The Walk

16/04/2015

It was a beautiful sunny day today after almost a week of rain so I decided to walk to New Market this afternoon to catch up with an old friend of mine. It was a 5.4km walk and along the way I passed my Primary School, Intermediate School, High School, and two old workplaces, which brought back lots of memories which I didn’t even know I had. It’s amazing the way that places can jog our memories and bring back thoughts of feelings we had as a child, and even dreams.

I left home at 3pm and walked down St. Andrews road, past a school for children with Cerebal Palsy and I remembered working with a woman 4 years ago who used to work there previously and found it really hard to deal with it when two of her students passed away. I never knew those children but I always feel sad when I walk past that school. I went on up the hill and I remembered previous runs up the same hill from a few years ago and what I wore and the sound of my breathing, and the reason why I am still walking and trying to get healthy which made me annoyed with myself. I saw a car turning into landscape road with two pink kids bikes on the back and I remembered driving past the road once and watching a father carry his daughters pink scooter over his shoulder while she walked along slowly and I wondered if by some chance it was the same family. How do we remember these things that stick in our memories 3 years later? It’s crazy. As I kept walking down St. Andrews road I walked past the church where my friend’s parents funerals were and I remembered the services, they were the first funerals I went to in New Zealand and I’ve been to a few since. It’s sad how as you get older, you go to more weddings but you also go to more funerals.

As I kept walking down St. Andrews road I remember driving past at one point and picking up a boy I liked and giving him a ride home so he could pick up his skateboard (LOL) and what I imagine my face looked like judging by how shaky my driving was. I remember it all and wonder if it was all worth it, the tears, the worrying, the anguish, was it worth that look on my face? Probably.

I reached the bottom of St Andrews road and turned right onto King George Street, after catching a glimpse of Windmill Courts where I used to play Saturday Netball and was a Goal Keep, back in the day when I was taller than all the boys in my class. I remember the wind in my hair and pivoting with a ball in my hands, the Velcro on my stick on goal keep bib. I remember it all. I walked up to the traffic lights on King George Street and I remembered being in a car at those traffic lights with tears streaming down my face, clutching the steering wheel like my life depended on it, crying over the only boy I think I’ve ever loved and feeling my world caving in around me. And the sight of a child crossing the road and stopping to stare at me was the only thing that made me stop. Children shouldn’t have to see something like that.

I kept walking down Gillies ave and remembered Cross Country runs that cut through the park and walking down past Kohia Terrace with my big blue ANI sunhat with Shamili and Christina, my friends I walked home with. We would stop at the playground and play for what seemed like hours after school, eating an apple on the way home and feeling the static in the plastic slides giving us electric shocks in the sun, the flying fox was never too low back then, and we didn’t know what most of the graffiti on the playground meant though we knew it was something bad. When did we learn and who taught us, how to love and lust and hate? When did we learn with an adult awareness, what longing is and what it can do to us? There were children playing there today, boys taller than me but younger than me laughing and throwing dodgeballs at each other across the playground. When will these boys realise their strength and their manhood and look at me like I could be desirable? 5 years from now? 10? When do children stop being children. I hope never.

As I walked past the playground I remembered a vivid dream I had as a child about walking through a pine forest in the domain that went on forever, in my dream I could smell the freshness and the scent of the pine needles and it was cold, I couldn’t find my way out. I suddenly came to a clearing where there was a huge playground. There was bark on the ground and a huge climbing thing made of rope that was a maze to get through. I looked up in awe thinking, this is the best playground ever. But further along there was a group of children who looked scary who were bigger than me. And I remember being afraid to play on it, in case it was theirs. How do children have an entire dream that revolves solely around a playground? And what a playground it was!

At the Traffic Lights at Epsom Ave I remember being stopped by two boys when I was 11 years old and being asked where I come from. I said India and they said go back to your own fucking country. I froze and didn’t know what to say. Their teacher happened to be in a car at the lights and she told them to shut up and leave me alone. There’s things you remember and there are things you forget. This wasn’t one of them. I feel sorry for my eleven year old self, the me that felt I was encroaching on land, on rights, on heritage, simply by existing. I kept walking up the hill and under a bush of overhanging hydrangeas on the hill. I remember being 13 going on 30 and thinking that I wanted the flowers next to it at my wedding and that I had to remember to look up the name in case I forgot later when I was old. It has been 11 years since then but I still haven’t forgotten so I don’t think I will anytime soon. I never looked up the name of those flowers but they don’t seem to be there anymore.

Further along Gillies Ave I walked past the daycare where I used to volunteer. I clearly remember the faces of Oliver, Armani and his little brother Milan, my three favourite children at the daycare. I ran into Armani with his mother at Circus Circus about 2 years ago and he was all grown up and had forgotten me. But I remember the grin on his face when I used to push him on the swing and he would come towards me growling with a rawr face as I said ‘Where’s my tiger!’. These children I loved don’t even know my name. Next to it was a house I’ve admired since I was 10. It looks like something out of the secret garden. I remember walking past it and thinking I would like to play with a skipping rope and plant something like the little girl in The Secret Garden. As I walked past, now 23, I was disappointed that they’d moved the stone table with little stone chairs like something out of the stone hedge or a druid convention in Asterix and Obelix and having an unjustified sense of betrayal that they had moved it since I was a child, as if time should have stayed still in this house, while I changed and grew and moved on.

I went on to cross Brightside road and remembered that it was the first road I ever crossed alone by myself while my mum and brother watched from a distance to see if I could cross the road by myself, before I could be trusted to walk home alone from school. I failed miserably. It took me a long time to cross roads confidently and I was still struggling this year in Thailand. I went on to the diagonal crossing at Owens Road and remembered running to school late with my socks sliding down my legs and my school bag banging on my back. I can still hear the school bell in my head, like a fire alarm siren. As I walked past EGGS I had this strange urge to walk on the white wall of the low bushes next to the school like I did as a child and so I did, very self-consciously, balancing on the wall as I walked. 14 years later, my balance is terrible.

Walking on past Alpers Ave, I thought of our old apartment down the other end and the waterfights I had in the garden with my friends. I kept walking up the hill and had visions of myself as a 9 year old sitting with my whole school on the footpath, waiting to see the Queen as she drove past in year 4. Under the motorway and down the other side, the driveway of my primary school where I went running down the terraces flying with my feet barely touching the ground. I remember doing a lot of stupid things and getting into trouble, and being (self-proclaimed) King and Queen of the Monkey bars with my friend Lukas. Turned down Mortimer Pass and went to 277 where I used to work for 3 years before.

Although it was only 5.4km, during my walk I revisited the last 16 years of my life in New Zealand at some point or another. Its interesting how memories overlap and places and dreams intercede with one another. How does one remember so much? How much more will I remember in my lifetime, if my mind already feels so full of the past?

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Balancing Act

13.04.2015

I was talking to a friend of mine recently about how when you’re in a relationship you often neglect your relationships with your family without meaning to, it’s just something that usually happens. And it may be idealistic, but having finally realised this, I think I’m going to make a conscious effort the next time I’m in a relationship to really spend quality time with my family, to involve them in what I’m doing and where I’m going, and let them know that I still value spending time with them as well as my significant other.

Having this aim in mind is all very well but how do you actually do it? Coming from an Indian background that places a lot of importance on choosing the right person and serious (as opposed to casual) relationships, how do you achieve that balance with involving your family and letting them get to know the guy/girl in your life but without having the pressure of them expecting it to end in you both walking down the aisle. It’s a tight rope of sorts, this desire to be a good person, and give my family the love and attention they deserve, and still keep my sanity and autonomy at the end of it.

It’s a difficult territory to navigate in any culture, but I think more so in eastern cultures. I think in some ways, it is almost easier dating someone from a completely different cultural background. You’re a lot more accepting of any differences as you just pass it off as cultural rather than individual. You probably go into it with less expectations, making more ‘issues’ negotiable in the long run. I was talking to another friend today and she told me a really sad story about a couple she knows who have been together for 5 – 6 years and the guy is now being forced into an arranged marriage, which if he wants to get out of, will cost him a huge amount of money in order to compensate the other woman’s family. Stories like this are shocking in that they are actually happening, and that it’s to relatively normal people who live in western countries and appear at first glance to be exactly like you or me.

It got me thinking about what I would give up, or what lengths I would go to, to be with someone I loved. And frankly, I don’t think I would ever get into a situation like that. The older I get, the more selfish I have become about my independence and autonomy. I think some level of self-preservation and a visceral aversion towards sacrificing my goals and ambitions would instinctively stop me from falling remotely in love with a man who doesn’t have goals and ambitions of his own and the balls to stand up for what he wants. Even if you aren’t there yet, at some level you should have an idea of where you want to be in the future, and the drive to make that happen. I don’t expect to be with someone who has it all together, because hell I certainly don’t, but I expect there to be that potential in the future. The hardest part of that is standing up for what you want in the first place and if you’re not able to do that now, then I don’t know how much I could trust you to do that in the future. I see no reason to give up my hopes and dreams for someone who ‘isn’t quite sure’, maybe I would have in the past and I sure got close to it but gone are the days where I act like a 1950’s housewife.

One thing I have realised though, is that in order to give anything my best, I need to be completely independent and self-sufficient. I realise that in order to be truly invested in what you have together, you both need to be functioning adults with jobs, rent to pay, groceries to buy, social lives and hobbies, and the skills to juggle all these things and create a life together. And while I’m living back at home atm, and quite dependant on my parents in a lot of ways, I know that in 10 months time I will be back to being extremely self-sufficient again and I feel a bit more relieved knowing that even though I’m getting looked after and spoilt, and cooked for and little elves (mum) tidy my room while I’m at work, it’s not because I can’t take care of myself, it’s because my family loves me and they are happy to do it for me. And I am happy to let them because I know that it’s their way of showing that they love me and care about me, and this is what families do, they make things easier for one another and ask questions like what time will you be home and say things like make sure you drive safely at night. In another 10 months I may be more self-sufficient, but I won’t have anyone who lies awake listening for me tiptoeing down the driveway at night and waiting to hear my key in the door.

Rut

12/04/2014

Narrow and unforgiving
This rut has got me
Unhinged like a six foot door
Held together with blu-tack
I’m stuck you know?
And you know exactly why.

It feels like vanity
The kind you don’t see in the mirror
But in corners and angles
Sly like a serpent
The kind that makes you hate yourself
After.

10 words that I’ve said wrong as a kid

I just realised recently that there are still a lot of words I say that have stuck from childhood, like names for my parents or my brother that probably started off as not being able to say their real names. For example my dad is still ‘Dada’ and my mum is anything from Mum, Meemi, Mommisha, moish, marmee and mommer.

My brother sometimes calls me Moishe which I always thought was a sweet pet name he made up but found out recently when I read Night by Elie Weisel that its actually the name of a Jewish man who was in the holocaust called Moishe the Beadle…strange. Not sure quite what to think about that haha.

Library – If you had a mother like mine who loved watching your face as you read new books and lifted the flaps in ‘See Spot’ books to find Spot, then this usually involved a trip to the ‘ribleary’

Plane – My dad worked in Dubai until I was 3 years old so every time I saw a ‘plaa’ in the sky, I would think he was in the plane regardless of which direction it was going, whether it was taking off or landing, or even if my dad was at home on holiday.

Rain – The sound of rain was always Coco. So was Water and Milk. Don’t ask.

Parrot – I had a pet parrot as a child, and since I couldn’t say Parrot and said Pappy instead, it soon became his name.

Can you see that – As a kid my mum was always pointing out different colours and shapes and animals saying ‘Can you see that?’ She was amusingly surprised when I turned around one day and started showing her things saying ‘Canoocheedat’

Brother – I was apparently pretty rasta as a kid and called my brother Denver my ‘breder’

Juice – I was a pretty self-important big sister and believed I was the only one who could speak ‘baby language’ and translate for my brother, so I had the self-appointed task of feeding him his ‘goosh’ and ‘mik’ (milk)

Sister – Titi. My parents obviously thought this was hilarious and never corrected me, my brother called me this for years as a pet name for sister. Little did we know. Fun times.

Dictionary – I was a big fan of abbreviating words – anything to make life easier right? Thought nothing of asking my mum to pass me the ‘dic’ till I was about eight LOL

Elephant – Ekin – more my brother than me, and also ‘witch toll and beesh’ for ‘witch troll and beast’ haha.

Time

9/04/2015

I find that time is running away from me. There is so much I want to do and so much I want to achieve in each day and each month and each year and sometimes its just not enough. It’s easy to find pockets of time, 20 minutes or half an hour at a time but that’s just enough to do one quick thing on your to-do list, barely enough to really engage with what you’re doing and immerse yourself in it. Even this blogpost is going to be written in a little over 10 minutes.

I’m struggling to compartmentalise time and allocate it to things that really need my attention. Writing seems an easy escape, a way to spend 10 minutes quickly just getting my thoughts done. There are things that I need to do that I’m avoiding, I have valid excuses but I know that even when these excuses cease to exist it will still be an effort to do it.

There are times when I feel busy but I know I’m still being inefficient. I could do so much more with my time but I let it waste away in the pockets between activities. My mind needs a solid two hour block set aside before I can truly get into something and know I will not be interrupted. Between uni and work and helping at home I find it hard to actually set aside that mental health time to just write or read a book for more than 20 minutes while I’m waiting in the car or for a lecture.

Socialising is important. I thought I’d do more of it. But I’m finding that my life is fuller than I thought it would be and I’m pickier about how I want to spend the spare time I have and who I spend it with. ‘Me’ time, has become more important to me than it ever was and self-care is something that I’ve made mandatory rather than an indulgence. By self-care I mean actually taking the time to understand what I’m feeling and thinking and looking after my health and exercising. For the last three days I have been doing a 40 minute aerobics dance workout every day, practicing deep breathing, cooking, drinking green tea. I feel like it’s making a difference. If not a huge difference atm, the placebo effect is definitely working and I feel happier just observing my self-control and motivation.

I’ve realised that I can’t afford to waste time on people who don’t support me and my goals and ambitions and its okay to cut people out or decide that you don’t have time for them in your lives. We are only on this planet for a short period of time, we might as well invest in people who love us and believe in our dreams than those who tear us down.

Morning time

cranky-early-morning-1

Some people wake up like they were pierced with a spindle. Sleeping beauty and waking beauty, their faces are blessed with that eternal grace of fulfillment that needs no coffee. I’m not a coffee drinker myself, I like the smell not the taste. But mornings are not my thing. I can wake up at the sound of my name in the middle of the night, my mind senses the urgency in a tone of voice, the light of my phone at night is enough to make me open my eyes wide in a panic that something has happened.

Yet when morning comes my body is lifeless like a comatose patient, I open my eyes hesitantly, just a slit to feel with my hands, like one of the three blind mice. It takes a lot more squirming and convulsions of my body at weird angles stretching the sleep out of my limbs before I can groggily swing my legs out of bed and walk with eyes half shut to the bathroom. Anyone who happens to be in my way becomes an automatic vertical bed and I lean on them falling asleep standing up. If it’s my mum then I’m usually hanging over her shoulder making whimpering noises with my face scrunched up like an angry toddler while she rubs my back and croons soothingly, holding me like she’s done for 23 years.

Morning time is for nuzzling into someone’s neck, whimpering because you’re cold and the sheets have come off the small of your back. Morning time is for being tickled awake gently like a child with kisses that linger on my skin long after your lips have left. Morning time is for fingers of sunlight poking holes into my hair spread across your chest, your chin resting on my head as your survey the damage we’ve done and smile.

Pantomime

7/04/15

I pull faces
Exaggerated lip curl my tongue
Not quite like Miley Cyrus
A pantomime of a pantomime
I poke fun at this life of mine
Tongue in cheek
But I really hope. Secretly.
That you’re laughing with me
Not at me. Like he did.

Who gave you those eyes
I love the laugh in them
Buried deep like a quiet spring
A babbling brook in a fairy tale
About lost children in the woods
I could capture that laugh
In a magic lamp I rub at night
And listen while I’m lost in the woods
Just another pantomime clown
Waiting for the laugh in your blue eyes