Posted in travel

An unusual destination for a holiday (Part 1)

Uma phone 1st oct 547
Whyalla Foreshore – View from Hummock Hill

Perched on the edge of Hummock Hill overlooking the beach and it’s activities, I start writing, shooing the flies, time to time.  I look at the terrain right below me, it’s rugged and unattended. The steel dusts has it’s imprint in the making of the terrain too.  Fortunately, your eye refuses to stay there, it wonders yonder to the water.  It’s not Hawai or Bali, but this hidden gem is just spectacular.  The flies are a tad bit annoying, but I am willing to ignore and continue on with the writing and occasionally glancing back at the water.  It’s still there looking so perfect. The weather is perfect too.  If I could ignore the flies, everything would be just perfect. But that’s just ain’t life is it?


 

I have been pining for a holiday, some time together with hubby. It’s been a challenge to get any time off with him lately, as the man has been working too hard.  He travels a fair bit for work as well.  Suddenly on Thursday, I started my journey on google to look for a weekend getaway. Just hoping that Hubby wasn’t working this long weekend.  I was thinking going South, Aldinga, Mclaren vale or Goolwa were some places I was looking at.  But, he comes home late around 9.00pm with a long face and utters, “I have to go to Whyalla tomorrow”.  With disappointment I asked, when he was back.  And I explained that I was hoping to go to Mclarenvale, Aldinga or Golwa for the long weekend. He jokingly said, “well you can come to Whyalla”.

To his surprise and mine I quipped, “ yes, ok, I will come, I will come anywhere”.  With that planning started for the next days trip. With the aid of Google and trip advisor, we managed to book an apartment near the beach.   Hubby was still worried wondering what and how I would entertain myself during the day, when he was working.  I assured him that if everything fails I would find great spots to do some writing. I was hell bent on not staying home for the long weekend.


 

Whyalla is not renowned for it’s tourism. It’s no Bali or Hawai boasting  surfing, hang gliding and the night life the other tourist destinations include.  It’s just a quiet country town, held together by a steel industry.  For the rest of Australia it is just a hick town. Not sure if anyone outside of Australia has even heard about this town.  Well those were my preconceived notion as well. However, I still wanted to accompany my husband as I missed him too much.  I was the cause of ridicule next day among friends.  I joined in making fun of myself.

We were meant to leave at 2.00pm but as per the Ganesan family tradition we finally started the drive at 6.00pm with a 10.45pm ETA.  Hubby doesn’t usually like driving at night as he knows too well the dangers of meeting a Kangaroo on these roads at dusk.  However, having to start work early the next day he had no choice but to start the drive.  There was no convincing him to take the Jeep wrangler for the journey.  So the privileged queen boarded the Ute in high fashion.  It doesn’t matter the destination there is always a reason to wear high heals and Chanel no 5.

First song for the drive blares through the radio sounded so apt.

We were meant to be together’ by Laura Franke. 

I don’t remember the entire lyrics but it says something along the lines, how one’s a night owl and the other an early riser and how each other is opposite.  But my favourite lines are

“ no doubt each making up for what other lacks, somehow we don’t see eye to eye, if opposites attract I guess that’s why… and the chorus

“we were meant to be together, No doubt about it”. 

Yes, I think so too.  We argue, we squabble, but we know that we complete each other.  So with that song as the great omen we start the holiday – well at least for me it was holiday.

It was around 9.00 pm, I wanted him to take a break.  Unless, I said I needed to use the toilet he wouldn’t pull over.  So I said, what I needed to say.  He agrees and we pull into a pub for a toilet break and a coffee.  I think the town was Port Pirie.  We met some interesting characters and had a laugh.  Again I was the target for the jokes as they found it funny that I was going to Whyalla for a holiday.

Until now each time I had asked someone what I could do in Whyalla from the locals as well these jokers from Port Pirie, they suggested the shopping center and mentioned Woolworths.  I didn’t have the heart to tell them that, I wasn’t exactly thinking of Whyalla as my next shopping destination. So doubt was creeping in regarding my destination. I still joked with them and said that Whyalla was supposed to be the next Paris.  And with that we left to continue our journey.

They did give us a safety warning regarding the Kangaroos and told us to watch out between Port Augusta and Whyalla.  Hubby had the beam lights on and drove slower than the speed limit.  We just had another hour to go and we thought we should be safe from Roos by now.  Well we thought wrong.

Continued on the next episode…

But a little taste to come

Uma phone 1st oct 487

 

Posted in Goa, India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, travel, True Story, Inspirational, Word prompt

Destination Goa (Part 3)

passport

 

Passport – check, Tickets – check, Phone – check, Phone – charger check, Ipad – check, Thyroxin – check.  I was anxious that I was going to leave something behind.  I was already anxious about this trip but to make things worse, just days before the departure, the Indian Government called in all the 500RS notes.  This in turn caused a massive shortage of money in the country.  Also couldn’t buy any Indian currency in Australia. And we heard reports that there were massive queues at atm machines and banks. “just our luck” we thought.

I was anxious of the unknown safety issues, I was excited about meeting my buddy and having a well earned break, I was sad about leaving hubby, son and my baby dog, (well I had to include and hubby and son to avoid judgement. But then again no shame in admitting that I was glad to lose them for a week or so to get a bit of rest, but my doggy on the other hand, I am really going to miss him).  Those droopy eyes were telling me “mummy don’t leave me”.

Australian immigration – it took me all of 5 minutes to clear.  Just like Jim Jeffreys said, Aussie airport and it’s security practices/measures are rather unique.  Not exactly unique but definitely very different to most other airports.   Don’t get me wrong, it is safe as anywhere can be.  But, just don’t have the same panic and stress ridden atmosphere.  The guy checking your passport, no sorry there is no guy checking your passport, a machine does matching for you. You have almost no human contact.  You see plenty of humans, but no one seems to care about you, they just want you to just piss off, without giving chance to form a queue.  You will be rushed through automatic sliding door after door and you are now way too early for your flight.

Took my tablet out and started to write, continuation of my story “friendship and war…” well I haven’t settled on the heading yet.  With all the travel plans I hadn’t touched this for sometime.  Read the last page I had written, did some editing.  Then continued on with the story.  Couple of times I stopped and glanced around to see what everyone else was doing.  It looked like they were practicing boredom.

Finally time to board.  Once again I had to smile sheepishly at the young good looking guy, well not sure if he was good looking, but he was definitely tall and ask him if he could put my hand luggage up in the overhead locker.  He was only too happy to oblige. Again not sure if he was happy as such, but nevertheless helped the short damsel in distress.

The problem with living in Australia is that, it is really down, down down there.  And also it is a such a huge country.  And if you are from South Australia, it takes nearly 3 hours before you can leave your own fricking country.  I watched a movie and some comedy skit on a tiny screen, with screen moving as per the front persons movements.  It was better to get back to writing.  I put the tablet on my lap rather than on the moving tray table.

Drinks cart was a welcome interruption.  “Sav Blanc” didn’t taste like any “Sav Blanc ” I’ve ever tasted.  But it was free.  Also, this was the beginning of the “girls” holiday.  So, I convinced myself, “holiday begins now”. So rubbish Sav blanc or not I had to have it.  But all in all it wasn’t too bad a flight.  Spoke to hubby from the airport.  Sent a couple of messages to Jan. But she didn’t answer.  She must have been still mid air.

I did some window shopping.  I planned what  to buy on my return journey.  Had a cup of tea, a massage, visited the butterfly garden and time passed.  Time for my next flight. The one that I was most anxious and nervous about.  Mumbai here I come.

 

Cont…

 

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

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/security/

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

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

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

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

 

 

Posted in India, Sri Lanka, travel, True Story, Inspirational

Destination Goa (part 2)

Goa beach

We both liked the sound of Goa.  We started to do more research about the place from the internet as well as from known people.  Glenn was great at calming my nerves. As well as giving me valuable information about the place and giving me tips on the do’s and don’ts.  We got to know Glenn through my youngest son.  He was the Director for many of the drama productions my son was involved in.  Glenn is white on the outside but truly an Indian on the inside.  He visits and at times lives in India for long periods. At this particular time he was living in Mumbai and regularly visiting Goa.

The advise we heard from many was to avoid South Goa.  Russian mafia seems to have an influence in that part of Goa and makes it an unsavoury place for Tourists.  But, then again it would depend on your age group and your interests I think.  Glenn summed it up nicely.  He said South Goa for Russians is like Bali for Aussies.  Glenn also gave me places to eat and have a drink.  Places where if I say his name and said I was Glenn’s friend I would be treated well.

I also had a chat to another friend and work colleague.  She was from Goa, or her family was from Goa.  She was born in Africa but her family originally comes from Goa and she still had many cousins who lived there.  She gave me a array of phone numbers, just in case we needed some help.

Armed with places to eat and phone numbers to call we were now feeling a lot more confident in booking our flights and accommodation.

Once again my buddy became a fly at the buffet.  For weeks we were stripping Trip Advisor website to shreds. Every review was scrutanised.  In the meantime one of her friends parted the words “you must stay at Taj holiday village”.  https://vivanta.tajhotels.com/en-in/holiday-village-goa/

We had looked at this previously (many a times I might add), but now when we were finally ready to book, they did not have the dates available.  The only option given to us was that they could accommodate us for the last two of the dates of our holiday.  Jan was happy to take it, I was happy to take any thing.  Horray, at least two days of our holidays we had a bed to sleep on.

So now we had to find another place for the beginning.  Finally we settled on Acron Waterfront.  In a way it was good that we did not get more than two days to stay at Taj as it was very pricey.   https://www.acronwaterfrontresortgoa.com/

Along with trying to get accommodation in Goa, we also tried our best to align our itineraries. So, for me it was Aus to Singapore, Singapore to Mumbai, Mumbai to Goa.  I was supposed to reach Mumbai around 9.00pm and then our flight to Goa was next morning at 5.00am.  Jan after her million flights would reach Mumbai at 1.00am and leave for Goa on the same flight as me at 5.00am.  Return journey, we would reach the airport at the same time but I leave to Mumbai and she would to Bangalore to get her connection for Kerala. This way we thought we could share the same cab/shuttle to and from the airport.  Strength in numbers was our thinking.

I had a five or six hour stay in Singapore. I wasn’t concerned about that, I love that airport.  I could spend a whole day without any trouble, my credit card might, but I have no issues of a lengthy stay at Singapore airport.  On the other hand I was rather worried about my stay at the Mumbai airport.  Found out that Mumbai had a Airport Transit hotel. So I made a booking for me, per my memory they do hourly or 4hr blocks. http://www.nirantahotels.com/

I was taking every precaution I could, I even bought a new handbag just for my travels. No, it wasn’t an excuse to buy another handbag.  All my handbags are designed so I could just dump stuff in there.  No zips or any other sealing mechanism.  So I bought one that had a zip, straps that I could put it across my shoulder.  All this to prevent the bag snatching.

Glenn kept assuring me that Mumbai was very safe and there was a lot of respect for “aunty” age people.  But, I kept thinking what would a “white man” know.  And he had just ticked me off by putting me in the “aunty” age group.  For the benefit of other possible travelers to India, the other advise given to me was mainly regarding water.  So only bottled water and no salads.

I did get a few jabs.  Can’t remember what they were for… possibly for Malaria, Hep B and Hep C and something else.  Not sure which Hep I took.  Sometimes people have natural immunity to one of them.  It’s best to do a blood test to find out if you have this natural immunity.  You need to start on the jabs about a month before.  My advise would be to check with your GP a month ahead rather than rely on the above information.

Applied online for the Indian Visa.  Be aware there are many bogus websites.  I guess one way to find out if you are in the right website is in the number of stupid questions asked. If you are in the right website, then you would need information on pretty much everyone and everything.  I was surprised they did not have a question about my cat.  It would have been hard to explain that I do not own a cat.  The problem also was that until you answer the question you cannot go to the next page.  My dad passed away 30 years ago, they needed his occupation, qualification etc. Anyway, I diligently got all the information and submitted my application as I did not want to be deported. I uttered “bloody Indians” many a times (don’t judge me yet, I am apologetic for my judgement by the end of the trip).  My visa arrived within about 2-3 days.

My dog was sulking as I started packing.

Cont….

 

Posted in India, Sri Lanka, True Story, Inspirational

Destination Goa (Part 1)

Goa_Beach_Map.jpeg

I have taken a long absence from writing with the excuse of my fractured finger.  Typing is still a bit of a challenge, but as each day passes, I feel the need to clang the keyboard. Writing is a time where I delve into my inner thoughts. It’s a time when I visualise the past and envisage the future.  It allows me to listen to reason and rationalise the events, behaviours of people, It is a modem for me to question the society.

My dear Keyboard I have missed you.  I felt this even more last night, when I was watching the movie “Finding Forester”.  I am no “Forester”, not even “Jamal Wallace”. But one line rang true to me.  I write for myself too.  No denying that, it gives me a sense of happiness/pride or just satisfaction when someone else acknowledges my writing and understands my message.  But at the time of writing, I very rarely give much thought to the reader.  I do want to tell my story, at times I do want to change the societies perceptions, so obviously I do think about an audience.  But most often it doesn’t occur to me until I have finished writing.  When Sean Connery says “start typing, then thoughts can come later” yes first I start typing and words and thoughts just follow.  It’s like talking I think, we don’t usually rehearse what we are going to say do we?

Well so much for writing about Goa, I’ve written more about writing.

I fell in love with Goa and vowed that I would write about it when I returned.  But a few tragic events in the family and life in general got in the way for the long silence.  I am not really a travel blogger, this is probably the first time I am going to write about a travel destination.  So bare with me if it doesn’t give you everything you want to hear about the place.

My intentions were not only to talk about Goa but also about my perceptions of India and how wrong was I in some of my preconceived ideas of the place and it’s people.

Not sure when Jan and I became friends.  We are kind of related, but everyone’s related in Sri Lanka.  I remember snippets of our childhood.  It was my grandfather’s funeral or after the funeral some ritual day.  All our rituals ends with a feast at the end of the day.  Both of us were sitting outside on a wall or ledge or something like that and eating a “Vadai”  (my son describes it as a savoury doughnut).  A crow swoops and pecks my head and snatches the “Vadai”.  We both screamed and then cried.  Our lives have always been that way since then.  We’ve screamed at cockroaches and then cried for one another for lives so called challenges or mishaps.  But, between the screaming and crying we didn’t forget to laugh together either.  And I guess that’s what friendships all about.

We never realised that our lives were going to be more intertwined by our marriages later on in our lives.  We didn’t attend the same school, We didn’t even live in the same city.  We usually met at weddings and other family gatherings.  Occasionally letters were written. We kept in touch and I knew she a girl who was kind hearted and I could rely upon. In my books she was a friend. Later in our lives, through a series of coincidences and maybe the thing called fate,  I married her brother and she married my first cousin who was like a brother to me, (his dad and my dad were twins and we both had no siblings of our own, so we grew up regarding each other as brother and sister).  We didn’t set out to marry each other’s brother.  But that’s what happened. This did bring upon our bond even closer.

Fate did have some twisted notions as well.  Fate took my cousin/brother away rather hurriedly, just like he did with my father and her mother.  Mr. Fate was planning similar things for my youngest son and me, but we had other plans and so we turned him down or have postponed the invite. Through all this our friendship grew stronger.  We became pretty strong women too.

We turned 50 last year.  Destination Goa was all due to that.  Jan and I don’t just live in different cities now, we live in different hemispheres.  She hails from Canada and I from Australia.

australiacanada.jpg

We decided we need to celebrate the fact that we’ve made it to 50. We wanted to go somewhere for a holiday, just the two of us, no kids, husbands or pets to worry about. Just the two us, sipping Champagne and being pampered was the key to this holiday. Our families were all up for it too.  Especially hubby wanted me to have a good time.

Planning was pretty tricky as Jan had limited leave and had a school reunion that was happening in Kerala (South India).  She wanted to have a holiday with me, then Kerala and wanted to see her dad in Sri Lanka at the end.  We didn’t know where to go.  We hashed around many ideas, a cruise around Burma and Cambodia, Dubai and Maldives all investigated. But, couldn’t really fit it in with latter part of her schedule being fixed.

She kept saying why don’t you come to India.  I was very reluctant as my previous trip to India wasn’t a pleasant one.  I have been to India a couple of times but mainly to the south.  Or that is the part that I remember.  When I was just a baby my dad had gone to New Delhi to do his Masters and I had lived there for 2 years, speaking Hindi very fluently.  At present I can only say “Acha”.  We had pretty much toured the whole of India at this time, including Kashmir.  But I don’t remember any of it.

Later when I was a mini teenager.  I do remember some of the temples and their imposing architecture.  But I also remember getting sick.  But the one after that was when I vowed never again.  Especially the Chennai airport.  To make things worse, my cousin had a bad experience just weeks before with the Indian Visa.  They were deported back to Australia for their own mistake and then allowed back in the next day.  Yes “huh?@?” is what comes to mind.

Eventually I gave in as all other destinations would mean that Jan would spend more time at different airport on transit than with me.  So we decided we will pick another city in India, so at least for her it will be just another internal flight to Kerala.  Now the task of picking a city in India.  Now, for all the amazing things about Jan, she could be a real pain in the rear when it comes to making a decision.  She is like a fly at a Buffet.  We or more like her started at Darjeeling – she wanted to feel the Himalayas.  I felt like “Asterix” banging his own head.   Anyway slowly I managed to settle her with Goa.

My hubby who was encouraging me on this holiday was now a bit reluctant.  He was not too keen on me going on my own to India.  To be honest I was very nervous too, after all the horror stories you hear about foreigners coming to harms way in countries like India and my cousin being deported back didn’t help my anxiety.

That’s all my finger can take it for today.  Cont….