By Maryam Amelie
Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim
“Only Allah can calm the constant stirrings in her heart.”
I am blessed for having travelled “widely” enough when I was young and still a student, being the fortunate daughter of a dad who was the pioneer in our local airline industry – Singapore Airlines. As pioneers, he and his family were entitled to free air tickets to any destination in the world once a year. This benefit was valid until I started work.
Being the sole breadwinner and with 5 other mouths to feed, travelling overseas was hefty despite the free tickets. When friends my age were splashing on beauty products and the latest shoes and bags, I saved, scrimped and worked part-time so that I could beg my dad to let me travel on a free ticket while I coughed up my other expenses. Often, I would go to a place where I know I could bunk at someone’s house like a relative or some distant friend.
Once, there was no more seat on the plane, and after some negotiation with the airline staff, he managed to get me a seat in the cockpit, called a ‘jumpseat’, which was located just behind the captain and his co-pilots. It was not the most comfortable of seat, but it got me onto the plane to London. The ‘jumpseat’ was literally a seat that could be dislodged from the plane in an emergency.
That was a surreal experience seeing the pilots at work, navigating their way in the blanket of darkness in the sky only with voices trailing off and on from some speakers. These voices were navigating the plane from the ground! The co-pilots would also refer to manuals when asked by the captain. I was shocked, but it seemed like it was part and parcel of their job. This was way before the era where cockpits were off-limits to passengers.
With that free tickets, I was on an adventure – going to places like Perth, Melbourne, Christchurch, Los Angeles, Manila, Seoul, London, and a European leg. When I started working, my work took me to Beijing, Kunming, Paris, Bali, New York, and Tokyo – almost all the fashion capitals of the world, partly because I was a television producer for a programme called Fashion Unlimited. I “rubbed shoulders” with the likes of Isaac Mizrahi, Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein and the people behind Elizabeth Arden and Alfred Dunhill. Alas, I was me – excited but not so brand-conscious. I just enjoyed the travelling, the seeing, the experiencing of a different place, a different life on this planet earth belonging to the One Creator. Travelling calms the constant stirrings of restlessness in my heart. And I love to see the entire earth in my lifetime if I could.
It opened my eyes to many things.
How glam some places were portrayed to be but yet there were the other grim side. How haughty some people were thought to be and yet I found kindness and vulnerability. I smelt an air of romance in Vienna but was disappointed with Venice. I discovered hope and healing in Lourdes, and a totally different world in Prague. I came across a Singaporean in remote, grey and cold Dresden, running a crystal business. I heard different languages, tasted crisp air of freshness that was so different from where I came from, and I fell in love, or thought I was in love. The grass always seemed greener on the other side, right?
I’ve also worked and lived in Kuala Lumpur for a few months, came back and got married. A few years after marriage, I lived in Alabama, USA for a year with my husband and our firstborn. This afforded us some travelling to some cities in the US. We’ve also been to Phuket, Bali, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Bandung, Melbourne (again) and of course Malaysia multiple times. We made a trip as a family of four for umrah. Alhamdullillah.
The novella, The Truth Seekers @ Haji Lane speaks of Haji Lane, what it was and what it is now. Sufiah, the protagonist-seeker had a sojourn in Andalusia, Spain. Although I did not dwell on and in Andalusia, I gave glimpses of places that once used to be known as the “golden era” of Islam.
It is about finding balance in this noisy, fast-paced world.
Unless you lived in some middle eastern countries where Islam is truly a way of life, most of us find ourselves in cosmopolitan societies where worldly pleasures and earthly comfort rule by human standards are the norm. How do you go about finding the balance with faith and life, faith and fashion, faith and fulfilment?
B’Andalusia is about preserving a personal heritage amidst globalisation and modernisation, adapting to change and yet being rooted to one’s personal identity.
B’Andalusia is a fusion of geometrical patterns inspired by the region of Andalusia and the florals in sarong batik from the Malay archipelago.
It is a two tone design of light and dark, with a tinge of pastel or complementary colours that allows you to wear the B’Andalusia either way. Wear the darker or lighter hues on top or below. Find that perfect balance for yourself, any day, any time, and you are ready to go.
There are four tones – grey, sand, kale and peach – and I hope that the Maryam Amelie’s B’Andalusia collections will inspire you to find balance in your pursuit of life and the hereafter.