Awes and gnaws – this is exactly how I’d describe my time spent in Sydney. I always reckon it is not the place you live that matter, it is the people around you that do.
Some people just fit tactically in your life when you badly need them like a missing puzzle piece found. They are not your friends, not your relatives, not even people you meet at work every day. They are strangers waiting to make that moment of yours memorable. A few people I met in the lil’ old granny flat in Burwood made it an unforgettable stay for me in Sydney for which I am eternally grateful.
The Opera House - In Sepia
One particular summer day, when I was getting used to my flat (which is a small room with an attached bathroom), I heard someone knock my door. I thought it must be Eddy, my landlord and opened it. To my surprise, there stood man in his early 80s, wearing white pajamas. He looked cute to me and he sure was in great shape from what I saw. What are you thinking? He is Chinese, of course. He lifted both his hands and said something in a language I didn’t comprehend. He must have realized although I looked Asian I am no Chinese, why? Not even Nepalese. So he asked me “okhay, all okhay??” waving both his hands and smiling. I interpreted it so well you know; he was asking me if I was all set in the new house and if I was okay. Bingo! I replied to him in our newly found “OK-language” and right then, I made friends with the most pleasant, warm-hearted person I have met till date. I came to know he is the father-in-law of the landlord Eddy.
Where is my curry?
The initial days in the flat were difficult, being all alone didn’t make me sad but being away from home did. I received a package receipt from India. My parents had sent over some cooking vessels, some Indian spice mixes and other cooking items for my catering needs here at Sydney which were not allowed to be carried during my travel. They knew very well the travails of a vegetarian in a foreign country. I was thrilled as I took the package home which weighed 15 kilos, on my own and it was worth it after all. I began to cook independently for the first time. The granny flat had a common kitchen and I stored my vessels in a secured cabinet so as to avoid any meat exposure. Being the amateur that I am, my cooking experiments are worth a mention.
That’s not Okra, that’s a lady’s finger!!!
In an unkindly contemptuous manner, I shook my head and said “No, I want to see my mom”. I, in fact was told later that I cried like crazy. Something simple as this happened that day; I tried cutting the Okra a little too hard and ended up cutting my middle finger (not completely, just a slit). The slit was deep enough to expose the pink stuff and blood was oozing out with no control. I passed out. When I was back to consciousness, Ana, my housemate came to help, I was plain rude to her asking for her to bring my mom right then in front of me. Teresa, another housemate, came closer to me and asked if they needed to call an ambulance. That freaked me out and I cried even louder. “Ammmaaa, Amma … enge irke amma...” (Mom, where are you) with all might. With all compassion, Teresa shook me and said, “Listen to me dear, your mom must be miles away, think of me as your mom, tell me what you want, please don’t cry, Let me call the ambulance for you”. And she did call them. I must be the only person to avail ambulance services for a mere cut in a middle finger. Well, what can you expect of a Hemophobic, homesick me indeed?
After the ambulance left, I was exhausted. I thanked Ana and Teresa for their help and went back to the dining room, where I fainted earlier. There was a huge bandage tied to my middle finger and my face was swollen-red due to profuse crying. I was trying to relax; the sun was shining at its peak and I suddenly heard a voice from behind.