All posts by roshan

India, 1987-1988, Part 1: The Road South

In 1987, when I was nine years old, my parents and I spent three months in India travelling from Madras to Bombay. I am happy to have been so young when we went as I experienced no culture shock and had no real concept of poverty.  It remains one of the most different places I have ever been to and one that I remember quite vividly.

Madras in Tamil Nadu was filled with Hindu temples. One beach temple in Mahabilipurum had elephants that were walked inside.  I purchased a statue of Ganesh the elephant god for my Tamil uncle back home and a necklace of intricate pieces all carved out of one piece of ivory.

In Madurai I loved all the brightly coloured temples and the many different and interesting gods like Shiva with the many arms, Hanuman the monkey god and Vishnu.  Shankar, a rickshaw driver whom we had met the first day, was waiting for us each morning to ferry us from temple to temple.

We met a couple from England who were travelling after meeting on the internet before internet dating was really heard of. The woman was pregnant so she had to make sure that she drank fruit lassi’s (milkshakes) not the bang lassi’s that were laced with marijuana.

I remember a very long and bouncy overnight bus trip. Dad and I slept on the back seat which was like trying to sleep on a trampoline. There were no toilets on the bus and there were few rest stops, so the men peed out the windows and the women had to wait. When we did stop, the toilet was a plank over a pit. There were Bollywood posters on the side of the road and mum bought me a hand painted circular fan to keep us cool.

Christmas and New Year’s was spent in Kodaikanal. Being in the mountains, it was a cool break from the heat of India. Unfortunately, the president had died two days before Christmas so there was a four day official mourning period when everything was closed over Christmas. Fortunately we had already made friends with a local café owner, Israel, who opened to serve us porridge for breakfast. We had to shut the wooden window shutters and be quiet in case a passing mob heard us and stoned the café with us inside.

Israel took us to an excellent view point near his house on Christmas day which was mostly shrouded in mist. There were many walks around the lake and to a waterfall. One day we saw a rabid dog that had his insides on the outside after mating with another dog. India was the one place I was not allowed to pet the animals.

On the road south in Nagercoil there was a completely white temple that only allowed men to enter.

We arrived at Cape Comorin– the southernmost point of India. Here we saw the sun set and the moon rise at the same time. The sight was as unbelievable as the amount of people and faeces that covered the area.

Published as part of A Memorable Journey on Story2Share.

Friendship: Great Expectations?

In high school, my female best friend and my male best friend became friends and I could not handle it. I cut both of them out of my life. Not one to ever be jealous in relationships, I had discovered that I was an amazingly jealous person in friendships. I did not have a best friend again until ten years later, well into my working life.

In my twenties it was easy to make friends. Everyone was single, had enough energy to go out all the time and with no high responsibility jobs, mortgages or children it left more time for socialising. But as I left my twenties I realised that a lot of these people were merely acquaintances that I saw out or at parties.

As I moved through jobs, I was often surprised at who ended up staying in touch once I left a place of employment. That’s life, it wasn’t meant to be and you can’t stick around in the dead end jobs just because of the great work friends you have there. Sometimes you were only friends with people because you worked with them and then once that reason is gone, the friendship is also gone.

Having friends all over the world in the UK, Canada and Asia; I find that wherever you are you miss people. My best friend is currently lives in Baku, Azerbaijan but that does not mean that she is not my best friend. And one of the women I most relate to is in Canada with two kids to keep her busy so I don’t know when I will chat to her again; but that doesn’t mean that I don’t value her friendship.

In my opinion, friendship can only be enjoyed if it is two way. Otherwise what’s the point? This is a lesson I learnt early on in life. If you really want to see someone, you make the effort and you make it happen.

Or maybe it’s about expectations? Maybe my own expectations of friendship are too high? Or maybe my expectations of friendship change as I change as a person? Maybe being different to your friends actually equals longevity of friendship? I have learnt that by letting go of some friendships, I have made room in my life for new friends which have opened me up to new experiences and challenges.

I have been lucky to meet some great people along my journey through life, learn the value of quality over quantity and hopefully ended up with friendships that last a lifetime.

Related posts: Home is where you make it, Travel rememberings

Travel rememberings

My parents had been married and travelling for 10 years before they had me. They travelled to Afghanistan before there was a Lonely Planet guide for the country, went to the Black Forest in Germany when the Berlin Wall was still up and got my mother’s engagement ring in Turkey. Or was it that I was conceived in Turkey? Or maybe that was the second time they went back?

Either way, they travelled A LOT. So much so that even they have trouble remembering where they have been in what year, let alone wether I was there or not. This was also before the time of digital cameras with locality devices recording every time, date, place and memory.

Therefore, it can be hard to piece together where I have travelled before my own memory kicks in, but I will endeavour to give it a go. A lot of the stories are snippets of memories that have been retold to me over the years or photo’s that have been unearthed and referenced.

When I was three weeks old, my parents left me with my grandparents in England and travelled to Corsica. Apparently it was a pre-arranged trip- not child abandonment as it would be labelled today. Perhaps due to this trip, or maybe because of it, I was henceforth deemed old enough and dragged on every trip that came after.

There were trips to England where my father lived, Australia where my mother lived, Canada where my uncle lived and Sri Lanka where a lot of mum’s family lived. It was a time when maybe they were trying to decide where to live or maybe they were making the most of the flexibility they had until I started primary school at age five.

My parents remember me riding a red scooter down the driveway at my grandparents’ house in Weymouth.

My mum remembers that all I ate on the European combi van tour when I was six months old was Boots powdered baby food.

We went to Yugoslavia before it was renamed.

There are pictures of me holding natural cotton flowers on a hill in Scotland.

My dad remembers going on the Matterhorn roller coaster with me as a toddler in Disneyland.

There is a picture of me sitting on Chacmool at Chichen Itza with a nappy on.

There is a photo of me as a baby with my face full of chocolate in high chair in Maui.

The two places that I am sure we never went to are China and Japan as they have never held any interest for my parents.

Calling any friends or family who can fill in the blanks to please comment below!

Related posts: I first started travelling, Top 5 Wildlife to Spot in California, Home is where you make it

Home is where you make it

I grew up in a small town called Berry on the south east coast of NSW. It is not as small now, but at the time the population was 550. Berry, town of trees, two hours drive from Sydney, was so small that no one had ever heard of it. Two blocks, two pubs, a Chinese takeaway and the donut van. Now everyone knows where it is, it is full of coffee shops, gift shops and a couple of fancy restaurants. The Chinese takeaway disappeared with MSG.

It was mostly Anglo Australians, so being from a multicultural background was enough that I  never really fitted in at primary school and through most of high school.

I do appreciate that I did have the kind of childhood that you can only have in a small town- climbing trees, riding bikes, knocking around town by myself and later not having access to drugs, but having drunken bonfire parties instead. We travelled a lot to Sydney to visit relatives and friends of my parents whose kids were deep into the rave scene and sleeping around at the time.

By the time I was at the end of my high school years all I wanted to do was to get out. After my grand tour of Europe, I attempted to live at home in Berry for all of two months before I moved to Sydney to live with my cousins and I have never looked back.

I have lived in eight different suburbs with cousins, friends, boyfriends and my husband. I have been moved 12 times by cousins, my dad and moving companies. I have now been in this city for 16 years and still enjoy it. The harbour, ballet at the Opera House, the Botanical Gardens and fancy degustration menus. I love traveling to other cities, but there’s still nothing quite like flying over Sydney Harbour on the return flight and knowing that you are coming home to one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

I always find it hard to relate to those that have never moved away from a small town and ask me how I can live in such a big city. Big compared to what? London or New York? I don’t think so. In fact I would actually love to make another city my home for a time and having that handy European passport perhaps it will one day happen.

Related posts: I first started travelling

Top 5 Wildlife to Spot in California

December 2007

1. Joshua Tree National Park

We have been driving through the park for an hour- a detour on the way to Las Vegas. I am on a mission to find the Cholla Cactus Garden, after my fill of knarled Joshua trees. It’s getting towards sunset- we may be running out of petrol soon. As we round a corner I spot something moving. “It’s a coyote!” I say. “No it’s not,” says Steve. But it is.

 

2. San Simeon

On a foggy day, we are headed for Hearst Castle. Randolph Hearst was a great lover of animals, just like me, and he once had a zoo there. I look out the passenger window and can’t believe my eyes. How can that be? Am I in Africa? Those black and white stripes cannot be mistaken. “It’s a zebra!” I say. “No it’s not,” says Steve. “YES it is,” I say.

 

3. Big Sur

On our way up Big Sur, the weather is quite bad. Steve wants to stop for a driving break, so we pull off the road. I stay in the car. Five minutes later, there is a knock on the window. “You have to come and see this,” says Steve. Below are an entire family of Elephant Seals on the beach- fighting, playing and dragging themselves around the sand.

 

4. Monterey

We stopped in Monterey for the night at a hotel on the edge of town. The hotel proprietor is a lover of animals, like myself, and promises that a trip to the harbour is a must so we head out along the wharf. “There’s one there!” I say. “No it’s not,” says Steve “YES it is,” I say. Seeing otters in the wild was a high light of this road trip for me.

 

5. San Francisco

We arrive at our final destination on the road trip. My favourite Californian city- San Francisco. We enter Golden Gate Park and head through the park on another one of my missions. The Bison Paddock is water logged but they are all there at the feeding pen. Real American Bison. Not roaming the plains like they once did, but there all the same.

Related posts: I first started writing

I first started travelling…

I first started travelling when I was 6 months old- around Europe in a combi van. My parents always travelled a lot and being the hippy era I was taken everywhere with them.

Mum grew up in Sri Lanka and Dad and I were both born in Weymouth on the south west coast of England where we all lived until I completed pre school. Then we moved to a town on the south east coast of Australia.

Being passionate travelers and having family all over the world we went overseas every few years which was a great experience that I will be forever grateful for- even if it means I caught the travel bug early.

In year four we spent 6 months overseas and I was taught basic Maths and English by my dad. I learnt much more about life and the big world that was out there than I ever would have by staying behind for school.

When I finished high school my parents promptly gave me a round the world ticket with an open return so I went back to Weymouth to live with grandma and work in a restaurant owned by my dads friend. And so began my grand tour around thirteen countries in Europe in three months with a girlfriend I had met in the restaurant to many of the places I had been to as a baby in the back of a van but could not remember.

Since then I have travelled back to Sri Lanka and many places by myself , with  friends and with family.

Related posts: I first started writing

I first started writing…

I first started writing about life when I was quite young. My family friend still raves about my early writing skills on my first book about his daughters first birthday. I used to write and illustrate short stories.

I also won an award in primary school for writing a multicultural story but I always thought at the time that they gave it to me on a sympathy vote.

I had a poem that I wrote about swimming on the beach published in the annual year book in high school.

I also travelled with my parents a lot as a child and kept detailed diaries. I always wanted to be a travel writer, so even though these diaries are out of date, they could be used as some kind of travel retrospective.

At university I studied Journalism as my major and was promptly disillusioned by my lecturers proclaiming I will never be able to write want I want and the pay is terrible- one way to weed out those without real drive and passion for news I guess! I decided I was more of a fiction writer and rebelled in such electives as fictocritical and creative writing. I also found I was distinction worthy in editing and publishing- so maybe I gave up on journalism too easily, but that’s the way it went. I did get published in a Sydney Olympics newsletter while I was there- an interview with a young Perth gymnast that I did over the phone.

A few years out of university I redirected one of my university pieces on my grand tour travel around Europe and wrote a new travel piece on my hometown to apply to write at the Lonely Planet- my dream job- getting paid to travel and write about it and hence everyone else’s dream job too! I did not make the cut and unfortunately did not get much feedback either. I did get published in the Thorn Tree Forum on their website- by blogging the “Top 5 Wildlife to Spot in California.”

In my places of employment I have endeavored to keep the writing going by writing the entire or pieces of the internal newsletters, but even this writing has gone by the wayside of late as I have now been working in events for over seven years so work is all about logistics, checklists and contact sheets.