60. Settling In Australia – Journal Entry 19th Nov 1980

My dear M,

We are delighted with your good news. I am so excited I cannot settle down to my siesta.

We would love to have you here, there are jobs, but let us be cautious and say that the two of you should not find it difficult to earn a living.

However, we should take a long view of your life here and try to work out what might be best.

My own preference would be to advise you to stay in Queensland with us for one or two years until you become reasonably “Aussiefied”. I think your mum would be happier with that arrangement, no?

With R’s Bachelor of Commerce, a three-year external course on computing should make him highly competitive; within a year he would be viable. Without knowing too much, even now he should be able to get a nine to five job in some business without any difficulty.

I envisage both of you doing some study for a few years. Courses are free at tertiary institutions, but books and transport would be at your own expense.

If you would enjoy living thirty-five miles away from your place of work, be close to the sea on the weekends and holidays, lead a very quiet life, work hard for the next three years, then we would suggest you stay with us until you find your feet.

Now about what to bring, I find it hard to recommend anything. You need very little by way of household goods and only the most precious and personal possessions. Maybe sheets and towels to last three to five years? Shirts are about $20 to $30 each; maybe R already has a few suits? He could do with a few smart trousers I suppose. Menswear, for most business purposes, is casual; it is too hot otherwise, except only a couple of months a year.

Again you would need enough office clothes to last a few years. There are plenty of second-hand clothes shops that only charge a couple of dollars for clothes.

To explain: Johnny and I believe in making do with what we can get locally without hankering for foreign or “back home” goods. However, it is so good to have silk saris and gold jewellery to wear on special occasions.

Most masalas, Indian bedspreads, clothes and chappals are available in Australia; a little expensive in some cases, but not excessively so.

You might like bringing things like stainless steel cooking gear, plates and tumblers, enough say to entertain six to eight people. Stainless steel utensils are associated with hospitals here!

I enjoy occasionally setting a table for friends using banana leaves or stainless steel plates with tumblers to match – they seem to get a thrill out of it!

Bring a dosai skillet, cooking spoon, dhal masher or anything uniquely Indian for your own use – even an idli pot if you wish.

After discussing all of this with Johnny, his view is to get on without delay to one of the big cities (where the head offices are) if you are career-minded and want to get on in the world. Please don’t get the idea that we don’t want you to stay with us, we would like you to, but as Johnny suggests, it might not be a clever thing to do now.

There are such places as migrants’ hostels where you stay until you are able to set up on your own. I shall find out details about the migrant hostels in Brisbane or Sydney for you; we stayed in one.

I find it difficult to advise you on where to live without knowing your philosophy or aim in life. The weather should be the least of your worries when choosing a capital city. Melbourne is said to have the worst weather and is extremely changeable, even in one day. Sydney is colder than Brisbane and both are delightful in summer although Brisbane can be very hot. Don’t get me wrong, our northern winters are like a hot summers day in England or New Zealand! I like our mild winter here.

While I am delighted for you, I feel sad for those you will leave behind. You could well suffer from culture shock – the smells, sounds and gestures are all different. Now we love Australia and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Brisbane and Sydney are both good places to live in. Brisbane is more “rural” or should I say like a large thriving country town. Sydney is a lot colder, but don’t bring any woollens, there are plenty around.

Gran has left it to us to advise you she is very happy for you.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series and based on the journals of my mother.
  • These posts are meant to be read in sequence and the Preamble post marks the beginning of the journal series. Refer to Archived on the Home page and scroll through to the bottom.

38. Memories of India – Journal Entry 30th Apr 1979

It was good to receive your letter. We wondered how you had gone with the interview. Johnny certainly enjoyed reading your letter as good letter writers are so rare.

The photographs were very informative, they revived memories and feelings that have been sternly suppressed for twelve years. One is of course grateful for any scrap of news. Averil in a sari was a heartening sight. Johnny and I feel very strongly about being as Indian as possible in India, one is Indian, and any other way is slightly suicidal. Yes, it’s easy for us to speak from this comfortable distance, but we love and miss many of the good things of India. Indians abroad are usually invited to speak on India and are asked many questions about religion, poverty, food, clothing, etc.

I’ve run adult education classes on Indian cooking and given a few talks and demonstrations at the local high school. Many of our Indian friends tell us quietly, but with amusement, that they have had to visit the nearby libraries so they are able to answer the queries put to them about India.

I regret very much not having bothered to learn more of the culture I was born in. Had I a choice of an overseas holiday, I would most likely spend it in India, pursuing a few of my interests like kolams and regional cooking.

I’ve written a teach-yourself-to-cook Indian cookbook but haven’t bothered to revise the manuscript, something I’d been meaning to get to daily for the past three years!

Perhaps R can swap recipes? For instance, I’ve tried making Naan roti but have yet to achieve a reasonable one. The recipe books are not much use. What actually goes into Naan and should the oven be hotter than 550 degrees F?

Today gran and I made brinjal pickle (homegrown) and lemon pickle too. The lemon pickle recipe is one your mother taught us when we were kids.

We can grow most Indian vegetables if we have the seed. We have to depend on what’s available through the seed companies as seeds are not allowed into the country. Our most precious plants are two curry leaf seedlings. We grow, or have grown, okra, brinjal, four different types of chilli, guavas, mangoes, spinach, bitter gourd, snake gourd, pumpkin and dhal greens. Not the proper dhal greens, a weed, but good enough. The house we bought already had four large mango trees.

Gran (or Nana, as you call her) is the keen gardener and raiser of chicks and ducks. The garden suffers when she gets a temporary job – usually looking after invalid old ladies. At the moment she is sewing hats, bags and shirts, to sell in a friend’s craft shop.

19th May 1979

Have lost my perspective of what I was going to do this year. Sidetracked again but something good and right came up. Joan has formed a catering group and there is much work to be done before any return can be seen. In the meantime I have neglected P-maths and am very agitated. Need to sort myself out.

Jobs Pending
  • Meals On Wheels (M.O.W.) – ask Janet to take over
  • Pancakes for tuckshop – what should I do? Give it away?
  • Candles – lots of wax to be used up
  • Plants at Magnussons – continue?
  • Garden – needs attention
  • Chooks and pen
  • Family, of course
  • Car Maintenance

Just phoned Janet, she will take over M.O.W. Also ordered some avocados for Monday evening.

3rd Jul 1979

A few things have to be planned for next week. I’m away Tuesday and Wednesday nights. And maybe Thursday?

  • Cheque to Bankcard
  • Letter of resignation
  • Make cooking and house notes for family
  • Lots of P-maths
  • Sort out insurances
  • Visit Cyss
  • Johnny’s clothes need to be prepared.

Cleansing Diet

The general idea is that if the body is purified, it will heal itself.
So apply (1) and (2) on alternate days.

Breakfast (1)
Grated pineapple with grated seeds
(almonds but not peanuts)

Breakfast (2)
Plain biscuits with butter
1 slice wholemeal toast
2 lightly poached eggs

Mid-morning: juice 3 oranges

Lunch (1)
Salad (any)
Raisin, nuts

Lunch (2)
Fruit (apples in particular)

Mid-afternoon: 3 oranges

Dinner (1)
Steamed veg
Veg rissoles (onions, egg, no sauces)

Dinner (2)
Salad
Nutmeat

No liquids for an hour before and two hours after a meal. No meat, condiments, tea or coffee. If sweets are craved, eat brown rice with milk but no sugar, yoghurt or custard without sugar. Drink Kurk brew instead of tea or coffee.

***

The pain is constant. Time, that clichéd healer, should dull it, but at the moment I welcome the pain – in fact, I deliberately foster it.

Absolute folly, it interferes with day-to-day activities. I wish to write it off as a delightfully human and rare experience and leave it at that. What else is there to do? You must get on with your life, and soon, please. We only have one life each of us, and the years go so quickly. I agree most heartily, I wish we had never met, the agony is terrible. The conflict for me is awful.

All this must seem rather dramatic to you but what the hell, if we can’t make love let us at least attempt to make literature! Shall I put you in a book and thereby absorb you in a less destructive way?

In what way is my behaviour different from Barbie’s behaviour when she withdraws? I have the same urge to be by myself, I don’t feel hungry, well not as much as I normally do. I like wandering about in the garden and I can’t concentrate. Sleep is at a minimum.

The disco was fun. I danced from the time I got there to finishing time which was 11:30pm. My partner was ‘stretch’, a very tall guy. He was young and clean and wore glasses, which gave the impression he was learned. Took a crowd afterwards to the Singing Ship. The moon was disturbingly bright. The young ones went off to make wishes at the well. I sat in the moke and brooded. It had been a wonderful evening.

There is no future or present, only a brief past. A past that should not have been.

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • These posts are meant to be read in sequence and the Preamble post marks the beginning of the journal series. It can be found in Archived on the Home page.
  • A map of where we lived and a family tree are also at the bottom of the Home page, click here.
  • In Emu Park: “The Singing Ship memorial commemorates Captain Cook`s Bicentenary in 1970 and marks his exploration of the bay in May, 1770. The memorial represents the billowing sail, mast and rigging of his ship Endeavour. Concealed organ pipes use the sea breezes to create eerie music.” Ref: Monument Australia, click here.

31. Miss You Johnny – Journal Entry 13th Dec 1978

Yesterday was so good. The cakes were made. Not as good as Johnny’s. I hope they’re good to eat, they’re going out as Christmas presents. Camping gear and shopping list were sorted out.

Read a bit, wrote a bit and saw three TV programmes.

Barbara didn’t eat her egg at breakfast, said she had a stomach pain. She ate only half a slice of bread and threw the crust in the bin. Tiresome girl, she can’t believe she’s going to be kept at home today because of her behaviour. Perhaps the message will get through. Kept Barbara in her room until 3pm. She had lunch in the kitchen. She seems reasonably happy.

Lots of cleaning of walls and glass.

We picked up Monika’s bed from Yeppoon. Had a chat with her mother who said there are strong rumours that Yeppoon will grow big very rapidly, so if any business is to be started it should be done as soon as possible. The Council is putting a restriction on the animals and birds that people can keep in their yards. A licence will be needed for more animals or chooks.

What a beautiful coast we live on; the drive to Yeppoon never fails to delight people, whatever the weather.

Island View Caravan Park had an emu and five chicks in front of it. The chicks looked so fluffy and cuddly. I tried to get close. The mother emu came up to me, paused to take note of me and then turned and joined her chicks. The chicks were pulling at leaves and grass. I was tempted to walk off with a chick under each arm.

Monika and Marcello made dinner today. Karen advised them on the amount of herbs and wine to use. We took the meal to the Causeway and ate it after the children and Gran had played in the water for about an hour. The stew was delicious.

I miss Johnny.

A dog came up to Barbara and me and begged us to throw a stick for it. It had brought along it’s own stick. I tricked it several times by pretending to throw it in one direction, whereupon he raced off in that direction, but then I threw it in the opposite direction. He soon learned and refused to move even when I pretended to throw it. Funny dog, he chased off the pelican that was in the water nearby. The dog seems to understand very well when he’s told to find a stick.

14th Dec 1978 11:10am

At the airport. I may well have long to wait because of the weather. There’s plenty to do, at last I might get a few hundred words down.

These modern toilets are stifling with their airless, hot atmosphere of pseudo-class and cakes of air-fresheners. The writing on the doors are so dull too; are men more naturally pornographic than women? All I found today was an insipid list of who loves who, mostly initials at that, only one said that Karen loves Darryl. Best of luck Karen and Darryl.

We’ve been round the toy shops because it’s Gareth’s shopping day today. I left a long list with the big kids before leaving. They had to mind the drake roasting in the oven, prepare the roast for this evening and clean the kitchen, laundry and bathroom. Oh yes and make a goulash for Sunday. The duck is for our camp. Gran was to make the rye bread.

This evening those who want to go to the library will be dropped off there on the way to pick up Rolf. At breakfast it seemed as though only a few were going to the library – Gran is going to church with the Benedictine nuns, Marcello decided to stay at home and Monika seems uncertain.

It’s good to be back in jeans again. I swapped one for two with Monika. Had a look at some Levi’s at Weiners and yet again postponed the purchase of a pair, maybe sometime in January.

Don Juan’s philosophy appears more forceful than Persig’s – life is short, it may be cast off at any minute so be impeccable, there’s no time for crap or petty moods. An intensity accompanies the actions of a person who behaves as though he’s fighting his last battle on earth. Choose a path with heart and follow it. Take responsibility for your decisions. When a decision is taken, act calmly and fearlessly for there will be many more decisions cropping up.

16th Dec 1978

At The Three Rivers. We arrived at 8am after leaving Emu Park at 5:15am. We went to Bernie’s to pick up fruit buns. The drive was straightforward, no major stops.

We caught a lot of fish; and while cleaning them we talked of salting them to take home. Alas, we forgot to pack the salt. And we didn’t bring oil.

So the first thing to do is write a checklist:

CampingChecklist (1)
Camping Checklist by Gita 1978

KarenProfileCircle120Notes and Links

  • Click here to go to Home
  • This journal entry is part of the My Mother’s Voice – Journal Series
  • Don Juan teachings and philosophy are contained in Journey to Ixtlan by Carlos Castaneda, 1968
  • Robert M. Persig (1928 – 2017) was an American writer and philosopher who wrote Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Added dedication postscript to Preamble post. View here.