Posted in True Story, Inspirational

Thirty Three years and Counting …

In our first humble dwelling in West Ryde – a one bedroom rented apartment.

We notched 33 years together on the 19th of Jan 2020. Time and tide waits for no one. The same way Cough, cold and the plague like flu doesn’t hold back either just because it’s your special day. I lost everything. I lost my voice and my room. I was banished to the guest room as no one wanted what I had.

We sipped a glass of Cognac sitting far apart. There were no candles or flowers. No caviar or lobster. Take away (take out) soup and dumplings adorned the table. I quietly watched my hubby through my “Vicks” laced eyes. He looked tired. He has lost most of his thick mop of hair. The pot belly has taken a permanent place and expanding gradually. That man who polished his shoes and waltzed in with dashing looks is not there anymore. He has been replaced with a tired old man. I know he needs a break. But he will stubbornly refuse.

I look down at my self. Once the non existent belly has found a few companions. They are fondly called the muffin tops. With our looks gone astray, all we have left is the love for each other.

Our 2nd dwelling in Sydney – our first purchase – a two bedroom apartment

It feels like recently we have been hit by seismic waves one after another. We need a reprieve. Each time we come to the surface it feels like some one is waiting outside to hammer us down back in again. My life partner takes the brunt of it all, without much ado.

The New year dawned for us with another uncertainty. I was determined to go through with my New Year’s eve annual party. As we get old I am becoming more aware of the fact that we are only temporary residents of this world. Life is to be lived was my motto on that day. It was hard at times to concentrate on the preparations and cooking. Still it was a good distraction. Family and friends gathered and we had a good night.

Six days later we drove to Sydney. In the height of the Bush fires we didn’t take this trip lightly. Hubby’s sister and bro-in-law were very concerned about us driving. For many reasons driving was a better option for us. However, safety comes first and we didn’t want to add to the ill fortunes that was following us.

I rang the Bush fire info authorities. These organisations mostly run by volunteers do an amazing job. They checked our route and gave us the thumbs up, also armed us with a few apps, that would indicate any fires near us, road closures etc. We also packed a few essentials in case we got blocked in. Quilt, Pillows, Water, food etc.

The weather was on our side. So on that Monday the 6th we started our two day trip to Sydney. I am glad we drove rather than fly to Sydney. It gave us time to talk, hold hands and just enjoy the presence of each other. In our busy lives this was such a luxury. And to enjoy the nature, the bare Australian out-back has it’s own charm. The iron fist grip of the drought was very evident.

Pink Lake – But not a drop of water in this lake any more.

In places we drove through thick fog of smoke. Smoke from the bush fires that were burning at least 100 Kms away. Makes you wonder what it would have been like at ground zero. We did meet a couple of fire fighters at one of our coffee stops. They looked tired and worn out. They still managed a smile for us.

It is only fitting that I write about this today on Australia day. This is a beautiful country. Sure we have bush fires, year after year. Maybe each year worse than the last. But it has not broken us yet. Sure we have the worst Prime Minister in the world (maybe that’s a bit harsh but among the one’s we’ve had, have to say he tops as the worst), but we definitely have some of the best humans in this part of the world. We are one big family. We have our differences, amongst them some quirky relatives too, but all in all we are an amazing family. We are there for each other.

When the American, Canadian and New Zealand fire fighters rocked up on our shores, I felt proud to be a human. Although we are responsible for so many vile atrocities, we are also capable of being extraordinarily amazing. Some of my friends from overseas who had snapped a picture with our local Koala posted this on facebook. All the concerned messages from friends and relatives from overseas confirmed that we were not alone in this battle.

This was not exactly a joy ride to Sydney, I do not wish divulge too much into that as it is not my story to tell. While we were there we visited a couple of friends of ours. One of whom is now on remission from bowl cancer. Another example of mistaken identity by the Kharma god. I am pretty sure he has not hurt a soul in his past 10 lives nor will he in next hundred. However, he has so far put a grand fight and at present is still the victor. The other is the carer of his wife with Dementia. She is not that much older than I am. This is the first time I have come across a younger person with this horrible decease. She was a stylish, assertive, tough career woman. Seeing her like that was very upsetting. This has made me question everything. Her hubby is doing an amazing job taking care of her. But how do you really come to terms with all this. It would be no difference to living with a stranger. There is no telling if I could become the victim as a carer or as the patient.

Life is precious. Live it today is my message.

Talking about the road trip I had veered off the track about us – hubby and me. But not exactly. This trip to Sydney, the life lessons learned has confirmed more than anything is that I love this man very much.

What we have right now is what we really have. We have to hold on tight to that. Our hopes and dreams for the future are just that. A Dream. It will only eventuate if you wake up from that dream. So realise your reality today was your dream yesterday. Enjoy it and treasure it.

After a week in Sydney we drove back to Adelaide with much lighter heart. Even when things are not great we need to be positive and be thankful that the situation is not that grave either.

Work related dramas started to evolve for hubby as we were driving back. After driving for nearly 10-11 hrs on the 2nd day of the drive we get home around 7.00pm. He unpacks the car and leaves immediately to work. Returns late and then leaves early next morning to Port Pirie – 230 kms drive. His cadet day training comes to fruition I think. We returned from Sydney on the 13th. Since then he has been to Port Pirie, Mackay and Western Australia.

How do I thank a man who tirelessly works not just for his family but also for the family of his employee. He knows as a family we are ready for him to retire. I would rather buy a few less shoes than see my man work so hard. But he is a complex man with very strong ethics. Very hard not to be proud of this man.

Since Christmas we have been eating out a lot. I could see he was so tired that all he wanted was to get two minutes of sleep. Not get dressed up to go out. So for this anniversary celebrations I wanted to make a special meal and have a quiet night at home.

But then I got attacked by something similar to the Bubonic plague. It is not a secret that my husband doesn’t posses any of the skills of Jamie Oliver. So he brings me soup each day from “Shanghai Tea House”. He will bring me enough for the next day lunch as well, then a fresh one for dinner. On the Saturday he had been working since early, he rings me around 4.30pm asking if I wanted more soup. I was feeling a bit better and I was going to help my son make the soup that night. So I said no for the soup but I was craving for a fresh Juice with a lot of ginger from Boost Juice. He asked what my son would like, if we wanted sushi (my sons and I love sushi, it’s our go to food when we are sick, hubby is not a fan of sushi). My son too gave an order for the Boost Juice but said no for the sushi as we knew the juice would be rather filling. Few hours pass by and no hubby on sight. I feel rather guilty, because I know he would be so tired after working non stop for so many days.

My hubby returns with a collection of stuff from the shops. Boost Juice at the shopping centre had closed by the time he had got there. Hence the delay. He had gone all over the place looking for another Boost juice. He had found a drive through Boost Juice. Didn’t know such a thing existed until now. Along with that he had also bought Sushi enough to feed the neighborhood, Chocolate Drumstics of two kinds and not to leave the dog out some chicken jerky for the dog as well.

I know it was not the 33.1 carat diamond ring Elizabeth Taylor received. Not even a 100 Roses Bouquet. But this man makes me tear up with just a Boost Juice. I am in love with this man today. I have been for the last 33 years. His love gestures are pretty unique. But that’s what makes him special. If I have one wish for our future, I wish we continue our lives the same way as today, with all the laughs, squabbles and simple love.

Posted in True Story, Inspirational

Sitting on the fence

sitting on the fence

Perched on a fence I view the world with curiosity.  I see the good, bad and the ugly on both sides.  In a world where inwardly we are ingrained with “Us and Them” but outwardly we are trying hard to mold it into a one big “Us”, sitting on the fence is becoming precarious.  I get abused from both sides.  You have to be either ‘For ‘ or ‘Against’.  I am usually For or Against.  But not always to the same side.  I pick the side as per the cause or as per the matter in hand.  I guess it’s normal for the chair umpire to get abused by both players.

Sitting on the fence is regarded as being weak and not able to take a stance.  It’s not that I am not faithful to one party or side.  I am more faithful than the barking dog. But that doesn’t mean I will not call out on the mistakes of my side.  I understand that it’s not all black and white, I acknowledge the existence of grey, but it remains grey in my books.

Is sitting on the fence is really a sign of weakness?  I think building a wall in the middle and living with assumptions of the other side is madness.  But that’s the world we are living in.  With advanced technology we are not educating ourselves, we are spreading rumours much faster than before.  With one click of the “Share” button, you can share away anything.  No one stops to think, or verify , they believe what they want to believe.  Chinese Whispers taken to another level.

I am not for the far right nor for the far left.  Thankfully I don’t get paid for my position if not I would have met the same fate as our former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.  I too blamed him for not having a spine, but I guess he was forced to place his spine outside the party room.

If I speak up for racism or sexism, that’s because I don’t agree with discrimination of any kind and I will continue to call out whenever I feel that was present.  I am not religious but I do feel others have their right to their believes (as long as their beliefs don’t interfere with our normal lives).  I don’t accept people hiding behind religion to commit crime, discriminate and be hurtful.  Whichever religion you belong to, I have no room to excuse you.

I was born a Hindu.  One of the oldest religions with some amazing principles.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t acknowledge the mistakes of my people throughout history and now.  I am brown/coloured and I know the trials my people have gone through and are still fighting for.  But that doesn’t mean that I am free to do anything and blame it on racism.  I need to take personal responsibility for my mistakes.  And more than anything I want to acknowledge the support I get from the opposite side for my cause.  Throughout history there have been many ‘whites’ who have supported and stood by for the ‘black lives’.  I doubt any stood by them eg: Zimbabwe.

I am a female from a Sri Lankan Tamil background.  Yes, I know clearly about sexism.  Slowly but surely I am making progress in my household.  Our fights may not be as severe as in Saudi Arabia.  Yes, we can drive, study and work.  We had the first female Prime Minister.  However, in society, culturally, we still have to kowtow to men.  Just like using religion as a shield, culture is used to keep the women in their place.

However, we cannot deny that some women use unfair tactics to settle their personal vendetta.  Main victims of rape, sexual harassment and domestic violence are women.  These crimes are usually very hard to prove due to lack of evidence.  The victims suffer a double tragedy when they hear the doubt in the person listening to their story.  You can’t blame the person listening either, he/she listens to so many stories and some unfortunately have been nothing but false accusations.  So each time one of our women use this as a weapon for their own revenge she puts the cause backwards and make it that much harder for the real victim.  We the women hold a great responsibility in calling out those who perpetrate crimes against us, this includes not just the men but also the women who knowingly falsely accuse men of committing these heinous crimes.  Just because I am a woman I cannot allow women to falsely hold that sexism card.

As a Tamil who predominantly lived among Sinhalese, again I was able to take that seat on that fence.  I understood and lived with the gripes of the Tamil minority.  However, I believe that some of our grievances were our own doing.  The Caste system, Dowry and the unspoken killings by the Tamil militants of our own people.  Until we clean up our backyard we cannot throw stones at the opposition.  If I can’t discipline my own children, what right do I have in pulling up kids at the park.

I will never apologize for the colour of my skin.   I will never apologize for my ethnicity.  I will never apologize for my gender.  Nor for the way I dress or eat.  I am who I am because of all of that.  The same way I will not ask someone of another colour black or white to apologize either.  I will not ask a man to apologize for being a man.  I will not ask anyone who is different than me to apologize for who they are.

I am happy to come down to the court and have a game.  But when necessary I will climb on to that fence to get a better view.  I see what I see.

Posted in Australian Politics

The Week that was…(Part 1)

politics aust
By David Rowe

The week that was…

What a week it has been for the Australian Parliament.  Many words got thrown around. Fiasco, Circus, insurgency – yes it was all of the above.

We the tax paying citizens are scratching our heads, while the master minds rejoice- I am not referring to Tony Abbott, I will come back to him later, in my opinion the real vermin no the eroding termites are Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt.  Maybe lets give some credit to Ray Hadley as well.

Yes I refer to them as termites.  Termites/white ants are the cause of the demise of many imposing structures and buildings.  They start the erosion from within the structure, rather quietly.  They do it slowly, one nip here and another bite there.  Slowly gathering momentum.  Racism and hatred evolves the same way.  It doesn’t happen over night. It is slowly and carefully fueled.  Until they know the frame work is under threat, then they come out guns blazing.  By then it’s too late to save that building or structure.  Same goes for our country and its progress.  Just like, termites never build anything other than destroy perfectly good structures, racism and hatred never builds anything either, just destroys a perfectly good society.  Sure, the society may have it’s issues but racism is never the answer.

Media plays a very important role in having a fair and successful democracy.  In some countries their is no free press.  Journalists in those countries and even from our country put their lives at risk to bring the truth to the public.  My youngest son who aspires to be a foreign correspondent in the future holds such views in spite of  my fears and reservations.  I wonder if all this is worth it when you have the likes Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt undoing all the great work and sacrifice of true journalists.

I feel Democracy is in serious crisis.  It’s not about what’s good for the country anymore.  It’s about big businesses making deals and running the country the way it profits them.  They have become bullies and politicians have become their puppets. Hide everything behind – politics is the art of compromise.  You can only stretch that BS so far.  And why  are we the one’s who have been compromised at all fronts?

If a Muslim Mufti got on the airways and spoke the way Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt spoke could you imagine the back lash.  If they had spoken the way that idiot MP (no one knew him before and I am not going to aid him to get publicity being a racist) spoke about the final solution, well the mufti’s final solution may have been the Sharia Law – the punishments for criminals would be arms being chopped off or worse.  That would certainly bring down the crime rate.  Unfortunately these people are great orators (both the likes of Alan Jones and the Mufti) they have the ability to steer people to listen to them and slowly convert them.  They are vultures who are similar to cult leaders.  Why is it when the Mufti speaks that’s hate speech, and the like of Andrew Bolt speaks that is freedom of speech?

Don’t be fooled people.  None of their cries are for your benefit.  It is purely for their own benefit.  I come from a country where it was torn apart because our leaders decided to win the elections by playing the race card.  Pearl of the Indian Ocean is now battered and torn and it’s citizens leaving it in drones.  Once you have witnessed war, you will not invite it again.  And this is why I am more than eligible to say what I am saying and going to say to both sides (to the far right white Supremacists and the new migrants).

I love this country so much.  I have nothing but gratitude and I feel indebted to this country forever.  I will do anything for this place. I will watch cricket at the wee hours of the morning.  I wept when Steve Smith wept.  I have watched so many reruns of the movie ‘Castle’ and many references are played out quite frequently at home.  Still recovering from last nights Wallabies game.

But on a serious note, I pay my taxes, maybe grudgingly and yes I do everything I can to minimise what I have to pay.  Well just like Kerry Packer said, I don’t think the Government is doing such a great job that I need to give them so generously.  My 76 year old mother works 5 days as a volunteer.  She takes multiple buses and trains to get to her destinations and spends her own money at times for these activities.  The reason she says is that this country is so good to her and this is her small way of saying thank you.  I have met so many others with the same attitude.

Let’s Mathias Cormann as an example, he was born in Belgium and migrated to Australia and became a Australian Citizen in year 2000 on Australia Day.  My husband and I became Australian Citizens in year 1992 on Australia Day.  So in terms of seniority I have 8 years on him.  Then why would he be more of an Australian than I am just because he is a tad bit lighter in shade than I am.  So this is my answer to the Right wing dinosaurs,

sorry mate, I am here to stay”   

I will do everything in my power, even if it is a small voice to keep this country as pure as it was when I reached it shores twenty eight years ago.  I know mine is just a muffled voice compared to that of Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt.  But, It is still a voice and if I could get the support of a few other muffled voices we may gather momentum.  Who knows.  But we can’t keep silent forever.

So above bashing is mainly about the issues of racism whites over black or Christianity vs Islam.


As person of colour, as person who is rather tanned, as person who might be considered brown or what ever other politically correct or incorrect way to refer me I would say I have earned the right to say the following.  (In my next blog)

There is never a one sided problem.  The other side, the new migrants, Islam, Burka are all issues that I will talk about in my next blog.

I leave you with the song from the Rolling Stones “Nobody wants yesterday’s papers”

Posted in True Story, Inspirational

Happy Australia Day

Australia-Day

Happy Australia Day to all my fellow Aussie mates.  Hope you are toasting somewhere by the beach or the pool with a stubby in one hand and a sausage sanga (Sausage Sandwich) on the other watching over your mates playing backyard or beach cricket.

For most Australians (Australia Day) simply represents a public holiday which gives them an excuse to fire up the Barbie (BBQ), sausages, beers a game of cricket, pavlova and pretty much talk “shit”as Aussies would refer it.  Most Australians at most times are pretty chilled people.  This has been noted by most tourists who come to this country.  We are a nation of genuinely nice people.  We may not have the polish to cover up and talk politely and be politically correct but even the guy who sounds racist is usually a pretty nice guy.

A friend of mine who came over from North America was amazed how random people just opened up to her in the bus or the plane and were super helpful.  I recollect a time when I went to Canada with then my two very young children, I went via Hawai.  My youngest was a runner/escape artist.  So I had  to hang on to him on one hand other with all the luggage.  Had three passports and all other documents to hold as well.  Unlike in Australia there were too many check points.  And each time I think that’s the last of it and put the passports back in the handbag and then come across another check point.  Ughh! They had no sympathy for a mother with two young kids, instead they would get irritated that I didn’t have the papers ready. Same treatment when coming back, I was on this constant stress mode when I arrived at the Sydney Airport.  Waiting for my bags to arrive and keep the young one on check, a middle aged man standing next to me said to me “love just stand here and point me to your luggage and I will get it for you” and he just did that, packed all my luggage carefully on the trolley and put my boys in it too.  I got to the counter and as there was no queue in front of me I didn’t get a chance to get the documents out.  I was again on panic mode trying to get them out.  The lady at the counter “love take your time, it’s ok” and she started to chat to my kids.  I thought “I’m home”.

I am a migrant from Sri Lanka, I arrived here twenty eight years ago and became an Australian Citizen 26 years ago exactly today.  Hubby and I were expecting our first child and the Citizenship ceremony took place in Hornsby, NSW.  It was really an awesome day.  It felt like the beginning of many great things to come by.  And it sure did.  A conscious effort was made to make us feel welcomed and a new chapter was opened in our lives.  Even so, I think within me for a long time I felt like a guest.  I was happy where I was staying but didn’t feel it was my place.  When ever I mentioned “back home” it meant Sri Lanka.  I think the first time I referred to Australia as my home was on this return journey from Canada.

Hear me out completely before you cast that stone “ungrateful”. I wasn’t ungrateful, far from it.  As each year notched I became more relaxed in my new environment and I could feel a shift in my mannerisms and way of thinking.  I was becoming used to the Aussie Larrikin and was starting like him/her.  I am still a mixed bag in terms of my identity.  When I am asked “where are you from” at times I would say “from Sri Lanka” but there are times I have caught my self saying, we are originally from Sydney, then we moved to Adelaide…”  I have no shame or issue of my ethnicity.  Do I ooze with so much pride that I refuse to call myself Australian? On the contrary, I feel so much pride in saying I am an Australian.

So much so, I am comfortable calling out on the mistakes, errors and simply things we should rectify.  I am no more a guest, I am now a family member.  I will support, I will stand up for, I will protect but I will also call you out when you are wrong.

The great debate at present – should we change the date of  Australia Day? 

For the first Australians the Aborigines this seems to be very important, as this day represents something very dark in their history.  It wasn’t the day that English really landed in Australia however throughout history, on the 26th of January the English set up or did horrible things to Aborigines. There was even once a Beach umbrella type thing set up called the ‘Aboriginal Embassy’ as to represent ‘Aliens on our land’  They kept reminding them with their actions that they stole this land from them and now they are foreigners in their own country.

The aborigines lost their land, their identity, their language, their families and eventually their self worth.

I do not believe in punishing or blaming the current generation for the mistakes of the old.  We all need to move on.  But for the victim it is easier said than done.

I know many fair minded White Australians despise the way some Aborigines behave.  Using the past issues as excuses for their drinking, gambling and unemployment.  As a fellow tax payer I can understand their frustrations.  The only way forward is education, empathy and mutual respect.  All these actions has to be two way.  We need to educate ourselves about them and them about us and same goes for empathy and mutual respect.  It goes well past not calling each other “white fellas” and “Black fellas”

For me 26th of January is an important day as that was the day I became an Australian legally.  However, happy to move the celebrations to another day so everyone in this country can celebrate it.

I even have a day for that.  February 13th.  It was the day we said “sorry” to the aborigines.  It was day that moved the first Australians and descendants of the first fleet Australians. “Sorry” is a simple word but a damn powerful word.

After the big riots in 1983 in Sri Lanka when the whole country went on a rampage of killing innocent Tamils no one said “sorry” not even close.  The country’s then President J.R Jaywardene went on T.V for his first press conference and explained that the “Sinhela people reacted to the 13 Army soldiers being killed by the militants in the north” not one word to say that this was in fact something wrong. pointless, mindless act.  Not one single word, the whole speech almost condoning the actions of the masses.  Months later my friend Lalith sent me a letter, it was not a long letter, it simply said “I’m sorry, I am ashamed” he went on to ask if I was okay, etc.  But none of that mattered.  The only words that keep ringing in my ears were “I am sorry”.  He was just a young teenager at that time.  But he was sincere, he was courageous, He was respectful.

If we are serious about reconciliation we need to start with respect.  Even if you do not care about reconciliation and simply want them to get off their back sides and do a days work and get off the dole, this is the only way – RESPECT.

The day we said sorry to them was a great starting point.  Let’s start there.  Let’s remind ourselves each year, what we did on the 13th Feb 2008.  Let it be a day that we are all proud of.

Time for another piece of Pav.

 

 

https://www.sbs.com.au/nitv/article/2017/01/18/10-things-you-should-know-about-january-26

Posted in Australian Politics

What it is to be Australian

australian-flag-map

Today marks Twenty Seven years since we landed on this soil.  Today I speak/write as a Proud Australian, proud but sometimes sad and sometimes mad.  Before you start slinging stones at me for being ungrateful, please read on…(special note to Pauline Hanson some words may make you say “Please explain” fear not, there is a book called the “Dictionary”, no scratch that, just google it)

I like to visit why we left for Australia, my feelings then and now, what have I observed, and the big question What it is to be an Australian.

Why did we leave Sri Lanka? More importantly why would you leave if you were financially stable.  I am currently in the process of writing about the civil war in Sri Lanka and the main reasons for my departure from that country etc.  But a shorter version would be to say, due to the Civil war.

As a Tamil we constantly lived in fear.  Famous words were “If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time”, well there was no right place or right time either. Any place could turn into a wrong place.  For the Government forces you are a terrorist because you have a Tamil surname and if you are in the North and if you don’t comply or adhere to whims of the militants then you are a traitor. When your life is in danger having a healthy bank balance alone will not convince you to stay on. So in our case we didn’t move for the greener pastures, but rather for safer pasture.

The final nail was when I lost my dear friend, who happened to be a Sinhalese.  I was asked not to even attend his funeral, as our relatives feared that someone at the funeral might turn on us as emotions would be rather high.  I had lost relatives and some friends had lost their dad or brother to the war as well.  But for some reason my friends demise stirred something very deep within me.

A boy who was not a racist, the only boy/person who wrote to me apologizing on behalf of his people, for the mass killings of the 1983 riots, now lay dead.  The instigators of the war on both sides send in little pawns to be slayed while their kith and kin were sent overseas.  They stay out of harms way, while stirring trouble and use young kids to the fore front.  This country used my dear friend as a pawn.  He was posthumously awarded many medals.  He is probably hanging on a wall in a very important building.  Just mere ceremonies for Politicians to feel good and  earn those precious votes.

War Sucks People, Never invite it or instigate it

 I can tell you right now, I would rather have my friend alive rather than on a wall with pretty medals.

With all the unknowns still a foreign land seemed more promising than my own.  I could see corruption was only getting worse.  The gap between the have’s and have not’s were getting wider.  Future in this country looked rather grim.  Reluctantly dragging our feet we made the decision to leave a well paying job, house and all the luxuries, such as driver, aides and everything else and move to another country to start over.

Mixed emotions for me when I left.  My mum had just undergone a Kidney Transplant surgery.  She donated a kidney to her brother.  Timing wasn’t great.  I really didn’t want to leave when I left.  I would have liked to stay for a few more months. But then again when you are surrounded with relatives each one with their own view and everyone else view taken into consideration but just not yours, you have no choice but to pack your bags.  I left thinking okay let me get far away from all of you as well.  After I had reluctantly agreed to the departure date there was another group who thought I shouldn’t be leaving my mum behind and I was being a selfish daughter.  I had to keep reminding myself of, “The story of the father and son taking the donkey to the market”. I needed a new beginning.

We landed at the Melbourne Tullamarine Airport on the 1st Sept 1990. It was a chilly morning.  Everything felt crisp, clean, new, overwhelming and exciting.

The day after we arrived, we went and registered for our tax file numbers, medicare and all other mundane official applications.  Twenty Seven years later, I now have the privilege to be annoyed and berate about the inefficiency of our Government Departments.  But at that time I was amazed that I was able to get all those things done within the same day.  And I didn’t need to ‘know’ anyone to get those things done.  No one jumped the queue, and no one said “Oh you are so and so’s daughter, come, come, come. have a seat”.  The guy with the tattoo was served the same way as the woman with the designer bag.  I smiled.

We also chose to migrate at a time when Paul Keating decided it was a ‘recession we had to have’.  This made hubby very anxious for the first time in his working life. With no proper working experience under my belt it was even harder for me. I enrolled in a TAFE program to get job ready.  I was so thrilled to have access to a public library for FREE.  We had a mixed group of students in my class.  Different ages, different race and cultures.  But we all got along really well.  No one shouted out “Go back to where you came from”.   I don’t know how I would have reacted if that had happened.  I don’t think I would have gone back.  I would have thought I did nothing wrong,  I am staying put.

 I would have become resentful rather than thankful as I am.  

Hubby had to wait till October/Nov to get his first job and that was in Sydney.  So we moved to Sydney.

Slowly started to learn the lingo and the accent.

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 I still remember, I was working at my hubbies office. I used to run errands and had to stop at the Post Office everyday and so I became a regular.  One of the ladies one day said “How you going?” I was rather perplexed.  Office was just two blocks away and you’ve seen me walking here everyday, I was like a stunned mullet (for non Aussies refer above).  They all had a good laugh.  I felt rather embarrassed until later listening to an Interview with Michael J Fox, where he was thrown the same question and he thought “thats a strange question by Plane of course”. Again for Non Aussies “How you going” but when saying it you have fuse all three words into one and what ever that noise is, means how are you.

I got used to the Taxi driver, the Newsagent, the random guy at the bakery and anyone else addressing me as “love” – yes love, no love, here you go love, No worries love.

For me that is very Australian. 

We bought our first unit in 1991.  I was studying Accountancy and working.  It was tough. But, I was loving the fact I had less family interference and I loved this world where everyone was an equal.  But Hubby was struggling.  Hubby had a job, but it didn’t pay him or treat him anywhere near what he was used to. He persevered.  But I am sure at times he wanted quit everything and go back.

We became Aussie citizens in January Australia Day 1993. I fell pregnant. Hari was due first week of May 1993.  We just had the one car.  Hubby was working in the South of Sydney while we lived in North West.  One day, I find a note stuck under my door.  One of the old guys who lived in one of the other units had left it. We’ve met him and his wife once or twice at the Body Corporate meetings.  They’ve seen me waddle around towards the end of my pregnancy and knew that hubby worked far away. He has put that note saying if I needed to get to the hospital and Hubby wasn’t there I could call him.  I shed a tear seeing that note.  I was feeling rather emotional, as this was going to be my first child and I was missing mum.  But seeing that note made me think I am not alone after all.  I smiled and I cried.

For me that is very Australian. 

I think it was 1994 my mum arrives and later we buy a house and move out of this unit. First day in our house, a very tall gentlemen arrives at the door and introduces himself as Ken from the opposite house.  Let’s us know that if we needed any garden tools we were most welcome to borrow his.  Yes, just like that.

Once again I am pregnant and it is now 1996.  Keith my neighbor sees me agitated, I had rung for taxis and none were coming.  He gets his car keys without hesitation.

I think the year was 2005, we decide to have a sea change and move to South Australia. Hubby was starting his new job in November.  I wanted to wait till the school term ends and join hubby in January.  Hubby just mentions to Keith that he is leaving for Adelaide and “Uma and the boys will be here, just keep an eye on them Keith please”.  Saturday morning dawns and I hear a noise outside.  I look through the window and I see Keith mowing my front garden,  I yell out to Keith “what are you doing Keith?” He yells back “Open the side gate, so I can do the back”.

For me that is very Australian. 

Views on what it is to be Australian seems to be taking center stage in the recent times. Unfortunately by the wrong people (most times).

I love the fact that a plumber and his lawyer could sit at the pub next to each other have a beer and call each other mate.  I love the fact that someone could hurl a shoe at the Prime Minister and he wasn’t put to death for that.

Patriotism and Racism share a fine line.  Very easy to merge across but there is that fine line.  When Donald Trump Said “I will make America great again”, many were up in arms about it sounding like Hitler.  If we take that resemblance out and just focus on that sentence alone, it sounds okay. Nothing wrong with that.  But then to continue on about Mexicans being rapist etc is where he loses credibility and walks from Patriotism to Racism.

Sometimes change is scary.  But that doesn’t mean it is bad.  Think about the migrant, change is all he has.  You help him out, he will be ever so grateful.  You push him, push him to a wall, what else can he do other than to fight back.  There is nothing wrong with Patriotism but know the difference before you start the slogans.

If in doubt watch the movie “The Castle”.  I think we should throw away the citizenship test and show every migrant this movie.  Take them to a game of Cricket, Rugby or AFL. There are more ways to become an Australian than on an exam paper.

I carried the Australian flag rather proudly when I went for the Sydney Olympics.  I carry the flag whether it has the union jack or the boxing kangaroo, as long as it is the flag I will honour it and carry it with pride to the Cricket, Soccer or any other sporting event.  But when I see it used at racist rallies, it really breaks my heart.  It makes me sad and makes me mad.

My 75 year old mother tirelessly works as a volunteer five days a week. Sometimes on the weekend as well.  She was married off rather young, I think by the age of 17.  So she didn’t really complete her formal education.

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Her story and volunteer work is hanging in the Woodville Council

amma sewing

She teaches sewing to migrants at the Junction Community Centre.  She also does similar work at the Cheltenham Community Centre, St Vincent de Paul, World Vision, and so many more.  She also takes part in many Charity events such as Biggest Morning Tea, Cooking for the homeless the list goes on.  For all these events she will take multiple forms of public transport and get there whether its rain or shine.

As per the first picture you see, she does wear the saree very often, she does wear long skirts and sometimes pants.  Now is she an Australian?

I will write more tomorrow.  But just for tonight hope you see Australia through my lenses.

Posted in Australian Politics, India, Jobs, Jobs going overseas

Aussie Jobs Going Overseas

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The topic for today is Aussie jobs going over seas.
 
While we gripe about those coming on 457 Visa to work in Aussie Businesses, we are losing much larger amount of jobs to overseas companies and not realising it, just giving in without much complain. IT Call centers was I guess the beginning. We’ve all experienced the feeling of annoyance when we ring our Telco companies. Our mood is already at breaking point because the internet is not working or the phone, and add to that to be answered by someone who from the get go you know is not going to fix the problem. He/she has an answering sheet, same solution “after you pull the socket out of wall, press it with a ball point and say “Ohm Shiva” (sorry I am not being a racist here, I am just peeved to the core). Anyway, what have we done about fixing that issue, Well nothing, more and more Aussie companies are establishing their call centres overseas.
 
Along with that we are losing more supporting industries such as accounts departments to overseas as well. Yes, I have a vested interested in it as I am losing customers. But my annoyance goes further than my own personal gain/loss.  If these overseas establishments are doing a good job, I wouldn’t care so much. Not that I wouldn’t care but at least I will have to acknowledge that if a company could perform a task for half the cost but with the same efficiency, yes I will have to bow down and accept it.  But, my outburst today comes from having to deal with these companies on behalf of my local clients.  Whether it be Philippines or India, it is the same drama.  I am not sure who they employ in these places, if they actually have an accounting background or not.  Even if they had, whether they are familiar with our practices, laws and overall business culture.  
I have had payments made regularly minus the GST amount.  When you send them an email explaining this, it will then go through a million chain email from one person to another.  You wonder if it is worth the drama to be chasing for $14.97 for three months.  How should I write it off as, along with “Bad Debts” as account category, should have another one called “no understand GST”
Today’s outburst comes from an issue that I have been dealing with for a client of mine.  This clients’ client was an excellent payer.  I never had to pick up the phone chasing payments.  Like clock work the payments arrived on time along with a remittance advice.  End of last year I saw a new pattern emerging.  Suddenly I had to start sending emails and even phone calls chasing for payments or remittance advises.  Payments started coming in late and sometimes late and short paid.  Then since March nothing.  Client slowly revealed that they’ve gone overseas for the final stage of processing the invoices.  So, I would be sending the email to my clients office in Adelaide and then he would send it to Melbourne and then it goes to India.  Between May to date I think I have been through roughly 20 -25 emails, and god knows how many phone calls.  Each email gets more interesting than the previous.  I had dates given to me about payments made for the March and April invoices.  Again this email would have gone through five people before it comes to me,  I would then go back to the original bank statements to see if any payments had come through, that I may have mistakenly allocated to someone else.  Nope, so I would start the next chain of emails, saying no such payment has been made to our account on that day, before that day or after that day.
I received an interesting email today.  It came straight from India.  It started apologising for the delay in payments, they have identified that payments were not made since March. “Hallelujah”, finally I thought.  Anyway, I stopped reading there, as I wanted to finish the normal routine stuff first and then to come back to this email.  Anyway, if they’ve made the payment, I don’t really care for the rest of the fairy tale. So I went back to finishing the mundane stuff.  End of the bank reconciliation to my disappointment I realised that there was no payment from them.  So I went back to read the email to see if and when the payment would be made.
Mr Rahul Blah Blah Blah has sent me the email and has cc’d the email to another billion pen pushers and starts off by saying that they give their sincere apologies and after reconciling their accounts have found invoices dated after March have not been paid. “Finally” I thought, we are on the same page. He has given detailed information of the past invoices and when they were paid etc.  Advising me that I should reconcile my accounts according to that.  I felt like “Asterix” and “Oblix”
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Well the email continues on to advise me that after I reconcile my accounts as per THEIR advise to print out a current statement and to send it to him directly and he will make the payment the following Monday.   I have sent him a very polite email cc’ing the rest of the Rahul’s, Gupta’s  and along with the rest of the Australian entourage.  So in short, the saga continues.
But this is a serious issue to think about.  More and more jobs are going overseas. Whether it be accounts departments, IT or Manufacturing.  I understand that our wages and other wage related expenses are slightly on the upper bracket leaving businesses with a smaller margin of Profit (in theory).
In my opinion I think it is mainly the medium to small businesses are the ones who are most affected by our high award rates and workcover, super and other industrial awards obligations, and receive the least amount of assistance from the Government.  There are many obligations (including financial payments) that needs to be met by businesses that venture into employing staff from overseas on the 457 visa.  Most locals are not aware of these things and the Governments don’t explain this either when they go for their vote grabbing slogans.
I wonder if there are same or if any requirements for companies that go overseas to subcontract their company functions? When we lose jobs to overseas, aren’t we then losing the PAYG revenue as well.
Talking about IT call centres going overseas, I had an interesting conversation a couple of weeks ago with the Tax departments IT help centre.  Guess where that call went to?  I am some one who is skeptical about “Cloud” servers so imagine how I feel about our ATO going to India.
Politicians constantly talk about job creation.  Before we talk about creating jobs, we should think about not losing the ones we have.  Each year University students find it almost impossible to find internships in Australia especially in Engineering and medical fields and some have no option but to go overseas.  Some even have to pay for their internships.  Same predicament once they graduate.  They have to go overseas for the jobs.  All this for the CEO to have fatter cheque.  I am not suggesting a Communist or a socialist policy here.  But there has to be a balance.  Total Capitalism will ruin the core social structure.  We still need some parts of the societies needs to be owned/met by the Government.  Governments shouldn’t be influenced by big businesses nor by the unions. Unions are a necessary organisation to keep businesses accountable, and could be a very important body for negotiation of the two parties.  But bullying by either party should not be tolerated/condoned by the Governments.
My blood pressure has come down.  Time for a refill cuppa.
Please Note: I have nothing against Indians or Phillipines or whoever else from the rest of the world.  But completely against our jobs going to whoever else other than Aussies (who are paying taxes in our country)
Posted in Daily post, Sri Lanka, True Story, Inspirational, Word prompt

Shiver me timbers, “it’s cold in Sri Lanka?”

 

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It was nearly sixteen years since we migrated to Australia from Sri Lanka.  A lot had changed since then, we’ve aged, we were now parents, I think that was the biggest change. We were not the same carefree young one’s roaming around, on a bike.  Mortgage, kids, kids getting sick, nearly losing a kid, other one losing his hearing, trials and tribulations, life was passing us with a fierce force.

So going back to the mother land was pushed back and back, until we could see a reprieve. Then, finally we make that trip back home.  After months of shopping (gifts) and packing we arrive in Colombo around midday, June 2006.  The strong waft of humidity and hot air came piercing through the corridors, with a rush and urgency.   Leaving a country in the middle of winter to arrive for this was pretty hard.

It was pretty brutal weather for the next couple of weeks. Boys were really struggling with the weather and food (too spicy for their tender tongues). The mosquitoes were ruthless, it didn’t matter if we were sitting or walking they still got us, who knew that they can get you in transit. But the boys were still enjoying different aspects of the trip.  This was the first time they were meeting their paternal grandfather. This was the first time they were eating pawkies (bite size Sri Lankan sausages), this was first time they saw a squirrel running up the mango tree.  Well, this was first time they saw a mango tree.   And that I think is the best thing about travel.  Something so mundane for the local is an attraction to the visitor.

The next week or so was going to be in the hill country.  Which is where I grew up.  The fauna, flora and the weather in the hill country, is absolute contrast to that of Colombo or other parts of the coast.  As you go further up from the coast, sea and coconut trees changes to paddy fields and slightly cooler weather.  And as you go even further up, Pine trees, water falls, light drizzle and sometimes a cold fog becomes the norm.

I was packing a smaller bag for this trip.  My husband had a glance at what I was packing. There were a couple of jumpers, a jacket each, some jeans and long pants, a beenie …  “Are you kidding me?” he holds up the beenie, “are you mad? when has it ever been that cold?” After the treatment of Colombo, the boys of course were on dad’s side. “yeh mum”

I started to doubt myself too. It was a long time ago since I lived in Talawakelle.  I still packed a few things.  But for the journey itself, there was no way the boys were going to rug up.  So the two of them were in a singlet, a pair of shorts, and a pair of thongs (okay for non aussies, they were not wearing what you are thinking of and going oh my, it is just a pair of flip flops, slippers, a footwear with just strap or what ever else you want to call them).  Okay you can have another laugh, we call them thongs.

They were enjoying the scenery.  After our lunch stop we didn’t need the A/C.  It was starting to drizzle.  It was starting to get cold as well.  We stopped for tea and cake.  And there was a giant tea pot right outside the cafe.  A great tourist attraction.  Hubby the photographer wanted a photo of this with the boys.  The boys were now shivering.  You could hear their teeth rattle and hands shivering. They were finding it hard to keep their eyes opened, with the falling rain. Dad still wanted the photo for his Pulitzer collection. Grr… It was obvious that their miniature mother’s anger and annoyance was now growing to a level of that’s enough now.

The boys were so relieved to find that one pair of pants and jumper that their mother had packed for them.  Both of them uttered “who would have thought we could have a place like this in Sri Lanka”.  Well, the moral of the story is listen to your mother, listen to the woman (okay that’s a bit sexist, well… too bad), listen to the expert.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/fierce/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/shiver/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/obvious/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/miniature/

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