Tag Archives: life

Oranges and Lemons

My little son scampers, skips and trips his way along the uneven pavements of Victoria Park. We’re off to see the orange tree and the lemon tree, flourishing occupants of a garden down the road. The branches are heavy with still-green mandarins and ripening yellow lemons. Infinitely more fascinating that our own of spiky desert scrub, wilting baby bean plants and an orchid that never flowers. Oh, and I’ve not yet killed the lavender.

Our walking route takes us past car shops, the Harvest Espresso café (always closed in the late afternoon) and the Victoria Park Hotel (always open and kids eat free on Tuesdays). This afternoon, the pub is dressed up in balloons – purple and white for the Fremantle Dockers, blue and yellow for the West Coast Eagles. Going by balloon preferences, I’d say my little man is a Dockers fan.

Oranges and Lemons

Inspecting the olives

Our little master – let’s call him “M” – is no stranger to the colour purple. No, not the film, but the colour. His favourite fridge magnets are a set of purple numbers (6 and 9 missing). His favourite plastic vegetable is a purple eggplant. However, his grandad has bought a white eggplant from the supermarket – we’ve seen it on Skype. The horticultural world can be quite confusing for a two-year-old.

Down that road, up this one. We are winding our way back home, stopping to inspect snooty cats, dogs stretching their legs – or should that be the other way round? – and rude magpies. The house on the corner is a delight with its olive tree drooping with black fruit, giant roses, green figs, and a persimmon tree whose branches dip invitingly over the fence with displays of orange globes.

“Touch it,” demands M. We have agreed that this should be the extent of his interaction with Somebody Else’s Gardens. Then he consents to cross the road. Any cars coming?

The next day, we retrace our steps – past lemon tree and spiky fruit (plane) tree, past car shop where the red car has now gone, past pub with ciggy smoke and chicken parmi, and to the persimmon tree again. The fruits are all gone now.

“Somebody ate it,” says M wisely but with some disappointment. He is easily placated with the prospect of viewing the banana tree next door. Then he’s off again – scamper, skip, and gurgle of delight. There are many more gardens to inspect and other streets to explore. And they are all there in Victoria Park.

In the spirit of this post, I felt I should also share my son’s favourite YouTube video – everything to do with fruit and nothing to do with Vic Park. Enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4tk2xi85vE

Licensed to Drive

Source: Wikimedia.org

Source: Wikimedia.org

A gum tree is a poor landmark. Especially if you are in parts unknown in a suburb of Western Australia (WA). Definitely so, if you are doing a driving test. “Needs more directions,” scrawled my lanky Aussie examiner on his form after I stopped in front of the wrong house in the “Leaving Something Behind” part of the test. Certain I’d failed, I proceeded to compound my crimes by hitting the kerb while turning into a car park. It’s the 31st of December – what a way to end the year.

“I know you passed,” said my husband, el geólogo, when I returned to the Cannington Driver and Vehicle Services centre. I’d lasted the full thirty-five minutes while all the other candidates had long since returned. Yes, dear reader, I am now married. I was so thrilled and relieved that I promptly turned into a waterspout. Not for being married, of course, but for having passed what is described as the most stringent driving exam in Australia. Umm, the crying jag could have something to do with raging pregnancy hormones. We won’t go into that. I have no wish to be a mommy blogger, although both “mommy” and “blogger” I soon hope to be.

So why do a driving test? As a temporary resident, I drove with my overseas licence. This is a slightly battered little paperback book, encased in a cover kindly provided by the Good Luck Driving School – Mumbai’s solution to driving lessons. The Driver Services official, a slim and horribly efficient looking young man of Asian descent paged through this – somewhat grimly, I thought. Upon reaching the page with an inky stamp from the Mumbai Road Transport Office and the squiggly signature of An Important Police Person in the Mumbai Police, he shook his head wryly.

The other lane: a road sign in Mumbai

The other lane: a road sign in Mumbai

“I have never seen a driver’s licence like this,” said he.

“It’s the only licence I have.” I replied, somewhat touchily. “It’s ten years old.” Surely, the very shabbiness of the licence proclaimed its genuineness?

Now, as a permanent resident, I need to and will drive with a WA driver’s licence. This beautiful blue laminated card, a key to many doors, will arrive in the mail in a few weeks. It will have a photo of me, quite likely looking teary-eyed, dishevelled, and perhaps with only one earring. I discovered the other clinging to my dress after we left the centre. It is after all one of the unwritten laws of the universe – thou shalt always look your worst in an official photograph.

So here I am, after a series of lessons with Perth’s excellent Defensive Driving School, one minor accident, a double puncture, and much driving practice later, a proud possessor of a new licence to drive. I feel strangely liberated – this is a real ego-booster. Yet, fond as I am of my blue Ford hatchback, my sturdy driving test companion, driving is still a necessary evil rather than a pleasure. I hand the car keys to my patient husband. I may have driven us to the test, but he’s driving us back home today.

If you need to know more about the WA road rules, try the only quizzes that help drivers prepare for the theory test at: http://www.transport.wa.gov.au/licensing/road-rules-theory-test-quiz.asp

Also, read about my first adventures in Australian driving at: https://perthinent.wordpress.com/2013/07/06/keys-to-drive-again/

Keys to Drive Again

Thou shalt not honk. This is an Australian road rule that’s written in stone – somewhere, I’m sure. It’s right up there with “thou shalt indicate at all times – left, right, and centre.”

A bit different from driving in Mumbai where I keep my eyes on my left, right and centre, on the cars before, behind, and beside me and the bicycle that’s coming straight at me up the wrong side of the road. Asked how to reverse a car, a family friend learning to drive in India replied, “Get into first gear and look back.” She probably has it right.

I’ve been doing a different sort of travel these days – I’ve hit the roads to do a refresher course to learn driving the Aussie way. It’s been a steep learning curve. Bay parking, reversing in driveways, and roundabouts galore. My first time in fourth gear at 80 km/hr. To my Indian friends – no, I was not speeding. To my Aussie mates – yes, this is a Significant Moment. Also I was scared as *bleep*. Never know who my readers might be.

If you’re Australian, you can get free lessons via the “Keys to Drive” scheme. I’ve had to pay for lessons but it’s been worth it. I have had better instruction this time round. I understand better when to change gears and why. I’m not parroting a routine but thinking of the “why” behind each maneuver. Still, my instructor laughs because I’m confident on curvy roads and hill starts but panic at the sight of a sign that says 70. Speeding is the least of my problems.

I have also to my shame and disappointment had my first car accident, seen a car written off, and said farewell to my favourite Holden Barina in an auction yard filled with totalled relics. It was a Gumdrop moment. I know exactly how Josiah Oldcastle felt. Since then, I have researched cars online, visited a dealer, learnt to buy a vehicle, and dealt with insurers. Invaluable life skills, all.

I have few words of wisdom to impart. Insure with RAC – it’s worth it. Go to Aberdeen Auctions – you’ll find a good deal there. If you’re looking for lessons, the Defensive Driving School is a good place to start. Finally, look out for the slightly nervous Indian in a blue hatchback. She’s just got her keys to drive again and hopes she’s doing alright.