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.

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Posted in Racism, True Story, Inspirational

Serena Vs Mark Knight

serena-cartoon-1
By Mark Knight

Couple of days ago I started a conversation on Facebook about this cartoon. I started the conversation or opinion as following

” I am probably going to get slammed for this, but I don’t think this is racist nor sexist. If your argument is that men behave badly too, well I’m sorry that’s no defense. Did Mc Enroe behave badly, yes he did. Great player but bad loser. I don’t recall if he was reprimanded by the umpire the same way or not. But I do know that current players do get punished for similar offences. Actually I don’t think our two tantrum boys Nick and Tomic got this bad, their behaviour seem rather pale compared to this. I am sorry but Serena did no service in fighting racism nor Sexism.”

As expected I received mixed views and opinions on the subject.  I realised for those who opposed and thought this was nothing but pure racism, one line answers were not going to suffice.  They were pretty strong with their views I might add.  I think I even have room to bring out the ‘Sexism card” or and “I was bullied card” out.  However, that’s not me, even if I am going to lose, I will play fair till the end.  Also wanting to know the wider communities views, thought I might open the conversation again, but this time with more research and ammunition.


I think I will start from the very beginning.  My google finding for the word Cartoon or Caricature as follows:

cartoon meaning

So I guess, we can accept that this was a cartoon or a caricature.  It is not very complimentary to the subject, however, that seems to be a common thread. I wanted to investigate how other Tennis players or others in the public eye in general were treated by various cartoonists.

Other Serena Cartoons:

sarena cartoon 3 sarena cartoon 2serena4.jpg

For me Caption two is very disturbing.

So was wondering if such poor treatment was only reserved for Serena.  Just maybe I am wrong, maybe the world is a racist and sexist place. (By the way I think it is in many places but my argument is that Mark Knight’s cartoon isn’t.  Also Serena accused the umpire of being a sexist.  And again my point is he wasn’t).

How did the others fair in the hands of the Cartoonists.

mc enroe
John McEnroe
cathy freeman
Cathy Freeman 

rafa3rafanadal 1

Roger Federar
Even Good Boy Federer Couldn’t Escape
tiger woods
Tiger Woods
wog boys
Aussie Dumber and Dumber Nick and Tomic

I then thought I need to see other Mark Knight cartoons to see if he has a racist streak. The following are Sample Mark Knight Cartoons.

mark knight 2

 

pauline-hanson-0410

I am only attaching two as most of them relate to Australian Politics.  He seems to have a go at both Labor and Liberals.  For those who don’t understand Aussie Politics, the female in the picture is Pauline Hanson who is considered to be a Racist, homophobic and extremely Islamophobic.  So the two pictures are taking a dig at her.  If Mark Knight was in fact a racist I wonder if he would have drawn these cartoons?

Is Mark Knight a Racist?  I don’t know him personally so I couldn’t say if he was actually a racist in his personal life.  If I am to make judgement on his cartoons past and present, it doesn’t appear to be so.

Do I see a resemblance?    black

sarena

I see a massive resemblance of her actual photo and the cartoon, actually the way she was acting up on the match was very similar to the cartoon.  There was no hiding that she behaved like a spoiled two year old brat.


Honestly I have not seen such a display by any other sports person, I was rather young at the time of McEnroe’s early matches.  I can’t recall him behaving this badly.  Even if he did, the poor man couldn’t pull the race card because he was a so called privileged white male.

The only other person that I could recall is Muhammed Ali.  But in his case he was really fighting racism.  Whether his methods were warranted, if you agree with him or not is another debate for another day.  But one thing we cannot disagree is that he did genuinely fight for racism and paid a very personal loss.  Even the “baseball players kneeling during the national anthem’, however, controversial it maybe, it is still an act to showcase their grievances of racism.  Who’s agenda was Serena fighting for?

Alize Cornet was fined for changing her T-shirt on court.  The player as well the fans demanding that be changed is fighting for sexism.  I remember as a young child a female player was sent back to change her skirt as it was deemed too short.  I don’t  recall the name of the player.  But I remember the incident.  We have come a long way from that.  Still it is a constant battle.


I don’t find the word ‘black’ offensive, I don’t find the colour ‘black’ offensive.  For me when you do that, it is a submission of inferiority.  I am brown/dark, I am short and I have big bosoms.  It’s not a necessarily a statement of pride but rather a statement of facts.  And I am very comfortable with all that.  I may want to change some of the characteristics, such as my height, but not a biggie.  A step ladder and high heels does the trick anyway.  So if a cartoonist wants to draw me I expect and demand the picture to be all of the above and not to a draw me a 6ft white blonde.  I would find that very offensive.

As a woman, as a person with a permanent tan, as a woman who has passed the age of 50, do I face discrimination?  Of course. Almost everyday I have to stand up for some woman or another, in my own house hold.  Women are questioned on what they wear, how much they weigh, how they look.  She has to excuse herself if she chooses a career over family. But then again she is looked down upon if she doesn’t have a career. She can’t win either way.  How many failed relationships could she have before she is considered ‘loose’ or ‘easy’?  A man is a play boy. then why can’t the woman be a play girl?

So, it’s not just getting a job, or the right pay also in our personal lives we have to justify ourselves constantly.  Some cultures/countries are progressing a bit better than others.

Let’s take a culture that is very close to my heart – The Sri Lankan Jaffna Tamils.  They are the minority group of Sri Lanka who have been marginalised and have suffered enormously in the hands of the Sinhalese Government.  But, there is another type of discrimination in this community, that no one fights for.  Their own caste system.  The world condemned the South African Whites for the Apartheid system.  What happens in Jaffna (even to this day by many) is no different to that happened in South Africa.  The main difference is, here it is not about Black/White.  We are all Tamils, We are all of the same colour.  But we belong to different caste.  The higher class, will not allow their progeny to marry anyone from the lower class.  Many have been disowned by the family for standing their ground.  It’s not just the immediate family even the extended family has to disown them.  They will not be allowed in to your houses.  If they come to do any work in your property, they will have to consume their meals and water outside in the yard or on the back stairway.  The main house will have separate plates and cups for such people.  In some villages they are not even allowed inside the temple.  Some of the so called ‘lower caste’ have got themselves educated and gone on to become doctors and Engineers.  However, they remain lower caste, unable to marry into the upper class.

For me that is a bigger sin than another race looking down on me.  My own kind are the bigger bigots. Is colour an issue, only for the white man?  I am considered to be of lighter shade of the brown.  I am almost considered to be white among my people.  It is a desired feature, especially when it comes to marriage.  In India some of the darker shade actors are demanding change in their industry.  Fair and lovely a cosmetic product for skin lightning is now receiving a bit of back lash.  When a new baby is born, one of the questions asked and discussed is the kid’s colour.

My point here is,

before we demand equality,  we need to feel equal no matter are colour, race, religion, caste, occupation, gender and every other differences and uniqueness we may posses. 

sarena cartoon 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in True Story, Inspirational

Moving to Adelaide (Part 2)

SA-map

Sorry for the slightly long silence.  Let’s blame it on my health.  I am someone who believes that it is my duty to keep the medical industry well funded.  Nothing major this time, just minor repairs.  But happy to report that I am on the mend.

My fingers have been itching to tap that key board for sometime.  Finally free from heavy pain meds and confident I wouldn’t sound like a druggie and thought of continuing where I left off.


There are many theories on Money.  ‘Money is not everything’, ‘Money cannot buy happiness’ ‘wise man should have money in his head and not in his heart.  the list goes on.

I ride on the middle most times on most issues.  I am not ready to give up everything and live in Nimbin.  It sounds great in theory.  Smoking pot and singing Bob Marley, yep sounds like heaven. But it ain’t me.

Moving to Adelaide – South Australia seemed like a happy medium.  Hubby and I started to do our research on Adelaide.  Our main concern were the kids.  Will there be good doctors to take care of their medical needs? It has taken us move heaven and earth to bring them to this condition, will they slip back? Hari is rather a reserved kid will he find it hard to make friends? Will this affect them socially? Will their education be hindered by moving to a small city,  a city that the rest of Australia laughs at.

My heart still kept prompting me to take the plunge.  But there was so much at stake.  Our decision to leave our mother nation and migrate to Australia seemed an easier decision than this.  At that time we had no kids.  This time around it was not just about us.

The kids were not happy at all.  The main reason was the “The Roaches”. Even for us the main reason that was keeping us back was some of our friends and family.  There are many, I am not going to list them all, but they know who they are.  The Roaches get a special mention because of the type of relationship we had.

We met them when we first moved to Castle Hill and Hari was just an year old.  I was working full time and mum was taking care of Hari.  She would take him to the local church once a week for a mothers play group.  On my day off’s I would join in too.  Met some really nice mothers and kids.  This is where we met Sylvia.  Her eldest Michael was a few weeks older than Hari and the two got along really well.  The youngest Anthony was an infant.  It just happened that they happened to live behind our house on the street parallel to us.  Sylvia was very helpful to mum.  She would make it a point to bring an additional baby seat to transport Hari and would give them a lift home or when they went on picnics etc.  In return Sylvia enjoyed mum’s Sri Lankan goodies.

Gradually our friendship grew.  The older boys were very close.  They had now moved onto the same Pre-School (Montessori).  Sylvia was now back at work.  She was a theater nurse.  She initially enrolled Michael at a pre-school near her work.  It was hard getting him to settle so she decided to join him in to the same pre-school as Hari.  The two boys were rather inseparable.

I was now pregnant with my youngest. After all the hiccups and scares finally the day came to pop the bundle.  Sylvia was already at work.  Not sure who rang who, but Glen (her hubby) found out from mum that I had left for the hospital.  The same hospital Sylvia was working.  A few hours after I had Arj, (about 3am) Sylvia rushes in with her gown and gloves, elated to see the new born.  She sheds tears of joy while hugging me.  At this time only my husband had seen the bub.  Mum nor Hari had seen him.  Hindu’s don’t have a ‘god mother’ system, if not I would’ve asked her to be the god mother.

 I think the happiest was Anthony, he had a play mate now.  In a world where class, colour and creed matter we remained friends in spite of all the glaring differences.  Sylvia hailed from Germany, Glen was from New Zealand and we were from Sri Lanka. Our boys learnt that was more than the normal ‘Coles’ brand sausages and those two kids learnt to eat rice.  My mum gained another two grand kids.  My boys now had an ‘Oma’ (Grandma in German) and ‘Uncle James

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA‘.

Both families had their trials and tribulations and both helped each other out.  We took turns to take care of our injured or at times sick soldiers. Michael and Hari had their tonsils out.  I think all four boys had grommets put in.  Sylvia was paramount in saving Arj on his 2nd birthday.  The four boys took turns to fracture a limb or get stitches. Anthony poured hot honey on himself. Sylvia sometimes joined in with getting injured too.  It was normal for the boys to have a shower and sleep at each others house.

Once all four started to go to school things became more of a routine.  We couldn’t see the point in two cars heading towards the same destination.  So all four kids drove to and from the school together in one car.  It was usually myself or Glen as we had more regular and flexible working hours.  The boys didn’t even notice whose car they were getting into.  Each morning they were too excited to see each other they would just start to yap as soon as they are together.

After school most days they would go for sports together.  So in the morning we would exchange their relevant sports bags and snacks for after school. It was usually banana’s and ‘Up and Go’.  They did swimming and Karate together.  Most times Glen would pick them up after swimming.  As after the swim the boys will go into the men’s side to have a shower and change.  The boys don’t get the rush of the parents. It’s not for them worry that the parent has to go home and start dinner etc.  They just loved more play time.  So we decided it was better for Glen to pick them up as he can go into the men’s and hurry the boys.

Even on the weekends it was rather normal for us to meet up again.  Just like the car which car they got into, they didn’t care whose pool they jumped into.  I still remember watching the 2003 Rugby finals England Vs Australia where Jonnyy Wilkinson snatched the victory from us at the last minute.  We were watching the game together with food and drinks and as time went along it became just drinks. Well we had to swallow the grief.  It was a great night.  Don’t remember much of the finale.  Well our boys slept over there while hubby and I crawled back home after my hubby’s failed attempts at cartwheels.

Many a days, when all four of us were unable to pick the boys, uncle James, Oma or Angela (Sylvia’s sister) took the role.  It takes a village to raise a child was very much the case for these four boys.  They were the happiest four boys.

And now we were going to separate them.

To be continued … hopefully tomorrow.

 

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.

aussie-slang-570x411

 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

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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 travel

Destination Goa (final)

Goa beach

Four am start.  Jan and I hardly had any sleep.  We were planning on a early night as we thought we need it for our 4 am start.  Didn’t exactly stick to our adult like responsible decision.  One more night of being back to our teenage days.  We weren’t exactly throwing up into the toilet bowl.  Just more chatting and reminiscing our past, the last couple of days and making promises for the future.  Relationships, Kids, loss, survival…. both of us in our own ways have been through a lot.  We are like two weeds that stood stubbornly through the storm and now looking a lot lusher.  We did bend, we did mellow, but we refused to wither.  I guess, neither of had a choice.

I so wish she lived next door and not in the opposite hemisphere. Every time I needed a hug she would have come running to me and every time she needed that hug I would have happily run over to her. But I think my hubby is relieved that there is a reprieve on the credit card and shopping. I treasure these holidays.  It’s truly a blessing that I can meet up with her once in awhile. Even though there are many days and weeks and years in between, thank god to Whatsapp and Skype, it makes it bearable.

Our bags gets rolled out at 4.00am.  We stood at the middle of the airport hugging and hanging on to our tears within our eyelids, interrupting and maybe blocking the other rushing passengers.  One big heave and then we headed back to our mundane travel procedures.

Getting through security took a lot longer than in Australia.  However, it wasn’t chaotic like it was in Chennai a few years ago.  I had about an hour or so before boarding.  For a small city, the airport was pretty good.  Very clean toilets.  Yes, this was in India.

Some Murals that caught my eye

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An hour went quickly with a bit of writing and taking pictures.  Next an uneventful flight to Mumbai.  Plane was clean and service was better than Jet star.

I had a long stop over at Mumbai before my next flight to Singapore.  After my stay at Niranta transit hotel on my way over I had decided I wanted to go back there again and get a room for a few hours.  This would give me a chance to meet that young man who helped me so much last time as well.  Unfortunately they were fully booked.  And that young man was not on duty that day either.  But, the young lady at the counter was still very sweet.  She asked me to stay in their lounge area, instead going back to the main airport area.  She even offered me a bottle of water and the ever useful wifi password. At this stage I had not spent a dime with them.  I was astounded by their empathy which went over and beyond the call of customer service.  I had breakfast with them, and left a small token of thank you in an envelope and left with plenty of time for check in etc.

I thought my bubble on perfect trip was going to unravel when the guy at the counter said my visa has expired.  I knew it hadn’t, I had checked and rechecked, so with a stern and irritated voice I replied “no it isn’t”.  On checking with another officer (lady officer) he realised he needed to have a “mummy look”.

This time around I had more time look around the airport.  Rather a big, classy, clean airport.  Yes, it’s in India and it’s clean.

This was a mural by the side of the travelator.  What a great welcome as you get off the plane.

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More quirky cafe’s and art work.

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As usual I was rushing with something and I think it was my bag zipper made a cut on my finger.  Nothing major, but the darn thing was bleeding.  So I got to the toilet and kept my finger under the tap trying to stop the bleeding.  But no joy.  The cleaning lady saw this and came to my aid, she couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t understand her.

Language didn’t matter, the beauty of humanity expands past language barriers.  

She got me a band aid from the first aid kit.  She didn’t know or didn’t care that she probably should be wearing gloves when dealing with blood.  I thanked her in English and went rummaging in my hand bag to get some money.  She held my hand and shook her head saying words, I think that meant “no, no need” and she left.

Yes, this was India.

How wrong was I to pass judgement, that India was going to be dirty and crawling with cheating, thieving vermin’s.  Am I a racist who was hiding behind past experiences as an excuse? I am not going to say entire India going to be this rosy.  Jury is still out of Chennai for me.  I hear Delhi is no paradise either.  But, lesson learnt is that there is going to be good and bad places every where, there is going to be good and bad people every where.  If you aren’t willing to give that destination a chance, you will never know and never experience and that would be a damn shame.

It’s a red hot yes to Goa and maybe even to rest of India.

 

 

Posted in Recipe

The Love Cake

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The Love Cake is a very traditional Sri Lankan cake.  The above image makes it look more like a butter cake.  But I copied it from google images as it looks much better than how it actually looks.  Not sure why you would have an Orchid on the plate, not very Sri Lankan is it now, maybe a Fangipani, but an Orchid seems like an odd choice.  Anyway the cake itself is wrong.  The cake is usually not this high.  No one dusts icing sugar on the top either.  Well now you understand why it never appeared on Master Chef.  It may look very ordinary but the taste is just divine.

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Well the above is what it actually looks like. Now you understand why I went with the first picture.

Now that we have dealt with the picture/image, let’s analyse the name.  Well … Chiffon cake does not mean that it was made out of the material chiffon.  Same here, for what ever reason it got the name Love cake and the name has stuck.  It is however a regular participant at Engagement parties or any other time we feel festive.

Some of my friends and relatives have been asking me for the recipe and I finally wrote it down.  And I thought why don’t I share this with the rest of the world (or at lest the blogging world).

Ingredients

6 –                    Eggs (I prefer to separate them)

500gm –           Caster Sugar (feel free to use less)

150gm –           Unsalted butter

3 tbl spoon –    Honey

2 tbl spoon –    Rose water (I prefer to use a bit more)

Finely chopped zest of a lime or lemon (I prefer lemon, lime could be a bit too strong at times)

1tsp      –           nutmeg grated (powder would do the job too; maybe use a bit more than a tsp)

1tsp      –           Cardamom (again you can throw the teaspoon away and use something bigger)

1tsp      –           Cinnamon (well let’s say I don’t believe in teaspoons)

250gm –           raw cashews chopped (I use a food processor, not powder level, but more than chopped)

250gm –           Coarse semolina

125gm –           Crystallised pineapple chopped

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 150c.  Line a cake tin. (This is a combination of two recipes, so I can’t really say what size cake tin to use, but I have even used muffin trays)

Beat the butter and sugar with an electric beater until pale and creamy.  Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Fold in Cashew, Semolina, Honey, rosewater, cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Beat the egg whites until firm peaks form.  Then fold this into the above mixture.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin/tins.  Bake for 1 hour and 10 min or until firm to touch.  No idea what that last sentence meant as I just copied off the recipe.  Baking time will depend on the depth of your cake tin, quantity etc.  This is not a cake that will get upset if you open the oven door while cooking. So best is to start low eg 45 min and when  it stops to wobble, it’s time to use a skewer. You want it slightly wet.  Else its overcooked and dry.  Once you take it out of the oven, leave in the tin for a few hours.  Even over night is okay.  Don’t be in a hurry to take it out of the tin. As the cake is going to be a big gooey, it is better to leave it to set.

Cup of tea goes really well with a slice of this cake.  My fellow blogger finishes her recipes by saying “and remember, this cake is always better if you share it”.

https://rabbitpatchdiary.com 

So yes, go ahead and invite a friend or two to share the cake and an afternoon.

Disclaimer:  Please note the above recipe is not endorsed by the Diabetic Society, cholesterol Police or any other Eat proper group.

Side Effects:    Very addictive and not so kind to the waist line.