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How old is your kid or Jasmin Tea

Sitting in a lonely supposedly Thai café but menu seems more like Malaysian, I pull out my mini tab to start writing /typing.  I think of continuing my writing on my trip to China, but I realise that today was not the day.  I am on edge, even though everything has gone alright so far.  So I think to write about, ‘waiting’ – waiting for a bus, waiting at the airport, waiting for medical results and waiting for your son to come out of surgery”.

It was a very early morning start.  But I think I had already become jittery by last night. I laughed it out loud, hoping no one picks up on my nervous energy.  I want to be strong.  In my head I know the data, statistics and the logic. However this mother’s heart seems to skip all logic and starts tearing up each time she is alone. 

I don’t know what to write about. All I know is that I need to write or do something.  So here I am debating what to write about. 

What age is too old to worry about your kid? I know he is not 2, but he is still my kid, I didn’t love him any more when he was 2 and I don’t love him any less just because he is legally an adult now.  He is still my kid.   Am I a neurotic mum?  Yes, maybe. 

This Jasmine tea is really good.  It really has a calming effect.  Not sure if it is the Tea or the writing, but I think the tightness in my chest is reducing.  I am tearing up writing though, thankfully the cafe is empty, however I like to believe that this activity here is helping. 

So how old is a kid? How old is your kid? Sleepless nights-your baby is up for a feed and a nappy change,  Sleepless nights – your toddler is teething,  tantrums, sleepless nights – your teenager hasn’t returned home, restless nights – your young man is sitting for exams.  Proud mum moments –  you are pregnant, the beginning of the worries and pride, unforgettable moment-the big day arrives, after screams and pain killers arrives the bundle of joy – undoubtedly an unforgettable moment/event that marks as the starting point of the roller coaster for the proud parents.  Proud moments – your baby’s first step, first time to call you ‘mum’, first day at school, he graduates.  So does it end there? Afraid not. 

It’s not about letting go. I have let him go, I am proud that he has left the cocoon, spread his wings and soured high.   But this mother cannot stop worrying. 

I know it’s not my fault that he is in hospital now.  I have been told that by everyone repeatedly and I get that.  But, I still feel terrible. Even if it was not my fault, do I want him to go through what I went through? I would go through it again ten times over, than have my baby on that operating table.  But, whoever/whatever well in this case a mutated gene dictates otherwise.  Yes, I get that, we have turned the unfortunate to fortunate. It was unfortunate that I had the cancer, however it was fortunate that I had this cancer as now we can prevent it for my boys. 

Logic is still playing second fiddle while waiting for that phone call to say my boy is out of theatre.  I start walking.  I get to Princes Highway.  I start walking, I end up at Greenwood Plaza which is connected to the North Sydney Station.  Peek hour commuters embark from the trains and walk past me with high pace.  Each one rushing off, unable to spare even single second.  I was one of them just two decades ago. 

Here I am, who has quit her job, tossed her career without a moments regret.  Observing this crowd, I realise, how much we change, how our priorities change as per our age and circumstances. Nothing matters, when it comes to your kids.

I glance at my phone to see if I had missed the phone call from the hospital.  No missed calls.  I aimlessly walk through my favourite shops.  I realise, shopping can only be a hobby not a distraction.  The latest design nor the best deals seem to grab me. I got back to Princes Highway and started walking in the opposite direction.  Not sure how long I walked for or how far I walked for.  But after sometime I thought it was time to head back to the hospital.  Maybe they forgot to call me.

Weeks later we went to see my son’s surgeon, whose clinic is in St Leonards.  I recognized that place and told my son I had come there on the day of his surgery.  That’s when I realised that there are two stations between North Sydney and St. Leonard’s .  Obviously this is a new source of humour for my son on my account.  My son didn’t initially believe that I had walked that much or for what.  I explained that I just kept walking along Princes Highway.  So, now every time we have a destination to go via Princes Highway he would suggest that I just walk it.  Yes, he does think that my anxiety and worry was unwarranted.  But he is no parent.  (Princes Highway is a major road in Aus extends from NSW to South Australia along the coast roughly about 1980 kms).

I enquire at the reception re my son’s progress.  She sends me to the ward that my son will be admitted to after the surgery.  The nurse at the ward was a sweetheart. Obviously another mother.  She explains to me that my son was taken in late and hence the delay in coming out of theatre .  That explains the long wait. It still was no cure for a jittery mother.  Her kind words and empathy were helpful  though. She takes me to the carers waiting room/lounge. 

My tablet and phone were on the last bars of battery power.  The sweetheart nurse shows me to a small room off the lounge where I could charge my electronics. I think doctors heal your ailment and the nurses complete it with healing your heart.

 I  am alone once again in a small room.  Although we detest solitude, it is still necessary. It plays an important part in reasoning , analysing and self healing.  I lasted all of ten minutes or maybe less with that philosophy.  I leave my phone and tablet to charge and join the rest of the zombies in the carer lounge.  The TV was on with same old, same old – someone was shot, a politician said something controversial, hurricane in Japan, some celebrity that no one knows or cares about is now engaged and another divorced, but still no news about my son.

There was no Jasmin tea in the waiting area. I make a mental note to myself, that I should add that to the “suggestions/complains” on the discharge form.  I was pretty sure another cup of Jasmin Tea is what I needed.  Not wanting to unplug my electronics I settle for a black tea and for some more of the world news.  The world seems to continue even with all the atrocities and disasters.  I finally get a call from the anesthetic to say that my boy has done well.  And that is my world.  We have our set backs. But life has a way of working out in the end.   My boy will get through this. we will get through this.

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The Ganesan’s in the Orient 4

emm-n-con-u

Still in Shanghai

We stayed 3 nights in Shanghai.  We walked through many streets, drove a fair distance, rode the fastest train, a mini cruise all crammed in those 3 days.  China is a big country with a very old history and culture.  So 3 days in Shanghai was nowhere near enough.

It has been many moons and drinks since this trip, again life’s road blocks keeps popping up.  I am trying to think of them as speed bumps and not road blocks.  So, I am back again in my writing nook, looking for a distraction.

Back to what the sentence where I started “It has been many moons and drinks…” (before I veered off), so the order of the visits and some details may be distorted.

We were in awe with their level of engineering, architecture and the artifacts.  Most of these were 2000-3000 years old.  BC.  Before Christ and well Before Computers. However, it was to be expected on a trip to China.  They were renowned for this rich history and culture.  However the extent of it was mind blowing.

But what one didn’t expect was clean streets.  There was someone sweeping and picking up rubbish all the time.  The streets were really CLEAN.  For a county with such a large population I expected it to be dirty.  But I was wrong.

I believe our first visit was to the Yu Garden.  As per history, this garden was a gift from a son to his father.  That was one expensive fathers day gift.  It was really stunning.  Although not so peaceful as it was intended to be, as the place was rather crowded.  From sleepy Adelaide to this population explosion was something new to get used to.  Little did I know this wasn’t bad as what was in store for us later in the tour.

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Every tile, every corner of the roof was filled with  detail.

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We were given some free time to wonder around the little market we had just walked through.  However, it was too hot for my liking. The night before I had asked Sophie our tour guide if it was possible to see a tea ceremony and she gave us the option of doing the tea ceremony or the shopping.

So, I opted for a tea ceremony rather than shopping in the heat.  Some others joined me.

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Some of the characters from our tour group

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yes they had lots of tea pots

Tea ceremony was free however we all left with a small purchase for a small fortune. The power of holiday purchase.  I did enjoy the teas however, not sure if I needed to pay so much.

The following photos are from the old town, near Yu garden

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Next stop was the Shanghai Tower.  The tower gives you the  opportunity to see the extent of the concrete structures, sea of apartments and just the explosion of development.  It also gives you a clear view of the pollution they face.  The day was not overcast.  This was apparently a good day.

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The building known as the Bear Bottle.

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of course next to the bear bottle stands the bottle opener

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Then it was time for a ride on the Maglev Train.  A magnetic levitation Train Line.

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The day was coming to a close and the final agenda was a trip to The Bund and then a night cruise from the Bund.

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We were given some free time to wonder around by ourselves.  Our initial search was for a place to get a nice cool drink.  But accidentally stumbled on to this amazing building.  It is in fact a bank.  The Old HSBC Bank.  But it felt like I had entered the Sistine Chapel.  It is still an operating bank.  So we casually went in and exchanged some currencies as well.

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As night fell we boarded the cruise.

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Shanghai looks pretty darn nice at night too.

Good night all.

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The Ganesan’s in the Orient 3

emm-n-con-u

Travelling is the part I don’t like about travelling.  I mean the packing and all the last minute running around and then finally the transit, especially if it is a long flight. To finally make that eye contact with our tour guide was such a great relief.

It had been a tumultuous couple of months personally and professionally for both hubby and me.  We were both looking forward for this holiday and at the end we thought it wasn’t really going to happen with all the uproar in Hong Kong.   It felt almost surreal to be on a foreign land and to think that, I had finally dragged my workaholic husband to switch off and relax for a fortnight.

Mmm… that belief lasted all of 24 hrs before I realised that “switch off and relax” was not part of the deal.   Another topic for another day.

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Shanghai

Shanghai was our first stop in China.  We met with our National Tour Guide Sophie and local tour guide Grace and the others of our tour group.  The first day was meant to be a day to take it easy until dinner time.  We met with Alan and Rosemary, Veronica and Robyn and after that most of the other names were a bit of a blur.  As days went by and the tour progressed we all got to know, not just the names but their quirks as well. So for the next fourteen odd days twenty one individuals from different parts of the world and from different walks of life, toured together with laughter, banter and mate ship.

Sophie our National tour guide was a pocket rocket, she was super efficient and worked tirelessly day and night for us to have the best time.  She was also impressed with my vocabulary of Mandarin words and phrases that I had picked up watching Chinese dramas on Netflix.  My regular vegetable purchases are from a Chinese/Vietnamese owned Market type shop.  I had made friends with one of the ladies there and I did practice my Chinese with her prior to my visit to China.

In my days of sailing with my husband, I used to read up about the country we are about to embark and learn at least a few phrases from their native tongue.  It makes a world of difference with the locals.  They appreciate our efforts, even when we make mistakes, they still love the fact that you had taken the time to learn about them.  In contrast, I feel that in English speaking countries, the foreigner is looked down upon for not pronouncing right or not getting it right.  Knowing this fact, it still didn’t stop me from taking photos of all the faux pas of where direct translation had gone wrong.

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I have a habit taking detours while writing.  I just realised other than a photo of Shanghai nothing else has been written about Shanghai so far.

If you require details of age, size, historical dates, population etc I suggest that you use  “Google”, since all of us outside of China have access to Google.  Yes, that is another fun fact about China, no Google or Facebook access.  They have their own social media and google type search engine.  But No Google.

We stayed 3 jam packed days in Shanghai.  This is – Shanghai through my eyes.

Day one – we arrived at the hotel around lunch time.  After settling into our room and a good yarn with Sophie where I sprung her with surprise when I bid her goodbye at the lift with “Zai Jian”.  She ended up following us to our room to finish the conversation and also to check if the room was good etc.

We then ventured out on our own to get some lunch.  We managed to order some dumplings by pointing to the pictures on the wall.  Then we saw the adjoining table eating something like wonton soup.  So we ordered that too.  It came with a lot side dishes, we had no idea what to do with them.  So we copied our neighbors.  It was delicious.  Just simple honest food.  Payment was by the vendor showing the numbers on the calculator.  The entire menu which is all of six items were on the wall with a barcode next to it.  We observed that most paid with their phone using this barcode.  Yes, they still practice Tai Chi but have embraced technology as well.

Day 2 – started with a long lecture/speech by Sophie and Grace of all the do’s and don’ts, and including some of the local cultures and customs.

So Grace explained that most Chinese used scotting toilets, hard beds and hard pillows before the introduction of tourism.  Some of the old folk still used a piece of hard wood or brick as their pillow.  They preferred hard beds as they feel that it is better for their back.  The jury is out on that for me as I prefer softer beds, on the contrary my husband prefers hard beds and blames the soft mattress for his bad back.  (obviously the pot belly is not to be blamed for the bad back).  So most public toilets used to be scotting toilets but now due to tourism they would have at least a few western toilets in most places.  Grace went on to tell us how in the villages the toilets were usually outside, one or two toilets to be shared among a few houses, some may not even have a door.  So it was a common practice for them to sing while in the toilet as a sign to say “I am here”.  Hence it also got dubbed as the “Happy house”.  This became our phrase too.

Shanghai is dubbed as the Paris of the East.  I have not been to Paris, but somehow I don’t think this is it.  However, it is a beautiful city where the old colonial Architecture and the modern sea of concrete apartments adorn the streets side by side.

As the first city to land on in China, we were amazed at the speed of development that has occurred  in a very short span of time.  And still going on.  The local joke is Shanghai’s famous bird is the “Crane”

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View from the Shanghai Tower – yes the air quality – not so great

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Yu Garden- A son’s gift to his father

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Man doing Tai Chi in the morning – view from our hotel room

Yes their air quality is bad.  China can see evidence of pollution and the need for change.  It may have been and might still be one of the great polluters, but they are working very hard to rectify this.

Time for some sleep now.  The rest about Shanghai tomorrow or when ever time permits next time.  I guess I am back at work now.

 

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The Ganesan’s in the Orient – 2

Cont from The Ganesan’s in the Orient – 1 …. https://uma197.wordpress.com/2019/08/31/the-ganesans-in-the-orient-1/

Adelaide airport was calm and no sign of cancelled flights, Cathy Pacific staff looked unmoved and it didn’t seem like the world was going to end any time soon, so we decided to board the plane and go to China.

After 9 long hours of discomfort and boredom we arrived in Hong Kong. The airport looked deserted. All shops and service counters were closed. And definitely no sign of protesters. Phew!!. We still spent a few more hours of apprehension as there was still no sign of gate allocation for our next flight. About 40 minutes to spare we finally get the gate allocation and we board the flight to Shanghai.

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The Ganesan’s touch down.

The earth roared and the sun emerged. A red carpet adorned the air bridge.

China was waiting for us. It could’ve been just turbulence and sun may have just risen as it was the morning, but we will never know if the show was for the benefit for the Ganesan’s. It was disappointing that Xi Jinping did not come to greet us, but we are not one to hold grudges, with everything that was on his plate we could certainly understand. Also we wanted to blend in, not bring attention to ourselves. Please, enough with the paparazzi.

But there was no chance of blending in, every turn there were big signs that blared out “FOREIGNER” and we were continually directed to those lines and queues. We see two tunnels – “To Declare” and the other “Nothing Declare”.  Just when we were going to head towards the “Nothing to Declare”, we were shooed off to “Declare”.  There was no time or opportunity to explain, we in fact had nothing to declare.  The guy (the officer) could see and comprehend what we were trying to say but he sternly pointed towards “Declare”.  Such a contrast to the Australian airports.  Over here in Aus you get the feeling they just want you to sod off, unless you are bringing in food, especially bananas or a dog, they just want you to get on with it.  The other difference is that, other than in Australia all other airport officials have a thing about smiling.  It is almost like if they smile or make eye contact somehow they might jeopardize the security system.  But honestly I feel more safe in our airports than anywhere else.  Pretty sure they catch all the real criminals, however they don’t feel the need to put the fear of god in every passenger for no reason. Every time I see that stern face I get the urge to tell “Just chill mate, just breath in and breath out”. 

I had gone off the tangent once again.  We slowly got through each section. I was alarmed when I realised that I was going to be finger printed. I had a choice, to argue that it was a violation of my privacy or just get on with it and enter China. Obviously I chose the latter. Losing all the money I had spent to come to China vs holding on to my rights, I realised holding on to one’s rights was so overrated. But on my return I heard from my son that he was finger printed in LA and Canada. I think it’s an argument/topic for another day.

Finally coming out to a sea of people at the arrival gate was such a relief. I skim through all the signs and posters from those who had come to pick up passengers and finally see the sign, “Wendy Wu Tours”.

WE ARE HERE, OUR HOLIDAY BEGINS.

 

 

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The Ganesan’s in the Orient – 1

Life kept throwing curve balls at us. I know we weren’t alone or privileged for these interruptions however, it can be pretty draining and you can tend to forget you are still the lucky one and there are many who are worse off. “Why me?” was certainly threatening to raise it’s ugly head.

We realised that we needed a re-charge and decided that a vacation was in order. I am always ready for travel, but uprooting the other half from work can be rather challenging. But this time he obliged. Anyway after much two and fro with travel dates and travel destinations, we finally made the selection – 14 Days tour of China.

The trip was booked months ahead. So we planned to lose weight and get fit as we had a fair bit of walking and climbing involved. Great plan but the follow through and execution went into negative figures. There were many valid reasons – it was a cold winter, we had to entertain people, we could always start next month, we just love food, yep like I said we had very valid reasons for not achieving our goal.

I also promised not to buy any more shoes but then again I realised, when you break one promise, breaking another is just that much easier. I am also a person who has a very strong sense of community. I believe that everything starts with that one person. I stop buying shoes -> shoe shop loses revenue -> shop assistant loses her job and it just keeps going. So yes, I soon realised that was a very irresponsible promise and for the good of the society and its running economy I discarded the idea of not buying shoes.

I was so glad that we were not preparing to do the Kokoda Track, else we would be in serious trouble. Finally the day gets closer and as per Mr Muphy’s Law all things that should not happen were happening and all things that should happen were not happening.

We were transiting through Hongkong and things were brewing between China and HongKong in the leading week but on the day we were flying out, to be exact 2 hours prior to us leaving for the airport, we get news that demonstrators have gone into the Hong Kong international airport and many flights had been cancelled.

After numerous calls to travel agent it was clear as mud that I was just overreacting. -one wondered and advised me that it was not necessary to panic, she also explained that they will keep me updated if things get worse. I realised a 9 hour flight directly to HongKong within the next 2 hours was nothing to worry about. Even if I was going to be mid air knowing I would get updates from my travel agent really made me relax.

Armed with all this information overload we left for the airport.

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Three years of blogging

A message pops up to say that it has been 3 years since I started to blog on wordpress. I haven’t written/blogged much in the recent times. I have missed writing so much. I have wanted to, but been afraid what might pour out.

I reflect, my website hasn’t changed much in the last 3 yrs. I should update my “about” page, I should work my menu tab. My website is almost a reflection of the house renovations that needs a revisit. Just like my house renovations, the website might have to wait too.

Looking back at the last 3 yrs of blogging/writing, I would like to think that I have grown as a writer, as an individual learning about the world and it’s citizens. Some quirky characters have followed my blog, and in the same way I found myself drawn to some blogs that were very out there by individuals I would have not come in contact normally.

I had a blogger who writes about Dante, who became a follower who commented on my measly writing/blog. He still time to time, pops up with a comment or two. I did ask him what he was doing in my nook and he responded that there are many Dante’s amongst us but not everyone gets the notoriety. Ooo… I felt six feet tall that day.

I found myself following an 19 year old Prisoner from somewhere in the USA. I don’t know what he is in for, but he should switch his weapon to a pen, it’s a pretty mighty one.

My favourite go-to blog has to be Rabbit Patch Diary. Written by a dear old soul. It’s a place I go to when I am troubled, a place where I go to when I need to just relax, it is definitely my little escape. https://rabbitpatchdiary.com/

In the last 3 yrs of blogging, I have poured my heart out and I have opened up some old wounds, I have been vocal about politics and politicians, I have been whimsical, I have been dark and I have taken you on my travels. It really has been a great nook for me explore, express and just chill.

Today I would like to leave you’ll with this song lyric by Bob Marley,

Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing is going to be alright”

This song, these lyrics are speaking volumes to me today. We have to believe that life may have it’s twists and turns, but it will work out at the end. We need the sun and the rain. Usually one follows the other. The reality is, there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Life’s cycle just keeps turning. Like night and day one follows the other. Even when we don’t want one or the other, it still keeps following one another. Even if the night was filled with nightmares, it will soon be morning.

So, “Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing is going to be alright”

Thank you to all those who read my blog and commented and encouraged. Thank you for all the support.

Just remember “its going to be alright” I shall remember that too.

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Everyday is a blessing

After my last rant on my last blog, I have been reluctant to write. Afraid what might pour out. To a certain extent ashamed of my outburst. I have had my fair share of hurdles in the past to overcome and I am usually calm and collected and take it on my stride. I am usually someone who listens to logic. This time my behavior surprised me, almost scared me. It really troubled me not to be in control.

Every word, any word uttered by my husband annoyed me. He was giving me logical solutions. He couldn’t understand, that I was well aware of the logic, I was well aware of all the data, the probabilities, but I just couldn’t control my emotions. My brain kept going into a very negative nook.

My eldest living in another state and at that time my youngest in the UK didn’t help the situation. I didn’t want to discuss this with the youngest until he got back home. Which made my skype calls very strained. Each time he asked me the most common greeting/question “How are you? how are things?” I found it difficult to answer and I feared that he may sense the discomfort.

Hubby gradually understood that I didn’t need solutions and reminder of logic, I just needed a one way sounding board. The boys took the news much better than I expected. Even though I still feel guilty that I carry this mutated gene that I may have passed it on to them, they don’t feel that way. But I have accepted the fact the first step is for the boys to be tested – tested to see if they carry the gene. There is no point in worrying about the next stage until that. Next thing I have to vehemently tell myself is, the boys need me, I cannot drop the ball now.

My workaholic hubby made a booking for a weekend getaway to Cape Jervis and that really did help and hurry along the calming process. In my next blog I will talk about Cape Jervis and surrounds, it is indeed a magical part of South Australia.

My eldest is back from Sydney and today is the D-Day for the test. We took the boys to Willunga Hill yesterday to have lunch at ‘Our Place’
http://www.willungahill.com/

Beautiful drive, spectacular scenery, Food – simply divine, Andy – the chef and host – such a character. To be there as a family and enjoy all this was blissful. Even then at the back on my mind, I was worrying about the boys. The two get along so well, they are both just gorgeous boys, there was so much laughter and banter. I was forcing myself to have a good time too. I kept reminding myself that everyday is a blessing.

I guess it is normal for me to be jittery today. But I am not going to let my emotions get the better of me.

I am going to listen to hubby (for a change). Yes, he is right, we’ve never had it easy, but we have always submerged, maybe gasping for breath but always submerged and we have come out it. I may have to paddle a bit harder for this times rapid current. But I will keep paddling. It is all going to be alright at the end.