Questions

We were having high tea few days ago and there was live classical music.

He asked me

“If you have to pick one Baroque work as your favourite, which one would it be?”

“Vivaldi’s four seasons” I replied without hesitation.

“If you have to pick one season of the 4 which one would it be?”

That took me a few minutes to figure out

“Spring” I replied

“Why is the Spring your favourite?” He asked

Spring (Concerto No. 1 in E Major)
Allegro
Spring has arrived with joy
Welcomed by the birds with happy songs,
And the brooks, amidst gentle breezes,
Murmur sweetly as they flow.

The sky is caped in black, and
Thunder and lightning herald a storm
When they fall silent, the birds
Take up again their delightful songs.

Largo e pianissimo sempre
And in the pleasant, blossom-filled meadow,
To the gentle murmur of leaves and plants,
The goatherd sleeps, his faithful dog beside him.

Allegro
To the merry sounds of a rustic bagpipe,
Nymphs and shepherds dance in their beloved spot
When Spring appears in splendour.

I explained to him how much happy the whole thing makes me feel.. for me Vivaldi makes the spring come alive..I can see the black ominous clouds and then when the sky clears, the birds singing. .I love the goatherd sleeping with his dog beside him..

The thing is, no one until now ever asked me what I really like and why? All these while it is me who asked everyone what they like..

It also means a lot that he knows something about classical music..

Btw, his favourite is the summer..because growing up in the Mediterranean, he felt he could feel the summer storms..

 

This is the painting I received. I hate taking photos, the painting is really beautiful, but my photography skills sucks

Sian

 

Beautiful people

One of the biggest problems I face while backpacking is having clean clothes. There is only so much clothes I can carry in my backpack. We were in St Helens and it was day 4 of our trip and neither of us had any clean clothes. So we had to do the laundry. It was a beautiful morning and the choice was to put our clothes in the dryer and waste few precious hours of the beautiful sunny day or hang the clothes on the line and let nature do the work. We opted for the latter and then I realized we didn’t have any cloth pegs. Much to my partner’s amusement (he would never ever do things like this) I walked to one of the cabin and knocked at the door.

A very old lady opened the door and she was wearing a beautiful blue skirt and matching top.

“Hot date Nana?” I asked her. (I am known to speak without really thinking and this was one such moment).

The old lady looked at me for few seconds and smiled and said

“As a matter of fact, Yes”

“Good on Ya, Nana, Have a good time” I said and then asked her ” Can I please borrow some cloth pegs”

She gave me the cloth pegs and I went to hang the clothes.

The day was long and we had an awesome time. We got back to the camp at 9.30 pm and only then I remembered the clothes. I quickly went to the washing area to find our clothes were missing.

There were only two possible reasons. Someone stole our clothes (not likely, I am petite and not many people can get in to my size) or the Nana took them in for us.

I was a bit worried about knocking at her door that late. But neither of us had any clothes/towel etc.

The old lady opened the door and asked me in.

She had taken in our clothes and along with it she gave me a painting and told me

“This is for you. This morning, I was so worried, I was going to meet this wonderful man for breakfast, but you see, I am 78 years old and I wasn’t sure if I was doing the right thing and  you walk in and tell me go have a good time Nana”

“Did you have a good time Nana?” I asked her

“Yes” she said. “He is an incredibly wonderful man, but I worry about the future”

I gave her hug and told her “Tomorrows can only be dealt with tomorrow.. you have your todays Nana.. Live it”

Only when I got back to my tent and opened the painting I realized who she was. Sian Butler, famous Aussie outback painter. I have seen her paintings for sale at Royal flying doctor Galas. And today I own one of her original paintings.. all because I needed some cloth pegs.

 

 

Hmm

Finally, I got around to visiting Tasmania. Initially we both thought this would be a place we would like to buy a house and settle down (We even found a perfect house), but at the end of the holidays neither of us were sure if we wanted to stay there. The place is incredibly beautiful, we saw more wild life in Tassie than all of mainland), but there was something missing..it wasn’t my Shangri-La

tassie 1Of all the photos we took, this is one of my favourite. We couldn’t set up our tent the night before because it was raining very heavy and had to stay in a motel. It was cold, wet and a miserable kind of night and to top it all there was no internet, so I couldn’t talk to my children or play scrabble. Shops were all closed and we only had two packets of instant noodles, a packet of salad greens and three eggs and two slices of bread and an avo.. So I boiled two eggs for breakfast next day and made mee goreng with the rest of the ingredients. As I mentioned before, he had lived a very entitled childhood and one of biggest problem for him is food. I waited for complaints, none came. Next morning, neither of us were hungry, so I packed the boiled eggs to take along.

From where we were to the next destination, we had to cross a mountain pass and the drive was long. By  mid afternoon both of us were hungry and there were no shops around. I saw this spot that said “truckers rest area” and told him to pull over. There was no one around and he parked our car in front of the fence. The temp outside was 2 degrees and the wind was very strong. I took two plates. placed a slice of bread on each, sliced the boiled egg and the avo and placed it on the bread and gave one plate to him and I took the other plate. Again, I waited to hear some sort of complaints..( Ok, may be it is a  Malayalee trait, may be it is just me, every man I have known always had something to complain about food and this guy should be the one complaining the most because he really really had a very entitled life as a Spanish Nobility. He ate without a word of complaints and when I told him how pretty the moss on the fence looked, he went out in the howling wind and took the photo for me.

tassie 2The best part of Tassie is in the eastern side, especially the Bay of fire( named due to the red lichen growing on the rocks) We climbed  plenty of rocks and walked nearly three kilometres to find this spot. We were the only people around and we both desperately wanted to go for a swim. But it was very cold..

 

Photo below is another one of my favourite. This was taken in a small bay called Little Musselroe bay. We didn’t really have any plans that day and when I saw the signboard for little mussleroe bay, I decided to drive to there because the name was funny.. There was no one around and he wanted to walk on the rocks on the right..As it was late evening and with my last experience of finding a snake beneath the rocks, I felt I shouldn’t take any chances. So I suggested, we walk to the left. We must have walked about half an hour on the isolated beach when he stopped walking and took the binoculars out.

“I think there is a wombat” He said and pointed it out to me. It was the first time I saw a wombat. A big, brown wobbly wombat wadding along behind the scrub. Few minutes later, we saw fairy penguins coming out of the water, few puffins and terns. It felt like the nature was organizing a feast for our eyes. I took this photo before all these events..but I think you can imagine the joy we both felt after watching all the wildlife..

tassie 4

 

Hopeless!

The trip to Sydney was probably the worst I have ever planned. Either I am growing too old or I am getting too lackadaisical.

First of all I got Yaya’s graduation date wrong. I assumed(wrongly of course) it was in December, so I had to cut short my trip.

I forgot to pack toiletries and my hat, sharing a toothbrush was not something I am fond of, and there was no choice as we had planned a full day of activities and didn’t have time to wait for the shops to open.(my mental faculty is clearly on a decline)

So these are the things we did.

We only had the car for a day, (we could have extended it, but at the time we booked it there was a promo and if we were to extend the initial  rental period, we had to pay full price. I am too stingy)

From the airport, we drove straight to blue mountains. We got there around 3.30 pm. There were not many people around, so we did all the walking trails.

newxastle1The weather was very pleasant and we had the trails to ourselves.

We left Blue mountains around 8 and drove to Sydney. Both of us wanted to see the Opera house lighted  with the French flag colours, so we thought we would take a quick stop over at the Opera house. We found a car park near the opera house and the signboard showed first 30 minutes was 10$. We only spend 10 minutes and went to pay  for the parking and to our surprise it was 38$. Apparently they have a flat rate after 8 pm and it is 38$..which was written right at the bottom of the signboard displaying rates which no one would be able to read. Technically at 3.80$/minute, that was the most expensive car park we have ever done.

We had booked accommodation at Coogee beach. It was a beautiful old apartment converted to a boutique hotel. The main door had stained glass and I love watching light reflecting through stained glass.

He still makes the worst Chaya ever (following the same procedure of dumping sugar, milk and teabag in to a cup and adding hot water and then not stirring it). But the fact that he wakes up before me, so I could have hot Chaya makes up for it.

First day we bought opal card and went to Circular quay and took all the ferries. We loved Watsons bay the most, so decided to spend our day there.

beach Watoson's quay

We had lunch and then found a shady spot to sit down and read. I wanted to read Tuesdays with Morrie (will write why tomorrow) again, it wasn’t a big book and the biggest blessing is that he doesn’t bother me much if I want to read, so I finished reading the book pretty quickly. He bought me a cappuccino in between.

Later in the evening, we went back to Circular quay and walked up and down George street, China town, QVB etc. We had dinner at a Malaysian restaurant called Petaling street

Second day, we were planning to wake up very early and do the Coogee Bondi walk. Apparently, I was sleeping  like a baby and he didn’t want to disturb me. I got up at 9AM and had a cold cup of Chaya, which he made at 6 AM, thinking that I would wake up on time like I normally do. I really wanted to do the walk and hate changing plans in the last minute, so we decided to do the walk..on a day the temp hit 38 degrees..Neither of us had a hat. So we had to find a shop to buy hats and paid ridiculously expensive price and then we walked the whole distance from Coogee to Bondi. It was really hot and there was hardly any shade anywhere. But the view from all the look out points were magnificent. By the time we reached Bondi, we were dehydrated, tired and exhausted. I was waiting for him to get angry/crabby. He didn’t. Instead he bought juice for both of us and found a shady spot for us to rest a bit. After that, we decided to take a bus from Bondi to Watsons bay again..We had a late lunch there, then took a ferry back to Circular Quay to take another ferry to Manly. We did the walk around the national park in Manly. He is scared of reptiles, so whenever  we do a bush walk, I had to lead. Every time we saw a water dragon, even though he is scared of them, he would l tease me with great panache  about my crocodile discovery.  I blame my son for this. A week after we arrived in Australia, I was in the garden and I saw this animal that looked like a crocodile, but very small in size and I assumed it was a baby crocodile, so I did what I am really good at. I screamed at the top of my voice and everyone came to see my baby crocodile. In my defence, my only experience with Aussie wild life until that moment was watching the movie Crocodile Dundee  and  I swear water dragons do look exactly like a croc.. My son makes it a point to tell everyone  about my baby crocs discovery.

That was it.. three days trip to Sydney..

Finally

Yaya’s  high school graduation was yesterday.

How fast 12 years went by..

I remember her wearing green skirt and yellow blouse in grade 1. Every Monday morning she had spelling test at her school and while I ironed her clothes in the morning, she would come to me and ask if I could quiz her on the spelling. It had always surprised me how she knew to spell words without every having to learn it, like I used to do..loudly spelling out each letter over and over or writing each word a few times till I mastered the spelling.. Yaya only looked at the words once and she knew how to spell them.

I remember her  queuing outside the classroom in grade 2.. wearing Barbie shoes, Barbie t-shirt, Barbie jeans and holding a Barbie bag. She was so tiny.. and I worried how she would cope, skipping a full grade and living in a new country.

I remember her wearing her favourite black jumper with a picture of guitar on one side and a skull on the other side in grade 3. I remember her teacher calling me up and telling me that Yaya had asked if she could rewrite her maths exam again because she wasn’t happy that she didn’t get 50/50 (she got 49)

Grade 4, she and I were beginning to have clashes.. An expected outcome when two strong willed people have to find a middle ground. I remember her telling me ” You better be nice to me, for I am the one who will be picking the old folks home where you end up eventually”. She said it oh! so seriously and I couldn’t stop laughing. I remember her listening to KT Tunstall’s Black horse and a cherry tree over and over.

Grade 5 was a blur, we were getting ready to migrate to Australia..She and her best friend had a massive crush on the same boy.. and they spent hours figuring out who should have the right to date the guy..

She only attended 3 months of grade 6 (skipped a grade) in Australia. On the first day of school Yaya had to do a spelling test and got 1/20 right. She couldn’t get Aussie drawl.. I remember how scandalized she was when she told me, her classmate invited her for a pool party and asked her to bring thongs.. (Thongs in Aus is flipflops and in Canada is G-string)

Grade 7, she was in and out of love, her friendships circle changed constantly, she was hormonal and annoying. She also had a massive crush on Cody Simpson. For a long time I was enemy number 1, however that changed, when I drove her to Gold Coast for a Cody Simpson concert.. Suddenly, I became an awesome mom.. I remember her getting the outstanding student award for Japanese, a language she only had a year to learn, when all her classmates have been learning it for 4 years.

Grade 8, she refused to write entrance exam to all the elite schools. I felt she would benefit from learning Spanish, so I registered her for Spanish Immersion program. The first 6 weeks of her Spanish immersion, every time I saw how much homework she had and how intense the program was, I wondered if I did the right thing.. 29 students started the program and only 12 completed the program. Around middle of grade 8, she and I started getting really close. She would come and lay down next to me and talk to me.

Grade 9, the highlight was the trip to Spain. She went for 6 weeks and send me one email. House was so empty without her and I started to wonder how I was going to live without her.

Grade 10, I started to see her mature in to a beautiful woman. She took great pride in getting dressed. She became more responsible and fun. I remember her laying down next to me and reading her books.

Grade 11 she joined the IB program. It must have been hard for her because all her friends from Spanish Immersion decided not to do IB. I wondered how the friendship circle of the past three years would survive, but it did. She still met her friends for lunch everyday even though they never had any classes together. I still sent school lunch for the whole gang most days.

Grade 12, I saw her determination.. IB is a lot of hard work and is known for kids burning out. I was so worried for Yaya. But she was determined. What I loved the most was how graciously she admitted defeat. She lost the dux award by one point (the first semester maths exam where she got 5 and her friend got 6) I would have beaten myself to death if I had lost being the dux and having my name engraved in the school office for ever because of one single exam. She told me ” mom, in life you win some, you lose some”.

This was her school ref letter.

blog1

I don’t know what the future holds for Yaya.. But I do know this. She is an amazing daughter and I am one heck of a lucky mom..

 

Hmmm

I submitted my last assignment of the semester an hour ago. I am heading to Sydney/ Melbourne for few days..

Thank you all for the mails and advice about the public transport.

A bit of beach, a bit of blue mountains, a bit of walk and lots of Malaysian food is what I am looking forward to…

until then

adios

Help Pls

If you are from Sydney Australia, can you please help me?

I will be in Sydney all of next week and  have messed up our rental car booking and have no car on Tue and Wed. The two days we have earmarked for visiting Sydney.

I need to figure out places to visit and how to get there, keeping Harbour area as my main location. I have never used public transport in Sydney before and am clueless. If you can add in an awesome south Indian/ M’sian restaurant in that list of places to go to. that will be super too.

I will of course shout a round if anyone would like to join us for dinner on Tue or Wed

My assignments are all on due on Monday morning and am flying out of Brisbane on Monday arvo, so won’t have to time to actually google and find the info myself

Pls email me ( elfintrot..at… gmail….. dot…com)or leave a comment here

Thanks

S

Air

Yesterday while I was cooking dinner, Yaya came to me all excited and said

“Mom, I found the perfect dress for my graduation”

And then she proceeded to show me the photo of the dress. My son was helping me in the kitchen and he had a look at the photo of the dress Yaya wants to buy and commented

“Yaya, that is a lot of air for 75$”

I looked at him for explanation and with a cheeky grin he explained

“Mom, there is less fabric and more air on that dress, what with the plunging neck line and bare back”

I stood in front of him, to save him from being murdered..