setting up the buffet spread. I didn't mine though, because that meant that we got to dine on freshly-prepared food - YAY! The waiters were courteous and very friendly - service is always really important so I was happy.

I really liked the decor of the restaurant. Almost everything was black and red - super chic! There were metal trees stuck to the walls, olive trees I assume, which doubled as candle holders. There were wooden shelves on the walls which had an edgy design to them; they gave the restaurant a more modern feel. The restaurant was filled with dark brown, wooden tables and chairs. Dark brown leather seats lined the edges of the place. It was simple and elegant.


Before long, the buffet was set up and we happily took a look at the buffet selection. There weren't many varieties of dishes but they were definitely sufficient. There were a lot of vegetarian dishes and only two non-vegetarian options. I expected more, honestly, but I guess it made sense since non-vegetarians can dine on the vegetarian dishes too. The buffet spread offered naan bread, steamed rice and vegetarian biryani rice to go with the vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. I forgot to take note of the names of the dishes but I'll include what I know! The vegetarian menu for that day was tomato shorba (tomato soup), dal tadka (a lentil dish), vegetable shahi kurma, bigan bharta (I don't know what this is to be honest!), and aloo simla mirch (a dish made of potatoes). There were also some chutney, flattened fried chili, mint sauce, and raw veges in yoghurt.  The two non-vegetarian dishes were murg sagwala (a chicken dish) and fish goan curry.

Tomato Shoba (like tomato soup)
A closer look

Part of the buffet spread
Steamed rice

Vegetarian Biryani Rice
Bigan Bharta - A dish primarily made of eggplants

We had a bit of everything of course. The naan was really yummy as they were just prepared. They were still hot; thus, they were very soft. It went particularly well with the dal tadka, the chicken and fish and potatoes. The mint sauce was pretty good too, tasted similar to the ones they serve at d'Tandoor (my family's fave spot for North Indian cuisine). Let me just say that I don't really know what the names of the dishes mean, but I assume they are simply names of the cooking style. The tomato soup was ok - you could taste the different spices infused into the soup but I suppose it was forgettable lol. The biryani was good too. It went well with most of the dishes. On its own, it wasn't particularly flavourful and it was rather bland, but it complemented the other dishes well. I loved most of the vegetarian dishes, particularly the dal tadka (one of the BEST dals I had ever had!) and the bigan bharta. Ok, I just googled this dish and found out that it is made up of eggplants. I usually don't like eggplants, but since I liked it, it must've been really good! hahahhha! I really liked its texture and taste. Who knew vegetables could taste so good right? hahah kudos to this place for making veges yummy! The chicken was alright, but I don't remember going crazy about it, so I guess it wasn't great either. The fish was ok too, but again, not great. I remembered that I liked the vegetarian dishes better than the non-vegetarian ones (for once in my life). I can't complain, but I suppose I've had better so it was hard for some of the dishes to live up to my standards. As for the drinks, well I have no clue what we had, but I'm guessing plain water! Oh and we were served freshly fried poppadoms too to go with our meal :) I've always loved the crispy texture of the poppadom against the soft texture of rice and the other dishes. And some places don't serve them fresh, so they tend to be stale and not crispy - this usually irritates me lol. There was only one type of dessert served. I don't remember what it was called, but if I'm not mistaken it was made of sugee (also known as semolina). It was hot and sweet, but pleasant. I think we would've probably enjoyed it more if we weren't already full by then!

Dal Tadka (Lentils) - Mouth-watering!
Aloo Simla Mirch (Potatoes)
Vegetable Shahi Kurma

The yoghurt that accompanied the raw vegetables
Murg Sagwala (Chicken)

Fish Goan Curry
Our table setting
There are fewer things better than freshly-made naan
Doesn't this look good?

My Plate
Another look at my plate

Anyway, I think we arrived at 11ish in the morning, and by 12 people started to arrive. Tourists from India came by the busloads (two, specifically) and office workers filled the place up, too. Fortunately the two groups of tourists arrived at different times so it wasn't too crowded. All in all, our dining experience was pretty good. Some of the dishes were not as delicious as we expected them to be, but the prompt service and lovely ambiance made up for it. I wouldn't say that it was the best North Indian food that I had had, but I wouldn't mind going back there, especially for the vegetarian dishes! :)

Happy with a full-stomach :D
A rose before we end this post

Verdict: 3.5 out of 5

Til next time, take care and happy dining! Don't forget to comment and follow our blog!


** All photos belong to me. Please do not use them without permission **

Monday, 3 December 2012

Haneesa: Posh! Nail Spa Launching, SS2 Petaling Jaya

Have you ever met people who get excited over things more then they intend to? I am one of those people.

I have to admit, I like manicures and pedicures more than I actually have them. I've only experienced a pedicure once with my friend Lina, and the rest of my rare visits to the nail parlour are only for manicures. And that's only if my nails are in a state of emergency >.<

Yes, I get excited about nice girly things, and then the excitement dies down :< So to start practicing better nail care, I decided to follow Lina to the launching of Posh! Nail Spa in SS2, Petaling Jaya :)

The view inside Posh! Nail Spa in SS2

For the spa-goers out there, you probably know Posh! opened first in Taman Tun. I've heard pretty good reviews, mainly because of their wonderful service. For someone who doesn't do their nails often, I have friends who are pretty particular about theirs. Some reliable comments were that 1.Posh manicurists take time with your nails to give you the best results and 2.they give you great tips on the color choice.

The happy and pretty staff of Posh!

The event started out at 11am and lasted till about 4pm. Of course, everyone lingered on even till after 4, since the atmosphere was more laxed as the event went on. I liked the layout of the event as it wasn't a really big do and cozy for a small crowd. However the music was a bit too loud for my liking, and seeing that it was a day event and indoors, I didn't get why they had to turn up music till you can't hear people's voices. I could see everyone trying to talk over the music, or else just awkwardly keeping silent.

Goofy staff!

Anyhoos, I came at 1pm and noticed a huge purple tent outside with only a few people sitting under. At first, I was thinking 'Um...ok..what is this ghost town Lina brought me to' but after walking in, I started feeling the vibes of the event. It was pretty nerving at first...I'm still not sure why, but I only started feeling comfy as I stayed on longer.

So relieved to find my darling Lina. xo

Oh! I met someone very interesting at the event; my ex-boss (sort of but not really lol), Larry. I think finding him there, plus Lina, made me feel a little cozier. It turned out that his lovely wife, Sereen, is the owner of Posh! I was so completely shocked at him for not telling me all this time! Imagine the discounts I could've gotten at Posh Taman Tun!! loll I'm kidding

Sweet baloons from PartyMooMoo

The decor of the event was themed pink and purple; there were baloons everywhere, congratulatory flowers and a simple food spread with tidbits like cupcakes, samosas and sandwiches. I think there was a semi charity event going on, as they were promoting OPI nail polishes for breast cancer awareness.

OPI's Pink of Hearts

I spent the first hour or so taking tons of photos of every angle of the spa imaginable. It was a pretty small place with a lot of people, so it was hard to manoeuvre around. Finally I got bored and took to the food table. The cupcakes were so tasty!

Yum de dums~


BPA-free water bottles on promo

This was when I met Larry, who thought I had forgotten him (same thoughts here!) cause I wasn't saying hi to him. Sorry Larry! I was happy you remembered me too! 

While we were talking and laughing, he told me something interesting: Posh! is actually in the process of making 'halal' nail polish, which Muslims can use, worry-free! The ingredients are henna-based, so they aren't water proof and perfectly usable for more conscious Muslims. Sounds great dunnit? In addition to that, they'll be coming in a whole range of colors too! Yayzers!

Larry, Sereen and their daughter. Aww...

Afterwards I realized I hadn't registered, so I got my gift bag that I love and got my free manicure~! We talked some more (Lina introduced me to her pretty friend Joanna, who I found to be just as nutty as we are lol), took part in some lucky draw & games, and basically just people-watched the whole time.

Manicure: ON

Lina, me and the gorgeous host, Belinda Chee. Photo credits to Lina

At about 3pm the hunger started kicking in for Lina and Joanna so we headed to a kopitiam nearby. I didn't tell them this but it looked obvious that they were starving... lol. I think the drinks were the best part, since it was so blazing hot that day.

My drink versus the girls' drinks. Muahaha!
The event was pretty mild and sort of new for me, but I'm glad Lina got me invited. They gave away some cool freebies in the goody bag, which I'm gonna use and maybe tell you guys about it some time ;)

Vouchers from my goody bag~


Check out Posh! Nail Spa down below :)

23, Jalan SS2/30, Petaling Jaya

Congrats again Posh Nail Spa on your launch!


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Far: Pregnant! what is painful and sucky but NORMAL


Sorry for the long absence! and I am also sorry to say that my hiatus isn't due to me being busy with assignments or maintaining an awesome household for my husband, but its because I'm preggers!
I really still can't believe I got pregnant so soon after my wedding (after one week!). I am now about to come into my second trimester! (time flies, seriously)

But unlike the glowing, radiant mum to be(s) you see on tv or in magazines (think beyonce and angelina jolie,,, grrr) I look and more importantly feel like a mess!!!! If any of you have watched "what to expect when you are expecting" im the blonde woman that has the worst of the worst. This post is a concise one to tell you readers that those sucky feelings are actually normal! scroll down to find out.

# you are constantly feeling nauseous, doesn't matter morning, noon or night! and even after the first trimester. 

My sister in law has told me that she was feeling bouts of nausea well through her pregnancy!

# you constantly have to pee, and even when YOU think yr done peeing, yr actually not.

hormones and things in there moving and pressing around will make you feel this way.

# your breasts hurt like never before.

your breasts will feel tender and sore and this is absolutely normal even though it feels like someone is sawing it in half. (i exaggerate not)

#your body is in constant pain

my shoulders, back, thighs and hips are always aching, i don't really understand why, but it is due to the extra weight you're carrying. Plus your body is always changing to accommodate the baby, it is even EXPANDING hence the soreness.

#you get major migraine and headaches

HORMONES. rest and drink up.

#falling asleep or extreme fatigue

I don't really have this anymore, but during my first few weeks i was terrible! I would be putting away groceries and suddenly felt like a huge weight was put on my entire body and I felt incredibly drowsy. Another sister in law tells me that taking naps during the day is essential because the body is building the placenta, then taking care of the baby and nourishing the baby. Think about it, how can you NOT be tired.

#you feel like punching your husband or anyone else around you

hormones again? most definitely. sometimes i feel so sensitive, other times i feel frustrated that he can eever understand the discomfort of it all. but i know he loves me and i love him:) but sometimes u just want to punch somebody.

#your heart races even though you are just lying down.

the body is pumping 50% more blood for you and the baby, its completely normal, just scary at times.

#you are hungry all the time.

you are suppose to eat but there are books that tell you to eat this or that and show you meal plans that look more like diets, then you have friends and families that keep telling you to eat more. It is confusing and frustrating, but eat what you want and eat mindfully and remember that you are doing this for the miracle growing inside you.

#you feel fat and ugly, and guilty about it at the same time.

Hopping from being at my ideal weight during my wedding to suddenly getting rounder has it's emotional effects. It just makes me want to wear baggy tshirts and hide. I havent felt that sense of "matsalleh" pride that makes me feel that I want to show off my baby bump. anything 'fitting' just makes me feel fatter.
I feel absolutely guilty about this and crazy at the same time, I am pregnant, and I am suppose to get rounder. but a pregnant woman's body changes dramatically every week, no one not even yourself should expect you to be totally comfortable with such a dramatic change. It is normal to freak out. Learn to love your new body that is supporting the baby inside.

#your mouth has a metalic or bitter taste.

this is also normal but i dont understand why exactly. must be those darn hormones.

Im stopping here because im feeling exhausted again. Hopefully my entry wont take as long!
take care!


Saturday, 17 November 2012

Haneesa: Kardashian Kollection Review

Hey gals!

So Lina has been talking and tweeting about the newest collection to hit  Dorothy Perkins Malaysia and as a treat to our readers, we are excited to present a mini review of the one and only Kardashian Kollection by the Kardashian sisters, Kourtney, Kim and Khloe~

Here is the collection at Dorothy Perkins One Utama, a small yet very Kardashian-y collection that focuses on office and party wear. Oh, not forgetting a few party accessories too, like clutches and purses.

The price range for each piece is different, but does not run from the usual DP price range. Dresses are priced at RM250+ while blazers start at RM300+. Bottoms (skinnies, skirts and leggings) are priced between RM200+ to RM 240+. And lastly, the itties bitties of collection (accessories) are priced between RM160+ to RM190+. As for sizes, all clothes range from sizes 6 (I think) to 16.

As you can see, there are lots of bold blazers and chiffon blouses in dark colors. They also feature big & bold leopard prints, something that is almost a Kardashian signature. And of course, there are LOTS of sparkly sequins on the dress and clutches, all in colors like black, gold and silver. As the sisters mostly wear shift dresses, it comes to no surprise that we see that mirrored in the Kardashian collection.

There you have it girls, the Kardashian Kollection in One Utama. Our verdict: The collection is pretty small, but maybe there are more things to look forward to in the future... 

So girls, tell us what you think about the collection and let's see what new celebrity collections will soon land on the shores of Malaysia.


Monday, 12 November 2012

Happy Deepavali!!

The Awesome Project would like to wish all dear readers a very Happy Deepavali! Have a wonderful celebration with your loved ones, and may this Deepavali bring you joy and happiness!  

Lots of Love & Lights,
The Awesome Project

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Ad: Sami Yusuf in Malaysia - World Premier of Salaam Album Launch

Hi and Salaam dear readers! 

If you've been following the blog or even me on twitter, you'll know just how hectic last week has been for me! To my twitter followers, sorry if my tweets have been annoying and I kept complaining lol. Honestly had not been this tired in a really, really long time! But of course, everything was totally worth and I would not change a single thing :)

Anyway, as you know, Sami Yusuf was recently here in Malaysia for the launch of his much-anticipated fourth studio album, Salaam. The album launch was organised by Arteffects International, a company that was founded by Hafiz Hamidun. His entire stay here was managed by Arteffects, and I have to say Hafiz Hamidun and everyone at Arteffects did a wonderful job! Everything went smoothly, and our brother Sami Yusuf seemed very happy during his stay here. Definitely was well taken care of by Arteffects :) So, kudos to the team! 

He arrived here late at night on the 1st of November and stayed for 3 days. His flight back home was on the 4th of November at 9.50am, so he probably left the hotel at around 7am. It was a short stay and it would've been amazing if he could stay longer but he still has to launch the album in the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region, and also the international launch at the RIS Convention soon after that, so these are busy times for our brother and his team! Anyway, before I proceed, just a quick warning: this will be a long post! hahaha I know some of you have read my posts before so you know exactly what to expect, but for new readers, brace yourselves! 

Ok, so me being me, I was literally counting down the days to the Sami Yusuf album launch and his arrival here in Malaysia. I mean like every single day, no matter how busy I was, I had to say at least once "Omg, 10 more days!" or "Can you believe Sami Yusuf is coming back here soon?" or "*in a state of daydream* we will be watching Sami Yusuf sing LIVE" hahaha and other stuff like that. I mean even subconsciously I would be talking about him! This was all fine if I were perhaps talking to myself, but unfortunately for Tanvir, he was the one who had to listen to me say all this over and over again! By the way, I am not 'obsessed' with him; it's just that he is someone who I respect a lot and inspires me, so you can't blame me for being excited! Anyway, I follow Arteffects on twitter, and also @SYMalaysia and thankfully, both accounts have been updating us followers about Sami Yusuf coming to Malaysia. In fact, Arteffects kept the entire SY Family updated about Sami's whereabouts throughout his stay here. Check out their twitter for pictures and other updates :) On 25th October, I was scrolling my twitter timeline and spotted this:

It loosely translates to "Let's wait for @SamiYusuf at KLIA on 1st November!" I instantly had this wide grin on my face. It was all happening. I had a lot on my plate, what with the Lung Foundation of Malaysia charity bazaar coming up, but how often does our brother Sami come down to Malaysia right? I had to alter my plans according to his schedule, no matter what! After I saw this tweet, I immediately replied @SYMalaysia asking what time he was expected to arrive. They said: 

I was excited at first, and then my heart dropped. "9.30pm??" I said to myself. 1st November was a Thursday, I knew Tanvir would be working, even at night. It seemed impossible to welcome him at the airport. If I were to go there, I'd have to leave around 8pm as it takes 45min-1hour to get there. Then what if the flight was delayed? What time then would he arrive? Also, how long would it take for him to get through customs and immigration and all those other boring airport stuff? God knows what time I would reach home after all that. It just didn't seem like a good idea then. The next day, I casually updated Tanvir about the news on brother Sami, like when he was scheduled to arrive at the airport and so on, and we both agreed that we could not be there to welcome him. I was sad, because I thought a warm welcome would really make his day (or well, night), but I shrugged off any thoughts that came to mind and told myself "maybe next time". Then on the 30th (can't remember what I was doing, probably something for the charity bazaar), a thought came to my mind. "Maybe I should go with Lina and Nina..." hahaha. Then I whatsapped Tanvir and said, "I think I should go to the airport with Lina and Nina if they're free". He said, "hmm ok". Haha he didn't seem too keen about that! So I asked Lina and Nina (I know right, our names are all the same. Adlina, Lina, Nina. Can you imagine how confusing it is when we're all out together?) whether they were free and wanted to come along and just my luck, they both said "YES!" hahaha. The gears in my brain immediately started moving at full speed as I thought about what else I would have to do for this welcome. I decided at the very least, I had to make a poster that says "SAMI YUSUF WELCOME BACK TO MALAYSIA". "What else?" I thought to myself. I decided a Welcome To Malaysia card would be the perfect gift for him. 

I constructed a to-do list because I realised that there was a lot more that had to be done for the bazaar itself and since Sami Yusuf was coming two days before the album launch, I had much less time to do everything. It was a long list and believe me, it was the beginning of my everyday-sleep-at-4am journey. So the next day, on the 31st, I went out to see Tanvir for a while and he said "So you're going to the airport?" I broke into a biiiiig smile and said "yesssss". He replied, "I want to go! But I've work". I then asked "is there any way you can get out of work? Maybe move your break time to right at the end?" We kept on discussing and at the end of our discussion, we were both smiling. He said, "InshaAllah we will go to the airport together" 

On the 1st of November, I had to buy the several things that we needed to make wraps for the bazaar. I went with Lina to a hypermarket and did the shopping there. We were a little slow because 1) the place had been renovated, 2) the prices vary for the items on the list, everything was way higher than the budgeted prices and 3) I had not had my lunch yet and it was at least 5pm. Niiiiice right? Ok so when we were shopping, Tanvir texted, telling me to meet him at his workplace to pick up some of the other ingredients for the bazaar (he had ordered some stuff directly from the suppliers so we got the items for lower prices yay!) and I told him to wait because I had not had my lunch yet and I wanted to eat. The biggest problem we faced was that one of our main ingredients (chicken meatballs) was not available. I mean there were other brands which were way more expensive, but the brand that we normally use and were looking for was unavailable. Things were not looking good. Then somehow before we know it, it was 7pm. Time sure moves quickly when we're rushing! There was a bit of a drama and misunderstanding which led to silly arguments that I honestly do not care to explain here. Haaaanyway, then I picked Nina up and we went back to my place to pray Maghrib and then we took a quick stop to another supermarket in the hopes of finding those chicken balls and Alhamdulillah, they were there! Phew, that was one less thing to worry about! So by 8pm we arrived at Tanvir's workplace and waited for him. We finally left for the airport at around 8.30pm.

Ready with our gear! I was checking twitter for updates of course, to see if there he has landed
Ok I just realised that I'm including waaaay too many details so I'm going to try and not do that so much from now on! Moving on, Tanvir took the wheel and drove us all to the airport. We were all extremely excited (duhhhh! of course!) and obviously we played all of Sami Yusuf's songs on the radio and we sang along (or well, we tried to. let's just say it's better that no one else heard us haha). During our commute, my darlings Lina and Nina fell asleep in the backseat and they looked sooo adorable! It was almost 9.30 by the time we arrived at the airport. Stupidly, (and because we were rushing - this always happens when we're rushing) we completely missed the car park entrance and went straight for the arrival drop off/pick up point. Then we had to make one big round to enter the car park, park the car and rush to the international arrival hall at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). We made a pit stop at one of the shops near the place we parked because Tanvir hadn't had a meal since...morning (yikes!). We got some snacks and drinks, and then quickly proceeded to the arrival hall. We arrived at the arrival hall feeling excited, full of adrenaline and we were all smiles. It was around 9.50pm by the time we got there. We unfolded the poster, got our camera and video camera ready and leaned against the railing of the arrival hall. And so we waited, and waited, and waited. Lina and Nina got hungry and decided to buy hot corn in a cup. It was GOOD! haha 

Lina happy with her corn in a cup
Time was moving extremely slowly. I refused to sit down. I just couldn't bear the thought of missing him after coming all the way. So we just stood there, talked, and waited. Lina asked "What are you doing to do when you see him?" and I said, "I have absolutely no idea". But ok, here was the plan. He would walk through the arrival hall doors, which was a bit of a distance from where we were standing. We would be able to see him from afar, and he would be able to see us with our poster. We would then switch on the video camera and record the entire moment. We may or may not wave like crazy people, and we would figure out what to say to him while he walked toward us. That was the initial plan. Let me just say that things did not go according to plan AT ALL. 

Nina and Lina with the poster
We kept glancing at our watches, kept refreshing twitter, even tweeted Hafiz Hamidun. We unfortunately did not get a reply lol but he was busy so it was totally understandable! We were happy that at least soon after we got there, at around 10ish, Hafiz checked into 4square which confirmed that he was indeed at KLIA. That got us excited. We were like "Ok, anytime now". We were so, very wrong. Again. Lina and Nina got tired of standing and decided to sit at a corner, somewhere behind us. When it was 10.45, I started getting worried, "What if we missed him? What if he had already left?" I asked everyone. Tanvir checked the board which showed flight statuses and found that a flight had arrived from Dubai at 10pm. I said, "10pm? I guess the plane arrived a little later than it was supposed to". So we kept our hopes up. At 11pm I said to Tanvir, "It's 11 now. How much longer do you think we should wait?" Tanvir said, "Let's give it another half an hour". I was relieved he felt that way, because I certainly did not feel like going home without seeing brother Sami! Then I saw Sami's tweet "Now in Malaysia. :) Apa khabar? Jumpa di tv3 esok pagi :)". Unfortunately I did not see the photo that came with the tweet haha. It got us worried, thinking maybe he's gone to the hotel already although that was borderline impossible!

I have to say, quite a few people stared at our poster, but said nothing. Most people just smiled. But one guy walked in front of us, glanced at our poster and without stopping he chuckled and said, "Sami Yusuf" and left. Just like that. Me and Tanvir were puzzled. "What was that all about?" we asked each other. Then a while later the same guy came back. He stood next to us this time and he asked, "You're waiting for Sami Yusuf?" We said, "yes, he's here right?" And he said, "yeah, still waiting to clear him" I asked "where is he exactly?", and he said, "in the VIP lounge with Hafiz" We both breathed a sigh of relief. Then he said, "We're arranging his transport back to the hotel" and I asked, "He's staying the the Royale Bintang right?" He smiled and said yes. We talked for a while longer and I asked him for his name. "Nasir" he said. Tanvir and I proceeded to introduce ourselves and then Lina and Nina came over too. Then Nasir mumbled something to us and left, which left us asking "Where'd he go?" So we stood there, with renewed excitement and hope. Soon it was 11.30. Lina had wandered off somewhere and Nina was just staring blankly into space, holding the camera. We were all still leaning against the railing, our eyes glued to the doors of the arrival hall.

Then, out of nowhere, we heard a voice saying, in Malay, "Sami Yusuf dekat belakang la" which means Sami Yusuf is behind you. Ok honestly when I heard that, I thought the guy was joking, whoever it was. I thought it was someone who had read our poster and decided to mess with us. So we all turned around and my God, didn't we get the shock of our lives. Standing in front of us, was this tall, fair man in a beige/khaki-coloured jacket and a pair of blue jeans. He wasn't alone. There were at least four other people there. It took a long time for anything to register into my brain. The man gave a little wave, and he had a big smile on his face. "I found you," he said. "I surprised you this time". And all we did....was stare. Nobody. said. a word. There he was, looking a little tired from the long flight, Sami Yusuf. Standing merely a few feet from us. Thank God Tanvir broke the silence, extended his hand and said "Assalamualaikum brother, how are you?" 

About to hand him his card, as he was telling us how organised Hafiz Hamidun is haha!
"This guy is really organised" said brother Sami
"Waalaikum salam, I'm very good! How are you?" Sami replied cheerfully. I was still in shock. Honestly, I was lost for words. And my brain kept thinking, "Where on earth is Lina?!" We had waited for so long and for her to miss him - well I didn't even want to think about that! Haha thankfully, she joined us soon after that. We said we were fine, and that we were very happy to meet him and said to him welcome back to Malaysia, and told him that it was nice to have him back here. Then, I introduced Lina and Nina to him. They were both giggling like school girls! lol! I suppose that's better than looking wide-eyed and lost (the look that I was sporting!). Sami then said, "You know what? The moment I saw the two of you (Tanvir & I), I instantly knew who you were!" And I said, "That's amazing. Thank you haha it's great that you recognise us!". We talked for a while, and Sami asked, "You'll be coming on Saturday right?" and we said, "Of course, inshaAllah we will." Tanvir then asked, "What have you got planned during your stay?" To which he answered, "We've got a very busy schedule". Brother Hafiz said, "Tomorrow Sami will be at.." and I finished the sentence for him "KL central right?" He smiled and said, "yes" and I continued, "MHI in the morning, then later at night IKIM at 10pm". "Yessss, you know the schedule well" said Hafiz. I laughed and said, "Yes, thanks to twitter". So then I handed brother Sami the card but only after Tanvir reminded me to (I still couldn't snap out of this dream-like state). When I handed it to him, Sami was sooo happy. He kept saying, "Thank you". He held the card in his hands, he opened it, glanced inside and saw the rather long message, then closed it back and said "Thank you so much for doing this for me".  Tanvir then said "This is actually the first of many surprises. There are more to come" and he said, "MashaAllah, thank you". He couldn't stay long, so Nina said, "Let's take some photos". And so we did!

So sad this was rather blur!

But this turned out great!

Then we asked him to sign our poster, and he gladly obliged. Ok I'm embarrassed to say this, but honestly throughout the entire time we were talking, I only managed to say one thing, which was "It's so nice that you surprised us. I mean we were the ones who wanted to surprise you and it turns out you surprised us hahaha". And I said it over and over again, in many different ways lol. I simply couldn't pull myself together! Let's just say that the surprise was nothing short of mind blowing!

Sami Yusuf signing our poster! You can see Hafiz in the background snapping photos lol

As he was signing he said, "I'm sorry I'm ruining your design". And of course we said, "no no you're not" haha
Tanvir, Me & Sami with the autographed poster
Ok I don't remember when this was said, probably while Sami was signing the poster. As Nina was snapping photos, she said, "So handsome". I broke into a smile and looked at him. He smiled sheepishly and said, "I blush at such comments" Awwwwwwww. Such a cute response. haha oh my gosh I can't stop smiling even as I'm typing this!

"Oh, I want to show this" said Sami and he held the card in front of him :)
Before we said goodbye for the night, we of course took a group photo with the help of...someone. I'm sorry! I can't remember who took the photo. Perhaps it was Hafiz, or Nasir, or even Omar. Thank you so much and I'm sorry I forgot! We also spoke to Nabila a little. We first met her in July during the press conference. She was so nice :)

Our last photo of the night :) Love this!
After that, we said our goodbyes and good nights and see you tomorrows :) After he walked out the main entrance, Sami turned around to wave goodbye to us. See how nice he is! The best thing about speaking with him is that he makes you feel that you are the most important person there. He just gives you that much attention. God bless him :)

The next day, on the 2nd of November, which was a Friday, Sami made an appearance on MHI at around 8ish in the morning. It was a short and sweet interview. I managed to record and watch it yay! Initially I thought that I couldn't because Tanvir and I were planning to start cooking whatever we could for the bazaar. We were afraid we would not have enough time on Saturday. But fortunately, we decided to watch MHI before going into the kitchen and getting on with the cooking. It was well worth it! The interview was lovely :) You can watch the interview here:

Then we did the whole chop a whole basket of onions, tomatoes, mushrooms and chicken thing. That took a pretty long time. I mean hey, neither of us had ever cooked for 100 people. It was rather daunting and quite stressful but we managed to work through it. We cooked what we could. The most important thing at that time was for Tanvir to complete his dishes because I certainly did not have time to learn and recreate his recipes! Somehow Alhamdulillah we managed to do it. We didn't like that we had to prepare everything this early but we had no choice. We always believe that freshly-prepared food tastes a million times better! But alas, time wasn't on our side! Alhamdulillah we strictly followed science in order to ensure that the food stayed in tip top condition and everything worked out in the end :) I didn't have time to cook my recipe but it was still fine because I could even cook in the middle of the night for all I care lol.

Then, it was time for Friday prayer. We tried to guess which mosque brother Sami would go to, but we guessed wrong haha.  We completely missed his tweet stating that he was at the Wilayah mosque :) Here's a photo he took on his WhoSay. Tanvir had to go to work after prayer, so we rushed to his work place after he was done. Out of nowhere, rain started pouring and it got heavy very quickly. Soon enough, we could barely see the road when we were driving. And just as quickly as the rain had come, it went away. SubhanAllah, how amazing is that? The rain had not stopped completely, but the storm had passed. It actually continued to rain until night time. Monsoon season everyone :) So after that, I got back home, checked that I had surprise number two with me and made sure I had everything else I needed, then left for KL Central. Sami Yusuf was expected to make an appearance at the Islamic Book Expo at around 4.30pm. When I got there, I felt a little out of place to say the least. Most chairs had been taken and I was there a little early. I took a quick look around the book expo. I was rather disappointed that everything was in Malay. It was supposed to be an international book expo, but I suppose some of the books were by international writers but they were probably translated into Malay. Of course I have no issue with books written in Malay, but I like reading materials from scholars from all over the world so I was just disappointed about the lack of selection, that's all. Anyway, I went around snapping photos as usual and before long, he finally arrived.

He's here!

Everyone was thrilled! If it seemed empty before, well all the gaps in the crowd was quickly filled. I decided to stand in the centre of the place, behind the chairs so that I could take better photos. When he sat down, I waved at him lol. I couldn't help it! And he smiled and waved back :)

You see the guy with the mic holding the Salaam album? That's Nasir! 
Nasir saw me and was so sweet to give me a shout out. He said, "Terima kasih kepada adik kita yang memang peminat setia Sami Yusuf kerana sudi menjemput dia di airport semalam" :) which means "Thanks to our sister, Sami Yusuf's loyal supporter for welcoming him at the airport last night". I couldn't stop smiling. Then suddenly, a guy appeared next to me. He smiled at me, so I smiled back. He said, "Adlina right?" and honestly I just froze. I didn't know how to react to that. I've always been the type of person who loves anonymity, who prefers to be unknown, so it completely took me by surprise that he knew who I was, but I didn't know who he was. Haha I don't remember what I said, but we started talking and he introduced himself as Syafiq :) I remember I asked him, "Are you going to the album launch tomorrow?" and he said, "yes, yes I am" Then I asked, "Oh, who will you be going there with? Friends? family?" He replied, "Alone actually. I will be coming straight from class". Then I said, "ohh..ok ok. Everyone who buys the album here gets to listen to it first! I would buy it but we're already getting it tomorrow" He said, "I'm gonna do it. I'm going to buy the album". And I said, "Good, that's great!". Syafiq then said, "I'm planning to give one to my friend because she was disappointed when the concert was cancelled. She still hasn't got her refund" I said, "Oh...yeah I know, it was disappointing but hey, it happened. I'm not sure if I've got my refund actually for the tickets. I asked my father the other day and he said he'd check, but never got back to me." (By the way, quick note, on Saturday night, my dad confirmed with me that we had received our refund, alhamdulillah)

Sami said a few words, but it was very brief. Then Nasir took over and said that "I think we should go straight to the signing of autographs because we don't have much time". So he ushered those who had already bought the album to queue up to get their autographs and told everyone else to go get the album if they wanted to meet Sami Yusuf personally and get their CD signed. Syafiq went to buy the album while I went closer to try and take more photos. While taking photos, I met Omar from the airport. He said, "Hii, you're from the airport last night right?" And I said, "yea yea, that's me. How are you?" he said, "I'm fine, I'm fine" and we talked for a while. It's always so much fun to make friends with the people I meet :) Alhamdulillah I've met quite a number of beautiful people through Sami Yusuf. Thank you so much brother :) As Omar was busy doing his job, I saw Nabila next to the stage so I went over and had a long conversation with her. She was lovely as always of course. I asked her if it was possible to get a few minutes of his time when he was done with all this, so that I could pass him a gift and she said, "It should be no problem, don't worry". 

We talked about a lot of things. One of the things I remember asking her was, "So how are you adapting to the weather? It's crazy huh? One moment it's sunny, then suddenly there's a full on rain storm" and she laughed, "Yea, but I was inside during the rain. I would've loved to be outside. We don't get this in Dubai" and it made me realise how much I've been taking the rain for granted in Malaysia. I'm so blessed to be in a country where it rains every other day. There is a saying, not sure if it is a hadith or not, that duas (prayers) are more likely to be accepted when they are made when it is raining :) If I can find the source for this, I will put it up later. Then while we were talking, someone said, "Excusez moi." (Excuse me) And we both turned to look at the man. I remembered his face because I had just seen him get Sami's autograph a few minutes before and he had his photo taken. He said, "parlez-vous Français?" (Do you speak French?) I'm going to try my best to write the French part! And Nabila said, "No, I don't." He then said in English, "This singer, may I ask his country of origin?" And Nabila explained to him that Sami is British, was born in Tehran but grew up in the UK and is ethnically Azeri. I'm not sure what else they said, then I said to him, "Je parle un peu Français". (I speak a bit of French). And he was sooo happy when I said that. Of course when I say I speak a little bit of French I honestly mean just a little bit! Then he said, "ohh!! merci, merci" (Ohh! thank you thank you) then I said, "De rien" (It's nothing/no problem/a way to say you're welcome). Then I said in English, "So you're from France? Welcome to Malaysia" and he said, "Oui, merci" (Yes, thank you). Then I said, "it's very nice to meet you. Oh wait, I think I can say it in French." I paused to think for a while. Thank God at least it came back to me. Then I continued, "Enchanter de vous connaitre". And I think that was the last sentence in French that I said to him, but still, if it made his day, Alhamdulillah :) I said to him, I used to learn french when I was in high school. Then I think after a while I excused myself...I'm not sure but the conversation ended. Some time after that, his wife suddenly came up to me and said something in French, really, really fast. I stared blankly. Wow, I certainly did not catch even a single word. I shook my head and told her I didn't understand. Then with her hands, she was acting like she was holding a mic and then I understood what she was asking. "Is he going to sing?" I said "Oh no, not today, but tomorrow yes at Royale Bintang Hotel in Damansara". She nodded, smiled then went away.

With the beautiful Nabila

Then, I bumped into Omar again and he asked if I could help him interview some people for a video for the SYO (Sami Yusuf official) website. He said it'd be easier if I could interview people in Malay, then translate for him afterwards. I happily agreed. I mean all this was so exciting! Making friends, helping with the interviews for SYO - honestly it was so much fun! So what I had to do was ask the questions, mostly about Sami Yusuf and the new album, about favourite songs from the album and stuff like that, they answer and later on I'd help translate. After a while, Sami finished signing all autographs and he was presented a token of appreciation for gracing the expo with his presence. We were all asked to go on stage to take a group photo and we happily obliged haha. When we got on stage, Sami was like, "how are you? Everything going ok?" And I said, "yeah, everything's great". Then he said to me, "I have this feeling that this stage is going to break". I said, "I was just thinking the exact same thing!" And he said, "yeah, it's hollow. There's nothing inside!" I said, "Let's hope we can take this photo quickly and get off before it breaks" haha. Then after the group shot, he said "Are you alright?" I said to me, "I'm fine, I'm fine. If it's ok with you, before you leave may I have a few minutes of your time?" Then he called Nabila and whispered something to her then he turned to me and say, "Stay with Nabila" or something like that. Then as I went closer to Nabila she said, "Just follow me, there'll be some sort of hi-tea or something, when that's done you can talk to him" and I said, "Ok, thank you so much".

Sami being presented a token of appreciation for being at the expo

So I followed Nabila and Sami around, and eventually we found ourselves at Rasamas. Sami and the team were given refreshments while the media (Utusan & Harian Metro if I'm not mistaken) interviewed him. I just stood and waited, snapped some photos and occasionally talked to Nabila, Omar and Nasir. Nasir was saying "We're running late. It wasn't supposed to take this long. If there were more people there who knows that time we would finish. He's just very friendly and gives everyone his time and attention". I smiled and said, "He's like that. That's just how he is". 

At RasaMas

Sami being given a book

What a lovely smile :) He's always smiling mashaAllah

Sami being interviewed

Signing autographs in between being interviewed. I was waiting for my turn to speak to him :)

Everyone was sort of rushing to get Sami back to the hotel. I learnt that he had not eaten since breakfast (it was close to 6pm by then) and he had not had any rest at all. He couldn't sleep a wink the night before due to jet lag, and he had just been running from interview to interview, to Friday prayer, to KL Central...it had just been so hectic for him. He looked tired but he tried not to show it. He was as pleasant as always and never stopped smiling. It's such an honourable trait to have. I can't even begin to imagine how grumpy I would be if I hadn't slept or eaten and had a packed schedule. InshaAllah one day I can learn to follow his example, God willing :) Ok, so I sat down next to him and we didn't get to talk much because the interviewer was still there and still asking questions every now and then, but of course I was grateful that I still was given some time with him. I presented him my second surprise. When I said to him "I have something for you". He said, "oh no not another one! You've already given me a gift last night!" and I said, "haha well you can expect even more".

I was trying to show him something on my phone lol

There are a few of you from the SY family whom I've got to know and constantly talk to. I know you all sent him your salaams and love, and I was just so afraid that I'd forget someone, so I made a little card and included your names in them :) I gave this card on the 2nd of November, so if any of you told me to send your salaams to him after that, I'm sorry I couldn't include your name in the card! But I hope you all are happy that I've managed to pass your salaams in the form of a card to our brother :)

Explaining to brother Sami that the SY family sent their Salaams

He was absolutely touched, believe me :) He really appreciated it.
He said to the interviewer, "This. This is why I do this. This is what makes it all worth it. To be shown so much love, it keeps me going".
Brother Sami ready to leave, with his gifts in his hand
After that, he said his thanks and said, "See you tomorrow InshaAllah". He really is such a wonderful person. So humble, so friendly. He barely drank his coffee though. It worried me of course, because the last thing we all want is for him to get sick! But no worries, the next day at the album launch, Hafiz Hamidun went to each table and thanked everyone for coming. At our table I asked him, "Did he get to rest last night?" Hafiz said, "Yes he did. We asked him 'what can we get you?' And he answered 'I would like some Japanese food'. Japanese food? we certainly didn't expect that" hahha and we all laughed. Hafiz continued, "He had teppanyaki, teriyaki..he finished everything!" haha I love how enthusiastic Hafiz is when he speaks. He's such a great guy mashaAllah :) 

Then later that night at 10pm, I listened to IKIM.fm for Sami Yusuf's interview. I enjoyed the previous interview on IKIM so I was really looking forward to this one. You can head on to IKIM's website to see some photos and a short write-up (it is probably in Malay though!) but keep checking the website. I'm quite sure that eventually they will make the interview available for download or streaming.

Ok so finally, it was the 3rd of November, the day of the album launch!! That morning I woke up happy of course. The night before, I remembered to set my TV to record Nasi Lemak Kopi O. I was downstairs, cooking for the bazaar when Sami Yusuf appeared on tv and guess what? I heard my mom shouting from upstairs "Naaaaa!!! NAAAAAA!! SAMI YUSUFFFF!!! SAMI YUSUF IS ON TV!!!!!" HAHAHAHAH as stressed out as I was, I couldn't help but laugh when my mom did this. She's so awesome seriously :) I loveeee how excited she was! So I watched the interview together with my mom, then got ready to leave home. For some reason though, on that day traffic was terrible! Everywhere we went, there was some sort of traffic jam. It was crazy! And certainly testing our patience.
You can watch his appearance on Nasi Lemak Kopi O here:

Tanvir and I arrived at the Curve at almost 1.30. We finished preparing our final surprise for brother Sami and then we had a quick breakfast (I know right, our eating times were completely haywire!) then we rushed to the hotel...we scrambled around looking for the ballroom (for some reason I forgot all about keeping the details of the album launch with me) we finally asked the receptionist (who was rather busy) where the album launch was and he was absolutely clueless. Then he asked, "Are you looking for Royale Bintang Damansara?" And we nodded and he said, "Ok well this is the Royale Bintang The Curve". Can you believe it? WE WERE AT THE WRONG HOTEL. So much drama! By then it was almost 2pm already! Thankfully the correct hotel was at the other end of the mall - much better than having to drive to a totally different location. Again, I scolded myself for not being well-prepared for this. For someone who had been looking forward to this day for a long time, I was pretty much unprepared! So we rushed to the real hotel and eventually, we made it!

Outside the ballroom. People were waiting to get inside!

After we registered and got our Salaam albums & posters, we both felt a lot more calm. Haha it was so stressful having to constantly rush here and there! What really helped us relax was that we could hear (although it was very subtle) Sami Yusuf singing for his sound check. Obviously we got even more thrilled after that!

Look at the beautifully stacked CDs! So many of them!

While waiting to go inside, we spoke to Syafiq. I introduced Tanvir to him and we talked. As usual, I found myself taking photos haha. 

Before long, we were finally allowed to enter the ballroom. So so exciting! My heart was racing - it was really happening. I can be quite a pessimist. Ok perhaps that's not the right word, I'm a realist. I always tell myself that things can go wrong, that's just how life works. I just have to learn not to be too disappointed if anything were to go wrong. Therefore, when the doors opened and we were allowed to enter, I breathed a sigh of relief. It was really happening. I was about to have one of my dreams come true. Sami Yusuf was going to perform - and I would be there to enjoy the entire thing. Seriously though, I'm truly grateful for everything that has happened. I do realise how lucky I am and I hope that all of you from the SY family will get to meet him and see him perform live too one day, inshaAllah :)

The beautiful stage. I love the colours!
We met a lot of people on the day of the album launch itself! It was so nice meeting everyone and getting to know other Sami Yusuf supporters in Malaysia. I really hope we all can keep in touch :) We could sit wherever we wanted so we sat at a table with these awesome people: Azizul, his wife Anisa, her mother, and Azizah and Hazman. Honestly a lot of the people we met on that day looked very familiar, especially Azizul haha. We really felt like we'd seen him around somewhere. We mostly talked to Azizul because he was the nearest. He sat next to Tanvir so it was easier to speak with him. We spoke with Anisa too and she was so cute, she said "I'm so excited that Sami Yusuf is here that I'm getting a migraine!" hahhahah 

Our table, and Azizah & Hazman in the background! Unfortunately we didn't get a photo with them!

Tanvir is trying to contain his excitement haha
And me? I'm just...at peace!

Us :)
Our host for the afternoon was Ally Iskandar, who usually hosts TV3 programmes such as Malaysia Hari Ini (MHI). He welcomed us all to the album launch and then invited Hafiz Hamidun, the Managing Director of Arteffects International to the stage for his opening speech. It was kept short and sweet :) After that, Nabila the representative of ETM International was invited to say a few words. They both mostly thanked everyone for coming and expressed their excitement for this album launch.

Hafiz Hamidun giving his speech

Nabila on stage
Once Nabila was done, Sami Yusuf was invited to join us. He made quite an entrance. He flashed everyone a big smile and waved to the crowd gracefully. He went straight to the stage, accompanied by two men who handed him one Salaam album each, marking the start of the album launch. He then continued to give a short speech. One of the memorable things he said was, "Somebody asked me, 'Why Malaysia?' regarding the album launch and I asked, 'Why not Malaysia?'." :) He then said that it was an honour to be here and he was happy to share this experience with his supporters. It was small, simple and intimate - just the way he liked it.

Sami making his entrance
One of my favourite photos of the night - Sami waving happily to the crowd
Sami Yusuf poses with his latest album Salaam
Time for a speech

After that, the VIPs were invited onto the stage which signified that the Salaam album had officially been launched in the South East Asia Region. The VIPs comprise representatives of Warner Music Malaysia and Warner Music Indonesia, among others. Immediately after that, the media was invited to a press release in a separate room while the rest of the guests were served some good, good food. Alhamdulillah the food was mouth-watering and delicious! The only dish that I personally felt was not up to par with the rest was the 'roti jala' (the yellow rolls in the photo). It was too dry so it wasn't as soft as how the roti jala should be. Other than that, every other dish was fantastic!

Yummy food! 

While we were all eating, the host kept us all entertained. He went around going from table to table, asking people to sing in order to get a free Salaam tshirt. Sad to say we didn't get it, but three of the people we met and made friends with on that day got it! So yay for Syafiq, Farhan and Hazman! After about 20 or so minutes, the press conference was over and Sami Yusuf was invited in again. He came in and walked straight to the stage, as ready as ever to perform for the eager guests. He performed four songs, all of which were from the latest album, Salaam. He first started with the song "Salaam" and it was simply magical. His voice was even better live! It felt as though we were listening to the CD - but much, much better! He had a wonderful stage presence and he interacted very well with the crowd. After Salaam, he moved on to "It's A Game". It really got the crowd going with its cheerful melody. You just can't help but bob your head to the music and sing along :) Then, there was silence. Sami walked over to the mic stand and settled himself. When he felt comfortable, he began singing "Ala Bi Dhikrika". Because this number had no music, only had vocals, you could really hear the beauty of his voice. The song was so powerful and it definitely tugged at your heart - at least it did mine. I could feel tears forming because I could feel every single emotion he was singing. He sang from his heart, and he touched all of our hearts. The last song he performed was "Happiness". I absolutely loved the song. Every bit of the song reflected its name. It was such a jolly tune. Everyone in the crowd was clapping their hands together. The entire experience felt like a dream. It really was a dream come true.

He's blessed with such a beautiful voice mashaAllah
Don't you just love the colours in the photo?

After his performance, he walked towards the VIP table and had a seat. It was only then that he ate and drank, after everyone else had finished. He was happily eating and chatting away with everyone at the table when two of the supporters who were from Aceh, Indonesia went over to him. They introduced themselves and presented him a rapa'i, which is a traditional Indonesian drum-like instrument. Sami was of course very happy and touched that they flew all the way here just to meet him :) They then performed a little number for him and he listened intently. They were really good - the girl had a beautiful  voice and I loved the traditional sound and feel of the song. After that was done, they returned to their seats and Sami continued eating for a little while before he was invited to take a seat on the stage to start signing autographs and meeting all the supporters in the room. 

Everyone queuing up to meet brother Sami
The guy in the red chequered shirt is Mu'adz, one of the lovely people we met. He's a singer :)

We wanted to be the last in line because hopefully then we would be able to talk to him for a longer time and give him our final surprise. While waiting for the queue to get shorter, we helped Omar interview a few other people for the video on SYO. Doing that was fun because we got to meet a lot of really nice people and got to know them a little better. We had the best time doing this. After we were done interviewing everyone else, I had a chance to speak in front of the camera. I was a little nervous but it went fine I think! You can be the judge later!

Me and Farhan
After we were done interviewing people, I was just about to get in the queue to meet brother Sami when I heard someone say, "Excuse me". I turned and saw the guy in the photo above standing behind me. He said to me, "Are you that girl who wrote the entire experience meeting Sami Yusuf on your blog?" I smiled. I was shocked, in a good way. I said, "yes, that's me" and he said, "I knew it! When I first saw you I said to myself that I have to go and talk to you to thank you for writing that post'". I was so touched. I really was. He was so sweet for saying all these things. I mean I know there are a few people who read my posts about Sami Yusuf, mostly from the SY Family, but I've never had someone actually recognise me and come up to me to talk about what I've written. It felt amazing and it certainly motivated me to keep writing. As if the day wasn't amazing enough, he just made it better :) Tanvir then came back from wherever he went and I introduced Farhan to him and Farhan said with a smile, "I know who you are. If I'm not mistaken you're from Bangladesh right". That just made us both smile. We couldn't stop smiling - there were simply too many reasons to smile! He even remembered what I wrote in my posts. God bless you Farhan, you made us happy. He said the post that he really loved was the first time we met Sami Yusuf. He said he remembered it clearly that we were going from college to KLCC and we were at the verge of giving up but we didn't and we ended up getting to meet brother Sami. He said "thank you. the way you wrote it made me feel like I was there with you the entire time. I was sad because I was in Indonesia then (he studies in Indonesia) and I was desperately looking for updates on Sami Yusuf in Malaysia, and your blog made my day". It's people like you who inspire me to keep writing. Thank you for reading the blog and thanks for all your support :)

With Hafiz Hamidun

After that, Farhan excused himself because he was going to meet some friends. While we were waiting in line to meet brother Sami, we had a nice, long chat with Hafiz. What a nice person this guy is. He was so friendly and even though we just met, he made us feel like we're all long lost friends. We both had so much fun talking to him. God bless him :) He did a superb job of bringing Sami Yusuf back to Malaysia. The showcase was a success and every single person in the room was happy. I have to thank him and Arteffects again for doing such a wonderful job. More people know about the album launch and about the concert being cancelled now than before. It really shows what a great job Arteffects is doing. Keep up the good work. With God's grace, the company will definitely have a bright future ahead.

After the long chat with Hafiz, we finally got to meet our brother Sami Yusuf. We talked to him for a good 10 minutes or so. We really appreciate your time brother. Thank you so much for talking to us. Before we started our conversation, brother Sami said, "Ok wait, let me just get this right". He gestured his hand towards Tanvir's direction and said, "You are Tanvir" then moved toward me and said, "And you're Adlina. Am I right?" We said yes and thanked him for remembering our names. We talked about how it was a dream come true to watch him perform live, how we hoped to see him back here for a full-blown concert, then we talked about the songs that he sings. He was telling us that he's unlike a lot of other musicians in the sense that when we grow older, we start to feel silly supporting certain bands or certain types of music because we can no longer relate to their songs. That is why he tries to sing about the sacred, because no matter how old or young we are, we need God in our lives. We can always relate to God. After all, as he said, "We are fallen creatures. We were from the Heavens but then we fell. That's why we can relate to music and songs about the sacred". I completely agree with him and you know, every single time I talk to him, he never ceases to amaze me. He teaches me something profound every time we have a conversation. God bless him for that. After that we also talked about his favourite writers, one of them being Malaysian, to my surprise. He said, "If you can, please go and get their books and read them". The name of the Malaysian writer is Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas, and the name of the other writer (I didn't ask where he's from, sorry!) is Seyyed Hossein Nasr. I can't wait to look for their books and have a good read :) Thank you so much for recommending them to us. He said he wanted to meet Syed Muhammad Naquib Al-Attas but was unable to. Perhaps next time inshaAllah :) 

We also asked about how he was feeling, whether he had rested. He said that it'd been absolutely tiring. "Yesterday was like a marathon really". Hopefully he managed to sleep well the night after the album launch. The funny thing was that while we were talking, Hafiz kept saying "Ok, I have to leave you for a while because I've guests waiting for me" and we all said "Ok go ahead" but he kept coming back and saying "I need to leave you for a while" and Sami said to him, "I thought you left! 6 minutes ago!" To which Hafiz replied, "I haven't. They're still waiting outside. Are you sure you're ok with it?" And Sami said, "Go", I said "Please, it's fine, he's in good hands". His staff also said, "seriously just go la" hahahahha. I love these moments. They all seem very comfortable around us :) Nasir also asked brother Sami if he needed anything specific tonight, and Sami answered "The only thing that is necessary is sleep tonight. Thank you". We said, "Yes, please get some sleep. You need the rest". 

Then, we gave him our third and final surprise, to which again, he said, "What? Not another one! I'm going to have to surprise you again somehow". We gave it to him and he asked, "Can I open it?" We said, "Yes, we'd like to explain some of the stuff in there." So he opened it and he saw a sajda (prayer mat) and he said, "I actually don't have this in my room! Thank you" and he opened it up. I said, "Really? Did you call housekeeping? You can definitely ask them to bring one for you" and he laughed and said, "It's just me being very European. I just assume that it won't be there". Tanvir said "It's a mini sajda, a smaller one because you're always travelling so it's convenient for you to bring it around". The next item he saw and picked up was our card to him "The ABC's of Sami Yusuf". The name says it all really, we described him in every letter of the alphabet. I said, "It was really easy doing this for you because they're so true. We mean every word." And he flipped through them and said, "MashaAllah, thank you so much". I said, "it's rather long so you may not want to read it now". The next thing he saw was the flyer for the Lung Foundation of Malaysia charity bazaar.  I said "There's actually going to be a charity bazaar tomorrow by the Lung Foundation of Malaysia and we wanted to invite you to come if you had the time, but since you're going back tomorrow you probably can't make it". He looked at the flyer and he asked Nabila, "Nabila, can we make it for this event tomorrow?" And she said, "No, we're leaving really early in the morning tomorrow". He looked a little sad and said, "I'm sorry I can't make it". Tanvir said, "It's ok, it would've just been nice if you could come and see it" Then I said, "May I tell you a little bit about the foundation?" and he told me to go ahead.

I then told him that both Tanvir and I are volunteers and that it was founded in 2005. I told him my father is actually the chairman, which was why I was so involved with the foundation. The main aim of the foundation was to help patients who have difficulty breathing. I told him that we take breathing for granted, most of us can breathe without any problems. Breathing is a real privilege. Some of these people literally have to walk around with small oxygen tanks and with tubes up their noses just to breathe. He looked absolutely upset when I said this. He asked, "Why do they have this problem? What causes it?" And this was when I started scrambling for the brochure because I don't remember the names of the diseases. I gave it to him and pointed him to the right page. "Basically they are chronic lung diseases. So the foundation is trying to help these very people". He said that it's such a good cause and he hopes that he can somehow support the foundation in some way. MashaAllah, he has such a kind heart :) Then, the people from Arteffects and Nabila needed him back, so we said, "Give us a little bit more time, we're almost done here". Then he looked into his gift box and saw miswak and excitedly said, "miswak!" Then we said, "the reason we got this for you is because the last time when we gave you a gift in July, as you were unwrapping it you excitedly asked if it was miswak, exactly the way you had just said it a moment ago. So we decided to get them for you this time. These are from Bangladesh. Tanvir's parents sent them over". He thanked us again, and he asked Tanvir, "Which part of Bangladesh are you from?" Tanvir answered, "Dhaka" and he said, "Ah, the 'upper' part. The city. I know quite a bit about Bangladesh. In the UK there are a lof of people originally from Bangladesh. Many of them are sufis" Honestly, after the miswak both Tanvir and I had completely forgotten about the non-alcoholic perfume we got him hahaha. We also forgot to tell him that they're in small bottles so that it's easier for him to bring them around on his travels. 

Anywayy, it was great getting to talk to him. He was really generous with his time. We truly appreciate it and we appreciate him of course. He said, "Keep in touch! through twitter. I know I have been rather silent lately because I've been busy but whenever I get the chance, I do sit down and read all your comments" and he smiled. Then Tanvir said, "Oh and through live chats too". Sami answered, "Yes, I try to have those as often as I can. It's really nice interacting with you all". I said, "we're looking forward to your livechats, no matter if it's 3 or 4 in the morning or whenever" and he said apologetically, "I'm really sorry about the timing, unfortunately that was the time that was chosen" And I replied, "Don't be sorry. I think that's the best time for  most of us". Then he said, "Take care, my prayers are with you and please send my salaam to your father, your family, your loved ones". On that note, we all said our goodbyes to him, to Nabila and Omar too. He ended with "Terima kasih banyak banyak" :) 

We are both extremely grateful to have been given the chance to meet and talk to such an inspiring person. Thank you for everything, your music, your message... everything. Hope to see you back here in Malaysia. Meeting you always becomes our fondest memories.

To the rest of the readers, I hope you've enjoyed this extremely long post. If any of the information in here is wrong, please let me know because I wrote all this solely based on my memory (which admittedly is not very good). Before I end this post, please watch the latest video on the SYO website if you haven't. This video is very special to me and I'll always cherish it. 

Also, I'm happy to share with you all that the Salaam album has already reached Gold in Malaysia! Just one day after the launch, 5000 copies of the CD had been sold - all in one day! This is fantastic news! If you haven't bought the album yet, please do so! You may contact Arteffects if you have any questions regarding the album. You can also listen to the samples of the song on SYO. Let's support Sami Yusuf :) Oh before I forget, if you all enjoyed this post, please follow our blog for regular updates :) Thanks for the support!

Take care everyone! God bless you! Til next time :)

Much love,

** All photos are owned by me unless otherwise stated. Please do not use them without asking for permission :) Videos are not mine. **

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