Tag Archives: Western Australia

On a Grain of Rice

I confess – I am a rice purist. I am the person who trolleys down the rice aisle in Coles, turning up her nose at bags of long-grained rices of unknown origin and brands that promise a jasmine aroma. Not every long-grain can claim to be a basmati and I don’t particularly care if the sun rises on your Sun rice or your steamed bowl of white goodness could grace a Maharajah’s table. I’ve tried them all and they did not pass this chef’s test or palate.

Only one true brand exists for me – the Dehraduni basmati. Every few months, I make my foray into a little Indian store on Albany Highway in search of a bag of Maharani Dehraduni basmati rice. (Yes, the Maharanis of this world can outdo the Maharajahs any day). The rice comes in a five-kilo pack and so goes a long way for a family two. You can only imagine the tragedy of not finding a single bag on the shelf. Instead, I had to choose between India’s Crowns and Kohinoors – neither of which I was sure was going to be a jewel in my larder. Were I not satisfied with the Indian varieties, I could choose Pakistani basmati instead, which my mother promises me is twice as nice.

Dehraduni basmati brings back memories of a trip to Dehradun in the foothills of the Himalayas, when it was still a part of Uttar Pradesh. It is now the capital of the newer state of Uttarakhand. The town is home to the Doon School, the Indian Military Academy, and the Forestry Research Institute (among other notable institutions) and lies near the paddy fields it is famous for (among other things). We were visiting a mushroom factory (really a work-trip for my father) and also taking in the sights. This included a stomach-churning drive up into Mussoorie and the purchase of a woolen blanket at a market stall there that would one day warm my baby son – the blanket, not the stall. Family photos show me looking down palely at cable cars climbing a misty valley that is home to the writer Ruskin Bond. For the record: heights I do not do.

Now, clutching a bag of India Crown rice, also promising to be Dehraduni basmati, I head to the check out. I am not sure whether aromas of Himalayan hills will waft through my home as I cook my next lunch. To you it may just be another grain of rice but to me it’s a whole story about the places I have gone before and a reminder of how far I’ve come. I hope you enjoy your basmati, wherever you are!

PS: I would stick with the Maharani brand, if I were you, or Daawat *waiting for the sky to fall*. What’s your (basmati) rice story?

 

 

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The Vote that Shouldn’t Have Happened

It was widely criticised. Why should the public have to vote on a matter that could be decided by parliament? What was the point of a result that MPs were not obliged to consider when legislating? Then there was the unspoken question – what if the plebiscite did not offer a clear result one way or the other on the same-sex marriage issue.

For me, the answer seemed easy. I ticked the “Yes” box and dropped my envelope in the mailbox early on. Yet, in the days and weeks that followed I was alternately annoyed, angered, and downright disgusted as the debate grew heated and as campaigns grew more aggressive and intrusive. I also realised that most persons assumed that as a parent and a churchgoer, especially one of Indian origin, I would vote “no.”

Actually, growing up in India, I have been aware of multiple sexualities early on. The hijras are mentioned in Hindu mythology and transgender persons can indicate this on identity documents. Perhaps, this is why I am happy to have my child learning about the realities of relationships in contemporary society.

Rainbow_flag_breeze

The rainbow flag (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

I understand the assumption about my religious leanings, particularly as several members of the Catholic and Anglican Churches have frankly spoken out against legalising same-sex unions and against the referendum itself. This seems a bit ostrich-minded to me. Is your religion such a fragile thing that a change of civil legislation will threaten and change your beliefs and customs? Oh, ye of little faith!

“I should have mailed a blank ballot paper,” I complained to my mother over Skype. “It’s a vote that is dividing the nation.”

She looked thoughtful. “It’s a very personal thing,” she replied.

Vote for love, we were told. Vote for fairness. Vote for marriage equality. I take exception to the last phrase. To me, marriage equality is about equality between the partners and I do not think we are quite there yet. Does anyone else feel the same way?

Finally, do I still feel that the vote need not have happened? I’m not quite sure. In the end, Western Australia had the second-highest “yes” tally. Watching the tears and the celebration across the states, I now realise one very important thing. Australians needed to hear that resounding “yes.” We needed to see that solidarity with our fellow citizens. We needed to know that when it matters most, Australians will stand up for and with their fellow (wo)men.

May our parliamentarians now legislate wisely for those they represent.

PS: Approximately twenty per cent of those eligible did not vote. Let’s respect that they found it hard to choose. As for those who did vote, let’s respect them for being brave enough to express what they believe in. Read about the result here.

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