Friday, October 30, 2009

Shut Up

Most people are comfortable and capable of not telling something as it is. I on the other hand have been struggling with this practice almost since the time I began to talk. With many role models around me, I am beginning, albeit slowly, to improve in what I dub as the “Beat Around The Bush Dance”. But just like my lack of ability and interest in dancing in public, this is something I don’t like to do but have to in order to conform to the norm as dictated by the humans around me. It takes quite a bit of effort to get things right.

At home when I was younger, I was discouraged from giving any opinion because:
1. I am a female
2. I was chronologically too young
3. I ranked too low on the family tree (My dad is the third son of 5 children and my mum is not only the third daughter, she was also the youngest of 5!)
4. I wasn’t a graduate (University qualifications, especially qualifications in careers like medicine, engineering and architecture can advance a person’s status magically.)

In the old country compliant people just knew not to give any opinions on politics or even some social issues that were deemed to be too controversial to discuss at home because of everyone’s fears of getting detained for ‘disturbing’ peace. Being outspoken and investigating options on how to improve human lives, especially via true equality, might also run the risk of causing the original inhabitants to run amok. I didn’t make that up. That ‘reminder’ actually came out of the mouth of an original inhabitant not that long ago.

So you would think that I must now enjoy a total freedom of speech in this country but that is not quite true. Oh, please don’t get me wrong. I do enjoy the extra benefits but nothing comes without strings attached. Here in this country, there are multiple sets of invisible social rules to follow before one opens his/her mouth, and to make things trickier, the rules change without notice, like you are playing a soccer game where the goal posts change location every time you try to kick a goal. I may declare my love for this country but that doesn’t mean that it is perfect. It does have flaws that I should be allowed to talk about without getting told, “If you don’t like it, you know where the airport is.” I shouldn’t be expected to love or pretend to love every aspect of this country.

One thing that I really wish to have a little say is the right to express my feelings to mini offenders when their parents do nothing to stop the appalling behaviour they display during family get togethers. By appalling behaviour I don’t mean the typical rough and tumble play between children and between children and participating adults. If anyone is reading this, and in case you don’t already know, I work with children and over the years I have received plenty of compliments from parents and virtually no complaints on my work. True, some of them probably shower me with compliments hoping that I don’t mistreat their precious little Vegemites but I do believe that most of the compliments are genuine. LOL. At least a couple of fathers have remarked on my high tolerance towards boisterous children. (I really don’t like the word ‘tolerance’.) Outside work, for instance, during family get togethers that I get dragged to, I expect parents to do their job when their children cross the line, especially if they do not welcome a so-called ‘aunty’ from meddling in how to deal with such situations. I believe that if I do ‘meddle’, I am likely to be blasted with a popular phrase: “Wait till you are a parent!” OUCH! DOUBLE OUCH, applicable to people like us. Some parents can be very defensive and so I know full well to shut my mouth and not give any advice until they ask but I should at least be allowed to express my feelings (hurt, anger etc) to a child hell bent on ‘attacking’ me verbally or physically. In expressing my feelings, I don’t mean storming off to the backyard to find a stick so I could thrash the little offender with it. Seriously, what do parents think their children could gain from ‘attacking’ another human being for fun? Is this another skill for a child to learn to prepare them for school and the ‘Real World’ and so we should just let the child safely practice without any protest? I guess the answers will only be revealed to us when we are blessed with a child of our own. LOL

In my spare time, I read a lot of blogs on the internet. If the blogs are not related to Montessori or Homeschooling, most of the blogs I read are written by bloggers who are in inter-racial relationships and/or are living in their spouse’s homeland. Some of these women are very gutsy in expressing their feelings about their new home. Maybe they are brave enough to write about their negative experiences because they are not as acutely affected as I about being ‘accepted’ by people in their new home. Then again most of these bloggers probably have a very different experience to me because they already belong to a specific group that is ‘venerated’ by the local people in their new home. Anyway they don’t just criticize their new home all day everyday. They write also about other (good) aspects of life as well; revealing to readers many hidden gems that one doesn’t always find in textbooks or tour guides about a particular country. I admire these women’s guts in expressing their true feelings. I wish I could write eloquently like them to convey messages clearly without sounding too abrupt or rude. Better still, I wish I could write a piece about an issue peppered with humour and mild sarcasm effortlessly so it will go down easier with any reader that happens to read this blog.

When I was younger, I was controlled by others to keep my mouth shut. Nowadays I find myself doing the controlling. As I compose this post, I am debating with myself as to whether to post it on the blog. Am I revealing too much about myself to people? Are my views offending anyone? If this piece makes it to the blog, it is highly likely that another similar piece will be posted in the near future and many more after that. I have been debating whether I should remove all the posts tagged under “My Soap Box” for months because I was and still am toying with the idea of keeping a “Happy 24/7 Blog” that mentions nothing negative. Should I? But this is my Blog, I should be allowed to say whatever I want and that includes whingeing.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vesuvius Hath No Fury like a Woman Scorned

The beautiful Royal Exhibition Building

Outside the museum

Saturday turned out to be one of those splendid days in Spring that was perfect for an outing. The sky was blue and the temperature was mild enough for us to set out wearing T-shirts. I was in a happy mood because we were going to the museum! That is one place in Melbourne that I enjoy visiting every 18 months or so. Saturday was the second last day for us to visit the Winter exhibition – “A Day In Pompeii”.

The Melbourne Museum is in the Carlton Gardens, right behind the beautiful Royal Exhibition Building. It is possible to walk all the way there but we didn’t want to waste our energy before exploring the exhibition. So, we went to catch the free City of Melbourne Tourist Shuttle Bus to take us there but we only managed to stay on for the length of one stop. The bus was jam-packed and M kept bumping onto this very precious little Emperor who is snoozing on his father’s lap. The father shot me angry looks every time M bumped the little one so I suggested that we get off at the next stop. We were not done with battling genuine tourists for a free ride to our destination yet. Next, we hopped on the City Circle Tram to take us there. Although there was no air-conditioning, the tram was wider and with passengers hoping on and off at each stop, the ride was far more comfortable than that bus.

The big fountain at the front of the Royal Exhibition Building was operating. Due to water restrictions, I think they had turned it off when we were here last. I had wanted to take a photo but missed out because two couples on different sides of the fountain were in the middle of a snogging session and I didn’t want them to be part of my photo.

It had only just gone 3 o’clock when we arrived at the museum’s main entrance. We had two hours to kill before we could queue to purchase the “Two for the price of one tickets”. So, we headed straight to the Discovery Centre downstairs. That is one of my favourite sections in the museum and it is FREE! There are plenty of ‘objects’ to look at up close and there is also a collection of books/journals on early childhood education as well as educational kits for teachers to plan their trips. The biggest highlight for me was the lonely chameleon that lives inside a glass tank built in as part of the receptionists’ desk. I am not exactly sure but I think he was sent to live at the museum after he was confiscated by the customs because he shouldn’t have been allowed into Australia. I love watching him but he attracts plenty of attention from other visitors as well. So, I always make sure that I do not block any little Vegemites and their entourage from meeting him. Ok, the chameleon is probably a female. After the Discovery Centre, we went to the museum shop. The shop had shrunk from having two levels to just a single level. It probably is cheaper to manage when the whole shop has only two entry/exit points on the ground floor. We didn’t buy a thing but M did take note of the fossils that I would like to get for my ‘Dream Classroom/Project’. Maybe Santa M will buy me some for Christmas!

With 10 minutes till 5:00pm, we went to survey the queue forming near the ticket counters. We were surprised to see that it wasn’t as thick as when we first arrived. I was also looking out to see if I was the only tight arse that cut out a coupon from the newspaper to buy two tickets for the price of one. I was quite embarrassed to find that M was the only person holding one. Then we saw a sign erected near the queue indicating that tickets purchased then are for the 7:30 pm entry. That meant that we would have to wait for another 2 1/2 hours! Not wishing to be delayed any further, we immediately went to queue hoping that by the time we got served, it would have already been passed 5:00 pm. As it turned out, M’s watch was 5 minutes slower than the museum’s clock and we did manage to score ourselves two tickets for the price of just one. As we were queuing, I finally spotted other people using the coupons like us. Phew! It is a relief to know that I am not the only budget conscious person in Melbourne.

We spent the next couple of hours or so in the park right behind the museum. I will blog about what I saw in another post or this one will never end. When we came back to the museum, the whole place had become livelier. The museum is not normally operating at this time of the day but the extended hours on Saturday was meant to encourage more people to see this exhibition before it ends. It was called ‘Toga Party’ and some people did turn up wearing togas! There were also entertainers dressed up like Romans entertaining the crowds and a DJ playing music outside the exhibition hall.

Now I am finally up to the exhibition bit of the day. M and I are those types of visitors who like to read and learn as much as possible when we go to exhibitions such as this. This, even when we were holding half-priced tickets. Most people were like us on that evening. We got to look at what daily life was like in Roman Pompeii in the first half of the exhibition. I was very surprised to learn that in the days before Napisan, the Romans used human and/or animal urine for laundry purposes! Passersby (not the museum visitors) were encouraged to ‘contribute’ into a collecting pot. In the area where they displayed household goods from those days, I saw a useful portable stove and a portable oven. I like the design and versatility of those two items.

We next joined a group of people queuing to view a short animation in the 3D cinema. The 7 minute long animation showed us what it was like when Mt Vesuvius erupted and how it wiped out Pompeii over a day or two. Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention about the hours it took to finish the town off. I was actually a little concerned that there were children standing near the entrance of the cinema watching and waiting for the next session. I wasn’t sure if children should watch without fully understanding the event. As the event unfolded, I wondered about the people’s feelings at the time. Those who were trapped must have been freaking out, not knowing why their Gods had not saved them. After the 3D show, we walked down a corridor resembling the Street of Abundance and then to an area about vulcanology. We hung around a bit to watch a short documentary. Then we entered a circular room with a warning sign outside informing everyone that no real human bodies have been used for the display of the body casts. This is the saddest part of the exhibition. A little boy in front of me told his parents that he would never go to this place called Pompeii. Another little girl said, “This is a sad, sad place. Did you hear the babies screaming, Mum?” and then added, “I heard the babies crying, Mum. They must have been so scared.” The body cast of a slave still shackled and the one of a dog that choked itself to death were the most heart breaking for me. I just can’t help but to feel sad for the people of Pompeii even though it happened so very long ago. We were heading towards the end of the exhibition trail when we came out of the circular room. There was historical information on archaeological excavations of Pompeii and I came away agreeing with what a friend, who visited Pompeii (as part of her honeymoon), said many years ago. D & M went to Europe for their honeymoon. D loves European history. She once told me that Pompeii should be left alone, buried like a time capsule because there isn’t really a proper way to protect excavated sites from further erosion when exposed. M found it disrespectful for archaeologists to disturb burial grounds and remove burial artefacts. All that got me thinking about the Chinese Terracotta Warriors. They are left somewhat exposed too!

Just before the exit was another space for people to sit and watch pictures of how Pompeii looks like today. It was packed but M wanted to get a seat if possible. Meantime, I was curious about what was on sale in the exhibition shop but I remembered not to cross the invisible line dividing the exhibition hall and the shop because apparently once you have crossed the line, you are no longer allowed to re-enter. So, I stood around, casually reading the sponsors of the exhibition on the wall in front of me. M was reading something else just around the corner. We were waiting for the next show to begin. Suddenly, this man wearing the museum employee uniform came at my direction and sternly asked, “Do you know that once you have exited the exhibition, you are no longer allowed back in?” With that, he stormed back to the invisible line to pick up a sign that had been moved and then plonked it back down so I could read what was printed on it. As he marched back towards me again, he looked confused briefly before focusing on another figure that had emerged next to me and barked out, “Have you found your family yet?” In fact, before he finished mouthing off that question, he looked at me again. When the other person responded to him quietly, I realized that he wasn’t talking to me at all or that he was but he thought I was someone else. Onlookers just stared and I hate that. I try really hard all my life to not attract any attention in public and this dumb ass ruined my evening in just seconds. M only appeared after the lady responded to the dumb ass and he didn’t witness what had happened before that. He asked me what happened and I was too furious to explain. And then it was our turn to watch the picture show. I was absolutely fuming. I mean I know that certain people have a tendency to lump all Asians together because they apparently can’t tell us apart but did he need to approach visitors to a museum so very rudely. May be instead of working in the museum, he is better off working as a door dick at a nightclub. M couldn’t understand how this person could get me mixed up with the other lady. She is at least ½ - 1 foot shorter than me with short hair.

We didn’t end up buying anything from the exhibition shop. I was just too angry and just wanted to leave right away. The outing had ended terribly. I was so angry that I walked all the way home! M didn’t suggest any other form of transport. He just walked beside me because that is what I expected of him. The walking did help to calm me down a little. Some people really make me very angry.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Mum’s New Gig

I found out about my mum’s new gig a couple of weeks ago. I laughed so hard that I nearly fell off the stool when I was chatting on the phone. Normally I get pretty pissed off whenever she announces that she is heading overseas but this time I wasn’t only worried about her trip, I also can’t stop laughing at her mission. On the night before she left, I called her to double confirm that she didn’t put her hand up for this mission because she is a nosy Aunty. She confirmed thrice (seconded by my Dad 3x) that she was called upon to this very important job because she had life experience and because she is the most alert of them all. LOL.

This Superwoman who missed out on going to a British Law School because she is a female has now been temporarily assigned to be a Matchmaker/Wedding Planner. LOL. Sorry, I just find this too amusing. My mum’s mission was to travel to China with my 55 yr old cousin (never married) to check out his girlfriend, whom he ‘met’ chatting on the internet. If everything goes well, they will immediately start the negotiations for a wedding. The girlfriend did visit my old hometown about a month or so ago but my Mum was away attending someone else’s wedding in the capital city. When my Mum got home, she got wind that something wasn’t quite right. Despite efforts to hush up the girlfriend’s visit to my Mum’s birthplace – a village where my cousin runs the family grocery store, her presence caused an infectious bout of “Discrimination” among my Mum’s extended family. Seeing my Aunt in such a state of distress, my cousin was ready to call off the relationship. My other cousins (this cousin’s younger siblings) who had been supportive wanted him to enjoy the happiness of being married. They turned to my Mum for help because they reckoned that she has the status of an “Old Jungle Boar” among the elders. Not understanding what that crude slang meant, I almost hit the roof when I first heard it but my Mum was almost proud to wear that like a badge! Apparently the title is a way to describe a person with plenty of life experience.

Anyway my Mum and my cousin left on Friday. They flew to the Chinese City where my second Uncle lives with his family before catching a connecting flight to fly to the city where the lady lives. Typically the connecting flight was delayed and the duo didn’t arrive at their second destination until well after 1:00 am! I was blissfully unaware about this until my Dad reported it to me on the weekend. Although my Mum had promised to call me, I knew she wouldn’t until after the last leg of the journey because she knows I am such a worry wart. The next part of the journey is the bit I dislike most. The duo and the girlfriend/fiancĂ©e, will fly back to the City where my second Uncle lives before catching a bus to the birthplace of my maternal grandparents to meet my Mum’s eldest sister. I think she will call me after that trip because she knows how much I worry about those crazy bus rides. Meantime, I just hope that the bus drivers will sleep well and do a good job getting them there and back.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Window Shopping @ South Wharf

During one of the ad breaks that came on when we were watching The Amazing Race on Thursday, we saw an ad for the new DFO South Wharf. We saw Borders in the ad. Whenever Borders open a new store, they always have a few Montessori and Homeschooling titles in their Education section. Ooh...I can't wait to browse through some of them before they get sold out. There was also a full page printed ad on the back page of that day's copy of MX (free newspaper). Studying the map on it, we realized that the new outlet stores are located within walking distance and decided right then that we would drop by the next day to have a look.

The moment we got there, we quickly learned that many of the shops were not open for business yet. We were disappointed that Borders was also in that category. So we did a quick lap of the basement where most of the shops were already up and going, quickly checked out the shops on the ground floor that are getting ready to open their doors and then went upstairs to check out the JB Hi-Fi. I can't possibly give that place a miss if I have M in tow. There are a few more shops (e.g. The Good Guys) in another building adjoining the main building.

With the DFO outlets at Southern Cross station (aka Spencer St station), Harbour Town and now, more DFO outlets at South Wharf, we will never have to drive out there to buy discounted goods. Yay!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

10 Words That = 3 Special Little Words

There are a few blogs that I regularly drop by to read their latest posts. One lady recently wrote a post titled “Three Little Words”. Her conversation with her husband got me thinking about the way I speak to M. Everyday when M goes to work or leaves to go somewhere else, I say to him, “Be careful when you cross the road. Don’t get mugged.” There, those are my 10 special words that are suppose to mean “I love you”. I didn’t think they were anything unusual until around 4 1/2 years ago. I was on the phone to M when a certain little vegemite was eavesdropping right next to me. This little vegemite decided to copy my words as part of a conversation she made up for her dollies and this time her mum overheard and freaked out. The little vegemite told her that I said it on the phone and her mum called right away to see if we were alright. LOL.

These days I do try to say “I love you” when I remember to but it just doesn’t sound right. LOL. It’s like using the F words. They just don’t seem to ‘fit’ me. In fact the F words were so amusing to M that he nearly crashed the car when I first used it in his presence. LOL. When M learned how to say “I love you” in Mandarin (Chinese), I laughed like mad at first but later I found it somewhat off-putting. There is just no point for him to say it in any other language that I speak. When it is coming from him, “I love you” is fine in English. When it is coming from me, the ten words I mentioned above sound more natural than the 3 special little words in English.

M is okay about the way I speak. He sometimes jokes that some of my vocabulary is uniquely me and only he and I could understand the meaning of it. LOL. Over the years, he has begun to understand things from my perspective. He is slowly learning that the words that come out of my mouth may be English but the usage is still sometimes influenced by my culture or my upbringing. Recently though I have begun wondering if the way I speak has anything to do with a condition I have. That’s something I would like to look deeper into. One of the many beauties of being in an inter-racial relationship is that there is just so much more to learn from each other. Just when you think that we humans share so many similarities another thing pops up reminding us of our differences.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Where Do My Groceries Come From?

I am currently reading an amusing book called ‘A Year Without “Made In China” – One Family’s True Life Adventure in the Global Economy’. The adjective ‘amusing’ is not chosen lightly. It has got to be amusing if M was caught smiling while reading page after page of the book. It is written by an American journalist named Sara Bongiorni. Printed inside the book’s dust jacket is a picture of her but before I even took a look at it and before I even finished reading a few lines describing the book, I suspected that she had Chinese heritage! Is this spooky or what? I haven’t seen the book in any bookshops and borrowed this copy from none other than our beloved Melbourne City Library.

The book and along with TV shows like “A Current Affair” and “Today Tonight” got me thinking about the so-called invasion of Chinese or foreign made products. Is it really that bad? Both M and I are not really bothered by China’s expansion. China’s steps to become an economic giant have given my Chinese relatives a better standard of living and thus a better life. I used to feel how unfair it was for them to be stuck over there but seeing them moving up makes me feel better for my late maternal grandma who seemed to blame herself for their sufferings all those years ago. Right now China is not a threat to me personally at all. I have lived as a minority all my life and that has given me invaluable abilities of working my way around obstacles even though it is not very nice to be a minority all the time. So instead of freaking out, I just get around any obstacles that come my way, but the thing is that Chinese products are not things I particularly shun unless they are harmful or if the quality is especially bad. Despite saying that, it doesn’t mean that I don’t support Aussie made products.

I was thinking about what to write about in this blog last week and an idea came into my head. I wondered if it would be a good idea to write a post about where my groceries come from. Just like the author of the book I am reading, I have decided to sort each product according to what is printed on its label. I am not going to call each company to make them give me the country of origin of each ingredient/component that makes up a product. Being a ‘nobody’, the companies probably won’t entertain someone like me questioning them. Since I had a few days before we do our grocery run on Saturday, I had time to think about it a little bit more. If the invasion is really as bad as what people would like me to think, I wondered if this idea would turn into a “Spot the Aussie” game. The vision of a certain type of local visitors turning up at a famous Melbournian landmark only to find the place ‘taken over’ by ‘other’ people came to my head. Imagining the possible facial expressions of those local visitors was almost enough for me to throw out this idea but M wanted to give it a go and see what we would find.

The pictures below are the stuff we bought on Saturday. We shop for our groceries at Safeway (now known as Woolworths) at QV and ALDI (on Franklin St). Because Asian meals are also consumed in this inter-racial household, we also regularly buy certain products from Asian grocery stores but we didn’t have to last Saturday. The only things not depicted in the pictures are sausages and chicken thigh fillets. We returned to get them on Sunday and they were both Australian products.

Australian products from Safeway/Woolworths

These are what I call “Somewhat Aussie” products. They are ‘Made in Australia from imported & local ingredients’ and we bought them from Safeway/Woolworths.

These are the ones made overseas and we also bought them from Safeway/Woolworths.
· Macleans Toothpaste – England
· Home Brand Toilet Paper – China (Aren’t we brave to use 1 ply sheets?)
· Heinz Baked Beans – New Zealand
· Trident Sweet Chilli Sauce – Thailand
· Home Brand Tuna Chunks – Thailand

Australian products from ALDI

“Somewhat Aussie” products bought from ALDI. They were labelled as ‘Made in Australia from imported & local ingredients’.

These are the ones made overseas and were bought from ALDI
· Jasmine Rice – Thailand
· Aluminium Foil – China
· Pineapple Slices – The Philippines (Note: We usually buy Golden Circle.)

A note about ALDI: Some people think that ALDI is not a patriotic option because they are German but they do hire Aussies and when the products are sourced locally, they do come from places that also hire Aussies. ALDI helps to keep our expenses lower.

This is the book I am currently reading.
Judging from just the groceries I bought on Saturday, I bought only two items that were made in China. That is not that bad, is it? There are a few other things made overseas but only two came from China. I didn’t set out to buy more Aussie made/produce goods just to write this post. What I buy during each grocery run is based entirely on the fortnightly menu we are currently sticking to and what non-edible items we have run out (e.g. Silver Foil). Even the shopping list is pre-made (printed from the computer) and reuse until we dump the menu because M is completely bored of the same meals over and over. LOL

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Yeah I know very well that I simply can’t have enough of IKEA. I went there on two Sundays in a row in September. I actually went alone on the second trip because Moosh could very well have gone insane if I made him go again. LOL. That was when I bought myself a TROLIG plus a couple of other things. In case if you are wondering what in the world a TROLIG is, it is actually a curtain rod set that requires no drilling because it is spring loaded. And just in case if anyone is as curious as me, I actually went to Google the word and learnt that it meant plausible in English but it could be wrong because people should not believe everything written online. (In that case, people shouldn’t believe a word I have blogged about too. LOL.) M and I have always been curious with the names of IKEA products. They can sound quite funny. If I am not wrong, there used to be a teenager’s desk called BRA!

I have always wanted some kind of cabinet / buffet to store plates, glasses and other serving ware within the dining area but because we live in a tiny pigeon hole with limited space, I am forced to put that dream on hold until we move to a house one day. We have also accumulated other pieces of furniture over the years that we do not wish to just chuck them out yet. One example of such a piece of furniture is this bookcase that I bought when I was at university. It is not a Billy. In fact, it is not even from IKEA but it is made of the same kind of material as those Billy bookcases. One blogger calls this material fake wood. Fake wood or not, we don’t wish to throw it out yet. We had recently placed it in front of the short wall separating the kitchen and the dining area. It has been empty ever since M moved his collection of DVDs that used to be stored there to a new lockable cabinet. Its current location makes it possible for me to use it as a buffet to create more storage room within our tiny kitchen but I was a little worried that the contents may become dusty because this so called ‘buffet’ has no doors. Then I remembered this TROLIG thingy in the 2010 IKEA catalogue. I wondered if I could make a curtain for this bookcase. Out came the measuring tape to see if the TROLIG would fit in between the bookcase’s sides and it fitted apparently. So off we went to IKEA that very Sunday and since it was our first visit after the release of the new catalogue, I insisted that we go through the whole shop to make sure I didn’t miss a single piece of new products. Poor M went along like a gentleman without complaining even when I mentioned my intention to not buy the TROLIG that day because I needed to think a little bit more. LOL. I could see that he was wondering why he was made to spend his Sunday negotiating his way through such a thick crowd to emerge at the other end to buy two jars of Lingonberry jam and a hot dog. LOL. Anyway I made up my mind six days later and went back to IKEA on the following Sunday to buy that TROLIG.

This is the TROLIG in its packaging.

This is the fake wood book case with the TROLIG fitted.

This is my notes on how to construct the curtain. If I am not following a pattern, I have to make notes before I start on a project. Once I have the skeletal framework on paper, I am pretty flexible with any alterations needed along the way. Okay, the fabric I chose is quite childish but that is the only blackish fabric I have in my stash at the moment. And yes, the fabric is from IKEA. I bought it a few months ago.

This is the end product. It is just a basic curtain but M and I are happy with it.

Note: We are happy with the outcome of this little project. The TROLIG mounted firmly to the inner sides of the bookcase and the rings/clips did their job in hanging the curtain but because the curtain rod is not permanently fixed, it might fall out if a curious hand yanks the curtain forcefully. This is not a problem to us since we do not have any children of our own and we are not likely to have any child visitors ever. How lonely, huh? In the catalogue, the TROLIG is used to fit inside window frames. I just thought I made it clear in case if anyone is interested to do what we did, he/she should consider carefully before making an educated choice.

The Vegetarian Guru

I was considered to be a fussy eater when I was growing up. I didn’t like vegetables and would stubbornly refuse to eat them when I was little. My mum and my carers probably didn’t know that little kids need to try something new multiple times before they come to accept it. The way they used to make me eat my greens was through threats and put-downs. The put-downs only made me angrier and more rebellious. When I started working with children (yonks ago), I was surprised to see so many good eaters. There was a little boy named Daniel who would always come to class with carrot and celery sticks tucked inside his lunchbox amongst the sandwich and a drink. Occasionally, there was also a slice of homemade carrot/banana cake wrapped in plastic. His teachers used to make sarcastic comments because Daniel didn’t get a (store bought) treat everyday like the other children. They were so mean. If I ever have children, I would really like them to eat up their vegetables like this Daniel.

After I came to Australia, my views on vegetables started to slowly change. I love how our food was prepared at boarding school. The kitchen staff rolled out vegetables to my liking. The head chef was an import from Ireland! He was a first of his kind to be imported apparently! But when I started to live independently later, I quickly learned that vegetables do not last forever in the fridge and because I didn’t enjoy cooking back then, I was back to eating only minimal amounts of vegetables again. Looking back, I find it really quite shocking how unhealthy my diet used to be!

In 2003, I decided to buy myself a Guinea Pig for my birthday. It was partly a selfish decision because I had wanted someone other than M to love me. Our Guinea Pig sure loved us and he displayed his love the loudest when mealtimes came around daily. He would squeak and squeak at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm when we had to move the clock forward at this time of the year. We bought small amounts of different vegetables to give to this furry little vegetarian with a big appetite. One of his vets suggested that we should not limit him to just boring carrots and lettuce leaves. In fact, too much lettuce leaves could upset his stomach.

A few weeks after Safeway opened its doors at QV, I was there for a grocery top up without M. The dude who served me casually asked me the name of the variety of cucumbers I was purchasing. Nowadays, I would tell you that they were Lebanese Cucumbers but back then, I wasn’t quite sure. After telling him that I wasn’t sure, he looked at me deliberately so I would give him some kind of eye contact and then asked in disbelief, “You don’t know what you are buying?” It was so embarrassing. Soon after that experience, I began to take an active interest in the vegetables we buy our Guinea Pig. I also began to cook regularly and since we were already buying vegetables for the Guinea Pig, we might as well buy more for us, the humans to enjoy as well. Gradually, we began to eat more and more vegetables under the influence of the furry vegetarian Guru.

Today, 17 months after the Guru had left us, the good habit formed is here to stay and we are eating more vegetables with our meals than ever. Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t like them when I was a child. Eggplants, capsicums, zucchinis, Roma tomatoes and cucumbers are just so delicious. Celery sticks are great too.