Sunday, 11 September 2011

LIFE OVERSEAS : Taking chances

The writer (right) takes delight in having her hair braided by Mirla

AUDREY CHEW ERNERN learns to embrace what life has in store in a foreign land
THE much awaited annual Scariff Harbour Festival in Ireland finally arrived.

It was a great time for people of all ages to join in the camaraderie and enjoy themselves throughout the four days of fun.

I certainly did not want to miss it and when I reached the festival grounds, I was not disappointed.

Food vendors took up half the fair. There were savoury hot crepes and home-made sizzling burgers filled with secret sauce, which had an exquisite taste and a long queue to prove it too.

Children tried bouncy castles and face painting, and there were all kinds of opportunities for them to test their artistic side.

There were many workshops for the arty-farty.

Filling beans into a key chain, creating bumble bees out of felt and wool, and woodcraft were a start.

Bands such as The Celtic Tenors, Paddy Casey and Mundy, who is known for his cover version of Galway Girl — the song in the movie, Ps.

I Love You — entertained the crowd.

Then, something caught my eye.

Bundles of coloured wool in various shades and textures.

There were fluorescent yellows, shocking pinks, lime greens and some even had rainbow hues.

Next to the wool was a medium-sized doll with hair braided in a myriad of patterns with different coloured wool.

It was a little stall owned by Mirla and Johnny from Romania.

They moved to Ireland with their family and travel to different festivals in the country in a caravan.

They have been staying in Ireland for four years and have run their threadwrapping hair braiding service for two months now.

Along with hair braiding, they sell inflatable cartoon characters such as Spongebob Squarepants and Mickey Mouse.

Johnny attracted the crowd by making squeaky-like noises with the toys while Mirla put her creativity to good use by fashioning masterpieces with wool.

Little girls begged their mums to let them get their hair braided because it was just too good an opportunity to pass up.

Hair braiding is intriguing as it is rather unheard of in Ireland. It came as a shock to me that Mirla has been braiding hair for only two months as her work is flawless.

I did not miss the chance of getting a mix of a dark red, bright purple and pink gradient braid. I will be taking good care of it and, hopefully, it will last at least a month. I then came across Jafar, who is of Azerbaijan and Iranian heritage.

His job? To be the sweetest person on Earth, literally.

Heaps of candy, traditional treats, gooey fudges and multicoloured jellies made his store a people magnet. Children were salivating at the sight of the sugary goodness.

Jafar came to Ireland on his own and has been plying his trade for two years.

He, too, travels from festival to festival and has a home in Naas, Kildare, Ireland.

“I am not sure if I will return to my home country.

I love the weather and the people in Ireland,” says Jafar.

I admire Jafar and Johnny for their guts to move to a country with a different culture, without knowing what awaits them.

And they did it with a smile on their faces and confidence in their voices. They have more spunk in their little fingers compared to most people.

It takes confidence to pursue a dream. There are attendant risks.

Yes, failure may be an option, but so is success.

You never know what life has in store..

Who knows what you may encounter if you do not even try? - More later The writer is studying at a high school in Ireland.

She loves to try all things but is a Malaysian at heart. email her at

Read more: LIFE OVERSEAS: Taking chances

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