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Posted in True Story, Inspirational

Thankfully not another statistics

This is a story of a woman that I have recently come to cross paths with.  I don’t claim to know the whole story nor do I claim to understand the feelings and emotions she would have endured.  Not even close.  But her tales touches my heart.  No, her tales sends shivers down my spine but her tenacity and what she has become touches my heart. 

I started writing today, initially to pen her a few words.  To tell her how thankful I am to know she is ok and how humbled I am to know her.

But then I thought that there are lessons to be learnt here. So, here I am, to talk about Megan. (Obviously Megan’s name isn’t Megan).

This is a story of woman who can truly claim to be a survivor, a hero, an inspiration and any other cliché’ that you could coin together. But what is really remarkable is not just her survival, but her tenacity and her drive to excel.

I was not with her when she wept. I wasn’t with her when she screamed. I wasn’t with her when she felt hopeless.  If not for Covid 19 I would give her big hug now and tell her, how sorry I am that she had to bear all that, but I am so darn relieved that she is ok.  Maybe not completely ok.  But she hasn’t stopped to play the victim.  I truly admire her strength. 

Ten years ago, while I was renovating my house for its imperfections, while I was complaining that the tilers had left the house in disarray, while I complained that I had to use the guest bathroom again as ours was unfinished….

Probably at the same moment wonder, what Megs was going through… Probably living in fear or worse being abused by her partner, Probably homeless with two kids at tow.  So many probabilities, and all of them worse than the other. 

I do not know all her stories.  But what I have heard so far, the glimpse of her past that she has shared so far, sounds pretty gruesome.

To say that she wasn’t born with a silver spoon is an understatement. 

“I met my biological mum at the age of 12”

she says quite nonchalantly.  What happened in that first 12 yrs of her life, I do not know….What happened in the next twelve years of her life, I don’t know that either… Where are the scars or what are scars?  They are well hidden. 

We continue with our end of financial year end reconciliations, reporting, preparing for Audits and plain and simply stressing out. So our conversations turns back to all things numbers.

Megan started at this company at the receptions desk.  And has upskilled and worked her way up.  Which is remarkable for anyone in its own merit. But for someone like Megs, who had to put out so many fires and the scars that had to be nursed, is a truly remarkable feet. 

She is smart, competent and confident.  She is sincere and reliable. And that wrap is for her professional life.  In her personal life, she is an amazing mother for two young girls.  She is the kind of mother who would amputate her limb to save her child.  For the naked eye there are no battle scars.

Just before the weekend another casual conversation leads to her telling me why she moved from a beachside suburb to miles away into hills.  Again, no tears or any other emotional outburst, just casually she says, Ï had to flee from my abusive partner, I was homeless for a while”. Eventually she had obtained a caravan and parked in her step sister’s property and lived there with her kids.  She goes on to say that her daughters now suffer badly with anxiety etc, due to their childhood.  She simply says “they saw a lot”.  Simple words but they sound so heavy. 

Her kids had started school in that area, and not wanting to move them and put them in instability again, she chooses to live in the hills district and travel to work daily – a two hour trip consisting of 20 min walk and 2 buses for just one way. What an amazing mother.

The story itself is not much different to most other domestic violence stories.  What is remarkable, what is different in this story is “Megan”

She had chosen not to be another statistic; she had chosen not remain a victim nor to play the victim card but to make something of her life.  Maybe it was for her kids, whoever or what ever the reason it was for, she decided to swim rather than sink.  She decided to climb rather that descend.

I am truly humbled to know this remarkable woman.

What’s my message, what do I take from all this.

First and foremost, to Megs, I know your battles aren’t over yet, but girl, you’ve done so well so far, take moment and take a bow. You’ve earned it. 

Note to myself, next time I complain about something inane, let me remember, that life could be so much worse. 

To free yourself from the tendrils of domestic violence is not easy.  But you need to. He is never going to change.  Yes, he was sorry, but he won’t change, he will do it again. And again. Get help, from anywhere, you may think you are alone.  But someone will help.  So, get out before it’s too late.  Don’t ignore the warning signs.  Red lights may turn amber for awhile and you may even think it’s green now. But when it comes to abuse, one red light is all you need to pack your bags.  

Then once you are out, start to build your life back up again.  It will definitely not be easy.  But don’t let that son of a you know who still calling the shots.  You are in charge now. To crudely paraphrase it like Ned Kelly “shit happens” but unless you flush it and move away you will be still smelling that thing.  Even it was diarrhoea, you still need to flush it and move away.  Where am I going with this – Move away, playing the victim doesn’t help anyone, especially you.   Here’s to Megan. 

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Posted in love, marriage

Thirty-Four Years of Togetherness

Today marks our Thirty-Four years of tug-of-war of Domestic Dominance. It has been ride like none other. We had to swim against the tide many a times. But here we are still (kind of) in tact.

To the love of my life and the pain of my daily existence,

Thank you for the past 34 years.

There hasn’t been a single day where I haven’t thought “Why me” 

Then again you also make me emotional at the most unexpected times and win me right over.

You have the ability to make me think (lovingly) “how will I do without him?” and the on the same breath to sigh “What am I going to do with him”

Could you please stop doing that?  Could you please let me keep my pride and anger and achieve “transformation Ganesh” (that has been a long overdue project, I may add)?

What does your report card look like?

Communication SkillsNeeds improvement– attention to using more “please” and “thank you’s” in conversations needed.  The speed of and willingness to say “sorry” needs to improve remarkably.

ComplianceNeeds improvement. The word compliance means just that – Compliance – no questions ‘Just do it”

ComprehensionLacking, Needs immediate attention.  A starting point would be to have practices in place for better “listening”.  Multi-tasking is not one of your strong fortes, so just listen – that means no TV or other distractions.  Avoid “mm”. 

EffortHas shown improvement.  But consistency would be appreciated.  It would definitely decrease the “why me” status of your poor wife.

Overall PerformanceHas a lot of potential.  Has received many warnings and almost all mistakes have been repeated numerous times. But for unknown reasons has won me over year after year.  

I know there is no cure for stupidity.  I guess this is the key to this long-lasting marriage. 

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Twenty Seven Years.. Feels like yesterday…

Once a upon a time there lived a new couple who migrated to a new country, after a few travels around the world in a ship. They were settling down and preparing their little nest. They had bought their first property, a two bedroom apartment. One by one furniture’s were added to upgrade the apartment. Mostly white furniture’s. ‘The lady liked the white crisp colour also she felt that there was no escape for those family members who would otherwise cover up spillages. The apartment looked spotless and modern on a fairly low budget. They owned just the one car. They both had full time jobs. The lady worked full time and studied part time. So they were busy but it was still a structured life. The man played Tennis on the Saturday. They also fitted in the shopping, entertaining or going out on the Saturday. Sunday was mainly for cleaning and cooking for the week.

One fine day they received news that they were going to have a new family member pretty soon. Not so soon, in about nine months. They were overjoyed. The man became a blithering idiot. He did not jump on a coffee table. He even forgot to hug his wife. He just started to utter random words at the doctor. He demanded the that the doctor prescribe Vitamins to his wife as she was very week. He also advised the doctor that she should organise a Cesarean as his wife was too small to be able to deliver a baby. The doctor fearing the welfare and mental state of this man, politely pointed out that there was almost nine months to discuss and plan for these concerns. She also advised him to have a cup of tea and go for a walk.

This was no movie or a dream for things to go swimmingly perfect. This was real life so not everything was going to plan. The lady also had a family history that the doctors didn’t want a repeat of. She was just thankful that she was in Australia with an amazing medical team to assist her. So after the first few months of speed bumps on the road things started to settle down with the pregnancy. Still no one was taking any chances.

So twenty seven years ago yesterday she was returning from her weekly visit to the doctors in a cab all by herself. (The man was still new in his work place, and work places were not so understanding twenty seven years ago for paternal needs, so unfortunately he could not accompany her for all her visits to the doctor). The cab driver just before dropping her off, comments “it must be pretty close now, when are you due?”, She replies ” today actually”. The cab driver didn’t want to waste anymore time chatting, he departed as quickly as he could.

She got busy after her trip to the doctors. She had to finish off the quilt she was stitching for the new arrival. The machine needle broke. She took it to her neighbors and finished the sewing project. The cot was perfect now. She had a sense emergency today. She finished the cooking just as her husband arrived home. Hubby inquired about her visit to the doctors. He asked why she had not asked to be induced and have the baby already. He could tell that she was not comfortable carrying this frontal load. She told him to eat his dinner and went on to have a shower feeling, mmm… I think not long now.

They ended up in hospital soon after. Many moons ago, many full moons ago to be precise on that day Buddha attained Nirvana. Hours passed by, the new arrival showed no urgency in his pace. Again not a dream nor a movie, this was real life, so after eighteen long hours spanning into the next day the new arrival finally makes his way out and makes known to the world with a good heartfelt scream.

Life couldn’t be any more perfect. A movie could do no justice to real life.

The white furniture’s didn’t last long after that. But life was still perfect.

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Posted in True Story, Inspirational

Thirty Three years and Counting …

In our first humble dwelling in West Ryde – a one bedroom rented apartment.

We notched 33 years together on the 19th of Jan 2020. Time and tide waits for no one. The same way Cough, cold and the plague like flu doesn’t hold back either just because it’s your special day. I lost everything. I lost my voice and my room. I was banished to the guest room as no one wanted what I had.

We sipped a glass of Cognac sitting far apart. There were no candles or flowers. No caviar or lobster. Take away (take out) soup and dumplings adorned the table. I quietly watched my hubby through my “Vicks” laced eyes. He looked tired. He has lost most of his thick mop of hair. The pot belly has taken a permanent place and expanding gradually. That man who polished his shoes and waltzed in with dashing looks is not there anymore. He has been replaced with a tired old man. I know he needs a break. But he will stubbornly refuse.

I look down at my self. Once the non existent belly has found a few companions. They are fondly called the muffin tops. With our looks gone astray, all we have left is the love for each other.

Our 2nd dwelling in Sydney – our first purchase – a two bedroom apartment

It feels like recently we have been hit by seismic waves one after another. We need a reprieve. Each time we come to the surface it feels like some one is waiting outside to hammer us down back in again. My life partner takes the brunt of it all, without much ado.

The New year dawned for us with another uncertainty. I was determined to go through with my New Year’s eve annual party. As we get old I am becoming more aware of the fact that we are only temporary residents of this world. Life is to be lived was my motto on that day. It was hard at times to concentrate on the preparations and cooking. Still it was a good distraction. Family and friends gathered and we had a good night.

Six days later we drove to Sydney. In the height of the Bush fires we didn’t take this trip lightly. Hubby’s sister and bro-in-law were very concerned about us driving. For many reasons driving was a better option for us. However, safety comes first and we didn’t want to add to the ill fortunes that was following us.

I rang the Bush fire info authorities. These organisations mostly run by volunteers do an amazing job. They checked our route and gave us the thumbs up, also armed us with a few apps, that would indicate any fires near us, road closures etc. We also packed a few essentials in case we got blocked in. Quilt, Pillows, Water, food etc.

The weather was on our side. So on that Monday the 6th we started our two day trip to Sydney. I am glad we drove rather than fly to Sydney. It gave us time to talk, hold hands and just enjoy the presence of each other. In our busy lives this was such a luxury. And to enjoy the nature, the bare Australian out-back has it’s own charm. The iron fist grip of the drought was very evident.

Pink Lake – But not a drop of water in this lake any more.

In places we drove through thick fog of smoke. Smoke from the bush fires that were burning at least 100 Kms away. Makes you wonder what it would have been like at ground zero. We did meet a couple of fire fighters at one of our coffee stops. They looked tired and worn out. They still managed a smile for us.

It is only fitting that I write about this today on Australia day. This is a beautiful country. Sure we have bush fires, year after year. Maybe each year worse than the last. But it has not broken us yet. Sure we have the worst Prime Minister in the world (maybe that’s a bit harsh but among the one’s we’ve had, have to say he tops as the worst), but we definitely have some of the best humans in this part of the world. We are one big family. We have our differences, amongst them some quirky relatives too, but all in all we are an amazing family. We are there for each other.

When the American, Canadian and New Zealand fire fighters rocked up on our shores, I felt proud to be a human. Although we are responsible for so many vile atrocities, we are also capable of being extraordinarily amazing. Some of my friends from overseas who had snapped a picture with our local Koala posted this on facebook. All the concerned messages from friends and relatives from overseas confirmed that we were not alone in this battle.

This was not exactly a joy ride to Sydney, I do not wish divulge too much into that as it is not my story to tell. While we were there we visited a couple of friends of ours. One of whom is now on remission from bowl cancer. Another example of mistaken identity by the Kharma god. I am pretty sure he has not hurt a soul in his past 10 lives nor will he in next hundred. However, he has so far put a grand fight and at present is still the victor. The other is the carer of his wife with Dementia. She is not that much older than I am. This is the first time I have come across a younger person with this horrible decease. She was a stylish, assertive, tough career woman. Seeing her like that was very upsetting. This has made me question everything. Her hubby is doing an amazing job taking care of her. But how do you really come to terms with all this. It would be no difference to living with a stranger. There is no telling if I could become the victim as a carer or as the patient.

Life is precious. Live it today is my message.

Talking about the road trip I had veered off the track about us – hubby and me. But not exactly. This trip to Sydney, the life lessons learned has confirmed more than anything is that I love this man very much.

What we have right now is what we really have. We have to hold on tight to that. Our hopes and dreams for the future are just that. A Dream. It will only eventuate if you wake up from that dream. So realise your reality today was your dream yesterday. Enjoy it and treasure it.

After a week in Sydney we drove back to Adelaide with much lighter heart. Even when things are not great we need to be positive and be thankful that the situation is not that grave either.

Work related dramas started to evolve for hubby as we were driving back. After driving for nearly 10-11 hrs on the 2nd day of the drive we get home around 7.00pm. He unpacks the car and leaves immediately to work. Returns late and then leaves early next morning to Port Pirie – 230 kms drive. His cadet day training comes to fruition I think. We returned from Sydney on the 13th. Since then he has been to Port Pirie, Mackay and Western Australia.

How do I thank a man who tirelessly works not just for his family but also for the family of his employee. He knows as a family we are ready for him to retire. I would rather buy a few less shoes than see my man work so hard. But he is a complex man with very strong ethics. Very hard not to be proud of this man.

Since Christmas we have been eating out a lot. I could see he was so tired that all he wanted was to get two minutes of sleep. Not get dressed up to go out. So for this anniversary celebrations I wanted to make a special meal and have a quiet night at home.

But then I got attacked by something similar to the Bubonic plague. It is not a secret that my husband doesn’t posses any of the skills of Jamie Oliver. So he brings me soup each day from “Shanghai Tea House”. He will bring me enough for the next day lunch as well, then a fresh one for dinner. On the Saturday he had been working since early, he rings me around 4.30pm asking if I wanted more soup. I was feeling a bit better and I was going to help my son make the soup that night. So I said no for the soup but I was craving for a fresh Juice with a lot of ginger from Boost Juice. He asked what my son would like, if we wanted sushi (my sons and I love sushi, it’s our go to food when we are sick, hubby is not a fan of sushi). My son too gave an order for the Boost Juice but said no for the sushi as we knew the juice would be rather filling. Few hours pass by and no hubby on sight. I feel rather guilty, because I know he would be so tired after working non stop for so many days.

My hubby returns with a collection of stuff from the shops. Boost Juice at the shopping centre had closed by the time he had got there. Hence the delay. He had gone all over the place looking for another Boost juice. He had found a drive through Boost Juice. Didn’t know such a thing existed until now. Along with that he had also bought Sushi enough to feed the neighborhood, Chocolate Drumstics of two kinds and not to leave the dog out some chicken jerky for the dog as well.

I know it was not the 33.1 carat diamond ring Elizabeth Taylor received. Not even a 100 Roses Bouquet. But this man makes me tear up with just a Boost Juice. I am in love with this man today. I have been for the last 33 years. His love gestures are pretty unique. But that’s what makes him special. If I have one wish for our future, I wish we continue our lives the same way as today, with all the laughs, squabbles and simple love.

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Posted in True Story, Inspirational

How old is your kid or Jasmin Tea

Sitting in a lonely supposedly Thai café but menu seems more like Malaysian, I pull out my mini tab to start writing /typing.  I think of continuing my writing on my trip to China, but I realise that today was not the day.  I am on edge, even though everything has gone alright so far.  So I think to write about, ‘waiting’ – waiting for a bus, waiting at the airport, waiting for medical results and waiting for your son to come out of surgery”.

It was a very early morning start.  But I think I had already become jittery by last night. I laughed it out loud, hoping no one picks up on my nervous energy.  I want to be strong.  In my head I know the data, statistics and the logic. However this mother’s heart seems to skip all logic and starts tearing up each time she is alone. 

I don’t know what to write about. All I know is that I need to write or do something.  So here I am debating what to write about. 

What age is too old to worry about your kid? I know he is not 2, but he is still my kid, I didn’t love him any more when he was 2 and I don’t love him any less just because he is legally an adult now.  He is still my kid.   Am I a neurotic mum?  Yes, maybe. 

This Jasmine tea is really good.  It really has a calming effect.  Not sure if it is the Tea or the writing, but I think the tightness in my chest is reducing.  I am tearing up writing though, thankfully the cafe is empty, however I like to believe that this activity here is helping. 

So how old is a kid? How old is your kid? Sleepless nights-your baby is up for a feed and a nappy change,  Sleepless nights – your toddler is teething,  tantrums, sleepless nights – your teenager hasn’t returned home, restless nights – your young man is sitting for exams.  Proud mum moments –  you are pregnant, the beginning of the worries and pride, unforgettable moment-the big day arrives, after screams and pain killers arrives the bundle of joy – undoubtedly an unforgettable moment/event that marks as the starting point of the roller coaster for the proud parents.  Proud moments – your baby’s first step, first time to call you ‘mum’, first day at school, he graduates.  So does it end there? Afraid not. 

It’s not about letting go. I have let him go, I am proud that he has left the cocoon, spread his wings and soured high.   But this mother cannot stop worrying. 

I know it’s not my fault that he is in hospital now.  I have been told that by everyone repeatedly and I get that.  But, I still feel terrible. Even if it was not my fault, do I want him to go through what I went through? I would go through it again ten times over, than have my baby on that operating table.  But, whoever/whatever well in this case a mutated gene dictates otherwise.  Yes, I get that, we have turned the unfortunate to fortunate. It was unfortunate that I had the cancer, however it was fortunate that I had this cancer as now we can prevent it for my boys. 

Logic is still playing second fiddle while waiting for that phone call to say my boy is out of theatre.  I start walking.  I get to Princes Highway.  I start walking, I end up at Greenwood Plaza which is connected to the North Sydney Station.  Peek hour commuters embark from the trains and walk past me with high pace.  Each one rushing off, unable to spare even single second.  I was one of them just two decades ago. 

Here I am, who has quit her job, tossed her career without a moments regret.  Observing this crowd, I realise, how much we change, how our priorities change as per our age and circumstances. Nothing matters, when it comes to your kids.

I glance at my phone to see if I had missed the phone call from the hospital.  No missed calls.  I aimlessly walk through my favourite shops.  I realise, shopping can only be a hobby not a distraction.  The latest design nor the best deals seem to grab me. I got back to Princes Highway and started walking in the opposite direction.  Not sure how long I walked for or how far I walked for.  But after sometime I thought it was time to head back to the hospital.  Maybe they forgot to call me.

Weeks later we went to see my son’s surgeon, whose clinic is in St Leonards.  I recognized that place and told my son I had come there on the day of his surgery.  That’s when I realised that there are two stations between North Sydney and St. Leonard’s .  Obviously this is a new source of humour for my son on my account.  My son didn’t initially believe that I had walked that much or for what.  I explained that I just kept walking along Princes Highway.  So, now every time we have a destination to go via Princes Highway he would suggest that I just walk it.  Yes, he does think that my anxiety and worry was unwarranted.  But he is no parent.  (Princes Highway is a major road in Aus extends from NSW to South Australia along the coast roughly about 1980 kms).

I enquire at the reception re my son’s progress.  She sends me to the ward that my son will be admitted to after the surgery.  The nurse at the ward was a sweetheart. Obviously another mother.  She explains to me that my son was taken in late and hence the delay in coming out of theatre .  That explains the long wait. It still was no cure for a jittery mother.  Her kind words and empathy were helpful  though. She takes me to the carers waiting room/lounge. 

My tablet and phone were on the last bars of battery power.  The sweetheart nurse shows me to a small room off the lounge where I could charge my electronics. I think doctors heal your ailment and the nurses complete it with healing your heart.

 I  am alone once again in a small room.  Although we detest solitude, it is still necessary. It plays an important part in reasoning , analysing and self healing.  I lasted all of ten minutes or maybe less with that philosophy.  I leave my phone and tablet to charge and join the rest of the zombies in the carer lounge.  The TV was on with same old, same old – someone was shot, a politician said something controversial, hurricane in Japan, some celebrity that no one knows or cares about is now engaged and another divorced, but still no news about my son.

There was no Jasmin tea in the waiting area. I make a mental note to myself, that I should add that to the “suggestions/complains” on the discharge form.  I was pretty sure another cup of Jasmin Tea is what I needed.  Not wanting to unplug my electronics I settle for a black tea and for some more of the world news.  The world seems to continue even with all the atrocities and disasters.  I finally get a call from the anesthetic to say that my boy has done well.  And that is my world.  We have our set backs. But life has a way of working out in the end.   My boy will get through this. we will get through this.

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Posted in True Story, Inspirational

The Ganesan’s in the Orient 4

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Still in Shanghai

We stayed 3 nights in Shanghai.  We walked through many streets, drove a fair distance, rode the fastest train, a mini cruise all crammed in those 3 days.  China is a big country with a very old history and culture.  So 3 days in Shanghai was nowhere near enough.

It has been many moons and drinks since this trip, again life’s road blocks keeps popping up.  I am trying to think of them as speed bumps and not road blocks.  So, I am back again in my writing nook, looking for a distraction.

Back to what the sentence where I started “It has been many moons and drinks…” (before I veered off), so the order of the visits and some details may be distorted.

We were in awe with their level of engineering, architecture and the artifacts.  Most of these were 2000-3000 years old.  BC.  Before Christ and well Before Computers. However, it was to be expected on a trip to China.  They were renowned for this rich history and culture.  However the extent of it was mind blowing.

But what one didn’t expect was clean streets.  There was someone sweeping and picking up rubbish all the time.  The streets were really CLEAN.  For a county with such a large population I expected it to be dirty.  But I was wrong.

I believe our first visit was to the Yu Garden.  As per history, this garden was a gift from a son to his father.  That was one expensive fathers day gift.  It was really stunning.  Although not so peaceful as it was intended to be, as the place was rather crowded.  From sleepy Adelaide to this population explosion was something new to get used to.  Little did I know this wasn’t bad as what was in store for us later in the tour.

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Every tile, every corner of the roof was filled with  detail.

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We were given some free time to wonder around the little market we had just walked through.  However, it was too hot for my liking. The night before I had asked Sophie our tour guide if it was possible to see a tea ceremony and she gave us the option of doing the tea ceremony or the shopping.

So, I opted for a tea ceremony rather than shopping in the heat.  Some others joined me.

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Some of the characters from our tour group

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yes they had lots of tea pots

Tea ceremony was free however we all left with a small purchase for a small fortune. The power of holiday purchase.  I did enjoy the teas however, not sure if I needed to pay so much.

The following photos are from the old town, near Yu garden

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Next stop was the Shanghai Tower.  The tower gives you the  opportunity to see the extent of the concrete structures, sea of apartments and just the explosion of development.  It also gives you a clear view of the pollution they face.  The day was not overcast.  This was apparently a good day.

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The building known as the Bear Bottle.

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of course next to the bear bottle stands the bottle opener

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Then it was time for a ride on the Maglev Train.  A magnetic levitation Train Line.

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The day was coming to a close and the final agenda was a trip to The Bund and then a night cruise from the Bund.

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We were given some free time to wonder around by ourselves.  Our initial search was for a place to get a nice cool drink.  But accidentally stumbled on to this amazing building.  It is in fact a bank.  The Old HSBC Bank.  But it felt like I had entered the Sistine Chapel.  It is still an operating bank.  So we casually went in and exchanged some currencies as well.

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As night fell we boarded the cruise.

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Shanghai looks pretty darn nice at night too.

Good night all.

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The Ganesan’s in the Orient 3

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Travelling is the part I don’t like about travelling.  I mean the packing and all the last minute running around and then finally the transit, especially if it is a long flight. To finally make that eye contact with our tour guide was such a great relief.

It had been a tumultuous couple of months personally and professionally for both hubby and me.  We were both looking forward for this holiday and at the end we thought it wasn’t really going to happen with all the uproar in Hong Kong.   It felt almost surreal to be on a foreign land and to think that, I had finally dragged my workaholic husband to switch off and relax for a fortnight.

Mmm… that belief lasted all of 24 hrs before I realised that “switch off and relax” was not part of the deal.   Another topic for another day.

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Shanghai

Shanghai was our first stop in China.  We met with our National Tour Guide Sophie and local tour guide Grace and the others of our tour group.  The first day was meant to be a day to take it easy until dinner time.  We met with Alan and Rosemary, Veronica and Robyn and after that most of the other names were a bit of a blur.  As days went by and the tour progressed we all got to know, not just the names but their quirks as well. So for the next fourteen odd days twenty one individuals from different parts of the world and from different walks of life, toured together with laughter, banter and mate ship.

Sophie our National tour guide was a pocket rocket, she was super efficient and worked tirelessly day and night for us to have the best time.  She was also impressed with my vocabulary of Mandarin words and phrases that I had picked up watching Chinese dramas on Netflix.  My regular vegetable purchases are from a Chinese/Vietnamese owned Market type shop.  I had made friends with one of the ladies there and I did practice my Chinese with her prior to my visit to China.

In my days of sailing with my husband, I used to read up about the country we are about to embark and learn at least a few phrases from their native tongue.  It makes a world of difference with the locals.  They appreciate our efforts, even when we make mistakes, they still love the fact that you had taken the time to learn about them.  In contrast, I feel that in English speaking countries, the foreigner is looked down upon for not pronouncing right or not getting it right.  Knowing this fact, it still didn’t stop me from taking photos of all the faux pas of where direct translation had gone wrong.

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I have a habit taking detours while writing.  I just realised other than a photo of Shanghai nothing else has been written about Shanghai so far.

If you require details of age, size, historical dates, population etc I suggest that you use  “Google”, since all of us outside of China have access to Google.  Yes, that is another fun fact about China, no Google or Facebook access.  They have their own social media and google type search engine.  But No Google.

We stayed 3 jam packed days in Shanghai.  This is – Shanghai through my eyes.

Day one – we arrived at the hotel around lunch time.  After settling into our room and a good yarn with Sophie where I sprung her with surprise when I bid her goodbye at the lift with “Zai Jian”.  She ended up following us to our room to finish the conversation and also to check if the room was good etc.

We then ventured out on our own to get some lunch.  We managed to order some dumplings by pointing to the pictures on the wall.  Then we saw the adjoining table eating something like wonton soup.  So we ordered that too.  It came with a lot side dishes, we had no idea what to do with them.  So we copied our neighbors.  It was delicious.  Just simple honest food.  Payment was by the vendor showing the numbers on the calculator.  The entire menu which is all of six items were on the wall with a barcode next to it.  We observed that most paid with their phone using this barcode.  Yes, they still practice Tai Chi but have embraced technology as well.

Day 2 – started with a long lecture/speech by Sophie and Grace of all the do’s and don’ts, and including some of the local cultures and customs.

So Grace explained that most Chinese used scotting toilets, hard beds and hard pillows before the introduction of tourism.  Some of the old folk still used a piece of hard wood or brick as their pillow.  They preferred hard beds as they feel that it is better for their back.  The jury is out on that for me as I prefer softer beds, on the contrary my husband prefers hard beds and blames the soft mattress for his bad back.  (obviously the pot belly is not to be blamed for the bad back).  So most public toilets used to be scotting toilets but now due to tourism they would have at least a few western toilets in most places.  Grace went on to tell us how in the villages the toilets were usually outside, one or two toilets to be shared among a few houses, some may not even have a door.  So it was a common practice for them to sing while in the toilet as a sign to say “I am here”.  Hence it also got dubbed as the “Happy house”.  This became our phrase too.

Shanghai is dubbed as the Paris of the East.  I have not been to Paris, but somehow I don’t think this is it.  However, it is a beautiful city where the old colonial Architecture and the modern sea of concrete apartments adorn the streets side by side.

As the first city to land on in China, we were amazed at the speed of development that has occurred  in a very short span of time.  And still going on.  The local joke is Shanghai’s famous bird is the “Crane”

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View from the Shanghai Tower – yes the air quality – not so great

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Yu Garden- A son’s gift to his father

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Man doing Tai Chi in the morning – view from our hotel room

Yes their air quality is bad.  China can see evidence of pollution and the need for change.  It may have been and might still be one of the great polluters, but they are working very hard to rectify this.

Time for some sleep now.  The rest about Shanghai tomorrow or when ever time permits next time.  I guess I am back at work now.