Sunday, December 29, 2019

Looking Back

An interesting day today. Took a drive out to a place called Daylesford, about an hour and a half away from Melbourne to see the parentals who are over from Adelaide with some friends. We had a barbeque, exchanged Christmas gifts and caught up, which was nice. I also have a bottle of gin on a change of leadership in Australia in the next three months. It's going to be interesting. We will see what happens.

This is a favourite reflection of the year. Thanks for posting Bev at Sunday Stealing.

1. First things first, did you have a good year?

It was okay. Work wasn't great but the rest of it was fine. Nothing to write home about, but nothing to complain about either.

2. If you traveled, where did you go?

I went to a few new places this year. Other than the regular Sydney trips and two trips over to Adelaide, the passport was used. I spent a week in Hong Kong in March, then I went away for a fortnight and spent ten days in Northern India with two days in Hong Kong on the way home.

A few weeks ago I had a long weekend in country Queensland too. So I did well on the travel front.

3. Which fashion trends did you love?

Wide legged  trousers that are slightly cropped. Love them.

4. Which fashion trends did you hate?

I could never wear those short shorts all the young ones are wearing. There are some things some body shapes may think about avoiding. (People can wear what they like, but yeah, not the prettiest of sights are seen sometimes.)

5. What was your favorite article of clothing this year?

I have a pair of black cheesecloth wide-legged long trousers. They're so comfortable and cool.

6. What song sums up this year for you?

As I said, it's been an interesting year this year. It's had its ups and downs, but looking back, if I ask who will save my soul, it's going to be me.

So I nominate Jewel's version of this song as this years them tune,''

7. What was your favorite movie of the year?

I have seen 46 movies this year - and my two clear standouts  were Booksmart and JoJo Rabbit - which I saw the other day. I like films with clout. The former made me laugh so hard I nearly wet myself. The latter is just brilliant. Sad, funny, tragic, absurd and a must see. It's not what you expect from what you see in the trailer.

8. Did an actor/actress catch your attention for the first time this year?

Ah, Tom Ellis. What can I say, I have a thing for dark-haired Englishmen...

9. Favorite new TV show?

That would probably be Lucifer. I know it's been on air for a few years, but I found it on Netflix a few months ago and it makes me smile.

I also like The Marvelous Mrs Maisel and Fleabag, but I only get to watch them on the plane going back and forth to where ever I'm going.

10. Did you make any big permanent changes this year?

Other than my hair is a bit lighter. No big permanent changes.

11. What was one nice thing you did for yourself?

I gave myself December off work. My contract ended at the end of November and instead of stressing out and trying to find a job, I let myself take a structured sabbatical for a few weeks to get my energy back and my head space right. It was a very good decision. Four weeks in and I feel like myself again. Job hunting in earnest will start on 6 January. I hope to have a job by the end of the month.

12. Did you develop a new obsession?

It appears I've got myself back into walking / running. I went on a Park Run while I was in Queensland and I loved it. I hope to be able to run 5 kms by the end of 2020 (this is not a stretch, but I need to lose weight to before I get running again.) It's a really cool set up. Free, organised, nice people, local and worldwide at the same time. What more do you need?

13. Did you vote?

Yes. I'm Australian, voting is compulsory (well you have to get your name marked off at the polling booth - what you do with your ballot paper is your business). But yes, I voted in the Federal Election earlier this year.

14. Did you move?


15. Did you get a job?

I changed jobs in late June. Still unsure if this was a great thing. It was a bit like going out of the frying pan and into the fire. But enough of that.

16. Did you get a pet?

No, but Maow Maow is coming to stay tomorrow. Does that count?

17. Do you regret not doing anything?

Not really. Looking back, another week in India to have a look around Rajasthan would have been great - but I can always go back.

18. Do you regret doing something?

In glum moments, part of me regrets moving jobs when I did, but the new job wasn't all bad - it just wasn't a great place at the time I was there. Good people under a lot of pressure - it wasn't ideal. You don't know that when you're going into a place.

19. Have you done anything that scared you?

Going to India, in the build up, really scared the crap out of me. It was great when I got there, but there was a real fear of the unknown before I went. I'm so glad I did go - I had a great time.

20. Did anyone/thing make you so mad it stayed with you for days?

Our current Federal Government has had me angry since they got in again in May. This has gone from a general aggravation to full on hostile contempt in the last few weeks.

I'm hoping I win that bottle of gin.... But who would take over? Peter 'Spud' Dutton? There would be outright revolution. Maybe this would be a good thing.

21. Did you lose anyone close to you?

Thankfully, no.

22. Who was important to you this year but wasn’t important last year?

Tom Ellis.... my friendship group stayed pretty stable.

23. Who wasn’t as important to you this year as they were last year?

Tony Abbott. Awful Australian politician. He lost his seat. I don't have to think of ways to do him existential harm any more.

Again, my friendship group is pretty stable. Some people have drifted off, others have come closer, but the core remains the same.

24. If you could have a do over on one thing you did, would you take it?

If I could do anything over again, it would be the writer's retreat I went on in June. It was phenomenal, and I'd like to do it over again because it was so great. I'm doing it again in June. Wonderful fun.

25. What was the best moment of the year for you?

Tying my friends together as a part of their wedding ceremony in India. This is the job of the big sister. I was incredibly honoured to have this role in the wedding.

26. What was the worst?

The two really nasty chest infections I got over October. They were awful. Five days in bed each with both of them. I haven't had a chest infection in years. I blame the stress of the job at the time.

27. What are you most proud of accomplishing?

I got a story published in late November in a literary magazine. If you want to have a look at it, go here.

28. What have you learned about yourself this year that you didn’t know in the years prior?

I am a lot braver than I think I am. I can face my fears. India proved this to me.

29. What do you wish for others for the coming year?

Peace, happiness, love and a new Federal Government.

30. What do you wish for yourself?

Well other than the above, I want the following for myself in 2020: (in no order)

  • To finish the first drafts of both my novels
  • To get a great new job, with great people, in town, paying well, with surmountable challenges
  • To be able to run 5 kms again by the end of the year (softly, softly catchy the monkey)
  • To travel to some new places
  • To maintain the rage and enthusiasm for some very substantial changes in Australia (Gough Whitlam's words, not mine)
  • To make the time to exercise, read and write daily. 

Today's song:

Sunday, December 22, 2019

The Sleepy Rambles Meme

Three days before Christmas. It was 44 degrees in the shade on Friday (111 degrees Fahrenheit in the old money) but thankfully the heat has backed off. The cassata is on the make - two layers to go, I'm about to go pick up the ham from Blarney's place - her oven had decided to pack it in, so I'll be doing the glazing here on Tuesday.

I've also discovered through this sabbatical:

  • Cardio is much easier to tolerate at the gym when you're watching an old episode of Grey's Anatomy
  • My hair has got really, really curly - not bothering to straighten it any more.
  • Black out curtains are the best things ever - getting an extra hour of sleep at the moment.
  • I don't know if our Prime Minister will still be our Prime Minister in three months, evil, pompous, incompetent, smug, narcissistic tosser that he is.

Image result for scott morrison memes

Questions, as always, come from Bev at Sunday Stealing, then whoever she stole them from.

1. Do you ever give things away to your friends?

Sometimes. I will give books away to friends quite readily.

2. Does it make you uncomfortable when your parents talk about finding people attractive? If your parents don’t make comments like that, what sort of things can your family members say that do make you feel uncomfortable?

I think the only time my mother has made me feel uncomfortable was when we were walking through Chinatown and she pipes up, "There are a lot of Asians around here..." Okay, we were walking through Chinatown. The city area is home to many Asian students and residents. Mum lives in a country town. She was stating the bleeding obvious, but it didn't sit that comfortably. (Mum is not racist, however, she sometimes engages her mouth before thinking).

3. Have you ever heard of an “alternative spring break”? Have you ever participated in one or known someone who has?

Too old and Australian to even know what they are talking about here. Spring break is an American concept, where, from the exposure we have from the movies and telly, college students go somewhere, drink a lot, try to have sex and behave like muppets.

4. Is there anyone’s friendship or relationship, in particular, that makes you jealous?

Nope. Next.

5. Is there a book series where you loved the first book, but for some reason the other books in the series just didn’t measure up?

Ah, The Hunger Games. The first book of the series was one of the best pieces of Young Adult literature I've ever read. The other two books in the series not so much.

6. Are you a registered voter?

I am Australian. Voting is compulsory in Australia - well, it is compulsory to front up to the polling booth on election day for Federal, State and Local elections (and if you don't turn up, and you don't have a good reason, you get fined.) Nothing is stopping you from spoiling your ballot paper, but you have a civil obligation to turn up to elections. So yes, you could say I'm a registered voter.

For the Americans, we also put in pen and paper votes, none of this voting machine malarkey. Makes for better accountability.

7. Are there any stores/restaurants that you would like to shop/eat at, but there aren’t any located near enough to you?

Not really, as the food in Melbourne (actually all around Australia) is excellent. But, I would love if my favourite dumpling bar in Kowloon, Hong Kong was here. Best prawn dumplings ever.

Oh, and if Adelaide could send over some decent bakeries to Melbourne, that would be good. The pasties are far superior in Adelaide - you're struggling to get a decent pasty in Melbourne city (Country bakeries are a bit better, but they are still better in South Australia)

8. How many people would you say you are close with? Who are they?

I'd say seven. All have different roles in my life. Most I don't see much of, but I feel close to them regardless.

There's Blarney (Melbourne sister)
Mariah (In Queensland - old, dear friend)
Jonella (Good mate, talk most days)
Jay from the gym (see her most days too)
Geetangeli (In New Zealand - old, dear friend)
Reindert (In Colorado - lovely mate)
Him in Sydney

9. Do you ever have smell hallucinations?

Rarely. I've got a good sense of smell, but normally there is a reason for what I'm smelling.

10. Is there something that you did not used to take seriously, that you either now take seriously or wish that you had in the past (e.g., a relationship that you miss, your education, etc.)?

Money and politics.  I am very aware of both now, but never was years ago. I'm very vocal about the latter - especially as the standard you walk past is the standard you accept - and I don't accept a lot of what the government, particularly the Federal government are doing.

I also wish I had piano lessons as a kid.

11. Are there any subjects that you are interested in so much that you would read whole books or academic journals about them?

Lots of things - I'm a wannabe academic after all. I'll read anything I can get my hands on about the Kings and Queens of England, Shakespeare, theatre, medicine, interesting murders... this is a long list.

12. Are you physically affectionate with your friends?

I used to be more affectionate, but I've had it drubbed out of me. My friends still get a kiss an a hug when we meet and when I go. I've very affectionate with Maow Maow.

13. When you were in school, did you witness a lot of bullying? How did the teachers react to name-calling or violence?

Thankfully no. I was oblivious to a lot of it, and I went to school in a different era.

14. If there is a specific celebrity (or two, or three!) that you dislike, is it because of petty reasons or is it because they’ve done something absolutely damning in your mind?

Other than thinking Penelope Cruz looks like an emu/ostrich, then no. Craig McLachlan, star of the Doctor Blake Mysteries has gone down in my estimations, but he's still innocent until proven guilty, so I'll leave it at that.

15. Are any of your friends/relatives actually impressive artists or writers?

I have lots of friends who are great writers and artists, but none of them are famous.

Today's song, dedicated to our incompetent prick of a Prime Minister, who, in my humble opinion, can sod off back to Hawaii. This is a bit of an Aussie anthem. There is an addition to the chorus. It has to be sung, full pent, always. (The Angels are an Adelaide band)

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Sabbatical Chronicles: What does one want?

Maybe I've been watching a little too much Lucifer. Maybe I'm just getting my head around being off work, or maybe, just maybe, after to weeks off, I feel like I could go back to work now.

In that first week, there was no way I was going near an office, let alone near a computer.

In the second week, I was beginning to feel a bit more normal.

Now, at the start of the third week of this sabbatical, I'm starting to get a plan in place to find work, or more to the point, get the right job.

And in the words of Lucifer - what is it I want? Isn't that half the battle when you're manifesting things - know what it is you actually desire?

So, it is time to think about what it is I actually want when it come to a job.

I will admit, for the last two jobs I've been at, I was approached for the roles, rather than applying for them. I'll admit to being very lucky on this score. Most of the time, a phone call leads to a job. I'm hoping this will happen again, but in the mean time, it's a matter of putting in applications, making phone calls and sending emails, going for coffees and putting myself out there.

The bulk of this will be done from 6 January.

But what do I want from a ob.

Sitting down at a bar on Swan Street with one of my old work husbands, beer in hand (trying to escape the 43 degree heat outside) we talked about this.

We've both been contracting for a long time. Nath is just back from three months abroad on the holiday of a lifetime. We know the score.

So it's time to think about this what I want.

So here's the laundry list. What do I desire from my next job?

  • A longer term contract (at least 6 months)
  • Preferably at a day rate to which I'm accustomed
  • At a large / National / Multi national company (which is where most of my work comes from)
  • In the city or the city fringes (must be within 45 minutes on public transport)
  • Good team with a mix of men and women
  • A role with some autonomy (no micro-managers please)
  • Supportive management
  • Preferably in the tech writing / instructional design / process analyst space
  • Preferably a busy, but not manic 8 hour working day for the most part
  • Some travel interstate would be good
  • Maybe in the banking, finance, utilities or telco space - will entertain other sectors, but not mining, gambling or retail.
  • Would look at a contracted week (do a full week over 4 days - sorta like this idea)
  • Would like some working arrangement flexibility  - work from home.
  • Prefer working in Agile environments
  • A great team who like to have a laugh 
Well, that the list of requirements. Of course, there will be some compromise, but this is what I want.

So now I have to get manifesting. Get out the green candles. make the phone calls. Send the emails. Have the coffee dates. Talk to the network. Get on LinkedIn.

But for the moment, with most of corporate Australia on holidays, with the skeleton staff all annoyed that they're at work (or enjoying the quiet time) .

Which means the main hunt will start on 6 January, when everybody starts coming back. 

After three weeks off, I'm almost back to full strength - and this is a good thing.,

Now, as the temperature is back to something normal and not something stupid, 'spose I better go to bed, thinking of a White Christmas - where the cold streets are covered in snow, not one covered in ash as the case in Melbourne at the moment. 

Today's Song: A good summer song from the teenage annals

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Book of Questions

Greetings from Dayboro, Queensland - a sleepy little town about an hour out of Brisbane. This is a place which should be green. It's not, unfortunately. The drought is really biting up here. It's really sad to see. But I am having a lovely time with my friend, Mariah, and her son, in what is known as God's own country - mind you, I think God may be palming his forehead in despair at some of the decisions the Governments have made over the years, but still, it's a lovely, and welcome change of scenery.

Questions, as always, provided by Bev at Sunday Stealing.

1. If you say a dog locked in a hot car, what would you do?

Easy, after calling for the owners of the car, I'd smash the window to let the dog out and call the police to let them know what I've done. There is no reason for this to happen. Saying that, every year a number of children are killed in overheated cars. As we're expecting a day of 41 degrees (106 or there about in the old language) this is to be avoided. There are a lot of public service advertisements about this in Summer over here.

2. Is it easy for you to accept help when you need it?

Yes and no. If I ask for help, then yes. Otherwise, help will be reluctantly, though gratefully received.

3. Have you ever been to a fashion show?


4. Would you like to be famous?

If I was a famous novelist, then yes. Otherwise, no. I like my privacy. Novelists can have a good face for radio - I have one of those.

5. What is your most compulsive habit?

I still suck my thumb when I'm tired or stressed. Thankfully, this is also done in private.

6. What do you strive for in life: accomplishment, security, love, power, excitement, knowledge or something else. 

All of the below. I just like to think things can get better an better in all aspects of my life. 

7. How close and warm is your family?

Not very. My family is loving, but we're not in each other's pockets and we're not emotionally very open. Just the way it is - we're Cornish Methodists by breeding, they're not the most cuddly of creatures. 

8. Does the fact that you have never done a thing before increase or decrease its appeal to you?

A bit of both. Some things I never want to do - case in point, heroin or methamphetamine. Other things, like skydiving, yeah, I'd give that  go. India was interesting for me in this way. I dreaded going there, felt bad about not wanting to go there - but at the end of it, I had a ball. 

9. If your friends start belittling a common acquaintance, would you defend that person?

For the most part, yes. Said persons doing the belittling would be asked to look at their own situations before putting somebody else down. If not, just say I wasn't comfortable with what they were saying. It's good to stand up for people. 

10. Do you make a special effort to thank somebody who does you a favour. How do you react when you aren't thanked for going out of your way for somebody?

Do I make a special effort for those who do me well - absolutely. Other than I'm unfailingly polite, it's manners. For those who don't thank you for a favour - I tend to remember this and I'm rather reticent to help out when the next favour is required - thankfully, that doesn't happen very often. 

11. Since adolescence, in what 3-year period do you feel you experience the most personal growth and change?

Hmm, probably from the ages of 23-26 - when I moved to London and had to find my own way in the world. I learned a hell of a lot in those years. Those years made me very resilient. 

12. When you do something ridiculous, how much does it bother you to have other people notice and laugh at you. 

Once over the Leo pride thing, normally I'll laugh along with them. I'm forever doing stupid things, so I'm used to it. 

13. Do you believe in capital punishment?

Absolutely not. We haven't had capital punishment here for over 50 years - the last person executed in Australia was in 1966. As much as there are people who have done unforgivable crimes, it's never shown to be a deterrent. And what of those wrongly convicted? Nope. 

14. Do you find it hard to say 'no' that you regularly do favours you do not want to do?

Not really. I'm pretty good with my boundaries. 

15. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

The only things that comes to mind is the Holocaust and child/animal abuse. Most other things you can have a dig at. Laughing at, and through illness and death is a necessity - in the right circumstances. 

Today's song: (For Mariah, who is so much in LOVE with Mumford and Sons she's taken up the banjo.)

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Sabbatical Diaries: Discoveries

Day Ten of the sabbatical - and after a solid week of sleeping in, exercising, reading, cooking mostly for myself and generally doing very little and I'm starting to feel more like myself. 

It took a Facebook post memory to really job me back into realising  how much ground I'd lost. Something as simple as me doing the 'Dead Ant' at a company Christmas do eight years ago. I remember laughing, having fun and generally just feeling a lot more free. It's a great photo. Jonella took it. I remember her being taken aback when I published it. I see it as a bit of a rally cry. I look happy. I'm smiling. It's good.

I want to get her back.

But I'm learning a few things while I'm on sabbatical. Fun things Things that you don't get to think about when you're working a forty hour week with an hour a day for public transport tacked on for good measure.

Here's a few of my tidbits of discovery:

1. Bubble tea is just an excuse to play with your food.

There are plenty of bubble tea places near where I live. It's a bit addictive - and a bit pointless - but there is something very satisfying about getting that last bit of jelly out of the cup with the straw, making those awful noises. My favourite bubble tea can be found at QV in town - rose and lychee soda with lychee jelly. How the jelly doesn't melt, I don't understand. But like most things that aren't good for you, it's fun - and a bit morish.

2. I've found a begrudging respect for Billie Eilish.

Anybody who an work an ironic, millennial 'DUH!' into a song has my respect. She's okay. She's grown on me - a bit like warts.

3. The more exercise you do, the better you feel.

Being off means I can get to the gym more. It's great. My strength is returning. The cardio is coming along slowly. As I'm heading up to Brisbane tomorrow, I can see myself spending a lot of time in my friend's pool. She's also making me do something called a ParkRun on Saturday morning. I won't be running, but I can walk fast. So walking around a winery in the Brisbane hills at 7 am on a Saturday morning. Fun. Maybe.

4. Creativity takes a bit  lot of work.

I knew this one, but I didn't realise just how hard it can be. I managed, somehow, to knock out the December Furious Fiction entry - but it's not my best work, and I have no idea what possessed me to write in the second person - but there we go. It's struggle, but I feel like it's starting to make some sense. Haven't touched the novel since I've been off.

5. Making kombucha is a strange and oddly gratifying process

A friend gave me a scoby ( Acronym for 'symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast') the other day. I now have kombucha slowly brewing in my kitchen. It's like having a pet, but a pet which is silent,  pig ugly (it looks a bit like a pornographic oyster gone bad) and makes the kitchen smell like vinegar.

Kombucha is stupidly easy to make - brewed tea, sugar and a scoby. Wait 8-10 days, in which time, the scoby hopefully breeds.

Image result for scoby

(Image courtesy of

It's like my own pet science experiment. But I like kombucha and if I can brew it up myself for a few cents for a litre, I will.

I might be giving a way the baby scobies too. We will see.

6. Throwing out stuff is great when you have time

I'm doing a lot of culling while I'm off. It's also a gratifying experience. For the first time in six months my drawers can close with ease.

7. The sights you see on the 109 tram in the middle of the day is mind-boggling

I've made no bones about the fact that I live in one of the less salubrious parts of a good suburb. I'm not too far from the needle exchange. There is a halfway house about two miles up the road. There are some interesting characters who hang out near the Victoria and Lennox Street crossing. It's more pronounced during the day, when the commuters and workers aren't there toshield you from the worst of Richmond's human soup. Also, the bubble tea places are down near what is affectionately knows as "Junkie Corner". If you want a hit of smack (heroin) it's THE place to go.

I don't judge. Addiction is an illness - and I'll take the junkies over those addicted to ice any day. Thankfully, most are harmless.

8. Reading for an hour a day makes you feel good

I'd forgotten this too. Currently dipping into Hemingway. I'm in about five minds about it. We did our book group choosing last night - there is a lot of great books to read in the list.

9. Not having to get up in the morning is a great thing.

But I'm still waking up at 6.30 am, if not before. I'm thinking of investing in some blackout blinds for the bedroom.

It's getting late, I'm not actually tired, but I should go to bed.

I'll leave you with Billie Eilish. Duh!

Today's Song:

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Pinterest Questions

One week in on this sabbatical and I'm finding my energy. The creativity is nowhere to be seen, as I struggle with this month's Furious Fiction challenge, which has the the following criteria and of which I cannot find a story... great. It's only 500 words but it's a challenge. Due midnight tonight.

  • Your story must include the following words: JINGLE, CLICK, BUMP, SIZZLE (plurals or -ing variants are allowed).
  • Your story's final sentence must contain exactly THREE words.

Ah well, will get the blog out the way first. Questions as always from Bev at Sunday Stealing.

1. What don’t you share?

Dessert. Actually that's not quite true. If there is an agreement to share dessert, I will share dessert. If not, I won't. I also don't share creme brulee - ever. That's the rules.

2. A reason to celebrate?

My contract is over and I'm on a primarily self enforced sabbatical for a few weeks. This is a very good thing and a great reason to celebrate.

3. Describe where you are now.

In the lounge room sitting at the table, which needs a tidy, but is not as bad as it normally is. Killing Eve is on the telly and I have a glass off rosewater and lemonade fizzy water near me.

4. A dream that seems impossible.

Living in England again. At the moment, with the current political climate, I'd love to be living in England again. I haven't lived there for 20 years, but there is part of me which would love to resettle there.

5. Something you hope for.

By some miracle, a change in our Federal Government, where the current muppets are completely obliterated from the face of the earth, That and enough rain to put out the fires in Sydney. Those bushfires are really bad.

6. A tradition that makes you feel at home.

I don't really have any traditions as such, but I know that any place where I can lie down on the couch with a drink and a cat and I'm pretty much there.

7. The people who make your life better.

My friends. They are pretty awesome. Not going to call them out individually, but they make life good. I'd be lost without them.

8. Someone you’d like to meet.

Oh, there are a lot of people I'd love to meet. Currently I'd like to run in to Anthony Albanese, the opposition leader, so I can ask him why he isn't fighting more in Parliament - then again, he's more than likely to tell me that he; letting the current government shoot themselves in the balls - they are doing a good job of it.

9. A silly thing you’d really like.

Fairy lihgts. I love fairy lights. I have a gin bottle full of them next to the telly.

10. A book from your childhood

I was a big reader as a kid. Read everything - but one title that I know I loved was Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary. Don't ask me anything about it - all I know is she had a big sistern named Beezuz.

11. Something you’re still not sure about.

I'm still not sure about the television show Killing Eve. I'm only just getting into it, but I think it might be a bit of a mindf*ck. It is great, but I'm teetering on whether it will be a bit too much for me.

12. The best dessert to share with friends.

The Cassata I make for Xmas. We used to make it for a beloved aunt who had a birthday on Christmas Day as her birthday cake. I soup up Mum's recipe, which is straight from the Woman's weekly cookbook. First layer, Whipped cream with brandied cherries. Next layer, vanilla ice cream with dark chocolate through it. Top layer is vanilla ice cream mixed in with almond toffee and topped with roasted almonds and toffee shards. Yum.

13. A story that captures your imagination

Trent Dalton's Boy Swallow Universe really got me when I read it. How he's woven in 1980's Brisbane with an incredible shaggy dog story gets me. I want to be able to do that.

14. Memories beside a fireplace.

My first kiss was next to an open fire. Saying nothing more than that.

15. How do you spend a rainy day?

Reading, writing, in the gym or cleaning the flat. Sounds sort of like my sabbatical, though it is summer....

Today's song:

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Fill in the blanks

An hour of writing  - complete.
An hour of reading  - complete.

Exercise later.

It's nearly summer and it is Melbourne and I have a barbeque to go to and it's raining. Oh what fun. I've made the fruit salad, at which I can see Blarney's kids turning up their noses. I think lychees, plums, passionfruit, mango, peaches, pineapple and peaches makes a great fruit salad - the kids might not agree. I've got Greek yoghurt to go on top. Yeah, the kids are going to love me.

Questions, as always, from Bev from Sunday Stealing.

1. Right now I'm pondering how I'm going to write a poem about a bed of nails. It's in my head, it won't go away. A well - it will out when its ready.

2. Singing Cold Chisel songs when I've had too much to drink is my well known quirk.

3. Are you really certain that you think Scott Morrison is a good Prime Minister? If you are then we can't be friends.

4. Exercise first, then go job hunting! (They call it priorities)

5. That's why lychees are still be best fruit ever - no explanation needed.

6. Six Feet Under is one of my favorite tv shows ever!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to trying to find that poem about a bed of nails, tomorrow my plans include exercising, reading , job hunting, writing and unfortunately planning for the Melbourne Co-Masonic Property Association AGM... oh what fun.

8. If I could go anywhere on a road trip, I'd go to Robe, South Australia - I feel the need to go visit my grandparents *(whose ashes were scattered at the end of the jetty). Part of me still wants to drive from LA to Boulder, Colorado via Las Vegas and some interesting looking national parks on the way. Maybe next year.

Image result for robe south australia

9. How Scott Morrison thinks he's doing a good job is something I don't understand.

10. Thanksgiving makes me think of my American friends and family and the Black Friday sales.

11. Baths are the best way to relax!

12. It looks like Autumn when the leaves start to change colour. That's a good four or five months away at the moment - we've just gone into summer, not that you would know it.

13. Hummus is one of my favorite healthy snacks.

14. The smell of juicy fruit chewing gum makes me think of my father.

15. When I am feeling lazy I turn on Netflix and binge away.

16. When I look to the left, I see the windowsill and the flats next door.

17. The kitchen is the room that has the best view in my home. I can see right to the city.

18. Dirty Deeds was done dirt cheap! A good AC/DC song if ever there was one. (I also sing AC/DC songs when I've had too much to drink. Be thankful that is a very rare occurence)

19. Looking after the environment is a responsibility that all qualified citizens must share.

20. If you have any spare gin or ice cream feel free to share it with me.

Today's song (because I was singing this in the shower this morning)

Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Burnout Diaries: Pondering Funemployment

" have treasures hidden within you - extraordinary treasures . And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small."  

Elizabeth Gilbert,  Big Magic

Sometimes it takes a few moments with a friend to make you realise that what is going on is not who you are, what you want or where you want to be.

Yesterday, an old colleague came to visit me at work. Cesar and I worked together a few years ago.

He's a divine man. When he's around I find myself sometimes talking like Margarita Pracatan.

He came up behind me and put his hands on my shoulders. Inappropriate work touching? No.  As he's of South American origin, this is more than acceptable. He's also married to an equally wonderful man, so there is nothing inappropriate here. He's Cesar. He's awesome.

Feeling his touch on my shoulders, I jumped up out of my chair and we hugged. Big hug, none of this air kissing, awkward hugging. A heartfelt hug, kiss on the cheek. In the office. Surrounded by workmates.


Audible giggling and small talk followed. Cesar makes me smile. And giggle. And he always makes me feel good.

And then it hit me.

I haven't laughed in the office for a very, very long time. Like well over six months. Not since the last job when my old work husband still worked there and I was tormented by the worst dad jokes ad infinitum.

I haven't laughed for six months - at work that is.

The last time I really felt like myself was on Catherine Deveny's writer's retreat down the Great Ocean Road. It was a transformational weekend - nurturing, mad, fun and creativity was promoted, encouraged and worshipped. As was laughter. And stepping out of your comfort zone. And nurturing along with being nurtured.

That was in June.


It's been a really tough year at work. Two difficult projects. Two work environments which have left me mentally and spiritually drained, even though the work itself wasn't overly onerous. A year of treading water and working out how to cope with everything from 10-12 hour days, to having nothing to do, to having your confidence and credibility questioned, to watching your workmates drown under similar conditions. In the words of another friend, who I ran into the other day - I've had shit year.

And I'm at a low ebb.I know that sometimes, you have to get to your lowest before you can bounce back up. I'm not spiraling into depression - but I'm not too far off.

To date, I've been telling myself that things are fine. However, it was in India that I started to feel like myself again.It took a few days. It was on a boat on the Ganges on the last morning of the Varanasi tour when my smart mouth came out. Like when was the last time I found myself let my ink-black humour and deranged giggle come out?


It's dawned on me that I need to find myself again. This is going to take time and a lot of self-care.

So, as my contract at work ended on Friday, I'm giving myself an extended break. It's my gift to myself.

For the next six weeks at least, no work - well no work where I'm having to go into an office and sell my skills for money in an office, with politics and deadlines and all the other great things my regular job involves. I'll look for work - half an hour a day during the week - but that's it. If interviews come, they come. If I get a job, I can start on or after 13 January. Besides, it's December tomorrow  - things start to ramp down now on the work front. A job will come. There are a few irons in the fire. The job will eventuate in the new year. Of this, I'm confident.

In the mean time, I'm taking a sabbatical. Or having a spell of fun-employment - as coined by an old colleague. I'm between contracts. I'm thankful that I have the financial resources to do this without going into hock.

I'm free to find me again.

I'll do the things that feed my soul. Do the things that make me happy. Make no compromises being active and healthy and creative - the do the things that make me feel good.

Thankfully, with some careful financial management, I can afford to do this. I won't be spending my money on crap. It's not subsistence living, but I won't be splashing out on things I don't need. Just the basics - rent, food, bills, gym membership, the odd movie. A trip to Brisbane to see a beloved friend will happen, the flight has been paid for. The book group has its book choosing meeting.

Being the over achiever I am, I've set myself some goals:

Every day I'd like to complete:
  • An hour of reading
  • An hour of writing
  • An hour of exercise (in whatever form that takes be it walking, gym, swimming, just something to get me moving.
These are SMART goals.

Other things I'd like to get done over the six weeks:
  • Spend time with friends.
  • Paint out the kitchen - it needs it, the landlord will pay for the paint and materials
  • Marie Kondo the flat - a daunting but necessary task
  • Cook all my meals - free from gluten, dairy and sugar - get back on that plan - I feel good on it.
  • Make some jam - that will be everybody's Xmas present this year. I like making jam.
  • Try and get that novel finished
  • And get my creativity back.
On this last point, the thing that really nurtures my soul is creating stuff. Poetry, short fiction, photos... little things that keep me bolstered, things that make my heart sing. Maybe dust off that film script, finish that novel, who knows what the time and desire will produce. I'm not setting boundaries or hard goals here - I just have to get creative.

And trust that this, along with the good eating and sunshine and friends and maybe the odd Netflix marathon, I'll get myself ready to start the next challenge at work. Early in the new year.

Well that's the goal.

In the mean time, if anybody is after a tarot reading, reflexology session/massage, having their CV updated, happy to oblige for beer money. You know where to find me. I knew I got these skills for a reason.                                           

 Watch this space.                                                                                                                                                                   

Today's Song:

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Book Group: The Long List

It's that time again. Book Group book choosing time.

So not only do I have the following things in my plate:

  • The Masons Temple Property Association AGM
  • Pending unemployment which I am calling a sabbatical
  • Christmas
  • Painting out the kitchen while on sabbatical
  • Marie Kondo-ing the flat
  • Going to the gym every day (or an hour of exercise equivalent)
  • Getting gluten, dairy and sugar out of my diet.
  • Selling stuff on Ebay/Facebook Marketplace
I have to find two books to put up for book group on 10 December. This is a hotly decided thing, done with rubber gloves and lollies. It's big. 

Off topic, the sabbatical starts on Friday night. My contract is up. I will look for work over December, but I have no intention of starting anytime before the middle of January. The right job will come along when it presents itself. In the mean time, I'll get my health and sanity back.

It's been a hard year. 

So working out what I'm putting up for book group for next year is just another added stress.

I have to find two books to put up for book group. There is a big challenge in this. This has to be done by next weekend. 

The criteria are as follows:
  • Preferably under 500 pages
  • Easily accessible in bookstores and libraries, online etc. 
  • Fiction only - no non-fiction, autobiography and memoir
  • Decent popular fiction or literary standard. We don't want a repeat of 'That Cat Book'.
I'm looking at my "to read" pile. Here are some of the candidates, with the pro/con list. 

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Pro: Fits the criteria. She won the Pulitzer a few years ago for A Visit from the Goon Squad. A decent writer.

Con: That she won the Pulitzer could be seen as a bad thing. 

Bruny by Heather Rose

Pro: Fits the Criteria. Her novel, The Museum of Modern Love was a favourite of mine from last year. Australian writer. It's got a Tasmanian theme. 

Con: Can't think of any.

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Pro: It's Margaret Atwood. Fits the criteria. The continuation of The Handmaid's Tale. A great read (I've read this already)

Con: Dystopian fiction may not be everybody's cup of tea. 

All That I Am by Anna Funder.

Pro: Fits the criteria. Australian writer. A few years old. Historical. (I've read this too)

Con: It was put up for book group a few years ago and didn't make the cut. I don't know how this happened. 

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Pro: Pulitzer winner. Fits the criteria.Amazing book. Book of the year for me. 

Con: The footnotes and the Spanish are going to piss people right off. I can't help it if I like challenging reads.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Pro: A classic. The book that came before the movie. INIGO MONTOYA! Fits the criteria. 

Con: All of the above.

The Overstory by Richard Powers

Pro: Fits criteria, but at 502 pages its on the long side. Booker Longlisted. Environmental theme.

Con: Booker longlisted (we have an interesting relationship with Booker winners in our book group). Allegedly and interesting structure - whatever that means. 

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Pro: Fits the criteria. Booker winner. Stunning writing. 

Con: Ferociously hard read. A Booker Winner. 

The Hate You Give by Angie Harper

Pro: Fits the criteria. Young Adult. Great voice. Topical.

Con: The fact that it's young adult. American. 

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Pro: Topical. American. Not too long.

Con: It's about the American Justice system among other things - how sad. 

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

Pro: Fits the criteria. She wrote The Poisonwood Bible. 

Con: She wrote The Poisonwood Bible. 

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Pro: Fits the criteria. About siblings. Not too long. Commonwealth had great writing.

Con: Not everybody's cup of tea. 

I've read some great non-fiction this year - The Erratics by Vickie Leveau-Harvie (memoir - and how I would love to put this up), Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, Any Ordinary Day by Lee Sales and Educated by Tara Westover.  I'm currently reading Clementine Ford's Fight Like a Girl. It's good, but a bit shouty. A great starter book for baby feminists to get them thinking. 

Ah, the decisions. It will probably get made next Sunday night with a gin and tonic in my hand after a Thanksgiving party in the Dandenongs. 

Wish me luck. And when in doubt, watch Christopher Walken dancing.

Today's Song

Sunday, November 24, 2019

The Swapbot Questions

Writing this from a hotel room in Sydney. Lots to look forward to - my contract is up at the end of the week, so looking forward to a new job at the start of next year. I don't know where that it, but it will come. 

Also looking forward to at least six weeks of not working - where I will get to write, exercise, visit a friend in Brisbane and generally have some time to myself for a bit. Just hoping a new role comes in sooner rather than later, but I'm quite excited about the break and the new challenges ahead.

Very happy at the moment - but it is amazing how much life is improved by a tube of sweetened condensed milk used to ameliorate hotel coffee. Sweetened condensed milk makes life instantly better at any time. 

Questions, as always, come from Bev at Sunday Stealing

1. You can breathe underwater or be able to fly. Which one would you choose and why?

I'd love to be able to fly (without mechancial assistance). I think it would be great - also, I'm not overly fond of open water, so flying it is. Would make like a lot easier going to work too. No public transport. 
2. What's your go to order at a café?

For breakfast or dinner? 

Breakfast, it's either poached eggs on gluten free with a side of smoked salmon and tomato sauce (ketchup - and don't judge) or if I'm feeling a bit more decadent, Eggs Benedict. 

For dinner? Salt and Pepper Calamari or a Chicken Parmagiana. (For the Americans out there, Chicken Parmagiana is an iconic Australian meal. Crumbed chicken breast, smothered in Napoli (Marinara) sauce, and then topped with ham and melted cheese, normally served with chips and salad. There are websites dedicated to the best parmas in town like this one:  I can vouch for the one at the Royston.)

My standard coffee order is a medium almond decaf latte. I'm an Australian living in Melbourne - we know about coffee (none of that Starbuck's muck). 

3. Where do you feel the safest?

In bed, about to go to sleep, especially when there is somebody next to me - which rarely happens, but I do sleep better when there is somebody else in the house. 

4. What is the one book or book series you could reread without getting bored for the rest of time?

I've read the Harry Potter Series a few times over, and will read it many times over again. I want to read Robertson Davies's The Cornish Trilogy again - maybe while I'm on sabbatical. Other books I have read over and over and love to death: 
  •  The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
  •  Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres. 
  •  The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak
I also think Trent Dalton's Boy Swallows Universe will be added to this list. 

5. You will receive ten million dollars, but you need to spend one million dollars in 24 hours to receive the other nine million tax free (and you can’t tell anyone what you’re doing). What do you spend it on?

I'd buy a house in Melbourne. The average price for a house in Melbourne is about that now. Easy. 

6. What was your favorite vacation to date?

Other than the five weeks off where I went through Spain, The Netherlands, the US, Malaysia and Singapore? I think this last trip to India exceeded most of my exceeded most of my expectations. It wasn't the easiest of travels, but it was very rewarding. 

7. Is there any scent that reminds you of a specific memory? What is the scent and what does it remind you of?

Juicy Fruit chewing gum reminds me of my father. Gets me every time. 

8. What is your favourite TV series? Do you have just one or more?

I'm still on my Lucifer binge. Love it. I just like that its funny and has a good heart to it. 

Other favorite television shows in no particular order: 

  •  Six Feet Under
  •  The West Wing
  •  Suits
  •  The Doctor Blake Mysteries (though it's not really PC to say this)
  •  Red Dwarf
  •  Buffy the Vampire Slayer
9. They say that in life you need to try everything. Are there things you will never try?

I can think of two things. Heroin and necrophilia. Next.

10. If I ask you to close your eyes and remember a picture of you, what do you see?

There are two of them. One is of me at about seven years old. It's a school photo, I'm wearing a brown cardigan which my grandmother had knitted me and strangely I look pretty. The other one was taken of me at uni. I'm in a school uniform with a beer in my hand and I'm sitting in a shopping trolley. 

11. What was your childhood bedroom like?

I had what is called in Australian terms, the 'sleep out'. A converted verandah, some six foot wide by 22 foot long. It was the thoroughfare to the laundry and toilet. I painted it white. A card table was my desk (but I tended to do my homework on the dining room table). 

12. Are you a GoodWill, or any second hand store customer?

Only for fancy dress clothes. But I donate to the Salvos (Salvation Army charity store) regularly. 

13. How do you feel about the death penalty?

Australia abolished the death penalty in 1972, and the last person was executed in 1967 - the year before I was born. I'm not a fan of it at all. Too many innocent people have been executed for crimes they did not commit. It also doesn't leave any space for rehabilitation - as shown by the two fellows executed in Indonesia from the Bali Nine. Not saying they shouldn't stay in jail for what they did - but to show that they had been rehabilitated, only to die is such a waste. 

14.  If you could live in any fictional world, where would it be?

Please take me to Hogwarts. Please!

15. Do you believe in ghosts/spirits & have you had any experiences with them?

I think this question has appeared every week for the last month. Yes, I believe in ghost. I used to live in a haunted house in London. I'm not phased by spirits, as long as they are not too disruptive. 

Today's song: 

Sunday, November 17, 2019

The From Facebook Questions

Yay. Sunday Stealing is back again. Phew. I'm so glad all the crap Bev, the convenor,  was dealing with is over.

Good questions this week.

I'm back from India. Two more weeks of work at my current place of employment, then I'm off on a few weeks of what I will call a sabbatial - or funemployment. I've got a number of irons in the fire, but most of these don't start until sometime in January, so I'm going to take the opportunity to take some time off. It's been a long time coming.

Anyway, on with the questions.

1) What is your favorite TV show (currently)?

Ah, I'm currently on a Lucifer binge. He's wonderful, and funny, and fun. And the show has a good heart, even when you consider the devil has come down to Los Angeles to have a vacation.

2) Would you like to be a child again?

Hell, no. Childhood was hard enough the first time around. I think it would be even harder now.

3) Has anyone ever told you that school times were the best period of his/her life? Would you say that to someone? Why?

That's nice for you. School days are a very relative thing for people.

4) How's the weather?

Today? Just my weather. It's sunny, a coolish 16 degrees centigrade (about 65 in the old language) and just good, considering it is going into Summer.

5) Do you like camping?

No. Next.

6) Do you believe in paranormal phenomena?

Well I do believe in ghosts. I've had too much experience with them not to.

7) If you would create a holiday, what would it be called and how would we celebrate it? When would this holiday be?

I gather this is like a public holiday as we call them over here. I think we should have Diwali over here, which is the Hindu form of Xmas. It's at the end of October and seems to be a great festival, seeing this is a festival of light.

8) What word(s) do you dislike? Can you tell why?

Other than the word moist - which is a dreadful word which is like nails on a blackboard to half the population - I'm not a fan of those filler exclamation words like super and awesome. They just grate on me, mainly because of overuse.

Also, the word dope. I Australia, a dope is an idiot, it's not a synonym for great.

9) What color do you dislike? What do you associate with it?

I don't do pink. It's a girly-girl colour. I'm not a girly girl. I can do a little bit of dusky rose, but anything else - no thanks. The only pink thing I do is rose lemonade.

10) Do you believe in otherworldly creatures, eg. ghosts, etc?

Hasn't this been asked already. I believe in ghosts. Vampires are a concept more than real - as for the rest of them, werewolves and zombies, no.

Oh, and I'm a practicing witch, so I believe in them too - but not in the way many people think of them.

11) Pick two of your favourite fictional characters. Where are they from (what movie, book, etc?) and why are they your favourite?

I really love Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride - he's plucky - he's overcome obstacles and he finally get what he wants.

Image result for be inigo montoya

I'm currently on  a Lucifer binge - and I'm loving Lucifer Morningstar. He's mad, he's bad, he's dangerous to know, but he has a heart of gold. I also get off on his accent.

Image result for lucifer morningstar

12) If you could change anything or add anything to your body would you? (this can be interpreted however, but, think, would you like to have fins or extra hands?)

A faster metabolism. I hate being a middle-aged woman sometimes.

13) What are some family traditions you have/had growing up? Do you still continue them, if yes, why, if no, why not?

Coming from a family of demure Cornish Methodists, we don't have many traditions - but I do like making an ice cream cake, called cassata, in loving memory of my Aunt who passed away nearly ten years ago. I make it at Christmas, when I can - her birthday was on Christmas Day and we made this for her as a birthday cake. I make it when I can.

14) What do you think of tattoos? Do you have any?

I like good, fine, detailed tattoos on other people. I have one very small tattoo on my hip. It's the Chinese symbol for love and it's been there for more than 20 years. I got it back when tattoos weren't trendy.

15)  What is the most disgusting habit some people have?

After spending time in India, watching men continually adjust themselves in the streets - no thank you. (It's a cultural thing - don't have to like it - and more in the lower classes, but still).

16)  If you could bring back one TV show that was cancelled, which would it be?

Oh, that would be a tossup between Quantum Leap - which I loved as a kid, Drop the Dead Donkey, which was a British satire set in a television new studio in the late nineties in London and really, they should have done another series of the very excellent, The Hour - BBC drama at its best.

17) What was the most unsettling film you have ever seen?

Se7en gave me nightmares for a week. Never revisited it, but gee it was bleak.

Dancer in the Dark was pretty shocking, but it's Lars von Trier, so what do you expect?

18) What book has impacted you the most?

Dr Spencer Johnson's Who Moved My Cheese? propelled my life into another direction in a day. I still go back and read it when I think things are stagnating.

19) You're on Death Row and get one final meal: What is that meal and why do you choose it?

My mum makes the best roast lamb in the world - so I'd ask for that. Probably followed by creme brulee or vanilla ice cream - and good vanilla ice cream. Sometimes it's the simple things.

20) What is the first profession you remember wanting to become as a child?

I wanted to be a doctor or an astronaut when I was a kid.

Today's song:

Monday, November 11, 2019

What I found on my holiday

Yesterday was the first Sunday in YEARS where I didn't do a Sunday blog post - strangely, there were no questions posted. I think Bev at Sunday Stealing is having a few difficulties.

Anyway, today is the last day of my holiday. I'm currently camped out at the Cordis Hotel in Hong Kong, which has to be one of the loveliest places I have stayed in my life. It's amazing. Fantastic staff and service, the best hotel pool I've ever swam in, great views and location. I'd happily stay here again.

Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end and at midnight tonight I fly back to Australia and an uncertain future (my contract is up at the end of the month and I'm looking at a few weeks of 'funemployment' which would really do me the world of good if I'm honest. A job will come in the new year).

Anyway, I thought today I'd do a wrap up of the holiday. I have so much to write about, so many things flying through my head, a potted version of what went on over the last few days is in order.

This really has been the trip of a lifetime.

I'll put this into categories, to make things easier.

What I forgot to bring?

I'm an over-packer, but to my credit, I used pretty much everything in my bag. The one thing that I really could have used in my pharmacy pack of a drugs - eyedrops. The air quality in Delhi was so bad kids were kept home from school. Now in Hong Kong, my eyes are suffering from all the air conditioning. I bought everything else. Pharmacies could not be found around where I was staying.

I like being an Australian

Don't say this very often, but I am fond of some of my decent Australian traits. I like our general equalities. I like that we know how to queue. I love how we can strike up a conversation with pretty much anybody. I love that I'm resilient and adaptable. I'm glad that I've the ability to look at a situation, nod, smile and laugh (Very useful thing to have in India).

In India, you get called M'am a lot. It doesn't sit well with me. I found myself apologising and thanking people. The people are so friendly and try to be helpful. It's a strange dichotomy.

In the pool last night, I struck up a conversation with a guy from Wagga Wagga - as you do. He said the same thing - we Aussies are curious about the world. We want to find out more. We will talk to anybody. It's good.

Family is what you make of them

Indian weddings are about family and about show. They aren't really about the couple when it all boils down to it - something we Aussies found a bit strange.

At the wedding there were eleven of us from Australia. Most of whom worked with the bride in Sydney. Rue, Priya's office Mum. Al and Annette, and Mac, Martina and their five teenage kids.

For reasons I can't go into and don't get, none of Raj's family attended the wedding - a huge hole in proceedings for any wedding.

So we Aussies did our best to make up for the Raj's family sized hole.

Mac, a senior manager at the bank, stepped up in a father role.

Me, well I've been calling Raj my adopted brother for years, but I also go to be sort of be Mum.

We all rallied around Raj, trying our best to make sure he got the wedding he deserved, with people he could call family.

Raj and I went shopping on the day of the wedding - partly because after a week in India I wanted a little bit of normality, and I'd left my foundation at home, and I was getting ratty and wanted a bit of Western life (and there wasn't a McDonalds about, which is where you go in foreign countries when you need something familiar and besides, they sell no beef at McDonalds in India). The hotel left us pretty isolated - and shopping centres are few and far between. We had a puddle around the shops and had lunch in a food court, Raj ordering a food court lunch, Indian style. It was a time I'll treasure. Something Mum and son (or in our case, adopted siblings) would do anywhere on the day of the wedding. Which was held at the civilised tome of 6 pm - and not the traditional midnight.

It was the most maternal I've ever felt.

Leaving India on Saturday, I know I've walked away with friends. Mac and Martina's kids were some of the nicest young humans I've met in years (even got a hug goodbye from their twelve and fourteen year old boys - without asking - like did that even happen?)

I can live without Wifi

Indian telecommunications are interesting, especially if you're on the Telstra network in Australia. Yes, you can get and make calls and texts, but mobile data is not available to you. (and please don't tell me to get a Vodaphone account where you can get data at $5 a day while overseas  - no chance)

There was always Wifi at the hotels - but there was no mobile data available during the day.

I survived. The digital detox did me the world of good.

Bottle water: Saviour or Sinner

I hate to think about the number of bottles of water I've used in the last ten days. The overuse of plastic horrifies me, but not quite as much as explosive diarrhoea, stomach cramps, fevers and vomiting. Thankfully I didn't get sick while I was over there, but being really vigilant with the bottled water and hand sanitiser probably helped.

Unwanted Observance

On the streets. It's maybe a cultural/socio-economic thing, or maybe it's a hygiene thing or maybe it's scabies, but Indian men touch themselves a hell of a lot more than Western men, who've probably had the habit of regular groin adjusting knocked out of them in early childhood. Once seen, it can't be unseen. Ah well. (A friend told me before I left,"In India, things that are seen as private here are very much public." Spitting, urination, defecating… you don't have to look hard -just watch where your feet are going.)

Things I have missed:

In no real order:
  • Cleaning my teeth using water from the tap
  • Salad and green vegetables (Salads are an hard to go without, but as you don't know what they were washed in, easier to stay away)
  • Stars (didn't see one in Delhi, Varanasi or Hong Kong)
  • Getting a straight answer - obfuscation is something in which Indians all have Masters Degrees
  • Obedient traffic that doesn't use the horn for every simple traffic movement
  • Animals with apparent, loving owners on the streets
  • Short queues
  • Soft selling techniques
Resilience is an underrated quality

I had seven hours at Varanasi airport because of delays caused by the pollution. In that time I befriended a Gujarat family, had dinner with the wonderful Linda and Matthew from Hornsby, who were also delayed, comparing a lot of notes, had a half hour conversation, in French, with some Parisians, found a first name mate to board the plane with (we looked after each other's stuff when we needed to go to the loo). It made the ever growing delay almost okay - which is what you need when you're stuck in a regional airport in India.

When we finally arrived in Delhi at 1 am, my transfer was nowhere to be seen and my was phone dead. Managed to wangle a call to the hotel from a driver, and proceeded to hang out with the transfer man from the Holiday Inn until the driver turned up half an hour later.

Delhi is notoriously not a safe place for women at night. This is a blog post in its own right. But a bit of nous and resilience got me through.

My favourite bits of the last ten days:

In no order:
  • The ghats at Varanasi
  • That cycle rickshaw ride through the streets of Varanasi
  • The Taj Mahal
  • Agra Fort
  • Karahi Paneer. If I stayed longer I would turn into Karahi Paneer - or just paneer in general. Love paneer. 
  • Masala chai, even down to having to skim the skin off the top.
  • The whole process of the Indian Wedding and being there for the kid brother
  • Getting to know Rue, Al, Annette, Mac, Martina and their tribe.
  • My favourite dumpling bar in Tsim Sha Tsui
  • The last day in Delhi with Rue, a driver named Dalip, the Gandhi museums and the Qutar Minar.
  • Not having to wear seat belts in the back seat of a car.
  • The Jama Masjid Mosque. 
  • My mehendi. It went really dark. Tradition has it there is somebody out there who loves me very much - just have to find out who that is. I'll have the patterns on my hands for another week.
Plenty of writing fodder from this last ten days, but for now, I need to check out and go for a wander around this brilliant city - which is a little quieter than it was six months ago, but it is still very much the Hong Kong I know and love.


Today's Song: