Saturday, November 10, 2012

So what's wrong with having surgery?

When you are sick, it pays to be well informed.

But even if you are well informed, there are others who think they are more informed than you and try to offer their ‘medically unwarranted’ advice even though they don’t even have a clue what you are suffering from.

So, make sure the ‘well informed’ information comes from the ‘rightly-guided’ source. For example if you want an expert opinion on a medical condition, get it from a qualified doctor, not from an illegitimate one. There are too many quacks out there trying to make a living out of the ignorance and gullibility of others through their so-called ‘well informed’ information.

A ‘rightly guided’ and balanced information help us make the right decision, especially in deciding treatment on crucial sickness, some of which involve life or death. The doctor that treats us can help to a certain extent by giving us the options of treatment. For example, if surgery is needed to cure a condition, then it is up to the patient to decide whether he/she consents him/herself to the option. No one is compelled to opt for surgery.

We always hear of the statement “Surgery should always be the last resort…”. Meaning if we want to opt for surgery to cure a sickness, there’s always other alternative to choose from. More so if it involves crucial parts of your body, like the head (brain), back (spine) or neck.

But most of us take this statement at face value without even going to great extent to study the facts, results and implications if we do consider surgery to treat our sickness. We just regard surgery as something orthodox, conventional, very risky and carry other side effect. The very mention of the word SURGERY leaves the uninitiated terrified or at least, confused.

Yes, surgery involves complications and risks, but if we weigh them with the risk of not having any, and the risks are far more dangerous, then the option is clear. For example if one has back pain, which involves spine problem, the patient would have to risk getting complications such as paralysis if the surgery on his back fails. But then, if by not getting the surgery, the risks are twice as much to get paralyzed as opposed to the surgery, so it is better to have one.

Nonetheless, if someone is faced to decide on surgery of the spine, it will be such an important decision that he should consider having more than one expert opinion. But do make sure the opinion comes from a real expert and not from some quack.

So, this is the story of how I decided to opt for surgery on my back, i.e. lumbar spinal stenosis, less than 2 weeks back. And after more than a week of recuperating from being under the knife, I felt better now. Before this, I was constantly suffering in pain due to the lower back pain and sciatic nerve pain on my right leg. (read my earlier post: August 2012 Family Visit to London)

To be exact the condition I was having is the narrowing of the spinal canal or in medical terminology Lumbar Spinal Stenosis.

The first time I knew about it was when I felt pain struck my right foot while on a family tour of London. I thought it was just a muscle strain and it ended in an inflamed feeling in the calf. So the pain was treated, as it is – a muscle pain. Actually it was an internal inflammation symptom due to the effect of compression of sciatic nerve, which starts internally at the spinal cord, which is at the area of the buttocks.

The pain was at time unbearable, as I couldn’t even walk and at times it struck at night and when it happens I would usually have sleepless nights. So, I had no option but to find a cure, and to find it quick, before it really gets on my nerve.

The pain on my lower back has been a recurring problem to me for the last 5 to 6 years, so I didn’t thought it was related. But after a lecture on nerve pain from dear wife and googling around for simple answers on the Internet, I got some good news and also scary ones. The scary part is if all else fail, surgery is not to be recounted.

Good news is that sciatic nerve pain can be cured naturally with health therapies, exercises and avoiding the causes of the symptoms. Other treatments available are anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers, herbal cures, acupuncture etc. Majority of the people are cured by these conventional therapies. But basically, all these non-surgical treatments focus on symptomatic relief of the inflammatory issue and not the real problem. 

The surgical treatment for the condition that I had -- lumbar spinal stenosis is something I don’t see as a choice, if you really understand what the term means. How do I know I have lumbar spinal stenosis? By analysing the MRI scans, which was done much earlier at USM's Advance Medical & Dental Institute (IPPT), Bertam, and the diagnoses are agreed upon by both the radiologist and spine experts at HUSM.

As explained by the spine surgeon who treated me, Dr Abdul Halim Yusof from the Department of Orthopedic, HUSM, the spinal canal where the nerve resides had swollen and compressed the nerves and this condition makes it impossible for the nerves to function well. The only way out is to open up the canal by removing excess bone particles that have grown to compress the nerves. This can only be done by surgery.

Yes, I wish I can undo this with conventional therapies, but there is no time for experiment. I’m no fan of surgery either, but if surgery can help cure the pain and sickness in the shortest amount of time and won’t cost me my arms and legs then I’m willing to be counted as a surgery ‘groupie’.

So, after my first meeting with Dr Abdul Halim Yusof on 14 October 2012, his department had set the operation to be slated on 30 October 2012 (2 weeks later). There was not supposed to any operation on that date, but Dr Halim was kind enough to slot an ‘extra OT’ as he see the graveness of the ‘pain’ I was in (I was walking with crutches) and had trouble myself to fire-flyz to Kota Bharu from Penang on my own accord just to see him and show the MRI scans.

So, on the morning of 29 October 2012, I was at the Orthopedic ward in HUSM (4S) getting ready to meet the doctors there, the MOs, HOs, Matrons, Nurses, including medical students, who are there doing their job, asking all sorts of questions for their ward postings. And after meeting the most important person before the surgery, the anaesthesiologist, and on request, I was transferred to the staff ward (8TD), which is exclusively for USM staff. I do not know what are the qualifications for the comfortable two-bed room, but I was given one.

For the night, the anaesthesiologist said I was better off sleeping early and with the help of a sleeping tablet given by the nurse, I dozed off like a baby. The next morning, 30 October 2012, I woke up feeling refreshed in a hope to start the ‘surgery’ day on a right footing. I was given a pair of surgery gown plus cap to wear and was pushed on the same bed I slept that night to the operation theatre (OT). Halfway to the OT, everything went blank.

I woke up about 8-9 hours later with a very dry throat. Somebody asked me if I can talk, and I said I needed to clear my throat from sputum. The person shoved a tube in my throat to suck the sputum off and after that I went blank again.

About 1 hour later, I realized I was pushed to a ward (Wad 2 Zamrud – Orto Akut), which is the acute orthopaedic ward meant for post-surgery observation. After a few more hours lying in bed, I realized I can sit-up, stand and even walk, albeit with much difficulty. There I stayed until 10pm after which I was transferred back to the staff ward 8TD. Initially I was supposed to stay at Zamrud 2 but upon insistence and that since no food were given to me at the ward, I wanted to go back to where my things were as there’s where I stock my food.

For the whole night, I couldn’t sleep and the next morning I told this to the nurses and a group of young doctors who came to examine me. They couldn’t make up their mind what was the reason and said they’ll leave it to Dr Halim to decide. After a few hours later, Dr Halim came to ask about my health and briefed me about the surgery. He told me that he had taken 4 hrs non-stop to operate my back. I asked if there was a complication, he said no, just that my spinal canal that he plowed was extraordinarily constricted compared to what he had done before. So, as he was alone doing it, he had to take more time and it was very tiring. The technique used by Dr Halim was the Endoscopic Decompression Surgery with minimal invasive through the skin and this method involves the use of endoscopic devices with indirect observation of surgical site through a large monitor (Read:

USM Hospital Offers Endoscopic Decompression Surgery for Spinal Problems)

Dr Halim tells me I was ready to be discharge if I wish so, but also welcome my decision if I wanted to stay for another night as the nurses can observe my overall heath, BP reading, ECG etc. I opted on the latter and later the nurse gave me a pill (it was the same one the night before) that can help me sleep through the night. I slept with a little difficulty and for two hours only as the pill didn’t work well this time. Later I found out that the reason of my being non-sleepy was because of the steroid (dexamethasone) given to me twice daily. I wasn’t sure what the steroid was meant to do, but when I ask the nurse, she said it was to prevent blood clotting. Since 3 days ago, I have stopped taking the steroid, on my own advice..hehe! And now I sleep like a log!

It has been 11 days now since the surgery, and although I cannot sit up straight for a very long time (the pain will seep slowly as the cut is directly on the back), I can walk better, even better than I was before the surgery. Lying down and sleeping also feels better as long as the bed is not too hard or too soft.

So, what is wrong with having surgery?

I wish to thank all the doctors and staff at IPPT, especially Dr Liau Kai Ming and Prof Ibrahim Lutfi, and the doctors and staff at HUSM, especially the orthopedic surgeon Dr Abdul Halim Yusof and the nurses, matrons, attendants and friends who visited me. Not to forget my wife, Dr Bakiah Shaharuddin who was supportive of the decision and did the initial contacts with Dr Abdul Halim Yusof even though she is a few thousand miles away in UK, my two aunts (Maknun & Makyang) who drove me all the way to Kota Bharu from Ipoh for the operation and waited and nursed me throughout the process (before & after) and those who gave their support and doa' especially to whom I forgot to mention their names here.

Thank you all and may Allah reward you for all the good deeds that you have done.


When Back Surgery Should Be Considered?

Treatment For Spinal Stenosis

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Workaholism, its Definition, Signs, Symptoms and Styles

Workaholics are unable to take themselves away from their work, even if they should

The definition of workaholic, according to the Random House Dictionary is "a person who works compulsively at the expense of other pursuits.

Paul Thorne and Michael Johnson, authors of “Workaholism”, define a workaholic as “a person whose need to work has become so excessive that it disturbs physical health, personal happiness, interpersonal relations or the ability to function socially.” (learn more about Workaholism)

So, for practical purposes then, what is the meaning of workaholic? If you find yourself unable to stop working, talking and thinking about work all hours of the day and night, there's a high likelihood that you are either: on the verge of becoming a workaholic; or you are a workaholic.

When individuals describe themselves as "workaholics," they usually mean that they work hard. Frequently the description is given as a matter of pride. Since our society encourages and rewards workaholic behavior, identifying work addiction is difficult. However, several factors or symptoms help us to distinguish between the hard worker and the workaholic:
  • The workaholic not only works hard but also sets impossibly high standards and is beset by a sense of never being good enough.
  • The workaholic's need to please others is a driving force that prevents him/her from noticing the impact of overworking on his/her own health and well-being.
  • He/She has a strong need to control other people and situations, or he/she finds it difficult to delegate responsibilities. "If I want it done well, I have to do it myself," is a characteristic workaholic belief.

Symptoms of Workaholic: A Life Out of Balance

The workaholic life is characterized by a striking lack of balance. The workaholic gives himself little time to develop and enjoy personal relationships. Caring for himself is low on his priority list, and health problems are often ignored until they become debilitating.

Moving from task to task, deadline to deadline, the workaholic feels most alive when totally immersed in a project or dashing between several projects. The workaholic may become addicted to the adrenaline rush generated by dealing with a crisis.
The workaholic uses work to escape from difficult feelings and in this process loses awareness of her desires and needs. The family members and friends of the workaholic experience themselves as a lower priority than his/her work, and this experience frequently erodes relationships.

Styles of the Workaholic
Brian Robinson, PhD defines four major styles of the workaholic. Some workaholic people employ only one style; others combine more, blending styles or alternating among them. Whatever the style of overworking, it often leads to problems in a person's life.

Bulimic Workaholic Style:
The motto of this style is, "Either I do it perfectly or not at all." Just as some people with eating disorders alternate between self-starvation and bingeing, the bulimic workaholic style involves cycling among procrastination, work binges and exhaustion. Bulimic workaholics often can't get started, and then scramble to complete the project by the deadline, staying up for three nights straight before collapsing in exhaustion....Beneath the procrastination phase of the bulimic workaholic style is the fear that they will not do the job perfectly and intolerance for the emotions connected with making mistakes....They are worrying obsessively about work - and kicking themselves for not doing it.

Relentless Workaholic Style:
This type of workaholic is characterized by the motto, "It has to be finished yesterday." People in this group get an adrenaline kick from tight deadlines and start things too soon rather than too late. This style also is characterized by impulsivity; its participants tend to take on too much. They do not say no, set priorities, delegate or consciously decide to put anything on the back burner....They work too fast for careful thought, reflection and attention to details....They often suffer distortions in self-image; underlying their relentless volunteering is often a grandiose sense of their unique competence and a sense of self-worth dependent on others' approval.

Attention-Deficit Workaholic Style:
Workaholics in this group use the adrenaline of overwhelming work pressure as a focusing device. People involved in Attention-Deficit workaholic style live on the brink of chaos and get high from the rush of new ideas. They start a plethora of exciting projects that they never finish. Easily bored with follow through, they are the revved-up workaholics who click their nails on table tops, twiddle their thumbs in meetings and fidget or pace about erratically. They live on the edge at work and play and gravitate toward high-risk jobs or activities....Unlike bulimic workaholics who can't start a project and want to do everything perfectly, Attention-Deficit Workaholics start lots of projects, do them carelessly and get too bored to follow through.

Savoring Workaholic Style:
These workaholics are slow, methodical and overly scrupulous. Participants have trouble letting go of work; they get hooked, savoring a project the way some alcoholics might savor a fine wine. This is a style of consummate perfectionism: those employing it can't tell when the job is done; deep down they fear the project is never good enough. They inadvertently prolong and create additional work then they realize they are close to completion. Because a project feels incomplete to them even when others feel it is finished, savoring workaholics have difficulty with completing old tasks and starting new ones.

Related: Recognizing and Combating Isolation

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

August 2012 Family Visit to London

Our family visit to London this time around struck two of my sensitive nerve junctions, which were apparently at odds with each other – the first one was (and still is) my gastronomic binge and the second is my recurring lower back pain, which is now aggressively sullying my sciatic nerve (hence my previous posting on SCIATICA, its Causes and Cure).

While the first one was voluntarily imposed on me, and I happily and unfailingly consented it, the second one was foisted on me unwillingly, albeit due to my negligence and of course due to the unforgiving hotel mattress, which was overdue and unfit for sleeping purposes (and a collectors item for our “tilam lama…tukar baru” taukehs in Malaysia). 
The 'tilam lama tukar baru' bed at Travelodge City Road

The 14 hrs air travel from KL to Newcastle via Dubai and the 7 hrs bus journey to London from Newcastle augmented the predicament I was in. All these factors aggravated the back pain I had, and when I grudgingly tried to overcome it by refusing to surrender to the pain, things got worse.

The sciatic nerve pain triggered numbness on the calf of my right leg while at times producing shooting pain like tiny pellets. My physical mobility was also reduced and I am literally incapacitated as far as my walking movement is concerned.

But in this posting, I will render my thoughts on the nerve junction that excites me most, i.e. the gastronomic escapade my family and I had (while it is still fresh on my mind) on our 4 days, 3 nights London August tour recently.

We took the National Express to London as it was cheaper 
One of our biggest agenda on the tour this time (3rd time for me, 4th for wifey and 1st for the whole family) was to savour as much Malaysian dish as we can find in London. 

It was 6 restaurants and one small canteen altogether, and among these we could not escape having one final dinner at a Turkish eatery before we leave London as our hotel was not within walking distance of any of the Malaysian restaurants…well, except for SEDAP on Old Street (which served non-halal Malaysian Chinese dish and that was not on our gastronomic radar).

The list and address (in a timeline order) below:
1.     Noodle Oodle at 50, Oxford Street, W1D 1BG.
2.     Malaysian Embassy canteen at 45 Belgrave Square, SW1X 8QT.
3.     Pak Awi’s Malaysia Hall Canteen Restaurant at 30-34 Queensborough Terrace, W2 3ST.
4.     Nur Muhammad London Restaurant at 119, Trafalgar Road, SE10 9TX.
5.     Tukdin Flavours of Malaysia at 41, Craven Road W2 3BX. 
6.     The Best Kebab, 118 Old Street EC1V 9BD a Turkish Restaurant in Old Street
7.     Bonda Cafe on 90, Sussex Gardens, Paddington W2 1PU.

On the day we arrive in London from Newcastle by National Express (22 August), I contacted Azril Ikram, a son of an old friend, who is studying at London School of Economics and asked where we could find Malaysian food nearby his place, so that we can meet up. He said there’s one nearby call ASAP, but the price is relatively expensive. Later he said he found out that this restaurant is non-halal, so he gave another choice, Rasa Sayang Express in Tottenham Court Road.

With Azril Ikram in front of Noodle Oodle
When we arrive there, we found that the restaurant had changed its name to Noodle Oodle (what a name), and it was actually on Oxford Street. Since there is a halal sign, we gave it a try.

Noodle Oodle is a Malaysian Chinese restaurant, which has existed for quite some time (since 2006) in London. It has another outlet at Queensway, in the Bayswater area. Check the info here.

The food and service was good and although the restaurant is small, it has a warm atmosphere and the feel is just like in any modern Malaysian Kopitiam. Food is quite expensive, as we understand Oxford Street is a high-end business area and one of the busiest in London.

When we were almost done, a Chinese man sitting next to us asked, “Where you from?” I said “Malaysia…”
 “, where..?” he asked, confident that we are Malaysians as we spoke Malay and our attires show.
The family at Noodle Oodle, with Mr Chen and Azril Ikram
I said Penang…Jelutong Mali…

He said he Ipoh Mali mah… and the conversation escalates to where we attended school, what we were doing here in UK, bla-bla-bla and ends with the info that his name is Mr Chen and he owns the restaurant….hmm, good PR! Together having food with Mr Chen was Miss Ellen Chew, the director of Rasa Sayang (according to the name card she gave us). Checkout Rasa Sayang’s website.

The next day we headed for the Malaysian Embassy in Belgrave Square for an official business as my wife needed to get some papers signed. We reached there at 8am but the Embassy opens at 9am. As we were early, we looked for a place to sit and wait and also searched the map, if there’s any food outlet nearby, but couldn’t locate any.

In front of the Malaysian High Commission in London
When we were at the Embassy again at about 8.45am, we saw a small queue of Malaysians on the stairs leading to the main entrance, mostly Chinese. And there my wife noticed a small canteen on the basement entrance of the Embassy.

I went down there and asked the canteen caretaker if she is Malay, as she looked Asian (could be mixed), but she said she’s Nepalese and cannot speak Malay. When I checked the food displayed, the saliva in my mouth starts to literally drip. Stacks of Nasi Lemak, Bihun Goreng and Mee Goreng, in plastic containers and plates of karipap, cucur udang and cucur kodok were placed on the counter….just like in any office canteen in Malaysia…what luck.

We tried Nasi Lemak (GBP3.50 each), very basic with sambal ikan bilis, 2 slices cucumber and half of a fully boiled egg -- quite expensive though for a small canteen. But the teh tarik (GBP1.00) was cheap, nice and tasty like any Malaysian made teh tarik. The karipap costs 50p each and I ate 2, but it was not very tasty. Before leaving I bought one container of Mee Goreng (GBP3.00) for wifey and she said it was delicious. If you have any dealings with the embassy, come here early and try the food there. 

Since the papers that my wife needed signed at the Embassy couldn’t be done immediately and were to be collected at 3.30pm, we headed for Trafalgar Square for some photo shoot and also visited the National Gallery. At about noon we continued our gastronomic journey at (Pak Awi’s) MSD canteen restaurant in Queensborough Terrace in Bayswater area.
Pak Awi's menu is the best
The MSD Canteen is our regular place when in London. Since our first time here (2009), we can’t deny that this is the best place that serves delicious authentic Malaysian dish and the service is very good too. And the most important thing is it is affordable, especially if you are here touring London with your family and are on a tight budget.

This canteen was actually established for the convenience of Malaysian students in London. With an added bonus of cheap prices subsidised by the Malaysian government, this place is a must for any Malaysian visiting London. The atmosphere is just like being in one of the restaurants or eating stalls in Malaysia with almost everybody speaking Malay. So, if you are in London, this is the best place to fill in the empty blanks in your tummy without having to dig a hole in your pockets. Check their page here.

On the third day (24 August) we set our journey to Greenwich. The Greenwich Park is where the Royal Observatory and London Planetarium are located. This is also the location of the prime meridian.

Cutty Sark on the background
After taking some photos at the waterfront and historic ship Cutty Sark, we walk towards Greenwich Park and tried to enter the Observatory through the entrance of The National Maritime Museum. We were told the entrance has been shifted elsewhere due to the Paralympics preparation, which was located on a huge part of the Greenwich Park.

Feeling tired and hungry we decided to walk another one kilometer towards Trafalgar Road to find another Malaysian restaurant here, the Nur Muhammad London Restaurant.

Visiting Nur Muhammad London Restaurant is one the main reason why I chose Greenwich as a place to visit in this London family tour. I knew about this restaurant when reading a blog post on NurMuhammad. This blog was introduced to me by a blogger, Dr. Yati from Heliconia weblog (

The food was delicious, albeit relatively expensive as compared to Pak Awi’s. A plate of Nasi Lemak with chicken costs GBP4.50 and other ala carte costs around GBP4.00 – 4.50. Drinks are also a bit expensive, a teh tarik or sirap bandung cost GBP1.50 each. Actually, I don’t mind they charge the same if the restaurant is in zone 1 in London city area. Greenwich however is in zone 2 and if you consider the transport charges to get here just to get a taste of Malaysian food, it can be regarded as expensive, I would fairly say. So, this place is not highly recommended, unless you are here for something else, like visiting Greenwich Park.

We were there for around 40-50 minutes (service was very slow), but there were no other customers beside us. When I had almost finished my plate of nasi lemak, the second dish we ordered arrived and we had to wait some 15-20 minutes for the third, fourth and last order to arrive after that.

Nasi Lemak ayam goreng that took ages to arrive
That is why I see so many things amiss about the Nur Muhammad London Restaurant. Firstly, the location is very far from places where Malaysian students and Muslim tourists usually flock. Second is that the service is slow. You know what they say about priorities for survival in starting or opening a business outlet – a good location must be the number one priority among all else. Second is customer satisfaction. To me it seems that the restaurant has relegated all the priorities and put idealism and politics above all else. But I stand corrected.
With Saedullah Din, Nur Muhammad London manager

I had a talk with the manager, Tuan Saedullah Din and asked why they chose this location? Not much info can be gathered from him as he said he had only taken over the running of this place since 5 or 6 months ago and the financial aspects and business accounts of the restaurant was done by someone else (he did mentioned an Ali Tahir who managed the restaurant before him) and under the main organisation, Global Ikhwan Sdn Bhd (GISB).

GISB is a successful Malaysian Muslim company doing all kinds of businesses from restaurants, trading to halal food production, graphic design, printing and also video production. Their offices and restaurants can be found worldwide, mostly in middle east Asia. Will try to write about this company and their successes in another posting. Anyway, Tuan Saedullah did tell me that Ali Tahir was about to open another Nur Muhammad Restaurant in Manchester. They have already found a location. I wish all the best to them, Nur Muhammad Restaurant and Global Ikhwan Sdn Bhd.

In front of the Meridien Line 0'0'0'
To get to the Royal Observatory we had to climb a steep road, and this was a big challenge for me as I worry my back pain would recur, but luckily it did not. After visiting the Greenwich Royal Observatory, London Planetarium and the location of the prime meridian we were really tired. So, we headed back to the hotel and dozed off for a while before deciding on our next visit. 

Later in the afternoon we did some asking around and searched the net to locate Tukdin restaurant in Craven Road. We know the restaurant is in Bayswater area, but which tube station is the nearest to get there? A friend informed us that the nearest tube station is Lancaster Gate, but the map shows that Paddington is nearer. So we decided on the latter.

But getting to Paddington station is very tricky, as there are 3 Paddington stations on the map, and we had to change trains at Edgware station to get to our choice of Paddington to be at the nearest way out to Craven Road. The food and service at Tukdin was good, but as we had expected, the price was a bit on the expensive side as Tukdin is a fine dining restaurant. We had rice with oxtail soup, fish in spicy chilly, chicken cubes in sour gravy, and sirap bandung and cream soda for the drinks. But surprisingly, the price was cheaper than Noodle Oodle. Checkout Tukdin Flavours of Malaysia website.
with Tukdin

And the best part was that we managed to chat with Tukdin himself and ask about how other Malaysians are doing in the food business in UK. I wish I had more time to chat on other topics …a very charming and talkative person indeed, Tukdin.

Dinner that night was at the The Best Kebab, a Turkish restaurant at 118 Old Street nearby our hotel in City Road. As I was a bit full from Tukdin’s, so I didn’t munch much. But wifey said as compared to our other London visits this was the best middle-eastern food she have had so far. I do not know what was on the plate, so I dare not comment. But you can see them on the pic below.
The next day we had to catch the bus back to Newcastle at 12.00 noon. Since we had time in the morning so we decided to try Bonda Café in Paddington. Bonda Café is a Malaysian restaurant owned and run by a friend of a friend (both are psychiatrists in Malaysia) who recommended that we try out this place.

We reached Paddington Station early at around 8.30am. At this moment in time the pain on my leg got worse. So, I was not able to join the rest of my family members at Bonda Café. My wife took the kids there while I waited near Paddington Station, as I was writhing in pain and not able to walk anymore.

This part on Bonda Cafe was written by Bakiah Shaharuddin:
The small Bonda Cafe signboard
Bonda Cafe is a halal restaurant situated at the basement of MARA House at the intersection of Sussex Gardens and Spring Street (Full address: 190 Sussex Gardens, Paddington, London, W2 1PU).  It turned out that the owner of the café is a Psychiatrist who used to work and study at our university in Malaysia, and the visit was actually recommended by our colleague.

There was only a simple bunting indicating the café near the staircase leading to the basement. As it was still early, there were not many customers besides us, another family was having nasi lemak (fragrant rice), and since there wasn’t much on the offering, we opted for the same. The drinks were of course, teh tarik for all of us. The ceiling was low, being at the basement level, it gave a gloomy ambience and the café wasn’t decorated much, catering to the basic needs for a standard eatery, and would be a letdown if you’d expected a fine dining experience. The nasi lemak was nothing to shout for, but according to my son, the sambal was very tasty (as he mostly likes spicy food). For 4 servings of nasi lemak (one with a fried chicken) and drinks we were charged £23.50, which is relatively cheap for the regularly overpriced London restaurants.
Traffic crawl after leaving London City
At around 5 minutes before 11.00 we reached Victoria Coach Station to catch the bus back to Newcastle on the 12pm schedule. The ride back home wasn’t a smooth one, as for the first 3hrs out of the 7hr ride, we had to go through a massive traffic crawl. Wife told me it would be a public holiday on Monday, so London city workers who drive are rushing back in droves to their hometown up north, as it was a Saturday.

A bus ride from London to Newcastle would normally take 6hrs with one stop.

Related article: Malaysian Restaurants in the UK
Newcastle upon Tyne, Fenham dan Komuniti Orang Melayu Part 2