On the Road

25.02.2014 

I feel like I died and went to cultural elitist heaven. It has been an amazing weekend, having my cousin Noella over for dinner on Friday. We finally finished our Bridges video on Friday and work was cruisy. The video was presented at work today and I’m sure its going up on Youtube soon and will make its way to facebook when I remember. For Dinner on Friday I made chili beef, stir fry veges, rice, and salad, with stewed apples and chocolate cake for desert. It felt weird – but in a good way – to cook dinner for someone else and at a much younger age than my mum ever did. I learnt that putting potatoes in beef sucks up the salt when you have noob cooks who put way too much salt in the beef 😛 We had a nice relaxing Friday evening and stuffed ourselves with microwave chocolate cake. Saturday was incredibly busy going to three different exhibitions that were all closing on Sunday, followed by shopping at DFO for warm winter clothes that are suitable for work, and then rushing home to do grocery shopping at the Prahran Market.

 

The exhibitions were amazing. ‘Spectacle – the music video exhibition’ at the ACMI showcased some of the turning points in music video history with classics like Video killed the radio star, and modern hits like Somebody that I used to know and crowd-sourced videos of songs like Single Ladies. It started with the section ‘In the Beginning’, featuring musicians like Louis Armstrong, Bessie Smith, Cab Calloway to animated segments of ‘Fantasia’ which I hated as a child and probably still do now. The ‘Beginning’ spanned a long period of time, even covering the Beatles, the Kinks and Rolling Stones. Smoke and Mirrors comprised of videos that surprise and leave the audience struck with awe at the wool pulled over their eyes and tricks played with technical subtleties. The videos included Sun of a Gun by Oh Land, and Power by Kanye West. Other sections included Shadows and Light, and Interactives Section. Art house featured some of my favourite videos such as ‘My baby just cares for me’ by Nina Simone, and ‘Fell in love with a girl’ by The White Stripes. Many of the videos included cartoons, arcade games and avante-garde print design, appealing to people across all ages with their playfulness and sophistication at the same time. The Epic section ha

 

I think overall, the new discoveries I made of songs I hadn’t heard before, meant as much to me as finding my old favourites showcased at the exhibition. I fell in love with Scopitones, songs like ‘Daybreak express’, ‘Belles Belles Belles’, ‘Dick Rivers’, and ‘Les Elucubrations’. Other videos that stood out were the Poster of the video by Yuki, ‘Walkie Talkie Man’, ‘One’ (the Buffalo version) by U2, and one of Madonnas videos in Agent Provocateur. I was actually hesitating about whether to go to the exhibition or not and almost didn’t go. It seemed like a waste of money to go and see music videos I could probably find online – but something made me change my mind and I’m so glad I did. I easily spent about 2 hours there and would’ve spent more time but I had two more exhibitions to go to.  I will definitely go back sometime soon to see Angelica Mesiti’s ‘The Calling’, a short film that is free daily until 13th July.

 

The All that Glitters exhibition at The Arts Centre was small but interesting. The exhibition featured some of the costumes worn for theatre, opera, ballet, and music performances over the decades. It featured the costume worn by Hugh Jackman in the musical ‘Boy’ I think, the famous dress worn by Dame Edna Everage, and the costumes of Sleeping Beauty, the Nutcracker, and other famous ballets and operas.  I didn’t linger for long and quickly moved onto the ‘Melbourne Now’ exhibition at The National Gallery of Victoria. Parts of this exhibition really appealed to me while others fell flat. I loved the Gallery of Air – a space filled with ‘clutter’ from the past. I found a tape recording of the Gone with the Wind soundtrack. The furniture, shoes, clothes – and lack thereof, were also an exotic collection of old and new, traditional and modern, even erotic, and it was a smorgasbord for the eyes. Sadly I had to leave the other exhibitions at the National Gallery for another day but the Ancient Egypt section is on my to do list.

 

White Night was a bit disappointing to be honest. It was extremely packed on the train going into the city and despite my experiences being on jam packed trains in Bombay, I still felt a bit claustrophobic. It seemed quite poorly organised and after having dinner with a friend from work and his girlfriend on Lonsdale Street, we walked around for a while, looking at the displays on the State Library, and at Melbourne central. After meeting up with another friend from work, we had a quiet drink and I saw my first AFL game which I am convinced is exactly like Rugby but am constantly corrected, and then went home. The train back was just as packed and I was glad to be home by 1 ish, ready to crash after a long day with lots of walking.

 

Sunday morning was sunny and the weather was as perfect as my pancakes drenched in maple syrup. I got picked up by a Colleague/ Pancake thief and spent the day driving down to Mornington Peninsula, eating copious amounts of Starbursts and singing along with the radio. After a beautiful sunny day of sitting at the beach, walking 2.6km up the hill to the look-out, and getting sun-burnt, I felt like a fat six year old with red-tinted cheeks salty from the sea. The grass was greener than it was before, the sea bluer, the sun sleepier. I don’t know if it was all the sugar I’d eaten but the day seemed perfect. I went home hungry and tired, my six year old laugh a remnant still.

 

On Monday night I made pepperoni pasta with cheese, olives and tomatoes and managed to cut my finger (which is still stinging) because I was too lazy to use a chopping board. Watching ‘On the Road’ the film based on the novel by Jack Kerouac, I was instantly reminded of three things that happened in the last week that somehow resonated with me and this movie and all seemed tied up together. On the Road in a way was written in the same train of thought as Into the Wild, another favourite movie. In the former, the three men lead a life of selfish pleasure, seeking to gain as much from life as they can by using others, believing in their own destined success as writers/poets/philosophers and use the people they love shamelessly. In the latter, the main character is on a journey of self-discovery that leads him to renounce his life of luxury to travel across the country and be at one with nature. Yet both are held together by that common thread, of seeking self-fulfilment beyond traditional paths, of gaining the most out of life, and Kristen Stewart.  

 

There is not much in my life that is comparable with either of these stories, apart from the fact that I’m also in love with Kristen Stewart (at times…it’s a love hate relationship). Yet I find myself comparing myself to these characters instinctively, as if I too am on that path of self-discovery…and yet its not quite as vain as it sounds because aren’t we all? We are all on that road. It may not be a road of drunken threesomes and jazz and young men with type-writers but it is a road none the less. Last week a 7-8 foot wooden cabinet fell on me. I didn’t know what was happening at first. I just felt the weight on my back and my head caved in instinctively, as my perfumes, moisturiser and books all fell out of the shelves around me. I thought it was an earthquake and then I realised that the cabinet was falling on me. I tried my hardest to push it up, and almost gave up, thinking I’d just let it fall, and jump out of the way before I went under it. But then I realised that there was no one else, to help me lift it up again. Just me. So I forced myself to push it back up and lean it against the wall. It’s amazing what you can do when you realise that there is no other option and you are your only super-hero. I guess I’m more like Christopher McCandless than Dean but unlike either of them, I know, right now, in my heart of hearts – that people do matter. People cannot be discarded, ignored, they are not the debris that clutters the world – they are the world. My world is nothing, without people in it.

 

Another event that jumped out at me while I was watching on the road was a half-hearted attempt to save a squid on the beach. There was a squid dying on the Beach at Rye on Sunday and I was more repulsed by it than moved to save it, and made a few half-hearted attempts to lift it with my jandals and throw it back into the ocean. As I was watching On the Road, I couldn’t help comparing it to Dean and Carlo’s individual attempts to kill themselves and their inability to do so. And all I could think was, damn I wish I could dance like MaryLou and then maybe, maybe I could be that squid, and I could get back to the Ocean. There is a song that’s been stuck in my head for the last couple of days and it refuses to leave, the more I think about On the Road. It goes something like ‘This is the last time I’m asking you this….’ Maybe its because this is still my road, to travel on as I please, and I will continue asking, asking on this road, while you walk on it too. 

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King Kong came to Town

20.02.2014

 

It’s been a busy week, filled with musicals, running for the train, paneer dosas and golden gaytime milkshakes. Last weekend it was Valentines day and I had a lovely dinner date with my cousin and her annoying friend who third-wheeled with us. I spent an hour wandering down Bourke and Exhibition Street, discovering little bookstores and dvd sales with cult classics and old westerns. A stroll to the top of bourke street took me to Parliament building and Carlton gardens, where I was faced with couples couples couples everywhere, canoodling on picnic blankets with their cute valentines bottle of wine. Dinner at Trunk Diner was cute and busy, with quesadillas and the spiciest chicken I have ever ever tasted. The Golden Gaytime milkshake is probably the best milkshake I have ever tasted and I am definitely going back for more. It was a fun Valentines day and the fact that I’m single didn’t seem to matter, I’m in a city I am growing to love, doing things that I love, and loving my independence and the person I am trying to be.

 

Saturday was another busy day with a trip to DFO where I scored some Adidas running shoes for $38.50, a jaunt off to Dandenong (bogan town) with a friend from work and her sister. We went sari-shopping, ate paneer dosas and drank masala tea, and saw many a sleezy indian and bogans high on the train. I bought paneer, cumin powder and daal. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I actually miss having daal. I have no idea how to make it but the sight of the packet sitting on my kitchen shelf is just as comforting. In the evening I went out for dinner to Chinatown with my cousin and her friends, followed by drinks at Fathers Office and clubbing at some place called Lounge Bar I think with the worst music ever. Despite the music, the company was great and I had made the most of my night, dancing with my cousins Romanian friend from Sydney who was also determined to have a good time. Sunday was a lazy day, I ran home in the rain from the train station, after sleeping the night at my cousins house, and was grateful for a change of clothes so it didn’t look like I was doing a Walk (or run) of Shame in the morning. I had another friend over for dinner and almost didn’t burn my beef stirfry…but then I did. We still ate it and pretended it was fine. I’m getting better at cooking though, my food is getting much more edible and I’m trying out new recipes and even straying from the recipes when I dare to.

 

The highlight of my weekend was probably going to King Kong at The Regent Theatre. It’s the first time ive gone to a professional musical since I was little, and my mum took me to My Fair Lady. I absolutely loved it and I can say that my life feels so much richer and fuller for having gone to a musical of this scale. I feel incredibly lucky to be here, at this moment, and to be able to take advantage of all these opportunities. Halftix is a gift from God – the seats weren’t great but with half-price tickets, who can complain. I was telling my brother about King Kongs facial expressions afterwards and the conversation went something like this:

 

Denver: how was King kong?

Anushka: hey it was really good. Couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw king kong on stage. I was wondering when you came to Melbourne.

Denver: when I came to Melbourne? Ooh! Piece of crap. I was wondering what you were trying to say!

Anushka: hahaha! Slow

 

This week has been busier, with meetings, trainings, cold weather and early mornings. What I’ve noticed, in comparing countries, people, places, myself – a pre-Anushka and post-Anushka almost – is that there is so much more to gain from life in moving, in picking up your roots and taking them elsewhere as a responsible and financially stable adult. There is an empowerment and self-awareness that comes with moving – not as a child with your family, or as a 20-something old with a boyfriend, but as a single independent woman. Every disappointment and battle lost, is something I will have faced alone but with the support of my family and people I love, and learnt from and grown more because of it. And every success, and mountain conquered is a joy felt even greater because of the realisation that I did it on my own.

 

I’m getting used to screwing up and realising that its okay to do that. Its okay to get lost and have no idea where I am, to spend hours deciding whether to buy a sandwich press for $7.50 from Big W or not (I finally bought it in the end!), and make a cake in a cup in the microwave when you’re ovenless. I’m getting used to having random people do weird things on the road, like purple-haired cross-dressed guys high-fiving me, and drunk students in prahran cornering me and singing when I’m walking home with my groceries (who drinks at 5pm on a Sunday?!!) and high kids on the train dropping their Gobstoppers and trying to bite each other. Yes I get way too annoyed with myself when I screw up and saying ‘oh god I don’t know where it is. Eggs. Eggs. Eggs’ out loud in the supermarket is probably not doing wonders for my public image, but I was incredibly disappointed earlier this week when I accidently deleted all my photos from the weekend off my phone. That was photos of me with friends at work, making a video for a Bridges project, pics from dandenong, valentines day, clubbing, fathers office, my food I cooked, and parliament building. But I’m sure I’ll go back to these places, and take even more photos when I do.

 

There are lots more place to explore closer to home and each time I find something new I feel like I’ve discovered a new treasure, marked X on the map and I can’t wait to share it with the world. On the way to the local library last week I found an American style Diner on the corner of Chapel Street and Toorak Road called Soda Pop, with a milkshake bar, and a juke box playing. It reminded me so much of Pop’s from Archie’s comics, I have to go there sometime. Chapel Street is vibrant and lively….there is so much to do I cannot wait to start. I’ve noticed that moving to a new place makes it so much easier to spend hours with people you may barely have talked to in Auckland, but the fact that you know off each other and you’re both from Auckland, makes you bond instantly in a new city. I’m making more new friends though, and with White Night coming up this Saturday, I’m looking forward to hanging out with friends from work, out of work, and feeling twenty two…everything will be alright if, you have me next to you ❤ 

Feels like home to me

12.02.2014

 

Yesterday I missed my baby brother turning 21. This is the second year in a row that I’ve missed his birthday but being his 21st, I really wish I could’ve been there. I had grand plans to make him a video with photos and write him a poem but I never got round to it. It was good talking to him over the weekend though, and a few other friends from New Zealand. It’s funny how much there is to talk about when you haven’t seen each other for a month…in some cases more.

 

It has been eight months since I’ve talked to friends of mine – their choice not mine. And I thought that time heals all wounds but it really doesn’t. Or maybe I just haven’t waited long enough. While some friendships have grown cold without the physical proximity to hold us together, others have grown stronger and I now know the people who will always be there, even when I’m a mess and the world is as scary and lonely as it is empowering and full of promise.

 

In the last 10 days I have signed my lease, moved into my new flat, gone slightly crazy at Big W buying everything from an Iron and a set of dishes (12 piece set for $7 wtf!!) to colourful serving spoons and clothes pegs. I am grateful to everyone who has helped me – whether its supporting me in making the decision, giving me plastic containers and lots of advice, helping me get my bond back, and helping to transport all my stuff to my new granny flat. After such a bad first experience flatting, its refreshing to be on my own with my own little room and kitchenette and being able to come home after a long day at work and know that I have it all to myself. I haven’t written off flatting just yet – it’s something that I might still do at some point, just not right now.

 

Now that I’m finally finding my feet, I can feel myself relaxing and enjoying all the opportunities that I was waiting for. In my first week in Melbourne I met up with a friend from Auckland who taught me to play that song from ‘Big’ on one of the many Pianos on the streets and bridges around the CBD. With no internet or data for the last week, I found myself trying to play it on my mothers Harmonica I brought with me to Melbourne. Facebook truly was a black hole that sucked up all my time. A week without facebook meant that I started reading again (Dear John tehehe), watched countless episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, played the Harmonica and walked as far as my feet would take me. There is no better way to explore a city than by foot, and in the last week I’ve let myself wander with a loose leash, comforted at the sight of my signed lease agreement.

 

I laugh more at work than I ever have in a single day before – my team is incredibly funny and I feel like I laugh more than I talk. Last night I planned to show off my domestic goddess skills and invited a friend from New Zealand over for dinner, but ended up getting a cooking lesson instead. Thank god for boys who can cook! I now have enough chicken curry to last me another 4 days. Everyday I’m discovering new things and remembering more than I did the day before. I now know all the train lines that go through South Yarra…and wandering around the neighbourhood on Saturday I managed to find the Supermarket and the Prahran market with no data, which is something that I became really dependant on when I first moved. A map is my new best friend and I’ve learnt that asking for directions wins you more friends. People have been incredibly kind, like the lovely person who walked me to my bus stop when I got off at the opposite end of Southern Cross Station. Another colleague at work surfed the Internet for hours until he found me the perfect electric hotplate when he realised I didn’t have a stove at my new flat.

 

Armed with an electric hotplate I bought online and pots and pans lent to me by a cousin, my life is slowly revolving around food. I’ve grown to love Home and living stores and can spend hours gazing at table cloths, pots and pans, beautiful cutlery and fancy gadgets for the kitchen. I sigh with satisfaction thinking about my little fridge stocked with mushrooms, capsicum, salad leaves, tomatoes and eggplant. Who knew. Note to self: Don’t go grocery shopping at 11am in 40 degree heat again unless you want to sweat it back home with four grocery bags. I’m a lot more predictable than I want to be but when you’re cooking for one, you have to like the food you cook. Today at Costco I caved for the first time and spent $10 on a jumbo pack of Maltesers. It’s the first thing I’ve bought so far that I don’t actually need and I feel incredibly guilty about it, but it will last me a long time (hopefully!) and I think I deserve a treat.

 

Sitting on my bed after work, there is something comforting about my basmati rice cooking on the hotplate and chicken curry in the fridge. It reminds me of home and as much as I miss it, I am so so glad I am here and exploring this tiny corner of the world. Melbourne is everything I hoped it would be and more. With 11 months left to go, I have more than enough time to call it my own, but so far I’m just taking each day at a time. My flat is small, but its all I need. There is a cockroach living under my bed that I’ve successfully ignored. I stay out of his way and he stays out of mine. And when I kneel down to pray at night I carefully leave a foot between me and my bed in case he decides to venture out. My fan and light switch didn’t work when I moved in and my lovely land lady gave me a table fan to use for the first few days. It’s all the little things, than make a house a home. There are kindred spirits here, as Anne of Green Gables would say, and this may not be Avonlea, but its beginning to feel like Home. 

The Guitar Man

Almost a month into my brand new adventure, I am now the girl who lurks between the shelves in the City Library and waits for that 20 minute express computer to be free before I jump on it. Kinda like that old woman in that Friends episode. The one who waits for the Poker machines in Vegas before she swoops in and steals Phoebe’s Jackpot. Who knew I’d be desperate for 20 minutes of Internet a month ago when I was downloading songs off Youtube with not a care in the world. I am also the girl who waits around the elevator in my apartment building and accosts unknowing strangers, taking them back to my flat with me and getting them to open a can of baked beans. (I swear it wasn’t just me – the tin opener is terrible!) The good Samaritan then cut his finger in the process but was quite happy to let me put a band aid on him. Being cut off from Facebook and Hotmail has me wishing I’d messaged everyone I haven’t yet – before this forced period of hibernation. People I wish I’d kept in touch with but I was too busy, or too tired or too….no excuse.

 

My last post was followed by a surge of emails, facebook messages and worried phone calls, for which I am so grateful. I am actually fine. Life is a little unpredictable at the moment but I’m sure this is a good lesson for me. It’s almost like a crash course in dealing with change and ambiguity. Something I am supposed to be good at according to my job description but given my flailing in present circumstances – apparently not. I am sure I’ll look back at this and think God why did I ever worry so much about everything, half glass empty much. And truth be told – life will sort itself out eventually. It is just in this present moment, that I feel a little bit inadequate, and slightly overwhelmed by the unpredictability of it all and it’s tempting to be an Ostrich and just bury my head in the sand at times.

 

There are moments that have meant a lot to me. Like the guy on my bus who walked me down to Flinders street from Southern Cross station when our bus broke down and he realised I wasn’t from Melbourne. Thank you for talking to the crazy girl who looked around nervously and talked too much. I now have a ‘bus-friend’ called Nick to talk to while he’s here over the summer. To the guy who smiled at me as I walked across the bridge battling the heat even at 8pm in this Melbourne summer – thank you for noticing me when I thought no one did. My ego was pleasantly surprised it still had a heartbeat, given that I have neglected any attempt to look good and my eyebrows are rivalling that of Hermione Grangers’.

 

To the man playing the guitar on Southbank Promendade – that was the second time I’ve heard you play and my feet dragged me in your direction even though my house was in the opposite direction. On Saturday evening I heard you play ‘Fast car’, today it was ‘3am’ by Matchbox Twenty. I followed the sound of your voice singing the words “and she said baby, its 3am I might be lonely”. I knew this song. I got close enough to remember the name but I was too shy to stop to listen. I thought maybe, maybe next time I hear you play I’ll stop and put some change in your guitar case and I’ll write you a note to tell you how you touched my life and how every time I hear you, its like you’re singing just for me. I feel like the woman in that song by Roberta Flack – I came to see you and listened for a while, and there you were this stranger….singing my life with your words. You reminded me that if someone wrote those songs, someone else has felt like I feel and dreamt like I dream. And that must mean something.

 

To the men playing the guitar – two nights later, I left a note for you.

 

I left a letter for a stranger. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Actually it was two strangers. The guy I heard singing Fast Car on Southbank Promenade? There’s two of them. One of them looks like a Californian blonde surfer, the other has dirty dreads and the voice of an angel. I could never ever walk up to them and tell them that they made my week….made my month maybe. And so I took the easy way out and wrote them a letter on the letter writing paper with matching envelopes my friend got me as a going away present.

 

I heard them play on Friday night…It was Chinese New Year and I planned to force myself out of my flat and walk down to the river and see the stalls and the lanterns. I had a feeling – a premonition – that they would be there again. And right enough they were. They were playing ‘Save tonight’ by Eagle Eye Cherry. I love that song. I don’t know how they do it but they always sing my favourite songs. I would love to hear them sing This is love in Adelaide, I can almost imagine their voices in my head.

 

And so I walked past them with a smile on my face and sat on a bench facing the river and let myself soak in their music and it was amazing. After a few minutes I walked past them and left them some change and my letter. They may laugh at it, they may think it’s silly and immature – or they may be grateful and happy that their music has meant something to someone out there. I’d like to think it’s the latter. When I was nine years old, my favourite song was The Guitar Man by Bread. My mum laughed at the time saying it was a very mature favourite song for a nine year old (my favourite book was Jane Eyre which earned a few more laughs), and now I see what she means. I’m sure that in time, my two guitar men will move on, find a new crowd, grow old and lose their fans. But I will never forget them or how one song on a hot 41 degree evening meant so much to me.

 

As for me – the winds have changed. It’s time to start packing again. I might not have a magic carpet bag like Mary Poppins but I think I feel more capable of dealing with whatever comes out of it. I’ve done a lot of stupid things which are all part of the learning curve I guess. Like cooking 1kg of mince with baked beans and rocket leaves. It has now lasted me 4 meals and I still have an entire box to go. I don’t think I’m ever going to eat mince again. Like going to see a flat inspection at Vale Street in East Melbourne and only realising when I knocked on the door that I was meant to be at the same street in North Melbourne. But these are all things that I need to do while I’m young and learn from. While I just have myself to be responsible for and no one else. I cannot imagine what my grandparents went through, moving away from home at the age of 19, both of them. One went away to be a teacher in the North of India, the other far away to Uganda to work in a bank. Starting life anew with 6 younger brothers and sisters to care for and letters that arrived 3 weeks after they were written is something I can’t even imagine myself doing. Or my parents who moved to New Zealand when I was eight and had not only themselves but two children to worry about. I spent the weekend with family again and had a wonderful time eating, talking, and laughing all weekend, learning how to do fishtail braids and not to mention whispering late at night with my cousin and on-demand spooner 😉 I was sent home with lots of plastic containers, ham, and a stomach full of yummy home-cooked food.

 

I feel like this week is going to be even better than the last – I’m moving out on Saturday and waiting on applications to find out where exactly, but I’ve got my fingers crossed for a quiet little Studio apartment I’ve set my heart on. The jigsaws in this puzzle all seem to be falling in place, and when they do, life will be unstoppable. I have a wanderlust that’s pushing me on, there are so many museums, art galleries, zoos, musicals, plays…the list is endless. And if all else fails – I know I always have my Guitar Men.  Xoxo boys – from the Girl who loves your music.