Puja's Adventures

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Never Smile at a Crocodile (cause he’ll eat you)

Does anyone actually know the tune to Crocodile Rock? I was trying to think of it, but I forget. Who even sings that song (you can tell I got my monies worth from my music degree)? Anyway, they’re all over NT, and today I was in the river with the largest concentration of crocodiles anywhere in the world (see I do listen to you sometimes dad). They eat you, and they’re big and they’re faster then Thorpie. I can’t stop thinking about them and listening to stories about them eating people. We were told to take a torch with us at night because that’s when they go for a breath of fresh air. I’d rather just take a valium and open my eyes at sunrise when it’s safe.


No matter how far west you’ve been in Sydney, you can not claim you’ve seen a real bogan until you’ve been to Darwin.
Barbers are going bankrupt because of the cornucopia of mullets and long beards, and begin pondering a career switch to a bottle shop owner to liberate them from financial burdens.
There’s three massive shelves dedicated to thongs in Woolworths.
They sell bonds singlets at the petrol station.
They advertise bonus Centrelink benefits you can collect on the radio.
Licensees turn a blind eye to you taking your drinks from the pub onto the beach.
80% of cars are white 4 wheel drives(including my parents).
Stubby holders.
Offenders on trial don’t wear shoes in court. I’m serious, I went to the Supreme Court and saw their bare feet with my own eyes.

While waiting in the bank yesterday I was quietly amused to see 2 blokes walk in, straight from the set of Crocodile Dundee and look at the cue and roar to each other “Shit mate, we shoulda bought a carton with us”. Sitting on a chair was another bogan laughing at his wife in line because she couldn’t remember her account number, and when she asked him for it, he just gave her the finger.

I’ve made some friends. A friend from Kiama, Blair, has a bunch of mates living and studying here and I met up with them to go to Groovin’ the Moo, a big outdoor festival in the Botanic Gardens with Gomez and some other bands. Kick ass day. Anticipating that drinks would be expensive, I bought some beer to drink in the park before hand, and a couple of Aboriginal kids came and started playing where I was sitting, I think I was in their territory. I hung out with them for ages, they were so adorable and friendly, except the little boy was at a loss for words when I couldn’t answer his apparently simple question, “What’s your skin name sister?” I said I didn’t know, that I didn’t have one, and he just looked at me drinking my bottle and said “You’re getting drunk.”

Today I left Darwin and entered Kakadu, my dad took me to a B-O-R-I-N-G visitor’s centre, I felt like I was in year 4 camp with a worksheet to fill out on native Australian flora and fauna. Actually any time I’m around my dad I feel like I’m having a history lesson, “This is where World War II bombed this, and this is an old building, and this is a brick from 1904 and this is an important piece of knowledge, I can’t believe you don’t know that!” Seriously though, my grandpa was in Darwin the day the Japanese bombed the city in 1940-something and we visited the wharf where he was when all the ships exploded, it would have been pretty scary.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I have a plan...

Well after Vipassana I decided I have to go, so I'm off, goodbye Sydney. Goodbye Wednesday nights at Sly, Thursday morning coffee attacks. Goodbye Oxford St and the multitude of silly adventures. Goodbye cocktails with Sam in some posh city bar or Newtown gutter. Goodbye Sydney trains and buses and all the places you take me. Goodbye to all the old Greek men who say yiassou at me when I walk down the street. Goodbye Coogee afternoons and the sunshine you give. Good ridence to King St, I love you, but it's definately time to move on from you. Goodbye to all my lovely friends, and I'll see you back in Sydney soon, unless you wanna follow me, in which case I don't know where I'll see you.

I'm flying to darwin on Monday 21st where I'll meet my parents (for those of you that don't know, they are living in a big motorhome and travelling around Australia for 12 months). I've always wanted to go to Kakadu, so we'll head down there for a few days. From there I'll go back to Darwin, fly to Singapore, travel up through Malaysia and Thailand and then either fly or overland it to Nepal. I can't wait. I'm going to volunteer in a bunch of aid organisations in Nepal and gain enough experience to further develop the charity Kishan and I set up (www.ecwz.org.np). I'm going to cook, sing, dance, drum, paint, drink, eat and laugh my way through South East Asia, then become a proper little Nepali girl! Namaste!


Vipassana...everyone has heard something about it, either vaguely or a friend of my cousins did that once, or I'm really into it, or what the hell is that weird hippy stuff? I'd heard different people talking about it, and knew it was something to do with meditation, and the more I talked to people, the less they seemed to talk about it -the more they seemed to say you can't discuss it, you have to do it.

So I attended a 10 day retreat in Blackheath, in the Blue Mountains and I'm proud (though I can't have been too successful, if I still hold onto my ego through such an empty emotion as pride), that i completed the course. My experience of it is that it is long.

You take 5 precepts : no stealing, no lying (therefore noble silence is practised), no sexual misconduct(males and females seperated), no killing(vegetarian food, and no squishing bugs and spiders) , no consumption of intoxicants (including coffee, onion, garlic, chilli and obviously drugs and alcohol).

Day 1: The first bell chimes away at 4am, for a 4.3o meditation session until 6.30, when breakfast is served. After herbal tea, brown rice, porridge prunes or bread, you can have a shower. Then more meditation from 8am-11am. Then lunch. I used to stand at the bottom of the stairs every day and let my nose guess what was on the menu (I was 80% accurate, though I always thought there was potatoes and there never was...). Then a break to walk in the forrest. Then more meditation from 1pm till 5pm. Then a break for a peice of fruit and tea (no dinner). Then 6pm-9 or 9.30pm meditation and teacher's discourse. So roughly 12 hours a day of meditating and listening to the teacher's discourse.
Days 2-9: repeat the same process as day 1. (has anyone seen Groundhog Day?)
Day 10 is exciting because you get to break your vow of noble silence. You still meditate and practice the technique, but you can talk at lunch etc, and it is very overwhelming and exciting.

I would recommend it, it is a fantastic opportunity. www.dhamma.org . But only do it if you are prepared to sit the whole ten days. Although beneficial, it is not very useful to leave halfway through, so be prepared to stay. It's tough but great.

The photo at the top is the centre in Blackheath, and the happy dude at the bottom is the teacher, Goenka. He's cool. He's from Burma, and is a very diligent teacher with an excellent sense of humour.


i went to melbourne! i went to melbourne! i love that city! i love that city! it is so great! i had fun fun fun every day I was there!

catch up!

It's been ages since I last wrote. ok my life in the last few months... My leg has slowly recovered. I did HeEAPs of physio in Bondi and I go jogging and stretch my leg out and today I would say it is 98% better. I moved from Bondi with Caitlin (which was awesome, an apartment 2 minutes from the beach, with a strip of ocean view from the kitchen window!) to a big sexy house in St Peters, with a beautiful view from the third floor of a junk yard next door. No seriously, it was great, people would dump stuff and I used a lot of it for painting and artworks. And it was also a handy location to leave my matress base when I discovered it wouldn't fit up the freakin stairs!

Anyway, I finished my CELTA English course (which was intense, hard work and stressful, but I would recommended it to anyone) and started working as a casual English teacher in a couple of different private colleges in the city. I even tied my silly snake hair back, put on some make up, and harnessed a little pin striped suit, can you believe?! Its a great job, I love all my students, they're fantastic. I was teaching mostly in 2 colleges, one was mostly High school Chinese students and the other college was a mix of young 18-25 year old travellers or wannabe Aussie students getting their uni entry language certificates (mostly Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Colombian, Polish and Czech)..

Since getting disability allowance from the government when I broke my leg, I was asked if I wanted to stay on the payments and participate in mutual obligation. I missed my appointment so many times because the thought of working for the dole was so bleak and depressing, I would rather burying my head in some sand like an emu. But I swallowed my pride and went to the appointment thingy, and signed up for whatever project involved not having to watch the tedious occupational health and safety video. I must have some good karma in stockpile after my leg because I totally hit the jackpot with my project. It has been great!

I've been making a documentary-instructional video-drama for Ethiopian refugees when they arrive in Australia. It follows the story of a recent arrival from a Sudanese refugee camp to Sydney, showing all the processes involved in housing, bank accounts, transport, job networks, interpreters, language classes, Centrelink and community groups. I learnt so much about our immigration process and what is invovled for refugees- the support and networks available and also the struggles and beurocratic complexities faced. The main actor involved is a really nice kind man, Teshome who came to Australia as a refugee a number of years ago from Ethiopia, and was wonderful to work with. I also got to go to all these crazy places I would never go to otherwise, and try African food and learn about Ethiopian cultural norms.

The other side of the coin was the practical work I did. I've done numerous film courses at University, paid for private documentary courses and have a professional film maker as a sister, but it was here on the dole that I felt like I was actually learning. The woman who ran the project made every shoot professional, with designated directors; sound, light and camera operators; set coordinaters etc. But the transient nature of people doing the course (or which team happened to be playing in the world cup the night before) often resulted in a very small crew, and I often filled in for just about every role. So now I know how lights, camera, sound and directing goes. I also did a lot of editing using final cut pro (which was bloody hard because I don't speak Amharic). There were heaps of different problems and it was definately testing but really really rewarding to be a part of the project. So now it's all dolled up and finished as a DVD and is on file in various Australian MRCs (Migrant Resource Centres) for Ethiopian arrivals to see. It's also in the process of going to a buch of UNHCRs across Africa, where the lucky few refugees who have been granted approval to come to Australia await their depature (places like Sudan, Somalia, South Africa, Kenya, Eritrea). I would give ya'll a copy but we didnt subtitle it because it's not for English speakers, so you would be pretty lost watching it.

I met my nanna one day in Circular Quay (on her way to manly, of course) when we were on a film shoot and she drew this picture of me, then scanned it and emailed it to me! I think I have the coolest nanna around, she's smarter then half my friends!