A New Day

November 6, 2012 at 7:35am

A new day beckons

the same emptiness.

Pain of loss and trust.

Questions like puzzles

that never fit.

Missing answers in the wind

blowing out of reach.

 

Life goes into a new day

to meet the same night

the endless circle that

binds you in a cycle.

There is no escape.

 

A ying has a yang

hope has life.

A musician and his dog

Their worldly possessions in a roll

play the music of hope

scattered coins on the road.

The homeless sit still

the streets a haven.

Love, a look, care

is more than the silvers.

 

People with empty eyes

lost souls in pain.

a child, a parent or a spouse

the loss is the same.

Survival of sorts

to live each day.

Rain in the heart

as sunshine beckons.

 

To each its own

Perceptions of life

is in the heart.

Sees what it wants

Lost in feelings,

Layered in mistrust

Blinded by betrayal.

 

The emotions removed

Pain disguised.

Hands reached out

Hope welcomed.

Beyond the night

A new day awaits.

Life is Beautiful!

A Better Life

March 11, 2013 at 10:46am

Dreams and hopes

And false promises,

Credit and loans

English skills tested

The journey begins.

 

The better life!

Degrees and experience

Is to be left behind

New pastures to be explored

As you wait for the gold.

Cleaning and cooking,

Waiting and standing,

Any job justified,

For a sponsor or citizen.

 

Days roll over into seasons-

Business, Hospitality, Accounting

Diplomas and then advanced,

Books and work

Striving to strike the balance.

Twenty hours to work,

Another twenty to school

The week has more than forty

So much to waste.

 

Home is a memory

Families a blur

Friends are on Facebook

As memories fade away.

This year becomes next

As the sponsor awaits.

 

Seasons end as does the day

the heart grows weary

And then the mind.

July brings in winter

a new set of rules,

the student remains!

PR and sponsors

Now a distant dream,

New courses, more jobs

Lawyers and money

The circle moves on.

 

A better life

Is this it?

Away from home,

Diplomas and certificates

Standing, sitting, waiting

-the dream is so close

 

Yet out of reach.

Rome is not paved with gold

Nor is it down under,

The grass is green here

But so is it there!

A broken dream is sometimes better

Than a better life.

MASKS

images

The sky is dark and grey-
Betrayal at its best
People are not what they are
Friends are in the name
Masks on and smiles too
The rains start.

The colors gone
Literally to bring in winter.
Shades of grey
The heart rejoices
Seeing clarity
In how things are meant to be.

What is seen
Is not always what is there
What’s there is
Mostly not to be seen
Layers of secret
Hidden in smiles.

Betrayal, love, hate
Constant as change
Constant as the seasons
The weak occasional sun
Hope remains, mask removed
Nothing lasts, the colors return.

April 3, 2014 at 1:50pm

DOWN UNDER-I : Here I am, Melbourne

MY first day

Down Under-I

HERE I AM Melbourne

July 10, 2012 at 9:04am

Forty kilos in a bag, a suitcase and a trolley was the summary of my worldly possessions to the start of a new adventure. With a heavy heart mingled with a sense of excitement, I boarded the flight that would take me to my destiny.

The transit in Kolkata loomed ahead until I met another passenger who had a similar transit time before she headed to Dubai. We hit off immediately, found a transit room and spent the next twelve hours swapping our life stories and comparing notes. I got so carried away that I almost forgot about ‘check-in’ and rushed only to find myself at the end of a snake- like line. All trolleys taken, I had no option but to drag and kick my bags every time the line moved only to be told at the end of the wait, what every traveller dreads- a two hours delay!

My seat seemed a perfect haven to rest my aching feet and a sleep deprived mind until a group of noisy, boisterous; ill- mannered “Thomas Cook” business men decided that the aircraft was a tea-stall. I mean, did they have to scream at each other across aisles “Hey there, are you ok’? “Seats saab theek hai?” As if getting the last aisle seat in the economy wasn’t bad enough, the loudspeakers were also my neighbours! The party continued until the whisky took its effect and I had peace as long as I ignored the snoring. The person sitting next to me, who was a part of that gang, seemed a little weird. He kept muttering ‘I’m sorry mother’ throughout take-off and I couldn’t help wondering if I would live long enough to get off the plane.

The two and the half hours were spent in trying to block off the offending sounds from my surroundings, wondering if my immediate neighbour would suddenly take out a gun or knife and worrying about missing my connecting flight but for the last part I needn’t have worried.

The moment I stepped out of the aircraft in Bangkok, I RAN. There was two ground staff at the door, holding a placard with my name, who seemed delighted to finally see me. One of them even politely asked me if he could help me with my trolley. Wow! I was impressed and further impressed when the other offered to help me with my ‘Harrods’ bag leaving me with just my laptop bag. But the fun was just beginning. The moment my load was lightened, the two of them started to run with mumbled explanations in what should have been English, of the other flight supposedly waiting just for me.

I had no option but to follow in a run. Growing up in the hills, I would 600123_10151028387412431_1668848816_nhave thought that I was a decent runner but after no sleep, a narrow escape from a possible axe murderer and torturous snores, running didn’t seem a very interesting prospect. Even then I ran, through all the Duty Free shops that I had imagined I’d visit, through scores of escalators and people staring. (Did I look like a Film star or a convict I’m not sure). I kept running even though I seemed to reach nowhere….I was now crawling.

My baggage carriers might have been professional runners as they sped ahead of me, turning back every now and then to cheer me on. So it was, the first one with my trolley looking back and asking me to run, the second one politely trying to make sure that I ran and not crawled. I couldn’t care less as I huffed and puffed and I was at the point of giving up the race when we fortunately reached the security check-in counter.

Two stupid ladies looked suspiciously at me as they x-rayed my bag and seized my bottle of water. I had no breath left to argue so I quickly drank all the water before glaring back at them to hand over the empty bottle. To my horror, as if to take revenge they asked me to hand over my ‘Vaseline’, as well as ‘face cream’ as these items were supposedly under ‘dangerous goods’ violation! (If you know me, you know what Vaseline is to me). I begged, pleaded but it didn’t move them. Exhausted I shouted at my ‘ bag carriers’ that I hated stupid Thai people and I would never step in Bangkok ever again( rather childish behaviour I know). I don’t know if they understood what I was saying but it felt good to vent out my anger on someone. As a sign of defiance, I stopped running.

Yes, I started walking very slowly. At this point, I didn’t care if I never reached the stupid aircraft or Australia. Finally, to cut a long story short, I did manage to catch the flight. I felt important and puffed up to have kept an entire aircraft waiting for me but once I was inside nobody even bothered to ask me why I looked so red and bothered so my moment of glory was not to be. My seat was in the middle of amongst two gorgeous hunks but with tired legs and brains that no longer worked, I refused to sit with them. I actually found an aisle seat next to a snob who eventually refused to let me borrow his mobile phone to call my brother.

It was an eight and a half hours of trying to find the correct posture or position to sleep. Each time I felt myself dozing, an adjacent snore or my pillow falling off or a baby crying woke me up. I gave up after a while and decided to, instead, practice staring into space. The in-flight entertainment system with touch screen and loads of buttons looked frightening to the weary ex-cabin crew, the lights were too dim for reading so the only other way to entertain and keep myself sane was to wait for food or watch the Fashion Parade by the female cabin crew. Each service was brought in a different outfit (Or was it my imagination?) but I am sure they changed uniforms three times (each uniform as tight as the other).

We finally landed into Melbourne where the waiting began again as the snake like line moved like a snail towards immigration. Being of respectable height, I squeezed myself amongst the taller beings (they couldn’t see me at my level) into one of those lines and ‘crane-like’ (on one foot, two feet, one foot), I started my first steps into the city which was to be home for the next eighteen months. (At least)

One hour later, I was stamped and allowed to look for my baggage. Now, just as sure as I never win a lottery, my bag also is usually amongst the last to arrive. Alphabetically, I am used to the last roll calls, last seats and last of everything but baggage?? How unfair can life is? Belts and belts of black bags, red bags, green bags and none of them were mine. After a while I even forgot what my bag and suitcase looked like and I hopped to and fro across three conveyor belts when I suddenly remembered that my bags had White security ropes tied around them (courtesy Kolkata airport). It was easy now.

I made a dash for the Exit before I once again found myself in the middle of another jam, sorry I mean line. This was the x- ray queue; our poor bags had to ONCE again go through another screening. Another hour of a break-dance standing, it was my turn. Finally!!

Even though I had filled in ‘ nothing to declare’ in the immigration form, my word was not trusted. In went all five and the trolley came out as the suspect. Reds, whites, blues….. All my carefully folded clothes were scrutinized; the ‘Kalimpong lollipops ‘ (sweets made of caramelised milk and sugar) had to justify their make and origin. Even my certificates were checked to see if I was who I was (by that time I’m sure I wouldn’t have remembered my name). On and on worked the gloved hands, my cheeks were now a disgusting red but she wouldn’t give up until , until she found a packed of cashews. Thrilled at her discovery and success she brought back my form and showed me a clause which read in ‘small print’ that ‘nuts’ was also under the ‘goods to be declared list’….she would let me go but I’d better read instructions next time. Next time I would kill anyone who dares to give me nuts to eat on the plane! And moreover instructions reading have never been my forte, especially small prints which have been purposely made small so that nobody reads them. How crazy is that? I had left behind all the bottles of ‘Dalle khorsani'(Fire balls chilli) and other pickles to avoid all this bother but a packet of stupid cashews let me down 😦

I was welcomed by icy winds and freezing room and my brother of course. Bust settling in is yet another story.

END OFPART-1

Down Under-II: A Week Down Under

Down Under-II

A Week Down Under

July 12, 2012 at 8:29pm

The wind was icy as I found myself stranded in an unknown street, alone, cold and hungry. In the middle of our shopping, my brother was called to work so he told me “This is the city, you can walk around” and left me on my own for four hours. I normally wouldn’t mind exploring but with my sense of direction and a heavy laptop bag and a phone not yet activated and dangerously low battery, I stood at the same spot near the car park for a good one hour.

After a good self counseling session and reminders of being an ex-cabin crew, I reluctantly left the safety spot but not before memorizing the places nearby. I quickly took a couple of pictures and walked to the left, got back to the spot, then to the right and back to the spot. I was terrified that my brother wouldn’t know where to look for me and equally terrified that I wouldn’t know how to get home. So I kept circling the same spot with a few breaks every now and then.

I still don’t know why I hadn’t left the laptop bag in the car….I not only did look un-cool but I was tired of lugging it around. I was hungry too as I looked around for something to eat but the mental conversions told my freezing mind that everything was expensive. I found a Mac store, just a few steps where my brother had left me. I went in, looked at a few gadgets while I quickly put my phone on charge. I had just enough time for a green bar to develop when a salesperson came my way. OMG…with hardly a few dollars in my pocket, I put on my best convincing act. But it was unnecessary and he had come to inform me that the store would be closing in 10 minutes. It wasn’t even 5pm, but this I would discover later on is how business is in Melbourne. All stores, shops and malls close by five or six maximum except for Thursday and Friday.

Once again I found myself back in the same place and I quickly made a call to make my whereabouts known. Afraid that I wouldn’t be recognized in the dark, or my brother might forget that he’d left me standing four hours earlier, I patiently froze and cleared my throat every now and then to disguise the grumbles that were revolting against the lack of required nutrients and waited. All is well that ends well; I was collected and delivered home safely.

Now as I was going out yesterday, I met my neighbour, an old lady in a walker who asked me, “do you know garbage?’ For a moment I thought I had misheard, why would someone ask me about garbage? Of course I know garbage but Lois mistook my confusion for ignorance and capitalised on the advantage to educate me on the topic.

I was subjected to the different colours and what they signified and the combination days in which they would be collected. All three green bins were separated by their types and most important, their lids. The half hour lesson left me more confused than I was at the start of the conversation.

To add to the muddled mind, I was given a brief history about the English language and an offer to give me free English lessons. Was it my accent or her hearing problem? I would have liked to think that I spoke reasonably well or if I may boast, pretty well. Totally demoralized and a mental note to pick up the Aussie accent as quick as I could, I excused myself in whatever English I could remember before and ran home.

And now on to tales of losing and getting lost- Last night I got lost.

I mean how imaginative could the architect have been, building the same kinds of houses and streets? He must have really hated me because no matter how hard I tried, I went round and round in circles trying to locate “Flinders Street’ from RMIT, Le Trobe. My desires to look good with my new boots back-fired and my foot neatly squeezed in the new confines were not very happy.

Getting to my college had been easy. I caught a tram with my brother and he left me just outside one of the hundreds of buildings. The explorer in me didn’t have to work too hard as I was standing exactly where I should be going in. The problem was in the return. Armed with a map I had no idea how to use no matter where I turned it, I began my supposedly short walk back. With my brother constantly on the phone to guide me, I still took a good one to stop using ‘Seven Eleven’ as a landmark (there was one in almost every street!) and second, to stop moving round and round in circles.

I couldn’t help wondering whether it was me or is it women in general that are terrible when it comes to directions? I mean we can multi-task home, careers, children, husbands but when it comes to directions, it’s like..huh? Left? What is ‘left’…were the children left? You know what I mean!

I was thrilled when Sudeshna came to meet me a day back. A week in Melbourne and supposedly better sense of direction, we took the Tram 35 (Free Tourist Tram) for a city tour. The first stop was the Melbourne Aquarium. Remembering my old crew habits, we quickly clicked pictures and then decided that we were not ready to pay a rather high price to see fish swimming in water. I’d grown up seeing plenty of fish, in and outside water, and I didn’t think they were any different in the paid water. And moreover, Google and You Tube would supply the necessary visuals in case we were really curious to compare the fishes.

Hours of walking around aimlessly had me limping again. It wouldn’t have been so bad if we knew where we were going. It was the case of the blind leading another. Yes, I know I promised not to wear boots again but the new boots were bought at the chemists…they were supposed to be special boots which are NOT supposed to hurt! I spent 10$ on buying special toe protectors (again from the same chemist), I even carried spare shoes in case things went out of hand 🙂 And the boots, my dear friends didn’t let me down……I mean I reached Hilton, with a proper impressive limp and very red and angry looking feet:) I hope I have learnt a lesson.

Tomorrow is a brand new day, a day to meet with my counsellors in college. But first of all I have to find where building 59 is because that’s where I will have my orientation classes. Finding one building from a hundred shouldn’t be too hard. Anyways, wish me luck. I might come back with more stories.

End of Part-2

Down Under- III Cardigan Street, Building 98

Lst at RMITDown Under- III

Cardigan Street, Building 98

After a highly stressed out day, I came home to find my ‘English-teacher neighbour’ busy in conversation with another neighbour. There was no way I was going to listen to her ‘garbage’, so taking advantage of the dark, I quietly sneaked in only to find a leaflet containing garbage classification instructions from her stuck to the door. Whew! What a narrow escape.

I was late for my 11 O’clock orientation class today. The train moved with a mind of its own and I had to literally run to my university. But as luck would have it, I seem to have misplaced my university map. The library had run out of stock as well and I was frantic until I finally caught hold of some Chinese student who kindly let me see his map. But as I reached building 98, I ran into whichever classroom that I found first, only to realise that the class had already started. I walked in and apologised only to realize that I was in the wrong classroom.

I muttered a second apology and walked into the nearest available lift and went to the first floor (as directed on my brochure) but that floor had a haunted look. I went up another floor but in vain. I reached the first floor and then only did I see the reception and a receptionist on the phone. Fifteen valuable minutes later, she finally got off the phone and was surprised when I showed her my letter and asked her about the orientation. There was no orientation scheduled for the day!

I was sent back to the library to meet the same helpful Nigerian RMIT friendsgentleman who’d helped me register a few days back. He joined me in the confusion and sent me back to another building. After taking a ticket and forty five minutes later, I proceeded to Desk No.1 who listened patiently and so very politely apologized about the miscommunication and disappeared. My time was over and all I had was a name and number “Diane” who advised me to go back to Bldg 98 and meet Alice.

Muttering and mumbling, forgetting that I was no longer in India I crossed at street at red and was almost run down by angry cars. I reached the reception and the girl was again on the phone. I finally asked to speak to Alice but she said there wasn’t any Alice. Frustrated, I called Diana who spoke to the girl. She then asks me if I am looking for Elise or Alice. If I chose Elise, she was Elise. How dumb! She then went on to again to politely apologise for all the miscommunications.

Alice or Elise or whatever, gave me a list of courses to choose from. It was like asking me, “do you want adkhnlknn” or “ausholkmasi”. It didn’t make any sense so I picked whichever came first. The next step was to go to ‘THE HUB’ to register my courses, so armed with my map I went looking for building No.12, which after going round and round in circles, was actually in the same ‘library building’. A professional now, I quickly took a ticket and looked around to see students, mostly Chinese and of Asian origin, either talking on the phone or with friends. (Statistics: almost 90% of the people here have i-phone 4 which is a very significant wake up call for me and a valid reason to upgrade myself too and yes everyone here also carries a i-pad and not a laptop!)

I tried to give a professional ‘come talk to me smile’ but nobody even bothered to try and strike a conversation with poor me. The students at the help desk gave me a free ‘RMIT logo’ water bottle which kept me happy for about fifteen minutes while I waited for my turn with a ticket number which read – 247.

I was hungry, and all I could see were beeping, glowing, pay fridges (or whatever you call them). I looked at them very closely, as if I was wondering what to buy, whereas in reality I was trying to figure out how to operate those monsters without making a fool of myself. I finally gathered enough confidence to put a five dollar bill and was rewarded with some change and a bottle of orange juice. Half an hour later, I once again put in a two dollar to buy a packet of some exotic chicken chips but the machine gave me back 40 cents and no chips. I just hoped that no one saw me…it was so embarrassing. I quickly became anonymous among the crowd.

It was two by the time my name was called out….sorry, number was called out. I reached my Desk No.3 only to realise that the details I had wanted were already in the folder that I was carrying. Stupid! Stupid! I wasted two hours for that…if only they’d do away with this stupid queuing. I suppose you have to take a ticket even if you want to ask them where the toilets are located.

So I was sent once again back to the library to get a log-in password and register my courses. That was again another story, I had to answer everything except my time of birth and also answer questions I had no clue about. Another two hours later (after a lot of help from the red-shirt IT guys), I was again back to THE HUB. (The Hub, by the way, is a large room which looks like different flavoured chewing gum; it is literally a hub, where all the action takes place).

Another ticket, 252 was my number and the screen showed 220 at some desk. I almost gave up. I was tired, hungry, my back hurt and most of all there was no one to talk to or share my anguish. In India, we take certain things for granted and its only when you are out you realise the importance of ‘human touch’.

Around 0530, I finally had my photo taken and was given an instant ID and a diary. (The whole process took around 7 minutes). I was free to go home. Something that would have normally taken maybe an hour, took me seven long, agonizing hours. Welcome to Melbourne!

The lesson is, if we think India is slow in paperwork, come here. At least in India, we can shout and threaten, make a hue and cry, get noticed but all that doesn’t work here mate unless the computer or the ticket machine is used as a punching bag. If you gotta wait, you gotta wait!

P.S: Today my boots got a much deserved break and I decided on my old friend, my old trainers.

End of Part-3

July 14, 2012 at 10:35am

Down Under- IV MY NEIGHBOUR AT NO.4

Down Under- IV

My Neighbour at No.4

July 19, 2012 at 11:13am

I woke up to a bright and beautiful sunny morning and Louise, my ‘garbage’ neighbour. Today was garbage collection day and like a good citizen, I had both my bins (to be on the safer side) out for collection. I heard Louise mention something about No.3 (that’s my house no) and I was like ‘no way…what did I do now?’ After trying to close my eyes again (despite the sunny sun), I could not help but hear her loud voice saying something about the garbage.

I decided that I had to get rid of this garbage business once and for all so I went out. Louise’s faced brightened brighter than the sunny morning on seeing perhaps a perfect candidate in me. After re-explaining things again (now it has become clearer, the green bin with the yellow lid was to be collected NEXT week :), I got talking to her.

She displayed her mittened-fingers to show that had never married. She’s a typical Enid Blyton lady. Lives alone with three cats and one of them is named Tabitha. She suffers from arthritis and hence she cannot walk or bend much but she can drive 🙂 Yes, she has a Toyota and she drives herself around the neighbourhood to collect her groceries from “Coles super market’ and also the laundry. But she needs to call a taxi to go to the Doctor.

Lois is 73 years old and has been living next door since 1974 and she owns the house. Can you imagine living all alone like that and with arthritis? I asked her about help. Yes, the council sends in one person to help her but ONCE in a fortnight which means twice a month. And if that day happens to be a public holiday, she misses on that day too. People back home are so lucky to have support, families and friends that we take for granted. Louise has no one except her three cats, nobody ever visits her. That is what loneliness is truly about….but loneliness with dignity and self sufficiency.

(I wanted to take her photograph but my battery let me down. I must catch her another time when she is on her way to the laundry, somewhere during lunchtime when she is able to find easy parking).

Looking at our houses or units as they call them, one can never think that these houses are so old. It all goes to show what proper maintenance and discipline can do. I am impressed by the cleanliness that prevails here and the traffic……all boils down to disciplined awareness and civic sense, together with a united wish to keep their surroundings clean. Everything is so organised, there is no yelling or shouting or any form of noise pollution. Sometimes I feel as if I am living in a dream, one of the lands of the “Farwaway Tree’, I expect to see Silky or Moonface any moment 🙂

The weather makes up for all the peace and quiet…Melbourne is famous for its four seasons in a day. If you thought “Darjeeling’ weather was unpredictable, one has to come here to know what that word actually means. Nothing lasts forever, or for long….a sunny start can lead to rain (it doesn’t rain for long, just short showers for about 10-15 mins) followed by a rapid drop in temperature and completed by wind. Cold, icy winds. Winds that can blow away anything unattached or sometimes even attached. So an umbrella, warm coat and light clothes are all a must for anybody venturing out for a day.

So I am off now to take a sleepy ride on the metro to just walk around the city. It’s hard work being unemployed. Classes were to start from the 24th but yesterday I received a mail from my lecturer stating that Tuesday’s class stands cancelled. Oh God! Why me! Will I ever get educated? 🙂 LOL

         

Down Under- V: At work and Play

Down Under- V

At work and play

July 28, 2012 at 10:10am

Yes, this week’s garbage day went off without a hitch as both the colours were cleared successfully. I did meet Lois on Tuesday late evening as I was returning from work. She seemed alright and she confirmed that she wouldn’t be going out anywhere on Wednesday as she would have to ‘pre-garbage’…….meaning sort things out garbage for early Thursday collection. So it was mandatory that she stay home and I couldn’t help thinking that she has such simple things in life to look forward to. Her other two cats are still not to be seen…..maybe it’s because I leave home by nine and return only by six thirty on most days and ten on the days I have college.

For a week now, I have being seeing files and lots of them, enough not to make me want to see any more for the rest of my life. Welcome to reality and a grand entry into the Administrative world 🙂 Yes, I have just finished a week at a new workplace and in a new country but work all over the world is the same.

“If you want to learn something, you have to start at the grass-root level.”

Tuesday I had my first class…fortunately it got cancelled. But Wednesday was not to be avoided and as the hour approached, I waited for some signs and symptoms…wasn’t my stomach supposed to pain or get upset? But no, I seemed perfectly normal.

Headache? I mean a serious blinding headache? Nope.

Toothache…you know the killer toothaches where you can’t even speak and your face swells up? Or even a mild kind of toothache would do. BUT this was the day when all my possible foes were my allies. I had nothing that would justify my missing my first class. Wait, what about rain…a heavy downpour?

So with a lot of anticipated rain and after at least twenty goodbyes to my new friends Pritisha and Vernaz (hoping for some miracle that would make it impossible for me to go to class) and armed with a hope of getting lost I finally set off.  Unfortunately, after three weeks in the city, my sense of direction also decided to aid me and I reached class FIFTEEN minutes early. I was almost the last one to enter breaking my belief that I was actually one of ‘the punctual kinds’. A lot of Chinese (three actually and other three possible suspects as I am unable to figure out their ethnicity), two Australians, a Thai……..these are my classmates for the next twelve classes of ‘Assessment and Evaluation’.

I do “Behaviour of Educators” as my Tuesday’s class with some Josephine. As a typical student, I have heard stories about her and I already want to change my course but the only other unit I can change to is taken by her as well.

My other trainer, Helen is a lot like me in terms of being kind and understanding 🙂 and I’m sure she is a wonderful person too. I only wish she’d speak the English I understood and I could hear whatever language she spoke.

For three hours I sat there trying to look and speak intelligent and listen. I must go for a ‘hearing’ check (there is one just two minutes walk from my home which reads ‘Melbourne Hearing Aid Centre), it’s either my ears or the accents but believe me I returned having the same knowledge as I had before the class.

To say that the system is different would be an understatement. Nothing is familiar. No tests, no examinations. The classes are mostly interactive (with nominal participation from my side except to ask a few stupid questions like “Are there no examinations?”ONLY three assignments?”…I did receive my fair share of stares and looks to shut me up for the remainder of class. But the good news is that thought there are ONLY three assignments per subject, these assignments are the stuffs nightmares are made of.

I hope the education system is clearer now for those of you who are as brave as me. I have officially finished three of my forty eight hour weekend with this banter. Now forty five remain in which I have to complete my assignment, read for the next class and finish housework. Darn, I don’t like housework but it’s still better than reading “Dochy”, no idea who or what that word means. I’d better go find out and enlighten my readers later on.

Have a great weekend.

 

Down Under-VI Shoes and Bell

Down Under- VI

Shoes and Bell!!

August 25, 2012 at 9:08pm

Life goes on, in circles and in lines. And sometimes in trains.

I love shoes, any shoes. It gives me pleasure to go shoe shopping. But when I went out shoe shopping on Thursday after work with Vernaz, little did I know what a shoe story I’d have.

Armed with just the kind of wedges I wanted, we were lucky to board the train in the nick of time. Happy with the purchase and blue with cold, the interiors of the train were a warm welcome. So engrossed were we, that, only half way into the journey we finally heard the announcement “The train will terminate at BELL due to an accident on the track”. Bell??That was three stops before mine!

We were thrown back to the cold, to the mercies of the buses which were to take us to our destinations which of course left just as we reached the door. Frozen, we stood there patiently for half an hour before we were told that the train was now ready. This time we RAN, only to reach the train, bag a seat and again wait.

The authorities seemed so concerned, so polite and helpful that nobody had the heart to even raise their voices. There was no option but to do nothing until another thirty minutes later we were informed that the train would NOT be leaving but the buses would. An accomplished runner now, I ran, prepared to even ‘hang’ if required. I and Vernaz pushed our way in the nearest bus, not even caring where it was going as long as it was moving. As we were searching for a place to grip, someone at the back was heard saying “There are plenty of good sets at the back. And sure enough, when I managed to stretch enough over the tall Aussie and mixed heads (everyone seems to be taller than me), there were seats available :). During the entire crisis, no voices were raised, nor did I see or hear anything out of the ordinary. It was really amazing how patient the people were and how understanding!

What strikes me most about this place is the discipline, the lack of urgency to push you into and out of a train. Once inside, the silence is calming (reminds me of being in a hospital), except for a few odd ones who fail to realise that ‘tu cheez badi hai…’ is not what everyone wants to listen to early in the morning, courtesy their headphones or the ones who would like the whole world to know what is happening in their lives as they wash their linen over the phone.

The only time I actually spoke to strangers when I decided to help some lost old ladies (in their 60’s and 70’s on a holiday from New Zealand) find the right stop. I managed to convince them that they were in the right train. Pleased to have mastered the art of directions I felt confident only to miss my stop (I was on the phone 🙂 on my way home the same evening I found myself in the middle of a deserted station called ‘Lalor’, three stops more than I should have taken.

I realise now that even the navigator is of not much use for hopeless cases like me. And, moreover, getting lost gives me fuel for my journals 🙂

With Louise invisible, the garbage mess sorted out, I face the writer’s block at times.

Down Under and me are now ready to welcome spring and a riot of colours. At the moment, the only colours around me are grey and black with a dash of red every now and then. I’d thought black was to be my signature but it seems like everyone has the same idea. The setting sun takes a longer time to set, allowing us to enjoy the display of its rays on the trees, houses and people as I watch from the train home. With the iphone 4 in its last stages, spring and iphone 5 are the two most awaited in Melbourne.

Down Under VII- Students and More

Down Under VII

Students and More

September 1, 2012 at 11:13am

OMG (Oh MY God), only this Iswor is not a God but a student at the college where I work. He claims that for the past year and a half he has not been able to clear some units of his course as he has been victimised by his trainer. His trainer on the other hand rightly defends herself by showing us his assignments and accuses him of submitting plagiarised work.

“No way”, answers Iswor only to find the copied work handed to him. (While in the process of copy/paste, he failed to cut out the original student’s name :). He quickly takes the assignment back and smugly informs that it was the only one but the trainer not to be outdone, shows him more than just that one.

The story is that EVERY time he submits an assignment WITH the name of the person he has copied from. And this has been going on forever leaving both equally frustrated. It was like witnessing a live Tom & Jerry show. We have made him promise to submit his own work next time.

We think that all is well after Tom and Jerry eventually leave and settle in for a normal day only to find Sunil Kumar, standing before us, the third day in a row. A supposedly horse-trainer and a long time student, so long that it’s hard for him to remember stuffs, even normal things like what course he’s just finished and the certificate he’s applying for.

“Ni hou ma”, I wish I’d spent some time somewhere learning Chinese. I really require it now as we have a lot of Chinese students studying with us. After a week and more than 200 students later, I still did not learn Chinese but I learnt how to speak S-l-o-w. I’d begin by ”My name is Z-e-e-n-a and I a-m c-a-l-l-i-n-g and the entire two three lines only to be interrupted by “Please, can you repeat again?” I am on the lookout for a tutor now.

Another time, another student- before I rattle off my name, number, purpose and whatever standard line I’m supposed to say, I ask the student, ‘Are you Cheong?’ He replies in the affirmative and when I am half way through to what I have to say he tells me that he is not Cheong. I am confused and he is too. Two hours later, he calls back and says that he IS Cheong and is a student with us. Hurray! It took him only two hours to remember his name and where he is studying.

Last week I went for my Tuesday class, and waited patiently for my trainer and the rest of the class. Half an hour later after taking two free apples, a fistful of free chocolates (all FREE and left around for students along with many more goodies like tinned soup, tinned sauce etc) and now a bag which seemed a little heavier than what I had come with, I finally realised that I WAS the first and the last student. Lin, my classmate, what’s apped me too late that the classes had been cancelled (via mail which I hadn’t bothered to check).

Not wanting to miss out on this opportunity I decided to head to the library, a task I’d been putting off forever. I thought half an hour would be sufficient for this purpose once I figured out where the books were? An old lady with snow-white hair and a red hair band sweetly directed me to the nearest computer where I could search for the books. After staring at the computer and not knowing what to type, I went back to her. I’d never known that a library could be as complicated.

My image of librarians had been of someone wearing glasses, hair in a bun and a stern look but this lady changed my perspective. She not only showed me how to search for books and get their code, she also took me to the rooms where I could find them. And the library and the resources are HUGE. There must’ve been millions and millions of books on the topics I required and I picked as many as I could, as we could borrow up to 30 books at a time, no idea what I would do with them.

I finally took eight, that’s all I could carry. I still have them with me, in mint condition.