We returned to Sri Lanka after nearly 16 years since coming to Australia. The boys born here in Aus. Other than a brown skin, there was not much Sri Lankan in them.
This was not due to any conscious planning on our part to disassociate with our culture. We had no issues with our heritage, nor did the boys. They knew of our food, and enjoyed many of the delicacies, but so did the rest of Australia. In fact many of the Aussies could handle a fair bit of the burning Chilly. Where as my boys, especially my eldest struggled with even a hint of it. Once again before I get judged for not ramming down the chilly,down my kids throat, was simply because he struggled with it.
I have many theories or may be just two, one of them being that I suffered severely with re flux when I was pregnant with him, so I avoided the chilly and then again when I was breast feeding, and voila he has no tolerance to the gun powder. The second reason being he doesn’t really like it. Which is okay. My husband doesn’t like sweets, and no one says no he needs to learn to eat everything.
The other major hurdle when we returned to the mother land was that the kids didn’t speak the language. It’s not really a major hurdle as most speak very fluent English as we were once an English Colony. Even before our migration to Australia, hubby and I mostly spoke in English. That was common practice by many. However, you are meant to know your mother tongue. Either Sinhalese or Tamil. We were Tamils, so we should have sent them to Tamil School (which is held on the weekends) and made them speak Tamil. Even if it meant that they spoke it like a Russian speaking Mandarin.
Again no major reason for them not knowing our language. Simply we had bigger issues to worry about and this took 2nd place or unfortunately no place.
The reason why the 16 year absence from the mother land was due to these bigger issues. Our youngest since the age of two, preferred regular visits to the Hospital. Due to two bouts of Pneumonia, his lungs were scarred and needed surgeries. Our Eldest around the same time not wanting to lose his place in the special considerations, lost his hearing. I was running between two different hospitals.
It took years before the youngest was fit enough to even attend a birthday party. My eldest eventually got 80% percent of his hearing back. Their early years were very challenging due to their ill health, our mortgage, and both parents working full time. So, sorry, but teaching them Tamil was not a priority. We were surviving each day at a time.
We finally made the long awaited trip to Sri Lanka after 16 years (nearly not exactly sure, but it was after a loong time). This was extremely important to us, this was the first time they are going to meet my father – in -law, their only living grandfather. It was time for them to see where we grew up, our schools, our extended families and friends.
It was all that when we got there. They had a wonderful time there. So, did we. But they stood out like a clown at a funeral. No one understood their accent. And even when we ordered a burger from KFC, thinking this would be safe without the chilly, no we were wrong, every bit of chicken was already coated in chilly.
It was a great adventure that they will never forget. But the two young brown skinned tourists were rather happy to come back home.
Daily post word – Tourist
I feel like I am walking alone on this narrow road today. Not just today but for sometime now. My heart feels heavy.
The gorgeous gum trees still adorn my street. I love how each tree looks so different. It’s a tree that truly represents an “Aussie”. No branches heading the same way, no real shape or size to define an Aussie Gum Tree. It’s an individual. They have so much sole I am almost inclined to refer to them as a he or she. Look at the one of the left, got to be a Sheila, she’s done something to her hair. One on the right, yep, you guessed it, that’s Alf from Home and Away. He’s chased the flaming Galahs.
Every day, when I am driving, when I am walking, I watch these gorgeous trees. Nature gives you in abundance, beauty and lessons. If Sheila was to be Fatima and Alf was Abdul would it matter. Would the landscape change then?
I was looking at the earlier posts on Deprive. And came across one (I am not going to re-post as I don’t want to spread hate) Where the writer says not to deprive yourself of watching that video, The video is about how Islam is meant to be a Religion of peace but… you know the type.
I don’t like being preached nor do I like to preach. But, my heart feels heavy, so I am going to humbly ask you not to deprive yourself of experiences, because of your prejudices and of your close mindedness. Open your heart, before you open the hate.
There is so much beauty and good in this world. I refuse to only look at the bad. I am not blind to the bad, but I refuse to paint everything bad. I feel alone. But, I refuse to HATE.
Be like the Gum Tree, accept beauty in it’s difference.
Make friends with an American and a Russian
I did, I have American friends (some who love guns, I’m still working on them) and I work with a Russian. Both amazing people. Not one of them turned out to be like Putin or Trump.
Travel to Japan and the Netherlands.
I did go to Japan and fall in love with the place, Netherlands is going on the list. I hate the fact that Japanese kill the whales but not everything has to go my way.
Invite a Muslim and an Italian Home.
Why stop there, invite the Australian, English, Greek, Polish, Indian and the rest of the neighborhood. I’ve done that too, and what a feast we had.
Talk to girl in a Burka and talk to a girl in a Bikini.
Both will have the same fears and aspirations. They both fear rape. They both yearn for a man who would shower them with love and respect.
If you are blessed with two legs and two arms, push the wheelchair and say “Hi”
Trust me they will say “Hi” back, they won’t bite.
Embrace a “Gay”, even if your religion says no
It’s your religion that says no, not your god. Trust me God is not Hate.
Same goes for the Muslims, If you’re a Muslim invite a Jew.
There is no pork in the menu, See, there is always something in common. There is no God in hatred and vengeance.
The Gum Tree doesn’t give a damn if it were to be called Sheila or Fatima or Alf for Abdul. It just wants to be left alone, he doesn’t mind the Koala and the Kookaburra, not even the loud Cockatoo or the dumb Galah. There is plenty of room for all the quirks in this world.
I don’t walk alone anymore.
Today’s Daily prompt – Deprive https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/deprive/
I wrote this in the time when Hon. Tony Abott was our dear Prime Minister. I thought I will bring it out to remind the Aussie voter the Chaos we had under him. And just a bit of laugh. We could blame the Politicians for many things but we have to give them credit where it’s due. They are very good for a laugh.
Parody from Shakespeare’s “Mark Anthony’s Funeral Oration”
Friends, Australians, Countrymen, Pensioners, Hardworking Middle class and dole bludgers lend me your ears;
I come to bury Rudd, Gillard, even Keating and Hawk not to praise them
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Tony and his comrades
The noble Sir Tony promisealot hath told you labor was useless:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Tony answer’d it or mumbled it.
Here, under leave of Brutus sorry Tony and the rest—
For Tony is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men, yes of course, when you think George Brandis doesn’t the word Honourable come to mind
Come I to speak in labours demise.
They were good for the nation I thought, stood up for 18C I thought,
Tony says they were useless
And Tony is an honourable man
Labour fought for our environment, disabled and the NBN
But Tony says we can’t afford it
And Brutas is an honourable man
They kept us safe during GFC
We kept our jobs and businesses survived
In this did labour seem useless?
But Tony says they were useless
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
uselessness should be made of more useless stuff:
Like Baby bonus, sorry forgot that was not a labour vote grabbing idea
Yet Tony says they were useless;
And Tony is an honorable man.
Howard refused to say sorry and Rudd said sorry for all
We do not remember Rudd for that
Tony says Pink Bats, and we should follow him for he is an honourable man
Gillard passed 561 bills in her short time and so many so called great plans NDIS,NBN all up in smokes now anyway
But Tony says Carbon Tax – a broken promise, such an unknown territory for Brutus is an honourable man
I speak not to disprove what Tony spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did like them once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to yearn for them?
O Rupert! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with labour,
And I must pause till it come back to me.
But yesterday the word of Joe Hockey might
Have stood against the world;
Now our poor could be in par with the 3rd world.
Tony has such vision
O masters (Lord,Sir and Dames), if I were disposed to stir
Your hearts and minds to mutiny and rage,
I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong, or Tony, Hockey, Pyne, Morrison or my personal favourite Bradis wrong take your pick
Who, you all know, are honorable men:
I will not do them wrong; I rather choose
I say bring on an early election
And put us all out of such misery
Just remember Tony is an honourable man
To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you,
Yes we elected Tony and Co, not me personally but some of you knob heads did
Than I will wrong such honorable men.
You are not wood, you are not stones, but awakened morons;
And, being awakened morons hearing the will of Tony,
It will inflame you, it will make you mad:
Will you be patient? Will you stay awhile?
I fear I wrong the honorable men
Claws are out. Listening to the Polies my bloods boiling once again. We’ve just got one week, to make up are minds, which crawling vermin deserves our democratic nod. What a choice we’ve got. It is as the cheap buffet at the local food court Chinese shop. Fattened with lard, sweetened with sugar, but alas with no substance.
Liberals – think if you give tax cuts to the Rich and blame the poor their job is done. If you scream boarder protection and blame it all on refugees all is done. Jobs, growth and bullshit is their slogan. When you sit there and cross your arms while each manufacturing plant closes down, we’ve lost Holden, Ford and the list goes on. Thousands of jobs lost already. Like the supermarkets where they hike the price a week before and then after two weeks bring down the price a little bit closer to what it was before. The idiots in us flock to the shops for The BIG SALE. I was so happy when Malcolm came in and my dear friend Tony departed. But poor Malcolm inherited all the rest of Tony’s mates and he is just a puppet now.
Labor- thinks if they throw money at it, the problem will disappear. They have a heart, but you need the heart and the brain to work together. Labor needs another Keeting with some serious balls to head the nation. Unions are not the boogie man like Liberal’s like us to think. You need good unions to keep the big multi nationals in place. To hold them to do their business and make profits without riding on the back of the poor guy who is the back bone on the factory floor. But some Unions just become too big for their boots. Labor leaders have to keep the Unions accountable as well.
Greens – think all is achieved by hugging the tree and talking to the moon. Hey, I am not even a environmental skeptic. But even I think, they are sometimes in another planet. They were the cause of the Gillard demise. Them blocking every carbon, emissions type tax, reform, which gave Gillard the only option to go back to Carbon Tax. When bargaining for something it is okay to ask for the moon, but within us we should know that is just a dream and settle for something near to the earth. Especially when the Lib’s wanted somewhere near middle earth.
So my fellow Aussies. Make your choices well. Don’t just think about your self. Think about the whole nation, what is good for the whole country. The polies will not think further than this election. It is up to us to keep this country moving forward with every citizen of this paradise reaping the benefits. Good luck on the 2nd of July.
The above was meant to be a short intro to the Poem I was going to post, something I wrote when Tony Abott was in charge.
I will post that as my next blog. As this one is already a bit long. It is almost long as Malcolm’s Speel.
Daily Post – word prompt – Voyage https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/voyage/
I have posted some parts of this already (slightly modified) on an earlier blog/post – Life on the Open Sea. This was a piece I wrote for a book published by a friend my husband. We all sailed together for sometime a long time ago. Still the memories and friendship very much in tact. He is probably the one responsible for me to start writing and the birth of “The Dreaded C Word” https://wordpress.com/post/uma197.wordpress.com/27
Here goes, I hope I take you on a voyage into my past, warning there are no sordid scandals.
My CSC Years as a Supernumerary
My life in CSC started on the 7th June 1987. When I was asked to contribute for this book of CSC recollections, I thought well mine is going to be the only true story, considering I was the only one sober on board that ship. There was a lot of drinking and partying on those ships but I have to admit, the ships were still ship shape, and no one shied away from their responsibilities. This was a place where the individuals took pride in their jobs. Captain to the Cadet, everyone took their duties seriously. Work hard and play hard was the motto.
As usual the ship’s ETA was as punctual as a pregnant woman’s due date. My maiden voyage was looming. So was my 21st birthday. I was a young new bride awaiting her 21st and her maiden voyage all at the same time. We were meant to sail out on the 10th, just a couple of days after my birthday. Cake was ordered and all set for the big day, my birthday party.
Ships are referred as a “she”, but I think they should be referred as a “pregnant she”, their so called ETA’s are never accurate. This time was no different. She came in early. She arrived on the 5th (I think per memory, well it was a couple of days before my birthday). We finally sailed off on the 7th. I was excited as well as nervous about the trip.
Ganesh had just returned after completing his Masters exam. But, there were no vacancies for him to get command. So he was made the Senior Chief Officer. So the Senior Chief or (Super Chief as I teased him), went on board with the Supernumerary by his side. Many eyes on the supernumerary, she was being watched and measured.
I was fascinated by the word Supernumerary. I was just a number but just that I was a special super number. Complimented and brought down to earth at the same time. Things were pretty much the same at the mess table. There was always a lot of friendly banter. It was a lot of fun. Felt like I was back at school, in the boarding. I soon realised the friendships we were making here was going to be the same. It was going to be a lifelong affair.
We were heading to the Middle East with Capt. D.J Amera as Master. Word spread that it was my 21st. My birthday was celebrated just after we left Aqaba, Jordan. What a unique way to celebrate one’s 21st. The chef had made a lovely cake, so just after dinner everyone gathered in the bar, cutting the cake, then followed by a lot of drinking, dancing and singing. Not the way I imagined my 21st to be. I wasn’t planning on being married by 21, let alone being married to a sailor and celebrating my 21st on a ship. This goes to show that you can’t always plan everything in life. I have no complains about the way my life has turned out, even though it was not what I had planned.
Sea and sea life teaches us the biggest metaphor, “Go with the flow”, yes sometimes, things don’t go the way you plan, but you ride the waves as it comes. You still plan and get prepared for the next big wave, but when you get hit by that unexpected Seismic Wave, you are still prepared to ride that wave.
Until this trip I really had no idea that I would fall in love with the sea the way I did. I come from the hills of Sri Lanka. We have no sea, just rivers and waterfalls, even then it was no big deal for a Water view. So I never gave that much thought to this mass abundance of water – The Sea. Until I set sail on MV. Sri Mathi. There was nothing but the vast sea, day after day. There was something serene and pure about this setting. I came to love this journey. This was my life, my home, my family, for the next four years, till we migrated to Australia.
Once Ganesh goes up to the Bridge, I had to fend for myself for entertainment. Most times there is at least one other female on board, either another officers wife or the purser. But there have been times where I was the only female on board, which meant I was the only one who didn’t really have a job to do. I didn’t really mind it. I spent my time reading, going on the bridge wing and just watching the sea, and at times being entertained by the dolphins and so forth. I didn’t have to do any cooking or cleaning and every 3-4 days shopping in a different country. A girl could get used to this life.
If there was another female, then I just hoped that they liked scrabble and monopoly, preferably scrabble. I think the best buddy I had on board was Irani, 2nd Engineer Ryan’s wife. She was a great scrabble player, unless she was struck with sea sickness.
Yes, the sea was not always calm. She can have the biggest tantrum at times and put on a show. I started to learn some nautical lingo (but never could work out why we had to call it port and starboard, right and left would have sufficed). I loved pitching; the waves would hit the front of the ship, the focsle and make a big splash. While, I admired this beauty, mother natures’ fury out on display, Irani was in the bathroom, bringing up yesterday’s corn beef. Not the best time for either of us. I was bored and she was sea sick.
I didn’t mind rolling although it wasn’t as pretty as pitching, but yawing made even my stomach churn. Another down side to rough seas was that, most times the chef was unable to cook a proper meal and hence you end up with corn beef. I hate corn beef.
I learnt pretty fast that the sea can change its mood without much notice. This particular day Ganesh came down to the cabin as the sea was getting very rough. I didn’t think much of it. I was lying on the bunk (bed in laymen’s term) and reading a book. Ganesh came down to the cabin and started to stow away the things that was on top of the cupboard and lash the cupboard. I couldn’t understand why he was tying the two cupboard door handles together. It didn’t seem that rough. I thought it was a bit of an overreaction, anyway who am I to advise him? While I was admiring the seaman’s knot that was now on the cupboard door, this Seaman’s slowly developing tummy and trying to read all at the same time, the ship rolled. I departed the bunk on a horizontal manner, hit the bulkhead and fell to the floor, like a bird that would fly into a glass pane. My ever supportive husband was laughing his head off. News travels fast in these ships. This was news of the day at dinner.
I sailed on a few other ships after that, MV. Lanka Athula and MV. Lanka Seedevi to name a few. We were back on Sri Mathi a couple more times. This was and is my favourite ship. I guess I could be a bit bias, as this was my first ship. Second time around we had Capt. Asoka Wijey as Master and Robert Wijey as Chief Engineer. Asoka’s wife didn’t accompany him as she had just given birth to a baby girl. Obviously Asoka thought this was the best time to escape to the sea avoiding the nappy duties. Robert had not met his (beautiful) wife at that time. I love chocolates. When I am shopping in Port Khorfakkan , I do what the locals do. I followed the “when in Rome… theory”. The Arabs have big families and big wallets. Purchases are made by the carton. I did the same. I bought a carton of kit kat, a carton of twix, a carton of bounty, a carton of… you get the picture. After lunch these two would follow us to our cabins for a chocolate. Munching on the chocolate we will continue to talk more BS. No one made any sense, but each one of us was sure that we were right, the other was not, and most often it was three against one. I didn’t mind as I secretly felt proud that I could hold them out on my own.
Many a times I have sailed with kids as well. No scrabble, but I didn’t mind as I enjoyed being the spoiling aunty.There were two kids in particular that I fell in love with. Chief Engineer Rogers son and daughter, bit vague on the names Shiva and Shivi I think. Cutest little things, now all grown up and probably married. I read somewhere the other day that “It’s not you that is getting old but your kids are”.
Along with jokes and fun times, I also like to shed light to some of the heroic work that goes on. For them it’s just another day at the office. It was early hours in the morning, we were still asleep, Ganesh answers a call from the bridge. He says fire into the phone, looks through the porthole and then runs out the cabin without telling me anything. I looked outside through the porthole. Rows and rows of containers, I couldn’t see any fire. I got changed out of my pj’s. Ganesh came back to the cabin on a mad dash, said “good you are changed, a container is on fire, but should be ok”, and dashed back up again, fire alarm went off. I was not too keen on getting into the life boat, we had just left Fujerah and my fridge has just been restocked with chocolates, it would be a shame to abandon that.
One of the containers carrying charcoal had caught fire. Sitting in the hot sun in Fujerah the charcoal had ignited due to self combustion. Next five or six days everyone including the chief cook was fighting the fire. Ganesh barely slept. It was the same for everyone on board. We finally managed to reach Saudi, sense of relief, we can finally hand over this headache to the Saudi’s. Unfortunately it wasn’t that simple, they didn’t won’t to let us come in, until the fire was out. I guess they understood petroleum more than charcoal. It was hard to explain it to them that the charcoal has to just burn down, it cannot be put out by water, we were using water to keep it under control, to keep it from spreading to the other containers. Suggestion was put forward by the P & I Surveyor to use this container by the fire fighting training college was eagerly accepted by the Saudie’s . It is in these circumstances that it comes to light that the ship life is not just fun and games. When you out there in the middle of ocean, it just you and the crew, for better or for worse. It high lights the importance of team work, proficiency, trust and commitment by each crew member.
I spent many a Christmas and New Years on board. It’s a day for the Chief Cook to highlight his skills. There was one Chief Cook in particular who loved the festivities. He should be called a Chef rather than a cook. He could be rated along with Rick Styne the Michelin star Chef. Just like Rick he was well travelled and cooked many different cuisines. However, just like Rick, struggled with the simple parrippu. I had no complains, I could care less about the parrippu, I had four amazing deserts to devour.
Sundays was rather special, all gathered in the bar before lunch, round of drinks and darts is usually the order of the day. Everyone was keen on giving me a turn on the darts. That was part of the entertainment. The dart board is mounted on a bigger plywood board. Great excitement and cheer if I manage to get the darts on the plywood board. It received more cheer than a bulls eye from champ. I think the rightward slant of the body and leg to balance the rolling ship is negated by the leftward slant walk and head tilt now due to the hydration in the bar, gives them the perfect stance, balance and aim at darts. I now realise the reason for my shortcomings. A few more glasses of gin and may be a pair of stilts could have fixed my problem.
It is twenty five years since we last sailed and have migrated to a new country. But the friendships made and the memories created, still remain in tact. Even when we lose all contacts with someone and then we meet them years later, it starts from where we left off, and it’s as if we never left. It was a workplace like no other. Even amongst shipping companies, CSC was rather special.The bond exists, not by the proximity of your dwelling, but rather by the memories of yesteryear. Here’s to memories and mate ship.
… Other than my husband’s name all other names have been changed. Just in case I become famous they don’t come down demanding for royalties.
This is not a picture of Blacky. I don’t really have a picture of Blacky, other than in my head. This is a picture of the best look alike from Google images.
I have no siblings. An “only child” as I was branded. For many, I was the lucky one, didn’t have to share my toys, clothes, room not even my parents. I did feel rather special at most times, but it wasn’t for those reasons above. I felt amazingly special because I had the best parents. I was their princes, angel and miracle. They made me feel that everyday and every moment. Now as a mother of two, I know as a parent it doesn’t matter how many kids you have, each one is special and a miracle. However, I felt very lonely at times. I wish I had someone to share the toys, clothes and the room. I am pretty sure I would have been okay to share my parents too.
Then came Blacky. I came up with that name all by myself. My kids still tease me about this. At least my dog was 95% black. I had a cousin whose dog was called Goldie, but she was white as white can be. And another who called their dog “Girl Dog”.
Blacky was a German Shepherd crossed with who knows what. He came to us as a mangy looking tiny pup, but in months he was showing signs of being fed by well meaning Sri Lankan cooks.
Blacky went everywhere I went. He was my body guard, my companion, my pal and my world. Each morning when I left for the school bus he would walk up to the bus stop and after I leave he will go back home by himself. And he will be there to take me back home too.
Along with the above duties, he was also a keen Gardner and an Aborist. We had a great big fruit tree called Cherimoya. He believed it was his duty to clean up these fruits as they fell down. And in some cases he would speed up the process by jumping at them.
Never seen a dog who was so happy to eat a fruit. I am not sure if it was good for him or not. In those days in Sri Lanka, especially where we lived there was no vets, or any education in terms of bringing up pets. There was no books, no google. We just fed them what we ate and did things that felt right.
I shared everything with Blacky. Food, Secrets, make up. But I gave him chocolate as well. I had no idea that I was slowly killing my companion. I am so sorry Blacky. I wish you lived another 100 years.