Thursday, February 16, 2012

A little update

Blogging just got left by the roadside. There hasn't been any time for writing or even much photography. I am in the process of starting up writing somewhere  new. it isn't ready for viewing yet but I'll show you soon. Until then here is a few shots from the last two months.

We got a little bit country at the Tumbarrumbar Rodeo

Watched the parade for Chinese New Year

Enjoyed a spot of fishing

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Finally here.

At 3am the phone rings, "they won't let me on the plane". I knew the drama wasn't over.
"Let me talk to them, put the person on the phone."
"He says he doesn't want to talk to you." We that is insulting but understandable as i am radiating venom down the phone line.
"I think he wants a bribe."
"WHAT, they want you to bribe them to be allowed to leave your own country?"

45 minutes later Mero Budda is allowed to board the plane and i anxiously wait the 17 hours till he lands in Australia.

"Excuse me miss, are you waiting for someone to arrive." What tipped you off? Was it that i have been standing at the arrival gate for an hour scanning the faces of everyone who walks through?
"Yes, i am."
"Where is your friend coming from?"
"My husband was on the flight from Guangzhou. Why do you have his passport? What is the problem?"
"Oh Nepali people never get visitor visas, so we thought we better check."
"Well the visa was awarded and we have had a lot of problems with the Immigration Department so if there is some problem..."
"No it is fine, we will send him out in a minute."

10 minutes later Mero Budda saunters through the gate, smiling like he hasn't got a care in the world. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Visas are whack but now it is time to celebrate...

Youtube... maybe you heard of it?

Like everyone i like to do what i want, when i want. Unlike most people i have never been able to suppress this urge long enough to attain that fabled status of 'adulthood'. 

Never really had a real job because it tied me to a routine and a place. I hate knowing i will be doing the same thing, at the same time, in the same place, 5 days and 40 hours a week. I prefer casual work and living arrangements so that if i want to jump in a car or on a plane at any given time there is nothing to hold me back. 

And then... along came the cutest little brown-eyed boy you will ever meet. His country happens to have a bundle of complicated issues that make gaining a visa a stress inducing, medication requiring, shit fight. So i am learning the art of waiting, appearing like an adult and (government approved) pharmaceutically enhanced relaxation.

I am used to be able to talk my way into or out of any problems with a little creative problem solving. Some people call that manipulation. I call it being persuasively charming. The government, those sticklers for correct process, may call it bribery. 

There is no way to sweet-talk yourself a quick visa in Australia. All you can do is: 
  1.  Fill your application with lovey-dovey letters from you and your partner. This can be difficult if your singificant other is from a culture where public affection is frowned upon and English is their second language but trust me after this step it only gets harder.
  2. Get your family to say how you to go together like peas and carrots. I suggest being persuasively charming.
  3. Slip in photos of you and your partner looking desperately in love. 
  4. Pray your application isn't delivered into the hands of one of the 'less reliable' staff at the Indian visa processing office in New Delhi.
  5. Wait.
  6. Wait.
  7. Wait. 

I agree it should be an unbiased process performed by a faceless incorruptible office worker but i wish this worker was at least competent. We waited and waited and waited for our visa. I didn't want to complain or jeopardise (wow is that how you spell that?) the process in anyway but after not hearing anything i eventually emailed the office. And then...

       8. Wait 11 days for any acknowledgment.

"Oh sorry we gave you the wrong information, you didn't need to pay an extra $2000 and apply for a two year visa, even though we phoned you up and told you you definitely had to if your husband ever wanted to visit Australia. Yes, oops, that was a mistake. Also our mistake has now delayed your visa for another two months."

It seemed our application had been 'stalled' due to some incorrect information the office had given us. Even though they had it for well over the normal processing time they agreed they would START processing it now. Except then someone went on holidays and it sat in an inbox for two weeks. 

       9. Wait.
      10. Wait.

It's character building, right? I am sure i must be on the verge of adulthood by now because suddenly it came. I got a phone call from the Indian office. And a written apology. Mero Budda is picking up his visa in Kathmandu today. 

Even though they made a thousand mistakes I could have kissed that little Indian office worker when she told me she was granting the visa. I was shaking and crying and thanking her over and over. And then i sat down and ate a bucket of ice-cream. So visa process Australia--> Nepal STAGE ONE COMPLETE.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Money Money Money - You might have more than you think!

I'm the 862,912,406 richest person on earth!

Discover how rich you are! >>

We all wish we had more money. I am guilty of thinking everyone is richer than me and i was really getting shitty about feeling so poor all the time.

I got my tax assessment back this week. Last year i made $AUS4877 ($US5051.77), i was pretty sure this qualified me as poor since most of my friends are making over $50 grand and a couple making 6 figures. I had a serious case of not even close to keeping up with the Joneses.

Then i saw this link on one of my friend's facebook pages. You put in your yearly salary (it has dollar, pond, yen options) and it calculates where you are in the scheme of things. Global Rich List really made me feel like a smuck. I am in the top richest 14% of the world, richer than 86% of people on the planet.

So now i've done a total 180 and i'm feeling really flush. My sister puts her salary in. She is the top 1% and never allowed to complain about money again. We are so lucky and we don't even know it. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

I will forgive you for thinking this might be a post about how much i hate Christmas and its commercialized message and materialistic ideals... but it isn't. I LOVE CHRISTMAS. It is the one time of year i can spend all my money and not feel bad about it.

There is a chance i will be home (depends on the answer we get about Mero Budda's visa on Monday). I am really excited to have a Christmas at home with my whole family. This year i am trying to get gifts which are environmentally friendly and not morally reprehensible. I don't want to be the shit hippy sister who turns up on Christmas day with a whole lot of "adopt a highway" certificates, or a picture of some sponsored tree in Botswana, or heaven forbid, a star that has been named in their honor. I want to get things they will like and use.

I have been looking for a gift for my niece and  i actually found way more cute things (most of which i really just want for myself) than she could possibly use. Sadly, I can't get them all so I thought I would share a few here because really the second best thing to buying is 'just looking'.

Toys and Babies
Environmentally friends products for kids is actually the easiest category of gifts to find. There is an abundance of fluffy eco  toys and clothes out there. My favorites are:

These cute booties from Alison's wonderland. Made from certified organic cotton and hand crocheted.

This little guy is a free trade, hand knitted comes from a community based income generating project in Zimbabwe. The project helps to supplement incomes of 200 women. He is made of all natural cotton and comes from ethical gifts.

This one also comes from ethical gifts but helps women in Bangladesh.

These little dolls and pins come from the little traveller shop which is part of an initiative to ease the burden of  HIV/ Aids in Africa. You can read about the women who make these little dolls here at Little Travellers. Or watch this movie:

Is made from 100% organic materials. The fabric is organic cotton, the base is made from natural maize and the latex matters is derived from the sap of the rubber tree. It is hypoallergenic, microbial (doesn't grow mould), free of chemicals and it looks really cute. I found this Seed Organic POD at Eco Toys.

I have a bit of a soft spot for puppets. I love this hand made elephant from earthlink. This one is made by women in an income generation project in Bangladesh. It is crafted from jute and cotton.

Earthtribe have heaps of amazing products for children, especially wooden toys. I admit i love spinning tops, something about them reminds me of being a kid. These ones might be a bit small for babies but there are a range of rattles, blocks, instruments and bath time toys made from sustainable wood sources and chemical free dyes.

Lastly, this isn't really for babies but maybe new mum's would like one... I really want one! This hot water bottle cover  from ZippityDooDah - handmade wonders is made out of recycled felt and materials. And it is environmentally friendly because it encourages people to use a hot water bottle in bed rather that sleeping with an electric blanket or heater on.  Found at ethikl an online eco market place.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


When I try to explain to my friends what life in like in Nepal it is pretty much impossible. Coming from somewhere like Australia we have no idea what the real world is like and how the majority of people live. We love to complain about how hard we have things, how work is tough, we don't get paid enough. The truth is most of us just haven't seen enough of the world to realise how good things are at home.

I try to explain that in Nepal around 30% of people live on less than a US$1 a day though stats like this don't mean shit to people who have never tried to survive on or under the poverty line. I always get the response that "things are cheaper there". Yes this is true, but rent for three rooms with no running water, communal bathroom shared with 5 other families and very sporadic electricity is around NR7000 (US$100) a month. Basic wage doesn't even cover the rent, forget about wanting to eat or educate your children or going on holiday or health care.

I get on my friends nerves because i am always banging on about poverty and immigration laws and work rights. I know nobody else cares about these things. I know it is boring and depressing and i am driving you all crazy but FUCK get some perspective. Not being able to afford the latest iphone is not a crisis situation!

I don't know how to explain it in a way that is effective. I watched this doco this morning, as usual it made me cry. I guess most people would say it's about a girl who chose the wrong job. To me it is a reminder that so many of my Nepali friends are applying for this kind of work, it might not be long before someone comes back in a box. I am feeling so frustrated at the moment.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What to do with old children's books?

I have been researching these programs where people get together and send books to developing countries to improve literacy. It is often American programs sending books to Africa. The benefits are said to be two fold: saving books from landfill which is good for the environment and helping kids learn to read. 

I think it is really important that we try to reuse things and keep items which can be used by others out of landfill. On this premise i am totally in-support of these programs, in regards to improving literacy i have some questions. 

I am still undecided. Don't kids want to read in their own languages? If we send books to countries in English and all kids learn is English, isn't this a mild form of globalisation? Maybe globalisation isn't the right word, maybe it is colonialism or maybe there isn't a word for it. I am curious to know what other people think about encouraging everyone to speak English. Would it be better to save the shipping money and source children's books in other languages?

My family and i cleaned out our storage on the weekend and we have a box of 200 children's books sitting here. I want to do something with them to avoid adding to the landfill problem and if there are children out there who will benefit from them I will send them. So the thing i am most curious about is do Nepali children really want to read books in English? And 2nd is it of any benefit to them to have English books filling up their school libraries and homes?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Trying to find a little ray of sunshine

Sometimes i get into a funk where the only things coming out of my mouth (or fingertips if we are talking blogs) are overwhelmingly negative. Lately I've been in a funk to put all other funks to shame. I haven't been able to communicate without leaving a little bit of awkwardness and dismay in my wake.  I've been Hurricane Negative Nancy and i brewed up quite the storm.

"Oh you got expensive new shoes?" - let me tell you about the sweat shops they were probably made in or how many children you could have fed for that price.
"You love this show?" - Let me point out all the plot holes and inaccuracies with an enthusiasm killing frequency.
"Oh you are happy with the current government" - Let me tell you why you are an idiot. 

I have been so much fun to be around. No job, no money, no husband, no visa, have made me a real shit. The recent news about the visa delays have tipped me from annoying cynicism to pathological joy destroyer. I feel like i have lost myself in the stress of life. Everything has changed over the last year and it feels like i don't even know my own opinions or choices. I don't know who this crazy angry girl is. 

I had a trial at new job the other day. Its just a little thing but i felt a tiny change. Finally something started going my way. That small thing made me so happy that i realised how low i'd gotten. So as i clamber out of this pity fest i am trying to work out who this newly married,  bar-tending, photo taking, perpetually studying woman is and what she actually likes. I can write you a book filled with things i hates but i really struggled to think of things i like. 

1. My husband - I am happy to say not only am i crazy in love but i really like him. He tries so hard with my family, he trusts everyone - to a fault, he is really protective and the boy has a smile that can melt even my icy heart. 

2. Boots- any kind of boots. They are comfortable but tough looking. I own six pairs, i think if you own six of something it is hard to doubt you like it. If i was a shoe i think i'd be a pair of boots, maybe gumboots. 

3. Showers - after months without a shower in a clean room, with toiletries and water which you don't have to bucket over yourself, i am convinced i like showers. 

Three is all i can come up with right now. Three things i am POSITIVE i like. Not much to go but it is a start.