The Longing


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I was about 8 years old then and till date it is one of the best family photos. My dad is holding me up

When I was a kid, my father used to work in Kolhapur 8 hour train ride away. He used to come once every month and usually on a Friday as it was the day when he had off. Before my birthday, on 8th November we didn’t receive any phone call from him. I think I was worried as he would call everyday at a fixed time. My mom wasn’t worried and that should have given me the hint. Next day on my birthday my dad surprised me by coming home in the middle of the week. The memory is still blurry but I remember getting really happy and my dad’s belly laugh.

I am doing the same thing now.


My manager/company CEO Warren told me a month ago about the company Christmas break. Other than the 5 public holidays, the company doesn’t shell out a 3 week break like every other company. The first thing that came to my mind was I can go home now.

I acted on the impulse without thinking much and within two hours I had booked my flights. I rapidlyy fire messages to all my friends in India telling I am coming home. I was two seconds shy of posting it on Facebook as I realized that my parents would see it. My trip is a surprise for them, it is exactly as I have always pictured my first trip home would be.

I would ring the bell in the morning and my mom would gasp when I say hi. My dad would probably be eating his breakfast and ready for work. My brother would be too sleepy to bother but I know he would be really happy as well. My dog, Jimmy would be the one who is visibly the happiest.

I won’t be landing in the morning but I still expect a similar reaction. If anyone ever tells you a month is not long then introduce them to me.


More than a year ago, prior to me getting an admitted to AUT or getting a visa, I was having dinner with my dad and brother. We were talking about my future and how I was innocently saying that doing Masters’ would be easy or something like that. He was always reluctant with the idea and I always thought it was because of the money involved. He admitted his reason that night.

He said that he was worried that I will leave them and eventually forget about them. I blame Baghban movie for that kind of thinking. His statement was the equivalent of a sucker punch to my gut. Suffice to say that night was a very emotional night for us. My brother wasn’t much emotional though, he was laughing about it eventually.

I did my best over the last 15 months to not forget about them. His sentence would always be in my head.


“How long have you been here for?” a friend asked me.

“15 months”  I replied. I didn’t like rounding off the number or saying more than a year.

“That’s not very long”

“It feels longer”


I have never lived without my family. As a kid, my parents used to scare me that if I didn’t behave they would send me off to boarding school. I think every parent used that line to, sigh, get their children in line.

If I had I would have some experience with living with myself. I would have some taste of the freedom. I would have known how to cook better and how to deal with my finances better.

Today, I don’t have to answer to anyone about where I am going or when I will be back. I can come back at 6pm after work or I can come back at 2am after a party. I could eat whatever I want and I can even sleep hungry. I can keep a stack of clothes on my rooms’ chair instead of hanging them on hooks.

This freedom brings along with itself loneliness. Regardless of when I come home, my room will be quiet. There will not be my angry sulking dad or my chattering mom. There is no dog wagging his tail at the door for me.

I am by no means saying one life is better than the other. Neither am I saying I wanna go back forever. I could enjoy my life as much as I want here and at the same time miss the life that I had back in India.

I can be happy with my life in Auckland and still long for my life back.

For the next three weeks I intend to enjoy my home, my mom’s cooked food. I intend to enjoy meeting old friends and share a laugh or two. I missed them all.

I Probably Shouldn’t Complain


Life has been tough recently. I am stressed (  because of my visa delay) and really fed up with my incessant problems. I said to my mom the other day on the phone: ‘I never get anything done smoothly in my life!’

Yesterday I met a friend who is almost my elder sister by now. I expected myself to just whine about how miserable my life is and how all I have are problems. She started talking about her new job and I shut up. As she spoke, I was too scared to even breathe.


 

My friend started working in an hospital in South Auckland as an physiotherapist (I guess). Now, if you have lived in Auckland for a while then you will know that South Auckland is considered as the troubled neighborhood. Emphasis on considered as.

She told me that on her third day working there, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She became responsible for taking care of a two month old premature baby. The baby’s mom asked my friend to look after the baby while she went outside. My friend couldn’t stay longer than 30 minutes and told the mum the same.

My friend ended up holding the baby for more than 3 hours. The mother came back after 5 days. My friend did not know that the mother was troubled. The mother was not allowed to leave the hospital and neither was she supposed to leave the ward. There was a communication lapse in the hospital. My friend had to take care of a baby because of it, scared that now she will lose her job and at the same time she would have aided a mother abandon a child.


 

My friend has been working in the hospital for 3 weeks now. She loves children. On her honeymoon, when other couples are busy taking great photos and enjoying, she and her husband volunteered in a slum area in Philipines. They raised money using Facebook to help those children. As she spoke about her job, how she interacts with children and how much she loves them, I knew that she has found her calling in the hospital.

She spoke about meeting children of abuse in the hospital. How children who are supposed to be delighted to meet their parents were too anxious to be around them.

A abused child who hadn’t had a bath since November because of his hydrophobia recently had a bath.

Mothers who would abuse loudly in the hospital and spit at nurses and create a mess.

Fathers who would abandon their new born in the hospital because they did not want them.

She told me about her day as by the end of it, she was tired physically, mentally and emotionally.

“There are small surprises wrapped inside a mass of mess”

I was scared as I heard her speak. I had my hands on my mouth because I was appalled.


 

Back to the mother and the premature baby. The hospital authorities have seen these incidents before. They said ‘This is pretty normal here’.

THIS IS NOT NORMAL! IT CAN’T BE NORMAL!

They spoke with my friend, convinced her that none of this was her fault even though anyone in her place would really think that all of this was their fault.

When the mother came back, she took the child away without any fuss or any communication. She did not give any kind of explanation as to why she was missing for five days. I don’t know much about the social services in Auckland, I am not sure about what will the repercussions of the mum’s actions but my friends couldn’t do anything. They could only send their report on the incident to social services.


 

My problems were my own. My mistakes will only affect me directly. My friend’s work takes a toll on her and affects a lot of people. The families in the hospital, her own mental state, her colleagues and then the social services jobs.

As she finished her stories, I said I have the easiest job in the whole world. In terms of stress and the consequences, I still have it pretty easy. In all, I probably shouldn’t complain anymore.

 

Weekend Coffee Share: Abrupt Changes


We haven’t had coffee in a while. Mostly because I wouldn’t have much to talk about. Sorry about that. I have not had the chance to talk to you about your life either.

If we have met before, you would know that in my life things have a tendency to going wrong in a second. I never see them coming and when the bad things happen, they are overwhelming. Include all the worse possible feelings here.

This week things changed as well. However, they didn’t get worse (in the beginning). After working as an intern for 5 and half weeks, I got a job offer from the company I have been interning at.

I moved into a new house. I hated my previous house, primarily the head tenant and now the new house is perfect. It is everything I wanted and more.

If we are having coffee, I would tell you that in the scheme of things this is unreal. Good news never comes easy and it certainly doesn’t come in packages. I am ecstatic about it all but I am still having trouble with accepting it.

What if something else goes wrong? I can’t see what can go wrong now and it scares me.

Today things went wrong. I never saw it coming as my new house owner told me that she will need me to move out in 3 weeks time. I just moved in the house and now I have to look for something perfect again.

At this point, I am thinking why does this keep happening to me? I remember Murphy’s Law (Something that can happen, will happen) and I realize yeah things always can go wrong. I am also thinking that because the only commonality between these unforeseen changes is me: maybe there is something fundamentally wrong with me.

Maybe I cause the bad things to happen.

I am frustrated, angry and if we are having coffee, then at this instant I would probably throw the coffee cup at the wall.

In other unemotional news, this week while biking to work I fell over. In hindsight I am happy that I was not on the main street and there were no other cars there. Still I am pretty banged up and sore. Before you ask, it was my fault. I took a turn at a very high speed.

I had help from someone living nearby and I hoping to run into her again so that I can properly thank her. I have not met her again, even though I tried to.

And with that, my week is pretty much summed up. Now it is your turn, how are things going? Tell me everything.

A year in AUT


A year ago, I was in Mumbai working 9 hours a day and secretly trying to get my visa sanctioned. I had kept my Masters’ plans secret from my colleagues. I would frequently call my brother whenever I needed some advice about my visa or about my job.

No one really tells you how hard it is to live away from your family. It is harder still to live without home-cooked food. It is hardest when there is no dog happily running around when I return home. I have weird priorities.

My friends from India do not share the same time with me. They are lagging behind 8 hours. If I need advice from my friends, I would get a reply from them 4 hours after my message. One of my friends moved to Germany now which lags behind 12 hours so basically I would wake up when she sleeps. I slowly stopped asking for advice and used my instincts. If I am confused, I toss a coin to decide.

I cannot summarize the last 9 university months in one sentence. In fact, I have been writing this post for the last 2 weeks and every draft I wrote was unsatisfactory. My drafts were mechanical, emotionless and not me. I had to sit and shovel the feelings out of my chest so my feelings can guide the words flow into this post. I should thank one of my university staff for that shovel.

I am competing for an award in my university. The final step to submit my award application is a personal essay to the university staff member. I have to write an essay about my feelings. It ought to be easy considering I have a personal blog right?

When I started in university, I was fresh off a content writing position in India. I was trying to transition back to engineering again. I saw my university’s monthly magazine and I said to my friend “I will submit an article in here”. I never submitted any article and forgot about it. In October I read the year’s final magazine again. I regretted never submitting any article.

I was also happy that I did not submit any article, I was no longer a content writer. My writings were academic focused and maybe no longer suited for magazines. My transition was complete.

Regarding my award application, all my essay drafts were sent back for revisions. She said my essays did not have feelings, they were similar to academic writings. She made me stop and think, think carefully about what my university months meant to me. Without her push, this post would have stayed in my drafts.

I did a lot of things in my university. I don’t want to list them, I want to relive them as I write the words here. I don’t know when I will resume my university for Ph.D. yet. At the moment, the nine months of university is what I have for certain.

I lived in two different houses while I studied. I loved both of the houses for different reasons. One house was near to sea face and my current house allows me to bike to my university. I made some great friends in my previous house, one of them recently sent me a postcard. The simple 3 lines on the postcard gave me immense happiness. I have to send her a postcard back soon.

I can’t talk about the AUT Debating Society enough. They took me along with them to my first roadtrip to Hamilton. I enjoyed the debating weekend getaway, the location and it took some time but I loved the people I met. On regular university days, every Tuesday I would be debating with them, making arguments and high-fiving my teammates. The funniest thing I have ever heard my teammate say during a debate was ‘Spiritual Porn’. The argument used will always be funny.

Recently, I volunteered for a medical technology event. It was not my first volunteering and it will not be my last. During the volunteering, I felt a surge of pride when people appreciated the exhibits. I should have clicked photos of kids reacting to the exhibits. The kids had a curiosity which made them keep exploring. The event was exhilarating and it gave me an excuse to cycle along the waterfront. I was as excited about these things as a 8 year old would be.

I got lost on so many days here. If I don’t have my phone then without maps I would also be geographically lost. I kept looking for a replacement home. I understand my immense involvement in a church now. They are a bunch of great people but with time I realized that I don’t really belong with them. I was trying too hard. Luckily, I found a good replacement home. A entire community of people who want to do good, and they accepted me into their homes with open arms. They called me ‘fam’, family for short. I can’t wait for their wedding in December.

It is not easy to live in a new country. It is easier to stay with other Indians because it is familiar and comfortable. I never fit in with them either. So I never waited for anyone. I wanted to watch a movie, I watched it. I wanted to eat a pizza, I ate it. I wanted to go to a party, I went. I never waited for anyone, I couldn’t possibly call my best friends from India here.

The year in Auckland, 9 months with AUT was a promiscuous mixture. Some days I went outside the house with ambition, some days I just closed my eyes and slept again. The 9 months are no less symbolic than childbirth for me. I feel independent, optimistic and ready for whatever comes my way and I have come a long way from where I started.

Why so….happy?


Recently, partly because of my newfound ‘Yes’ attitude and my friend’s insistence, I ended up at a meditation workshop arranged by people from Hare Krishna Temple, Auckland in University of Auckland.

The person conducting the workshop did a good job, outlining the various religious reasons as to why a certain meditation is performed. I know this as my parents have told me about it before. But I couldn’t focus much on what he said because I wanted to ask him:

Why are you smiling? How are you so happy?!


 

I have been going to a church here regularly for a while, now my weekly visits have reduced. The reason I decided to take a step back was because I felt like I don’t fit in there. I always felt it but I tried to swim against the current nonetheless. I go to church and I look around at people. I see happy faces, people with no sorrow.

It puzzles me, how could these people be happy?

Everyone has problems and everyone is going to be tensed about it. But then how could they look so relaxed!


 

After the meditation finished, I told my friend the same thing. I feel weird about a person look so at peace while I am in torturous turmoil. He has found solace in a deity beyond us. But as I look at the people in my church, at the meditation people, all I see are people who are trying to make a happy exterior. An exterior that I cannot relate to, cannot fathom & so I want to break to see what’s inside.

It is really hard to trust someone when I don’t feel as if they are not real. I can’t relate to people when I don’t see the scars. That in itself is scarier than all the pretentious happiness.

No offense intended to any religious practice

Who is this guy?


7 months. Without family, with only an hour long conversations with people who I utterly love. And now, this morning I realized I no longer can recognize myself.

Mumbai would be a place of comfort. Where I would say ‘no’ more than I draw breath. No to cooking, no to cleaning, no to socializing, you get the gist.

Why am I writing about it?

Because it is one of those days where there is too much to do. It is this day that I have to go for a job fair, have a date, try my hand at a coding competition and all of this on top of my usual university project and thesis writing. Others, my mom including say that I am chewing more than I can swallow.

I don’t agree with them. I just say ‘Yes’ more now.

Practically everyday I come home, I make sure that I cook my own dinner. I never did that when I was with family, I would always bring something from a restaurant. Now, I love cooking so much that whenever I try something new and it works, I tell mom with excitement. I make sure that my stuff is clean, at university and home.

However not everything is roses. In college, I would have to walk for five minutes before I would run into a friend. I remember a friend complaining to me I know a lot of people. Now, most of my days are spent bent in front of my laptop, learning codes or watching some important tutorial. Friends? I have already given up. I have spent so much of my time in a church where everyone seems friendly and I would rather stand outside than talk to anyone.

I always thought that making friends in a new country would be the easiest thing I would ever have to do and house chores would suck. In the last 7 min, I enjoy chores more than meeting a new face.

I have always ran on ‘Indian time’, a special scale in which it is practically normal to be half hour late. Now, after a colossal mistake, I am always early. I don’t even have an alarm in my phone anymore, I know I will be up exactly 8 hours from when I sleep.

There are not enough words to articulate the discord between me from 7 months ago and me a minute ago. One is full of naivety and other is practical. One is disorganized, other is organized to the minute. One feels lonely, other is lonely.

I never lived in denial back there, now on the end of bad days I sit in my bed watching a comfort show which does nothing more than numb and dumb my brain down. And I am aware of what I am doing. I know this though, regardless of the rejections, bad days and good minutes: I would never regret this life changing move.

So someday, I look at myself in the mirror and ask ‘Who is that guy?’

Privilege


In recent times, privilege has been branded as a word to describe to Whites. The use of the word is many a times justified, but I am not the judge of that. I am not perceptive enough to pick out subtle race differences, to spot the minorities. I am not writing a post about racism, nothing has warranted it. But now, I have  a taste of privilege.

 


 

Last night, after a hilarious evening with some friends I took the midnight bus home. I didn’t want to read a book. I sat with music reverberating in my ears and looked around. For the midnight bus, there were still a lot of people riding home. Auckland doesn’t sleep either. I saw faces mirroring mine: tired, sleepy and listening to music than talk to each other. The only sound was the roar of the engine (which was not much) and chatter of a couple. I raced my brain to draw some inspiration in the scene, to get inspired and write a fictional story from the dark passage home but I couldn’t. How could I?

 


 

We all are going somewhere. One station at a time #train #blacknwhite #auckland

A photo posted by Mayur Wadhwani (@mayurdw) on Feb 29, 2016 at 10:26pm PST

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On my way to work in train, I was reading a collection of personal essays. I was mundane, another commuter more engrossed in his phone or his book than to observe people or talk to people. This changed until the person next to me took out a novel. Her interests and mine were different, I read novels for fun and she read because of curiosity, which was now focused on understanding New Zealand’s aboriginals Maoris. I could see her interests in tracing Maori philosophical & cultural roots

In my time in Auckland, Maoris look physically big, scary. It is difficult to comprehend their accent their sense of humor is eclectic, only to be understood by them. After I actually got to know a few of them, I can say now they are simple-minded and enthusiastic about everything. (Exclude a gregarious roommate I had in my previous home)

We spoke first about Maori culture, I already knew a little about their mythologies as I have read some novels. I don’t know everything about them after reading a couple of novels. On the other hand, she is trying to understand the customs, their drive. She said she could draw many parallels between her Buddhist practices and Maori practices. One peculiar custom we spoke of related to their ‘Mana'(or in how I could understand the term: respect) is when a person wronged and their Mana been damaged, the same person must restore their Mana by damaging the perpetrator’s Mana. From my sessions in my University’s debate society, I know there is a property law founded on the same principle.

However, we quickly moved on from books and spoke about the city life, which is lonely as compared to rural life, rife with communities and mutual care. She said that she is trying to help out in her own way to take care of the surroundings, to give back to the country she is staying in and trying to understand the wealth gap existing particularly in Auckland. She mentioned that she feels privileged to have enough food, shelter and livelihood.

 


 

If you ever ask any foreign national to describe India, or Mumbai specifically, they will say it is very poor. She said the same thing while reminiscing her last trip to Mumbai. She was torn at the sight of so many poor people living without basic amenities. I wanted to tell her that she was a magnet for all the beggars as she had dollars. The heartlessness of my own words shamed me. Our conversation had quickly moved on from Maori culture to the poverty prevalent in my home city, the intensity of our conversation didn’t. As for the homeless in Auckland, I could say I have seen worse. Became immunized to worse conditions.

Probably why I never complain about buses running late in the city, as I have traveled buses which were running with a joke of timetable in my hometown. Why I never complain about the traffic or for that matter the standard of living here as I know it is four times what I was used to. And I am still scrapping the end of the barrel here.

When we spoke, for me it was very easy to fire up, and be outraged by her pity to call India poor. After all we are improving. However, the truth is we have to fight for basic amenities in India. The biggest of which is, and forever will be, water supply. There is too much in rainy season, too little in summer. I tried to defend my country by quoting Rang De Basanti ‘No country is perfect’ but at the end, I knew she was right. The ceaseless struggle, my city which never sleeps, city I left behind. I moved to a place with better living, with hopes of making a better life.

I have no conclusions to draw from yesterday. Because we never reached a conclusion. Maybe there will never be a conclusion.

Weekend Coffee Share: Househunting again


If we are having coffee, I would tell you that coffee shares are surprisingly simple and difficult at the same time. How much am I supposed to share? Am I just supposed to gloss over stuff, or dive into my feelings as I do in many of my posts.

I would tell you that I hate my housemate. She is subletting the apartment to us and is no longer willing to adjust all the while binding us to her house rules. I don’t mind the rules as long as I get what I want, which I have to argue over. This past week, things boiled over and there was no conclusion other than it is worthless. Time to move again.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I never realized what my parents meant by ‘having a stable home’ till now. After everyone argued, me and my roommate started by taking out our frustration and then each shared stories. I shared the story of the best people I met here, who would call me to dinner every Thursday when I lived in my previous home. He told me his overnight stay in his friends family place, and how he now knows what family is.

I looked in a couple of places this week, one of which I loved but was too expensive. After messaging, the houseowner said that nothing can be done. However, as I visited that place, I cycled by Mission Bay and it was so worth it. Auckland sure does have a lot of coastal ways and that is something I love.

If we are having coffee, it is at this point I would let you speak. To hear some others said, check them out.

 

 

Fiction: Characters in Bookworld?


Credits: Buzzfeed Books, FB

 

(I saw this on Facebook and I had to write on this!)

John could see the train coming in the tunnel, the beacon becoming brighter. Newmarket train Station in Auckland was extremely crowded. Considering the station had every line passing through it, it meant it was as important as Britomart Transport Centre. However, John had this stinking feeling that he had been here before even though he had never.

He had seen the train on different stations before too, he could guess he had seen the train driver before. The station masters in their yellow high visibility jacket were standing at the yellow line of the platform to ensure that no one crosses it as the train was almost at the station, a few seconds away. The girl next to him was playing Candy Crush on her iPhone, and his feeling intensified. He had seen that girl before, he just couldn’t recall when. He frowned, trying to remember when had he seen a scene which was so similar, the train light shining down the tunnel, the girl and the people. The loudspeakers boomed saying “Train for Swanson is arriving on platform 1, please stand behind the yellow line”

The wind blew across the station and someone lose their purple scarf. That purple scarf, he thought as it kept flowing and slammed into his face. He knew now, all of this had happened before. He had been here on the station before, seen the Candy Crush playing girl before right here and that scarf had hit him in his face before. Everything had happened before, only it really hadn’t. How? Why?

The train whoozed past him, slowing down and stopped, the door right in front of him. People pressed the green button to open the doors. He just stood there, the purple scarf had tied itself to his neck now and there was someone in his periphery. Another girl, no not a girl this time but an old woman. He realised that the scarf belonged to the woman and he apologised. Untying the scarf he handed it to her and smiled, the old woman smiled back. This was new. He could recollect some of the things which had happened last time. But last time? It was his first time here on the station wasn’t it?

He was no longer sure. He was sure that the previously he entered the train. After that what happened he was not sure. He had an interview to get to but he was too lost in his thoughts. The Candy Crush girl stood near the now opened door, the old woman was making her way to the reserved seats. He knew he had got in the train the last time.

This time, he didn’t want to. So he didn’t and slowly the train doors closed with a beeping sound signalling closing doors. He had just wasted his ticket but he didn’t care. He had a strange feeling that this was bigger than any other job waiting for him.

He knew that his story was written differently. Now it has started fresh.

Weekend Coffee Share: Eventful to say the least


If we are having coffee, I would say that this week has been exciting and tiring at the same time. I did a lot of things this week and the main thing is I loved the past week, which climaxed with a beautiful trip down to Taupo Lake.

 

If we are having coffee I would tell you that my manager helped me by providing me with a lot of utensils and cutlery because I asked for a thing or two. Aside from the fact that she gives me enough freedom, which I realized after I tried working for someone else this week, I am really happy that I am working with her. What is even better was this week there was another Jazz Session by University of Auckland students. Who doesn’t love Jazz?!

 

Last night. Jazz session by #ua #musicschool. Amazing!! #jazz #auckland #orleans bad camera shot though! 😞

A photo posted by Mayur Wadhwani (@mayurdw) on Jun 21, 2016 at 5:32pm PDT

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Wednesday my university had a career fair, and I have not figured out if it was useful in making contacts or not. I volunteered as the Student Ambassador that day and while I made contacts in my university I can’t say the same thing for the companies. Was it worth it? YUP!

If I was having coffee with you, I would tell you that I tried to get another job. I didn’t get it though, even though I knew exactly how I was doing. I do know how to tutor kids! Anyway, I am kind of glad that I didn’t. When that manager mailed me by telling me that I didn’t get the job, it almost ruined my trip. Almost. That very same night I had agreed on attending a friends’ 21st and I had fun. I met a recently married couple there and they were by far one of the most funniest couples I met. On the down side, I had to look for a gift for birthday girl. Damn shopping!

Lastly, if we do have coffee I would tell you I love New Zealand. It is so beautiful as soon as you get out of the city. Taupo Lake is as immense as the marina here, twice as cold but so much peaceful. We even found a ghost town there (Kinloch) as when we drove by we didn’t see on soul. We ate barbecue chicken, had excellent music and finished it off with chocolate. Best night ever! I am really happy that my friend invited me. The picture down is of the Orakei, we were lucky to be there just as the sky cleared up.

Now it is your turn! I know I spent too much of your time here but yeah sure go ahead. 🙂

Cycling: A Paradox


In the recent months, cycling in Auckland has become one of my favorite activities. At the same time, I have come to loath this activity too. I love cycling down-slope, even though my nerves fire up whenever I ride in such high speed, I am glad I bought a cycle. When I cycle up-slope, if I ever do, I curse my decision to buy a cycle in this sinuous city. I love the fact that I can ride really slowly around the places, the coastal areas and enjoy the view. But I hate it when some other cyclist overtakes me in their absolutely amazing cycle. I love the wind on my face as I cycle. I just hate it when I have to cycle against strong winds.

 

 


 

“He is still so short”

Everyone would talk about me “make him ride a cycle, that will give his growth an impetus.” I never was a fan of cycling, especially because learning to cycle meant falling down a lot and I didn’t want to get hurt. But whenever anyone would talk like that about me, I wanted to learn cycling. In my family, everyone is at least 6 feet tall. I was not tall at that time and I was slightly afraid that I wouldn’t be able to catch up to my cousins and siblings. So one fine day when one of my aunts said that line, I decided that I will learn cycling.

I learned cycling when I was in grade 9, and my learning curve did not include lots of falling. The few bruises and cuts I got were eclipsed by the joy of learning something I never thought I would do.

And to this day, I have not found any scientific correlation between cycling and getting taller. However, I don’t care anymore as I am taller than everyone in my family. Not really that tall in Auckland though, the people here are gigantic.

 

 


 

When I went to Hamilton, I was mesmerized by the green pastures that stretched for miles and miles. However we were driving at more than 100 kmph so there was hardly any time to actually absorb the views. I knew that if I was cycling or walking, I would have more time.

My first home in Pakuranga (East Auckland) had a great coastal cycleway. Almost every chance I got, I would be there cycling as slowly as I can, but not walking as I had a cycle, to soak in. The sounds of waves crashing into the rocks, the chirping seagulls(do seagulls chirp? I don’t know) and gushing wind. It was bliss.

Then when I would be heading to a friends’ place or the church I would again ride, this time fast as I was on the road. Every car that whooshed by me would be terrifying, especially on the bridge that I always had to cross. I never got used to that.

New house (West Auckland) and luckily I no longer have to cross any bridges. Only here, I saw other cyclist and damn they are fast. They would out pace me as if I am standing still and every single one who did made me want to go faster. It took me a while to grasp the truth: they are better cyclist on better cycles (their tyres offer less friction). I hate that and I want to go faster.

 


 

My first cycle was whatever leftover from my brother. He brought it and then after sometime hardly used it. We didn’t maintain it much I realize now. He had also custom painted it, if I could call it that. So when I started learning, I had to fix it up first and then ride around.

I rode it to my school, but for some reason I no longer remember, I stopped using it. We sold it off as scrap metal. Years later, we brought a scooter and at that time I was applying to many universities. Then, I wanted something for myself as well but I wanted a cycle again. Only for some reason, I never bought it. Money was not an issue, I had started earning and a cycle is cheaper than a scooter. With months passing, I got my visa and I left for Auckland never really buying a cycle. However I knew there are great pathways for cycling here.

Brought my first cycle here with money saved, and immediately did something stupid: tried to ride up-slope. Never have I ever been so tired. It took me a while to remember how cycle gears worked but I still never did try up-slope again. I always dragged my cycle to the summit and had a breathtaking panorama of the entire city now trough of the valley below.

Maybe there is a metaphor in there somewhere but I would just leave it as that.


 

With a couple of issues in my cycle recently, I vowed to ensure that my cycle is always properly maintained. I have put too much efforts in cycling to just drop it off now. I Google for every small thing, YouTube for tutorials on how to adjust the dérailleur. Maybe I am being excessive but I do love cycling. And sometimes I hate cycling. Maybe it is not a paradox but just me being lazy.

PS: Excuse my bad photographic skills

 

Street Art while cycling #nz #cycle #maori #streetart #auckland

A photo posted by Mayur Wadhwani (@mayurdw) on Jul 14, 2016 at 6:32pm PDT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maybe I should pay more attention


Racism. Something which I would hardly think of when I am dealing with people. So whenever people would ask me “Where are you from?” I would reply where am I from and just leave it at that. I hardly pay any heed to the subtle hints of racism because I do not have time for it. However after listening to at least 6 people speak about the same issue I realize that maybe I should be paying more attention.

After seeing an event on Facebook about a spoken word/poetry event, I decided to go for it. I like writing, I like poetry and I am a fan of spoken poetry. I knew the topic is not a simple one and from what I heard from the speakers I realized how unaware am I about the extent.

The bar couldn’t have been shadier. Honestly, they took underground groups too literally and they had more than 100 people gathered in such a small place. The next door rock band overpowered the speakers completely and I couldn’t make out more than a syllable or two in the first half of the event. However the next half, I sat up front and listened. I was so into it that I forgot to click photos, forgot almost everything and just absorbed.

I heard a girl try to explain and fail, try again and still get all messed up in explaining where she is from: Chinese or Kiwi. I heard a guy talk about what it was like being White after being born in a Maori family. Heard an open letter, not to White people, but to Koreans. Heard two poems from an Australian Maori girl.

Maybe I am missing some of the poems. Even more likely I am actually not doing justice to what I heard. Because I simply cannot; I am not perceptible enough of the surroundings, I don’t think along the lines as the speakers can think. Because their words moved, their experiences made me recall all the months and think: was that racism?

While I may not know which end of the spectrum I exist on, I am surely one of those ‘unawares’ the speakers spoke of. And from what I heard, I cannot help but applaud the speakers and their courage. And learn and absorb whatever I can, from their experiences, from their words and their strengths.

Luck’s running out


Random person: “Wow that is awesome”

Me: “Yeah, I got lucky.”

That’s how I always described it. Lucky. Not hard work or dedication; I was just at the right place at the right time. Many would say that I jinxed it myself, I just knew it was coming sooner or later.

The previous housekeeper left and I took up housekeeping. I wanted to save money and the job was the only way. No rent, work against stay arrangement. I admit, I was not an excellent housekeeper but I tried.

Last week I got to know, a mere week before my semester exams, I need to vacate the house by the end of June. I like my house. It was not perfect when I moved in, it is not perfect still. I have seen better houses, been around in better localities in Auckland but I liked the people that lived here. Somehow it suited me to know people for a couple of days, make friends and then never speak to them ever again. In my own twisted way, it suited me to be aloof. I had privacy in a shared room, I joined communities and I bought a bicycle here. It seems like yesterday that I moved in here. I planned to finish my studies in this house. Aside from the monetary reasons, the best thing about the house was its quick access to the coast. So I cycled down the coast to experience it again. If I didn’t have monetary reasons to stay in this place, I would have still tried to live here.

 

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The pakuranga walkway, that is my bicycle

 

Now, I am worried, stressed and mildly freaking out. I know how difficult it was the last time I tried to look for houses in Auckland. Now I have to do it again along with getting my studies done and earning more money so that I can afford a house. When I got to know, I knew that my good fortune will not shine, however I also knew there wouldn’t be total darkness. That things are going to get tougher, and I may still make a lot of mistakes in the coming days. But I can’t just sit here and do nothing.

Now, when I am almost done with househunting (or room hunting), and the experience was not as bad as it was the last time. I knew what I wanted, the location I wanted and the cost. I knew my parameters, my limits. It was not as bad as it was the last time. Obviously, I didn’t expect something perfect, or a house with pets, what I am getting is perfect for the time being.

And even if things do get worse, I do have the feeling that I can figure it out. Eventually.

Grinning Down Queen Street


Today could have been any normal random day. Only it wasn’t. If I had known that I could have been this foolishly happy by just a book then I would have borrowed this book sooner: Malazan Book of the Fallen: Book 6 Bonehunters!

 

The best part about Auckland Library is the fact that they are so impossibly huge. As I returned a novel to the library, I could not stop myself from checking out the book collection. There is something about having this many books in front of me that dissolves my resolve. I did not expect to find Steven Erickson’sThe Bonehunters’ amidst the fantasy section. I already knew the library contained the entire 10 book series + standalone novels. The first book of the series ‘Gardens of the Moon’ already has a month waiting time before could borrow it.

With unmasked joy, I walked out of the library with my favourite book in tow, grinning like a proper maniac.

I always have music playing when I walk and today I kept playing the same 3 songs in repeat: Sinai by ilan Bluestone, Skylarking by BT and Snake Eyes by Mumford & Sons. My feet sprung up with each step, insync with the beats of the trance songs played in my ear.

I DID THAT ON THE BUSIEST STREET OF AUCKLAND!

I tried to control my glee but could barely manage. A small smile still crept up my face regardless of how hard I tried and I walked in tune with the best music of the day. I looked around at the tired faces, the ones who walked alone and the ones who walked in groups. Some sad and some amused. I moved on, unmoved amongst them, careless in my strides.


 

Halfway through Queen street, there is a cobbled lane the name of which I could never remember.

Whenever I look at the lane I feel like I am in Rome or any other Italian city. The restaurants have tables lined up along the lane, cementing the European look. A human statue stood at the intersection on a pedestal with his left arm outstretched holding a oil lantern. I did not notice his right hand. His face and body was smeared by black colour, giving the impression of a coal miner,  his eyes darting, scanning the crowd. One old fellow walked past the guy in an attempt to blow out his lantern, unsuccessfully. Another guy walked past the street artist and dropped some coins in the basket.

The immobile man quickly leap down the pedestal and grabbed the coins. I could not help it, I laughed. I was not the only one who was amused though, as others saw the same spectacle. The street artist though was enjoying himself too. He knew what he was doing.

 


 

My quick feet darted past the man covered in black and onwards my destination.

Undeterred, unmitigated and still gleeful. I could not wait to board the train and read Bonehunters.

Who knew the book could mean so much. The book is not even a happy book; it is full of blood and death, friendships and love, Gods and Man. And it is a masterpiece.

PS: I got an idea after that. Maybe I should start using the lanes and scenes from Auckland to spin fictions.

Transit Friends


That is what I call them.

When I moved to Auckland, I had a plan. Live temporarily in this place while I look for a good apartment near my university. Call it my incompetence to get a good apartment near to my university, or the fact that I loved my area so much that I never moved.

I was supposed to get a good place, but I didn’t want to leave a better place either.

The people I met here are a special highlight. Not all of them are great, many like me are introverted. When the conversations start though, they were a unique experience.

They are all travellers. None of them are talking about the money they have, or the wild experiences they had. It’s simple, none are trying to impress anyone.

When I moved in, there were a couple of people living here already. These travellers are way past their studying years and now are making a living on the go. They travel, earn money and then travel some more. The cycle is repeated till I don’t know when, I never asked. They had fascinating tales, even better passports which could very well be out of a travelogue or self help book.

In my first week I met 4 Brits who were staying over for a weekend. Real cool guys, and as luck would have it we shared a room. There was another guy in the same room and he snored. I was jetlagged and couldn’t sleep. The 4 Brits couldn’t sleep because of the snores. We all stayed awake that night talking to one another about how to shut the snoring up, what other ways a corn can be used and my personal favourite was a tale of a lodge they slept one  night and swore never to return to such a place again. I can’t remember laughing like that in a long time.

As it was my first week here, I missed my home food and had bought Indian (expensive) food in desperation. I had no hesitation to share the food.

I met a Japanese girl here. Unlike the other travellers that I keep encountering she had no clue what she was doing, what she wanted to eat and what she wanted to buy. She hung around with me for a couple of days. I am sure she would be cursing me for making her walk from one place to the other simply because I didn’t want to use the more expensive bus. She was fun in her different way. Of all the people that I met here, she is the only one who I befriended on Facebook. And now I don’t text her either.

A very generous bunch of travellers gave me their guitar. We spoke the night they arrived, tired and cranky. Crazy dudes, a quiet girlfriend of one of the guys. Possibly the friendliest bunch ever, I would love to travel with such a group. I closed up all my work as I listened to them talking about Bali, India, Australia. Where to get cheap flights from, where to party hardest and where they found peace: they knew it all. For a first time traveller like me, I can only stare in fascination at their passports with multiple immigration stamps and visas. I was spellbound. The couple were engaged but he wanted his fiancée to travel the world like he did, on her own. He said ‘I want her to experience the things I did. I don’t want her to regret it.’ He didn’t have to tell me that but he did.

They moved to the city a day later, I lost their numbers. I also knew I would never contact them. I am weird that way.

There was a couple from Poland I remember. The guy had an awesome collection of folk music that I forgot to take. They told me where to buy good white wraps from which I substitute as rotis. They told me they were interrogated at the airport when they arrived at Auckland only because they were from Poland. The girl never spoke a word.

In the last month’s Lantern festival, I went alone on the first day and on the last day I oversold the festival and took two Germans and the Japanese girl along. I just didn’t want to go alone I guess. Like everyone else the Germans were travellers too. I kept asking questions about the places they have been to, things they have done.

Not every person is great though. Sometimes I wanted to run out of the room because a roommate looked scary. I maintained my cool. A chinese family snored like tractors in the night and I slept on the couch. I didn’t complain to them when they asked me why did I sleep on the couch. The couch is also very comfortable for me.

A Czech republic girl played the most soothing version of Tears of Heaven in the night. I slept like a baby listening to that tune. A guy never stopped drinking beer.

Days turned to weeks and now it has been a month. I can’t count the number of people I have met. I don’t want to because I would have a number of people that have left the house since I moved in.

I read about this on his blog ‘Into The Mild’ but until now I never realized what he really meant. The worst part about meeting so many people is that they leave. I know the probability of ever meeting them again is extremely slim. Unless I stay at the same place and hope that the Belgian guys decide to come here again or the Japanese girl wants to travel Auckland again.

A house like this is perfect for me: I will not be depended upon anyone. I wanted that, needed it. I don’t want to be at the mercy of other people’s kindness ever again.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t wish some of these great, funny people I met would live at the home for a little longer. For I can get out of my natural inhibitions and ask for their numbers and contact. And maybe speak to them again.

For now, I can see almost everyone I knew leaving the house this weekend. I can only sit and bid farewell because like them, I am too their in-transit friend.

Thank You Gmail


It is not easy; I knew it the moment I landed here in Auckland tugging two suitcases trying to soak in the new country and at the same time worrying about the things that I need to do. I knew that if there is one thing that I am going to miss the most about home is the ability to just call someone when I needed something.

To have a conversation without having a huge 8 hour time difference.

Now, I do the only thing I know well enough by now: I write them letters. Everyday my phone reminds me at 2 pm to send an email to my parents telling them how my previous day was. Sometimes I draft the email at 2, sometimes I don’t. The only thing that doesn’t change is my honesty. I know that they are the only ones at the moment who would like to know everything happening in my life in Auckland.

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The first email I sent was a surprise to them. Three weeks into this, I mail them everyday. My mom’s morning routine now includes an email from me the first thing in the morning.

I do leave out a certain things, like the fact that one of my Japanese roommates decided to post a video on Facebook tagging me. Now I am going to be teased for a month or more. But its all cool.

The idea is similar to ‘If we were having coffee’ which I read on Sabina’s and Jay’s blogs. I liked the idea then and now I am using it not on my blog but with my family. Gmail made it really easy.

Okay that’s it, I’m in heaven! #sunset #nofilter #harbour #auckland #dockyard #walkway #manukau #beautiful

A photo posted by Mayur Wadhwani (@mayurdw) on Feb 19, 2016 at 1:05pm PST

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I am trying to do the same thing with my friends back in India. I mail them every Sunday however I am pretty sure they will not be as enthusiastic as my parents. I don’t blame them, they have their own lives and not everyone can read hundreds of words.

I could Skype them, I did do that today. But I am not a guy who can talk. I am guy who knows how to put my thoughts into words and back them up with emotions. I tried the other way and because of the time difference it is not feasible. So now, I do what I know the best: I write letters to the ones I miss.

I write about the Lantern festival in Auckland, I write about the marina near my house. I write about the food that I made and about the food that was not so good. I can’t call them every time I need some help but I can surely remember where I came from; why I am here.

When you miss home, you make pav Bhaji (without the pav of course) #foodporn #pavbhaji #homesick #indian #auckland

A photo posted by Mayur Wadhwani (@mayurdw) on Feb 26, 2016 at 6:16pm PST

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Nostalgia and Family


After two years of hard work, failures and obstacles that still seem unbeatable me and my family now have finally done it. I write my very first post from Auckland, New Zealand.

The road has been not been easy. The last six months were the hardest months that I had. Almost zero friends, a job which I didn’t fully enjoy and a slippery future were everyday thoughts. I crawled through the thick and thin, some days having support and the other days with my head bowed in guilt and loneliness.

The day before was the family dinner. Just the four of us, no Jimmy because restaurants are not exactly animal friendly here. We walked, and for the first time my elder brother, Navin was not fussing about my clothes. The dinner was never going to be a grand gesture, nothing flimflam but just something we do. Thanks to the India-Sri Lanka T20 match, the table talk was not filled with awkward silences.

*

I love food. But I love eating the comfort familiar food more than trying out different new dishes. Give me a new cuisine and I might excuse myself. Give me Dal Rice and I will definitely ask for more, probably with some fried potato slices. So the menu for me was fixed: tomato soup, Chicken lollipop, Nan and curries.

Familiar Dishes. Dishes with which I have grew up with.

The other day while roaming my town to complete some work (still pending and I’m worried about it.) and it was then I realised that there is so much that’s left to eat. I walked, music played by my phone echoing my mood, remembering all the small stalls where I would eat. Junk food, delicious food and places which I will not visit for over a year now. A couple of blocks away from where I was, an awesome vada pav (Indian Burger) stall is located. He would add chat masala and onions as garnish. I remember the innumerable times I finished my tuitions and ate there. That Idli corner or the sugarcane juice stall or the Pav Bhaji stall.. My mind raced and my belly growled.

So as I walked, ignoring my belly’s urge to go and eat away the food again. I did eat most of the said food but there’s only so much time I had.

*

So the family dinner was no different. As we four walked back home, I looked around trying to soak in every scent of my neighbourhood. To remember the school and the college, because I know I’m going to miss it when I’m gone. My school, where I spent 7 years is now a mammoth structure that is sucking the marrow off parents savings. The school is under reconstruction for years now and who would send their children to a school that is under construction. Or so I thought as the school is only getting bigger and prosperous. It’s just school management’s greed to run the school.

A couple of my school classmates houses past, my memory gates opened and I was inundated: the corner sweetshop Kaveri sweets which became so popular that everyone renamed the bus stop. I lived and saw throught the slow gradual process of renaming a locality took place. Half a block past is a building which once was the dream building: from the gates of the building it looks as if there is an city inside. Opposite to the building is the power office. When we were in school we would come home, me and Navin and look at the schedule for power cut and whine about having to miss Pokémon again.

Not everything was the same though. New sitting benches have been put up, the evenings now host a vegetable market. Not everything resembles my childhood.

But most of the things do.

The temple which would be the study spot for everyone as exam day arrived. Or the upslope road where my brother rode his bicycle with me seated behind. I was always lazy.

I was too busy in my nostalgia that I fell behind mom and dad. Every single place had a memory with it. Some with mom. Some with dad. Most of them with Navin. A tiny smile lit my face, a genuine smile which I missed in my life for long. I love this place, my neighbourhood.

As we climbed up my building stairs, memories kept me alert and reminiscent of my surroundings. I even recalled the smooth feeling of a wall which has long been remodeled. My building once has no automobiles parked now has a parade of cars, new and old, motor bikes and cycles. So much has changed and I want to say it happened too quick. It didn’t. I lived here since November 2002, 13 years.

I played with Jimmy, I make him run around the house and in no time he is tired and grinning his signature. I don’t think my dog has a sixth sense. He should be the emotional one and he is licking his butt.

I always said. Jimmy is an idiot.

*

Overwhelmed I wrote this before sleeping in my bed that night. My last night in my bed. Next day the very first thing was to change the location of my bed to accommodate some furniture and so my bed had to move.

My Mom knows me best and she senses the tiny changes in me. Mom teased “Enjoy the bed.” I laughingly say yes. Even though the lights are off but I’m sure my mom heard my smile in the dark.

Even after the lights are off I am still thinking about everything: from the way my brother talks and behaves. From my dad’s logic to my mom’s emotions to my dog’s stupidity: I cannot help but recall every instance that I have spent with them. I don’t remember what I dreamt that night but I am sure I dreamt about them.

*

Final day was full of nervous excitement for everyone. There is so much riding on me now, everyone had done so much for this. The unexpected surprise came when Navin made a special farewell video for me. I knew he was working on something but never thought he would make, edit an entire video.

Navin always had a good taste in music so obviously the chouse of music would be good. He roped in his friends, mom and dad into the video too and I watched barely controlling my quivering lips while with me exclaiming ‘Aap bhi ho?!’ (you are also featured in the video!) Trust my brother for a surprise and he never disappoints.

*

Mom and dad say Navin and me always fight. We argue, occassionally we fight too but at the end of the day there is hardly anyone more important to me than he and my parents. I got calls from friends and relatives wishing me good luck for my abroad trip. I never told anyone of them that its not that I am going abroad, the thing is I am leaving my family behind.

My parents worry about us both. They shouldn’t really. Not anymore: they raised two great kids.

*

Mom quickly made some delicious ladoos which I inevitably forgot. Now I regret forgetting the ladoos because the food at the Hong Kong Airport is either too expensive or just too bland for my taste.

Yesterday when we arrived at the Mumbai airport we were awestruck with the arcitechure and colossal size of the terminal. Somehow, despite my anxiety I sat down on the plane and braced myself for the take off. But my mind was still fixed on my family. I already know the first thing that I will miss when I reach in Auckland.

In India, I can call up Navin or Mom for anything that I want to ask. Now, regardless of the advanced internet calling services, that one thing will be missing. I can only keep them in loop but at the end I have to make the decision. It does not sound like a big deal but it is. My family always has my back and I will have their back; now there would be a distance of 5000+ miles and a time gap of 8 hours.

*

It was easy to get lost in the moment as I boarded the plane. First time experience, the gravity pull and push as the plane changes altitude. The sight of Mumbai from the sky; the sight of New Zealand as I flew past the shores of this amazing and beautiful country.

It’s quiet here: country side and the people are friendly. I love this place already.

*

Last night in flight I dreamt of the way my parents talk. How Navin would ask for something and Dad would just shoot him down. How I used to laugh at the embarrassing situations that I or anyone else faced. I have no idea how they lived with me laughing like an ass for so many years. Now, I am thinking of how will they do things. Who will walk Jimmy? Who will feed the plants? Will mom eat after coming home from work? Will dad tell me if there is something’s going on?

If I ask them this question they would tell me to just focus on my studies. I will focus on my studies and make a career. They have always been right about this: I can’t do everything at the same time.

Thank you Mom, Dad, Navin. Thank you everyone who wished me well.