Tuesday, 8 July 2008
Two years in Melbourne
Today is the day when two years ago, I landed in Melbourne. With a lot of dreams, hopes and a bit of nervousness I had left home and my family. Little did I know then that I would miss them on each and every day forever from then on :) My father is such a caring soul, not only did he get me Malaysian currency in addition to OZ dollars but he and my brother-in-law got me a Indian pre-paid sim card with international roaming available on it. For the first few days when I reached here, that was my only form of communication with them and time and again I was reminded of the many ways in which a family truly cares. When I bade farewell to my parents, I was on the verge of tears. Hugging my dad has always been the best and the hardest thing to let go of, I had tears in my eyes and my dear mother who is a pillar of strength for the entire family had her eyes moist but was asking me to be brave and smart in addition to wishing me luck. The smiling spots were my nephews who for some reason had decided that the airport was their space and were doing all sorts of monkey acts. My sister hugged me and wished me happiness and with a wave and holding my brother-in-law by the arm I bade farewell to everyone around. As I was standing inside, I spoke to my mom and tried not to break into tears at her voice. I suddenly realized that despite all of my loud remarks over women and their independence, I was still highly emotionally attached to my family. At the last minute, my mom decided to make me a home made Punjabi snack called 'Pinnis' which is made of a lot of ingredients and double the hardwork. Little did I know about the adventures that were in store for me in Australia. Australian quarantine by far is one of the strictest I have ever seen. While they were educating us about the items to declare at the airport upon arrival, I was fascinated and busy in looking out of the window at the well lit grounds below. Happy with my decision, I was ready to go and face the world. The flight landed and I forgot that food items were listed as a declaration in the educational video shown to us. So here I was with my handbag, my laptop and my purse waiting in the queue after collecting my luggage to be just let off because I had forgotten about the 'Pinnis' totally. Well, I was reminded of them when one of the guys in charge of the security at the airport asked me to open my suitcase and I panicked...Once I opened it, I realized, the 'Pinnis' had beautifully melted into a brown mass. I still remember the guy who opened that box, looked at me in wide wonder and asked, " Wa the bloody hell is this?" I thought he would add the word mate as per my knowledge about OZ's and I replied with a no nonsense look that it is just a last minute home made snack my mum made. "Well lady, did you declare it?" I was confused and I said in polite manner that I did not think it as a dangerous item for anyone and so I didn't declare it. I was saved by a fellow Indian student who had lost the keys of his luggage and his bag seemed to contain more suspicious stuff than my small carton and so they asked me to be careful and leave. Wow, what a welcome to Australia it was!!!
In the days that followed, I encountered a lot of adventures, the concept of assembling my own bed, study desk, calling a handyman for repairs, it was all too good. The saddest part was to realize that after 5:00 pm except for thurs and fri, the markets shut down. It did take me sometime to get used to the politeness of people, the formal attitude everyone carried as if it were embedded in them and a lot of other things. Looking back on where I started, I obviously have come a long way from then, yet there are many more milestones to be covered....Even if I deferred a semester of my post graduation, at least I gained the official status of a resident at the end of two years and also chose my own life partner and took the final plunge I never thought I would ever have the courage to take :)