Old is the new New

2016, going on 1993.

 

In early 1993, I boarded the flight back to Kuwait after the Gulf War with such excitement that I thought I would be sick. My cousins, uncles and aunts came to receive us at the airport with loud squeals of joy and big jackets (we were travelling from 35 degree Indian spring to 15 degree Kuwait winter). I took in all the squeals and hugs and familiar Kuwaiti air. I shrugged off the jacket. I wanted to feel everything.

Through chattering teeth and quickly-freezing toes, I asked all the important questions. Were KDD juice boxes still available? Was Funny Face chips still the best? How soon could I get my hands on a Snickers bar? Were Hardee’s burgers still as big as my face?

Yes, yes, right away, yes.

I swear, I did not blink during the ride home. The water towers, Kuwait Towers, my school, our first home. They were all there.

We were all home, together.

q8

Photo cred: As always, m @rnanoj

When the war chased us out of our homes and lives that fateful August day, we thought we’d be back before the summer ended. That was innocence.

A few months into our refugee life, we accepted that was going to be our future. That was adaptation.

Two years later, in the middle of all the excitement that glorious cold, winter evening back in Kuwait, I knew that wherever my past or my future took me, I would never let go of the heart-aching happiness in that moment right there. That feeling of being exactly where I should be.

That was conviction.

Since then, I’ve loved Kuwait and hated her, I’ve left her and scrambled back to her, I’ve missed her and avoided her. I’ve moved, married and made a baby. But I never let go of that memory.

I went looking for new, and came right back to old.

We landed in Kuwait on a cold, wintery morning few days ago (M got a job! Yay! We’re working members of society again). All of the cousins and uncles and aunts were at work, but the phone calls were loud with squeals of joy. I took the jacket this time. Adult.

I got home to my KDD mango juice. Funny Face only comes in a multipack now, the only way to eat it (them). Snickers are not a rarity anymore, but I scoff one down, all the same. Hardee’s burgers are now as small as my palm. Budgets.

We’re all home together, again.

We left Melbourne in search of a new adventure, and I cannot think of an adventure greater than a second chance. Here we are, where I was born and raised. I know the people, the roads and the life. Now, I get to put aside everything I know and do it better and do it with my own little clan.

And if there’s ever a sign of weakness, I’ll always have that moment in ’93 when I sat on my uncle’s couch, shivering with excitement and from the cold.

Just like back then, I’m unsure about the future, but can barely conceal the blind faith that it is going to be the best days of my life.

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My rainy day

I reach out into the open, spreading my fingers wide to catch a few drops of the light drizzle. Some long-forgotten force pushes me out from under my protective cover into the drizzle. 

The soft rain drops fall on my cheeks and finger tips, and after a very long time I’m not worried about running for cover. To protect my hair, my bag or my precious shoes. This time, I’d like to give in to my free spirit and keep my superficiality locked away, instead. 

Not many things compare to the blind joy of running into rain. Rainwater falling over your hair and trickling onto your face before seeping in and leaving your hair in the happiest bunch of clumps. Cold, squishy toes. Little stubborn droplets that refuse to flow off your shoulders. 
 

Photo cred: m @rnanoj

 

During our summer holidays in India, on the first sign of rain we’d be outside. It was a privilege beyond permission or fear of pneumonia. We danced under the open sky and jumped in puddles and found corners of the house where the water collected and poured down in a rush. We made paper boats with wet fingers and watched them awkwardly catch the wind and dodge raindrops, in the shallow puddles. We fell over each other laughing, we shook water off the plants, we drank in every drop of the fun. 

Oh the freedom! 

I think I just had an “Aha!” moment. 

Correction: a “Doh!” moment.

I reminisce about the glories of my younger days as if someone took them away from me. Obviously, and embarrassingly, I’m the idiot who permitted limits and fears into my head. In my pitiful effort to hold on to aforementioned glories, I temporarily forgot how to have real fun.

We say it’s the little moments, yet we waste these precious moments waiting for that big one. 

We know it’s the thought that counts, but we make-do with a brand-spanking-new phone.

We want to laugh till our sides ache, but cynicism. 

We love talking to the people who make us happy, but we can’t find time to talk to them.

Geez.

I suddenly wish the drizzle would turn into rain. And maybe if I step into it, it could wash away some of the faux grown-up-ness and the carry-on bullshit excuses. 

Live a lot, ya’ll! 

Happy New Year!

School’s in!

Like any regular school day, I woke up groggy, mechanically brushed my teeth and washed my face. I put on my freshly ironed clothes, tied my dusty shoelaces and threw my bag over my shoulder.

Unlike most other school days, I walked into school with my son in tow as my husband waved from the car.

I was visiting my alma mater almost 15 years after I graduated from there.

Would the teachers remember me? Would the buildings hold any signs of me skidding down halls and leaning against pillars making secret pacts? Would echoes of my excited squeals still resonate along the corridors?

Walking towards the gate, I can feel the noise and energy in my bones. And if any of the students ask me if I’m a parent, they’ll feel the power in my bones, too.

After all, I’m in school and parents are just not cool.

I’m told to get permission from the Principal to go into the main building, so I walk right past his office and into the building.

After all, I’m in school and if you don’t rebel, you fit in.

At first glance, everything is different. A new paint job, new uniforms, new attitudes. And everything is the same. Same rush, same invincibility, same energy.

It’s recess when I walk in and the teenagers, who’ve replaced my friends and me, gather in cliques like we did before them. Some of them spare me a side-glance, too entrenched in their discourse to pay too much heed to the blue-haired mama with a small boy and big smile.

The few teachers who remain, recognise me right away. I can see their minds racing, as if to sort through thousands of files to match my face to a memory. After good-naturedly chastising me for my absurd hair colour, we begin to chat. As we reconnect, I can see it in their eyes – they’re remembering me, one mischief at a time, one laugh at a time, one grade at a time. That’s my sign to keep moving!

With every step forward, I go back in time.

corridor.png

One corridor, a million memories.

Running into school to share a secret (of the “don’t tell anyone” variety) with my best friends. Or the moment of hopeless terror when I remember I left my assignment on my bedside table. Or the silent prayer for a dreaded teacher to be absent. Or the exhilaration at the thought of spending the next six hours with some of my most favourite people.

That feeling when I enter my classroom every morning – either “here we go again” or “here we go again”.

The unconscious ritual of scanning the classroom to see if anyone was panicking over homework that I had forgotten about, too. Then weighing time versus interest to see if it was worth attempting to complete it or using the time to come up with a creative excuse.

Slipping into my seat and instantly filling my desk drawer with the essentials – pen, pencil, books and my lunch in case of an emergency snack attack.

Over the next six hours, teachers would walk in and out of the classroom. We were inspired, bored, entertained, and very often, we were the entertainment. But we learnt life lessons. Like how to stifle a laugh without bursting a vein, how to think of the saddest thoughts to douse the laughter and how to drop a pen and spend the next three minutes looking for it so as to laugh freely under the desk. Essentially, we learnt that we are powerless against an infectious giggle fit.

 

bench

If only these benches could speak. They’d tell tales of notes and chips and cassettes. Of laughter and nerves and tears.

The time we spent laughing for absolutely no reason makes the time we spend looking for a reason to smile these days, seem sadly disproportionate.

School or university years are always remembered as the best days. We hold on to every detail; how the classroom looked on that rainy, sleepy day when you sat at the back of the class daydreaming, the way you felt rushing out of school on the first day and rushing in on the last, the cold water at the water cooler after PT, the smell of chemicals on your hands after lab, the exhilaration of writing on the chalk board (unless you’ve been asked to solve a problem in front of the class, then it’s fear, pure excruciating fear), the crucial chat with your friends about that boy and the day of raucous laughter about that boy.

What if someday we look back upon today as one of the best days of our life? Even if we’re all happy beyond reason in the future (and I hope we will be!), I hope we lovingly remember the room, office, train or classroom we’re sitting in right now, and relive the conversations we’re having and the people we’re having them with.

Almost 15 years after I left school, I can still hear the weightless laughter and feel the blind hope bouncing off the walls. I want to tell 15-years-back me to remember this moment and know that you’re living it – and you’re responsible for the happiness you’re feeling, don’t ever put it in anyone else’s hands. Never lose the sense of wonder for the world out there. The fun, quirky or shy girls around you will become the strong, beautiful women who make your day by just remembering you, so cherish them. Continue believing that you can make a difference and never stop being different. The song lyrics you say is your motto in life right now, you’ll probably laugh at that in a few years, but somehow, you’ll reconnect with it again, so hold on to that (even the really, really cheesy ones. Especially, the really, really cheesy ones).

And I want 15-years-back-me to tell me the same thing. Run into work and home to smile and talk to the people around me. Create rituals that make every space mine. Never stop laughing at silly things. Not to wait for something big and shiny every time. Let everyday things inspire me, even if just for a second. Never stop making friends. Make conversation with the quiet guy at work. Finish your homework quickly so you can go out and play. You’ll keep finding best friends and soul mates, but your school friends will be your parachute and jetpack and magic door. It’s ok to be sad, mad and bad. Your school memories may have been the best, but better days are in front of you, if you keep moving forward.

I think school-me would’ve been happy seeing today-me, this morning. She would’ve looked at me and passed the verdict to her friends: “Yeah, she’s not too bad for an adult.”

Ya heard that? Not too bad! Ha!

(Haha she thinks I’m an adult. Cute!)

 

Rama

No mother should ever have to bury her child.

Before she turned 60, Radha buried her first born, her precious boy. Before she turned 70, Radha buried her youngest son, her little baby. Her husband stood by her side the first time, and on the other side the second time. Long before that, she lost her youngest one at birth, and almost lost herself with it.

She stood outside her body and watched as her mind slipped in and out of sanity. She watched as daughters-in-law were widowed and grandchildren were left without their father. She watched her two heart-broken children left behind grapple with one hard blow after another. She ached for them, she ached for herself and she ached and she ached.

Then she got up, rearranged the cushions and went to check if dinner was set.

Life tried to break her, and life lost.

No one radiates as much hope and belief in life as Rama does. Her eyes shine with the kind of love that we all crave, all-consuming, fierce and loyal. Her smile has a curiosity and mischief that is unheard of in women her age and situation. Her hands, her bejewelled hands are comforting like that’s their only purpose and purposeful because that’s what comforts her. The food that appears at the end of her magical wand-like hands could solve world peace if only she had the time for it. A heady mixture of Fair & Lovely Fairness Cream and Ponds Talcum Powder announces Radha’s arrival into the room and lingers on long after she leaves. The mattress under her, the clothes on her and the air around her carry the scent like a halo. The halo only a real human can carry. Her superhuman strength is carefully wrapped in delicate silks and diamonds. Her mind is always racing, her feet not far behind.

I must confess, as I write these words, I’m not sure where I’m going with this, but I promise you, I have a story to share.

 

Rama

Her name is Radha, and she lets me call her Rama.

Rama is far from perfect but everything she does is. She makes friends, enemies, memories and mistakes in a minute. She feels love, hate, joy and pain with an unparalleled intensity. She dislikes dirty places, people and words. Her saris are starched and spotless and timeless. If it smells sweet, looks lovely and tastes good, she’ll accept it. She chases a fly out of her home with the same ferocity with which she welcomes a compliment. She is superficial and sincere in the same breath. She’s generous with her time and attention, but her special brand of blind love is reserved only for her siblings, children and grandchildren.

Nothing gives Rama more joy than seeing her family together. She never shushes or restricts kids from running wild. She’ll get us afterwards though, to scrub off the dirt before we step into her heaven (not haven), her home.

The home her husband and children built for her is her everything. The fact that her husband and eldest son never made it past the housewarming only makes her home a heaven more than ever.

She was treated like a princess till the day she wed, and like a queen every day after. Her home is her palace and she rules fairly.

The rooms are cushioned with music and sunlight, kitchen bursting with aromas, veranda decorated with flower pots and backyard with freshly washed clothes. Not a bowl out of place, not a cushion, not even a sound.

Remember how I said she rules fairly? Not if something is out of place. In the event of such monstrosity, there’s a very small chance that she will quietly go about putting it back in order. Rama has a – how do I put this mildly – she’s a control freak, a cleanliness freak and a broken record when it comes to running her home.

If you’re on an overseas call with her, she’ll put you on hold in order to fluff the cushions. She never entrusts anyone else to clean her bathroom, she does it herself every day, and believe me when I say you can eat off the floor in there. A Dettol cloud surrounds everything and the silverware doubles as mirrors. Her little army of housekeepers work with a steadfast loyalty that you can only get from an iron-fist wrapped in duck-down feather and glitter.

It was in this home that Rama taught me my first and only bedtime prayer. Together, we prayed that we would have sweet dreams and wake up early with fresh hopes and dreams for a better day. We prayed that we would be kind and respectful. We prayed for ill relatives and travelling neighbours and the homeless people we couldn’t help. We prayed for peace and happiness and love.

We didn’t pray to a God with a name. We prayed as a reminder to ourselves, to wake up as better versions of who we were that day.

Then I fell asleep, her prayers and arms keeping me safe.

That was when I was a child and she was my fairy grandmother.

A million lifetimes later, she falls asleep safe in my prayers and arms.

I move into an apartment in the city with Rama during college, and she takes about 32 seconds making the place hers. While I was away growing up and figuring out who I was, Rama perfected her unique brand of her-ness.

She brings along her little army of housekeepers and her her-way-or-the-highway-ness. She hates being away from her home, but she is unbreakable in her optimism. Deaths in the family and near-death health scares for herself and her loved ones can’t shake her faith. In rare moments of solitude when she lets herself reminisce, you can see it. You can see it in the way her fingertips touch her face, you can see it in her soft, faraway eyes. Raw, agonising pain.

On nights that I stay up late, I find her asleep with her arm reaching across the empty bed as if to clutch the husband, babies and siblings she lost and the family that’s scattered far and wide.

Born into a family of 9 children, alone was not a common feeling. Married to the eldest among 8, she instantly doubled her family. Then she built her own brood with 3 boys and a girl. Then there were in-laws and their families. She lost count after the 6 grand children; nothing else mattered.

These are the numbers that run through her head when she lies in bed at night. These are the numbers she aches for. These are the numbers that give her strength. She counts and recounts, wondering where so many of the numbers have vanished.

She wakes next morning, full of fresh dreams and hopes for a better day.

These are some of the many memories of Rama deeply cemented in my heart. There’s no obvious storyline here. No moral. Just that no matter how small or short life is, make your mark and leave your scent, so people speak of you as if you never left us 11 years ago.

Back in the day

Remember a time when you had to remember things. Remember that? When you saw a face that you just couldn’t place, you thought about it for a minute or 2 months. It did your head in. You retraced every step, turned every stone, scanned through every photo album (oh photo albums!), re-visited every detail to get to that one face. In the process, you filled your head and heart with long-forgotten memories, conversations and faces. People who made you laugh, moments that made your heart beat outside of its cage and that week when you cried over the rumour of your favourite boy band breaking up. It was a constant flashback playing in the back of your head, even if the goddamn face bugs you to this day.

It was a simpler time, a time before mobile phones and the Internet ruined everything (except for blogging of course, it’s the best part! Yay Internet!).

Snail mail. Oh the excitement when the postman arrived with a letter bearing your name (before bills ruined that). You had a ceremony with each letter, like looking for secret messages on the envelope, reading every single line quickly and then slowly, reading between the lines and finally slipping the letter back into the envelope so you could repeat the process later. And because you waited so long for that one reply, you never took it for granted. In a way, it was like clicking the refresh button on your email every 5 seconds. Except, less desperate.

Getting lost. When you didn’t bring the invite to your friend’s birthday party, featuring a very detailed map done on her parents’ PC (that’s Personal Computer, kids), your dad had to drive around the block in circles till you found a (smarter) friend entering one of the apartments or got to a shop from where you could call someone and ask. Lot of quality conversations were had in those endless circular drives. Mostly about my irresponsibility and complete disregard for other people’s time and being too exhausted after work to drive around in circles just to have to come and pick me up in an hour. Sigh. Such great life lessons!

Getting away with shit. You could’ve had a complete meltdown in the middle of a crowded shopping centre over a fake spider in your bag and taken an embarrassing fall to top it off, but apart from a bruised ego, you didn’t have to worry about going viral within the hour. Or you could sneak out with your friends and get caught the old-fashioned way when you crept back home – and not because you were tagged in a post titled “OMFG I hope my parents don’t see this!! – smiley face – hashtag girlshaveallthefun hashtag BFFs hashtag donttellmyparents – smiley face!”

No selfies.

Watching things with your own eyes. Yep, that was a thing. No giant screen with the best megapixel camera between you and life. You watched concerts and enjoyed parties and watched the sun set. You drank in every second because you wanted to commit it to memory, without cramming it into your phone’s memory.

Spelling mistakes. I was caught for passing a note in class once, and was punished because I spelt ‘because’ wrong. Do kids these days get caught for texting during class? And for abbreviating every-single-word? Or does autocorrect get the blame? I do love me some autocorrect, though.

Fascination levels. You were like a village idiot. Everyone was. If someone had told me then that in 20 years I’d be able to write about all that and share it with people (hey I begged you to just click the button, I signed you up, I even bookmarked it for you, what more do you want me to do for you?!). Sorry I lost my train of thought. Yes, back in the day a story about smart phones would’ve blown my little mind. Now you say Flying Car and no one even looks up from their phones.

Making eye contact while you speak. Because respect.

Patience. You sat through commercial breaks. You read through the encyclopaedia. You sat through excruciatingly long dinners while the adults talked. You waited in queues. You knew where to part the dictionary to get to the letter you were after. You knew your way around an atlas. You waited outside to be picked up by your mum. You made plans and got there 15 minutes early, just in case. You got bored out of your brains. You knew it was either patience or –.

Hugs. Wake up to another glorious day and roll over to the person/pillow/poster next to you, hold them/it and take in the warmth, scents and love. Or you know, force your eyes open to the blaring light of your mobile phone and check who went where with whom while you were sleeping. Who needs hugs and compassion when you can read up on 10 ways to keep cankles at bay.

Throwback

I’m pretty grateful for all the things we have in our lives these days. Every now and again, I even find myself wondering how we got by without some of the technology. But we did. We didn’t miss appointments or parties (even if we were a bit late on account of leaving the map at home). We knew everything that was going on in our friends’ lives because they told us and not because we facebook-stalked them. We listened to every song on the album because we broke the fast-forward button (until we could afford CDs).

Back in the day we got told off for more real-world teen problems. Get off the phone, get off the couch, get off the computer. Turn down the volume down, take the headphones off, look at me when I talk to you. You’re lazy, you’ll go blind, you’ll go deaf. What does that even mean, how can you like that, why would you waste your time on it? Stop eating junk, stop talking nonsense, stop listening to trash. Your pants are too low, top too high and skirts too tight. You have too much of everything, too less of respect, too many choices.

Hmm.

Gimme a second with this, I swear I had a point. Maybe I’ll take a magical journey and try to remember.

Got some change?

For those of you who’ve been following my blog (Babe? Are you still reading? Ma? Chechi? Is that an echo?) you’ll know that I’m back home with the parents as a pit stop to our next big adventure. When I say pit stop, what I really mean is ‘time to check the map again’. Either way, being here has brought back an avalanche of memories.

I claim to have a photographic memory. I claim it and this is my blog, so I won’t refute it. When I manage to drag myself off the couch and get on a treadmill, I ease the trauma by visualising the streets that I walked through while growing up. Now that I’m back on the streets (not literally! Ok, maybe a little literally), I can see that everything has changed. Where our old home stood is an ugly multi-storey apartment, our little corner store is now a slick car rental outlet and my favourite shopping haunt is now a deserted street half in ruins.

Our new home is better by a mile, the new corner store is a lot like the old one and the new popular shopping mall is an exercise in extravagance. Two out of three, I guess change is not all bad.

In a previous post I wrote about catching up with my friends from high school. On our last day at school, we hugged and wept and promised to never change.

The Backstreet Boys were performing in Melbourne a week after I was flying out; If I hadn’t changed, I would’ve gladly swapped my life adventure for 3 hours of screaming and weeping for 5 gorgeous middle-aged men. Yeah, I’m not entirely convinced about that choice.

Aaaaannyway…

For a very long time after school, I clung on to who I was in the hopes of drawing confidence from the memory. I waited patiently for the right moment to reveal my old self to my new world. It never came, and I found a new self in the process. I instantly hated her. After a few dozen pity parties, I found validation in the form of friendship from the unlikeliest and coolest bunch of people I know, and more importantly, from myself.

That was only the first of many versions of me. Now I’m like Voldermort, looking to save memories of myself in different phases in a bid to live forever. Minus all the killing and soul-splitting.

The main reason I feared change was that I equated it with compromise. To me, I had life sorted out when I was 16. I knew what I wanted to do, where I wanted to live and the kind of person I wanted to be with. Today, I’m not doing what I thought I wanted to do, not living anywhere in particular and not married to a cool dude wearing low-slung jeans and a dog-tag chain, with a catch phrase to reassert coolness. Dogged that one!

The other reason is that I didn’t want to grow up. And sometimes I still say that I haven’t grown up, but come on, 16-year-old me wouldn’t know what to do with a double shot of vodka and Kahlua, and I’m never going back to that! (Drink it all up. That’s the correct answer. Drink it all up.)

When I first heard ‘More than words’ by Extreme, I loved it. I loved the sound and the voices. I loved that it meant love is more than words. That was before I hated it. I hated that it meant you can say you love me till the cows come home, but it don’t mean shit until you take your pants off. Now I love it. I love how prophetic it is about being affectionate and passionate, and not robotically uttering the words.

Cool story bro, right? I have a point, I promise. How we see things – wait, I’m not Deepak Chopra – how I see things is a perception based on my knowledge of the world around me and my acceptance of it. So I now see change as widening my horizons, learning more and living more.

My dreams and aspirations have changed. How I love and want to be loved changes all the time. I’m not flaky, just discovering more about myself every day and making this little ride a lot more fun. I will always love the people I loved, and I may love many more. I’m sure of what I stand for, but they may be enhanced further as I learn more. I still want to be happy, but the how may keep changing.

Now I’ve accepted that change is inevitable, and thank heavens for it. I only need to stay calm and take it as a new happy memory in the making. Slow and easy, awkward stages and all. Somewhere in the middle, I know I’ll find me again.

Change

Walk the walk

I can’t call myself a traveller just yet, but I have moved around enough to pretend I’m one. Truth be told, I have wished I was travelling instead of moving at more than one instance. When I was struggling to bridge the cultural gap or make up for it, when my previously successful sense of humour fell flat in a different time and different language. My confidence wavered, speech stuttered and personality went through absurd changes. I always came back to who I was when I found my people, but I was most at peace with myself when I was out there by myself, exploring this new place and falling in love with it.

Sticks and stones

Walking through a well-manicured park in Melbourne, I see a stick between the blades of grass. It’s a long-enough, thick-enough, less-than-a-branch, more-than-a-twig stick. The kind that stands up, crosses its arms and dares me to pick it up.

The 8-year-old Indian schoolgirl in my head wants to pick it up. She wants to drag it along the sand, all the way from here until the end of the song on her lips.

That’s another thing I miss about India. Random lines dragged along the path from nowhere to somewhere. Marking our thoughts as we walked back home from school.

Or stones. You’d always find stones gathered outside homes. Stones from 2 blocks down. From where that day’s dream began. We would kick it as we walked home. As we imagined, dreamed, sang.

It’s always the simplest things that stay with you, and it could not get simpler than this. Just a stick and a stone, mapping the short walk from the bus stop to my doorstep.

Not that we needed a distraction, because there was never a dull moment in India. Not even when everyone, including the birds and stray dogs, were having their afternoon siesta. We did it as a dance to accompany our wild fantasies. We did it to make the walk home shorter. Or longer. We did it because there was a stick, a stone and an open path.

Get lost

It must’ve been a day like the one I was having when Lawrence Durrell wrote in Justine: In the midst of winter you can feel the invention of spring.

I was still new to Melbourne and on my way to a job interview. The tinniest hint of pollen in the air had given me the confidence to venture out on my own. Naturally, I took the right tram going in the wrong direction. So lost was I in the winter-spring-ness, that I didn’t realise my mistake until I was at the opposite end from where I needed to be. So I wound up enjoying the ride twice, as I took the tram back to my destination.

After my interview, I jumped on the same tram for the third time that day. I stepped off at a random stop and got lost. Lost within the laneways, brick walls, café-behind-a-café, shop-within-a-shop.

One too many left turns later, I turned right and stumbled into the smallest op-shop (thrift store). The smell of dust and crumbling paper and fading clothes and fresh memories made it feel anything but small. The surge of happiness I felt made me laugh; I had just found a piece of my soul I didn’t know was missing. I was afraid the spring in my step might push me over the stack of mismatched cups and saucers.

With a bagful of treasures in one arm and a vintage milk crate under the other, I found myself drawn towards the aroma of freshly toasted bread wafting out of a narrow slit in the wall. Behind the slit was the beginning of my breakfast obsession; a quaint little café that completed my perfect warm winter day with a breakfast stack of a heavenly poached egg sprinkled with dukkah perched on a bed of wilted spinach and garlic mushrooms carefully balanced over a crispy golden hash brown laid out over a spread of avocado and feta on a slice of impeccably toasted sourdough. I know, the adjectives are practically drooling out of my mouth.

I found out a lot about myself when I got lost. I found out that I like old books with notes scribbled in them and curios that don’t fit into any style bracket. I like talking to strangers. I was still petrified at the thought of talking to strangers. I like eating alone by the window. I was bad at catching trams, and it was one of my best qualities. I found out that I was falling in love with Melbourne, one wrong turn at a time.

I didn’t get the job that day, but I got Melbourne.

Goosey Goosey Wander

Writing this post has opened the floodgates, and memories are gushing right in. The short walk from school to home in Kuwait, with the allure of home pulling me forward while the endless conversations slowed down my every step. Hot sand under my feet and hot gossip on my mind. Or early morning temple visits with my mum in India; the lane leading to the temple would be saturated with smells of breakfast being laid out and incense sticks and freshly scrubbed school kids.

Sigh. There’s so much more living to do.