Sunday, 22 July 2012

Childhood favourites

When I was a little girl, it was just me and my Dad for a while (until I was 4). After dinner my Dad would often cut up a piece of fruit for us to eat. Oranges were cut into eight and eaten in their skins. But pears, pears were my favourite. Dad would cut of the top for me to eat off that little pear stalk. I love eating pears that way, even now, it always takes me back.

Dad and I had loads of traditions like that. He played his acoustic guitar most nights. Whenever he changed his guitar strings, I always helped. I loved watching him take the strings out of the little square paper packets. The string was placed carefully over the little peg that goes into the bit (I should know the terminology but I've forgotten) and then travels up the neck and threaded through those tuning peggy things. And then he would tune, old school with a tuning fork. He always tuned his guitar and then played a song (he'd written himself I think, my Dad was a muso when he was in his 20s). It was always the same song.

I loved those times. Of course, it was wonderful when my Mum came along! But I still enjoyed those times when it was just me and my Dad.

[Image source: The Nature Food (nature livings blogspot): Vitamins and minerals - Pear, click here]

Thursday, 12 July 2012 my first 30-day challenge

I am a huge fan of

I recently came into possession of a car (for the first time in years! see my previous post here). Anyway, my darling boyfriend helped me set up a phone dock and an AUX cable in my new car so I can listen to music through my sound system strait from my phone (how handy is that? I call him 'Technological Man'). I can also download podcasts and listen to those. Or listen to episodes of Frasier (another favourite of mine).

I digress, apologies.

Lately I have been so addicted to listening to talks on I was listening to one this morning, Matt Cutts: Try something new for 30 days - a really wonderful talk (and not very long), I really recommend having a listen.

Cutts makes this really great point that has just stuck in my mind: the next 30 days are going to pass whether you like it or not, why not do something new?

So...why not?!

Cutts kicks off his set of 30 day challenges with a picture challenge, take at least 1 picture a day for 30 days. I've had an idea kicking around in my head for the past year or so - it's a bit more involved than 1 picture a day for 30 days, it's more like 1 picture a day for 1 year, of the same place (to see the seasons changing). Whilst I will leave that challenge for another day (just at the moment), I'm going to set myself Cutts' original challenge, to take 1 picture a day for 30 days in a row. It's been a while since I took regular photos. And I miss it. To borrow his line, "what am I waiting for?!!"

Okay so it's not exactly new-new (for me anyway), but it'll be something different in my recent habits. And Instagram will get a work out, which is always fun.

Wish me luck!


Day 1
Taken with Instagram [ichbin_mr]

Spinning top

Dinner, Hunky Dory on Chapel Street, South Yarra

Music takes me there

A few days ago I put a CD on that I hadn't listened to in a while.

Immediately it took me back to a really, really happy time in my life a few years back. The feeling was so vivid, it was almost like reliving it. It took me back to when I had a newfound sense of freedom, and a release from a life that I found oppressive in many ways, and one that caused me a lot of pain. It was a time in my life when I lived in a really wonderful apartment, and it was just my own. I was meeting new people, making new friends and new connections. It was a time in my life where I would return from work feeling happy. I would put this CD on in my CD player and play along on my bass guitar (terribly, but nonetheless). I would sing, and dance around in my apartment and feel happy and alive and hopeful - something before that I had not felt for a very long time.

Sometimes I would sit out on my balcony and feel so, so happy that tears would just spill out of my eyes.

I still have glimpses of that feeling from time to time, when I have little reflective moments back to my life before.

And then I just feel so grateful. Grateful of my life now, with all it's lumps and bumps. Grateful of everyone in my life - the people I've really chosen to surround myself with. Grateful for hope, and love, and happiness.

And, of course, grateful for music - something that can immediately transport me back to a feeling so vividly. After all, you can choose which CD you put in the CD player!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Almost 5,000 hits, what a milestone!

I'm not sure if this is good, or pathetic (considering I've had this blog for over 2 years), but I'm about to reach 5,000 hits!!

What a milestone!!!

Thank you all for reading.


Monday, 9 July 2012

Look me in the eye, by John Elder Robison

Have you read Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs? Fabulous book. A little confronting at points but fabulous nonetheless. You'll laugh out loud I guarantee it.

Well, Augusten has an older brother. He writes about his brother in his book, but from memory he's not around a lot (as he's quite a bit older than Augusten).

Well. His older brother is John Elder Robinson, and he has written a book, Look me in the eye. It's a book about growing up with Asperger's.

It's incredible. Engaging, funny (the laugh out loud kind), thought provoking, so insightful, inspiring and above all, interesting. I've found it quite hard to put down, and have devoured it in record time.

You won't regret reading it. A wonderful insight into the life of an amazing man with Asperger's - from day dot to well into his adulthood. His stories are incredible, and his story is incredible.

I highly recommend reading it.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Unexpected solutions

Sometimes solutions come from the most unexpected of places. For the first time in more than 3 years I have my very own car to drive. I am quite excited about the prospect of a little independent freedom. For me this opens up so many more options and opportunities and makes so much of my life just that little bit easier.

For quite some time now I have lived very close to CBD areas (first in Brisbane, then in Melbourne). Close to public transport, and close to other amenities. Public transport is easy once you get used to it, actually much preferable in some ways (no stress of petrol, car repairs, and you can read on a tram) and taxi's fill in the more difficult of journey challanges. For a very long time I've prided myself on not having a car, and getting around (mostly) on my own.

But now I'm excited about a new chapter! I will be able to get around relying less on my friends and family for favours (have you ever tried to move house without a car? Carrying 40 (empty) boxes home on the tram over a number of trips isn't much fun...and taking Ikea furniture home on the tram isn't great either -though I only did that once), and instead maybe return a few for a while!

I never thought I'd feel proud for owning one, and I'm still not certain I am proud exactly...but I am excited.

And I can still catch the tram.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Going to India? What you simply must pack!

A few months back I wrote a post about packing for india. I have subsequently been to India, and so I thought I'd provide some insight into what I ended up finding useful during my journey.

My first piece of advice would be to pack as lightly as possible. Take a backpack that you can sling over your shoulder and be on your way. You never know when you'll be on a bus or a rickshaw and luggage really just gets in the way. I had a small backpack (by backpack standards, around 30 litres) and even that got in the way a bit. Having said that let me say make sure you have enough room in your pack for everything. My pack was literally busting at the seams - which was also pretty frustrating.


My recommendations on what to pack
  • Shoes that you can slip easily on and off (as in some places you need to remove your shoes before entering).
  • A spare pair of walking shoes that have grip, especially if you head up north, where there are lots of hills. And socks!
  • A smart phone. Or at least an MP3 player. My iPhone basically saved my life. I had a few episodes of my fav TV series (Frasier) which became invaluably helpful during looong train/bus/car trips. Pack an iPod or an iPhone. You won't regret it. Loads of hotels and restuarants have free wifi too - so you can tap into that resource as an added bonus.  
  • Gastrolite and Gastro-stop (enough said).
  • Wet wipes.
  • Antibiotics.
  • A jumper. This might sound strange as it's hot in India right? Well, if you head up north to Dharumsala it gets quite chilly at night - and you'll need something to keep you warm. Even just a pair of long socks will help ease the cold.
  • International power point adaptor - for India. India has different electricity plugs/sockets.
  • A spare ATM card, mine didn't work over there. Luckily my cousin-Ji's ATM did work so we pooled funds and I transferred money to her when we got home.

If you're a woman, take:
  • Tampons, you can't get them in India.
  • A long skirt or long pants (loose) - to make sure your legs are covered when you visit temples and the like. As a general note, it's not offensive in India to stare, and if your legs are showing, chances are you'll get stared at. If you're not okay with that, cover up as much as possible.
  • A light weight scarf or 3. I used one to sleep on, one to go around my neck if I felt a bit vulnerable (to cover up any cleavage/decolletage), and one to cover my pillow at night. I picked really light weight ones, so they took up no space, and they were so handy.

My tips for the journey in general:
  • Don't worry about taking laundry paraphernalia . Most hotels have laundry services, and if they don't there'll be a service nearby. Usually laundry costs next to nothing, maybe 100 rupees (which is around $2AUS).
  • To save on battery life on your iPhone/iPod/iPad, switch off all your cellular data, and turn on airport mode, and turn down your screen brightness as low as you can manage. It'll prolong your battery life in ways which will amaze you.
  • Learn a few words in Hindi. The locals will LOVE you for it.
     "Hi" = "Namaste"
     "Thank you" = "Dhanyavaad"
     "My name is Mary" = "Meraa naam Mary hai"
      To address someone politely add a "Ji" after their name, eg say "Dhanyavaad Madam Ji" to thank someone really politely.
  • Check the tops of water bottles to make sure your cap is sealed and you're getting purified water.
  • Get into the head wiggle. It's addictive.
  • Change and small notes are hard to come by, so don't give away your small notes/coins if you don't have to!  
  • Keep a few coins in a pocket or a place easily accessible and away from your other money. In the event you come accross someone who asks for money and you feel compelled to do so, it's much easier doing that than fishing around in your wallet stacked with 1000 rupee notes, to find change (and much less embarrassing).
  • Be prepared to see some pretty horrific stuff. But you'll also see some pretty amazing stuff, so as long as you're prepared, you should be fine.
  • Never admit to anyone that it's your first time in India! Pretend you know what you're doing even if you don't.
  • When someone quotes you a price for something - if you're in the mood to haggle - halve it then halve it again and that's closer to what you should be paying. If they quote you 200 rupees, you should only pay closer to 50 rupees. Having said that sometimes you'll be too tired to haggle. And sometimes you won't care.
  • Despite the above it is polite to tip waiters, drivers, hotel staff, anyone that provides you a service.

Questions you will be asked when travelling in India:
  • Where are you from?
  • Where are you going?
  • Is this your first time in India? [Always say no!]
  • Are you married?
  • How educated are you?
  • Can I take you to a hotel? [Just say no.]
  • Are you looking to go shopping? [Just say no. Then if you do want to go shopping find your own way there.]
Don't take offence to any of these questions! It's just their custom.

What did you find handy on your travels in India? I'd love to hear about them. Or do you have any hot tips?

Click here to see more photos!