I love meeting new people whenever I travel. As soon as I open my mouth, they recognise an “interesting” accent and the question inevitably follows: “Where do you come from?” I refrain from breaking out my Men At Work impression and I reply “I come from Australia.” That is the answer I have been giving for the past thirty years. Yes, it hardly seems real that it has already been thirty years since my parents packed up the family and moved us halfway across the world from Hong Kong to a city in a country we had never been to.
I never fully grasped the enormity of such a move back in 1982. At the time, I knew nothing about Australia – not even about the koalas and kangaroos that people ask me about nowadays when I travel abroad. The only people I knew who had even been to Australia were friends of my parents who had come here on a family holiday. I remember going to their house for a slide night but taking very little interest in what was on screen.
The only thing I remember thinking was that they spoke English in Australia. Having attended an English private school since kindergarten, I was not afraid of the language barrier, though if anyone had warned me about the accent, things might have been a little different! If only I had read Nino Culotta’s They’re A Weird Mob back then, I may have had a better understanding of the Australian slang!
The prospect of leaving behind all my friends and my grandparents, who I was extremely close to, never truly hit me until we were at the airport on August 15th, 1982, when I saw my grandfather cry for the first time in my life as we bade our farewells at the departure gate. Having always been an extremely sensitive and sentimental child, the sight of my grandparents and my parents in tears was the first sign that my life was about to change in a major way.
A few years ago, I told my family that the gift-giving logic is flawed when it comes to the celebration of birthdays, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day. It is our tradition that we receive gifts for our birthdays and we give gifts to our parents for Father’s/Mother’s Days. Always the Devil’s Advocate, I said to my family that it seems strange to be receiving gifts on one’s birthday – as if we should be rewarded for having been born. Wouldn’t it make more sense on our birthdays to be giving gifts to our parents? For without them, we would not be here. And following this same logic, without us, our parents would not be parents, hence they should be giving us presents on Mother’s/Father’s Days! OK, so this argument might be slightly flawed, too, if you are not the first-born (which I am not) because your parents are already parents even if you had not been born, so…
Putting aside my silliness (it runs in the family), Mother’s Day is a day we dedicate to show our love and appreciation for our mothers. Of course, we should do this every single day and not just on one particular day, but it is still a good reminder to us of the sacrifices they have made for us and what they mean to us. A mother is more than the woman who gave birth to us. She has enormous responsibilities to raise and nurture us, and most importantly, to love us unconditionally. For some, this person could be an aunt, a grandmother, a godmother, a step-mother, a foster-mother, an adoptive mother or a guardian. And on this day, we recognise and show our appreciation for them all because they have made us who we are today.
My Mum with my Grandmother in the '50s
I have always made it a point in this blog to try and turn the negative into positive. But there is always an exception. So let this be the one (if I have more in the future I will create a new blog – Ha!).
The first myth I need to bust is that self-cleaning ovens do not clean themselves. There! I’ve said it! It is the biggest lie in the world. Right after “no, honey, that dress does not make your butt look big”. Oh wait…if you live in Sydney, you would probably agree that the Cityrail timetable is also a myth – the greatest piece of fiction ever written, as it is sometimes known. The mere existence of a timetable does not mean that it is real. So back to my first point: Whoever came up with the term “self-cleaning” needs to be shot…unless he is already dead…in which case, R.I.P.