Monthly Archives: April 2012

Beneath the Faded Word

This is a beautiful poem written by my friends father. He posted it on Anzac Day this year however it was written some years back. A stunningly presented personal history of a War that affected so many.

Beneath the Faded Word 

By Peter Thomas, Tambo Upper, Vic.
It sat out in the shearing shed for 30 years or more,
With cobwebs, dust and binder twine, and sheep dung on the floor.
An old and rusted Lockwood kept its secrets from my eyes,

A cabin trunk of leather, there since 1945.
I asked my dad, who owned it and what we kept it for,
He replied, “It’s Uncle Basil’s, that he brought back from the war.
So don’t you bloody touch it, or I’ll tan your bloody hide!”
But that only made me more intrigued to see what was inside.
I wondered at its mysteries and the secrets that it hid,
Beneath the faded word “Tobruk” stencilled on the lid.

Near Wilcannia, where only hardy cattlemen will go,
Uncle Basil had a station, Baden Park, near Ivanhoe.
A strong and gentle man, who once rode the Birdsville Track
Just to prove he wasn’t hampered by the shrapnel in his back.

So I stood alone and weighed it up; which would I decide,
Should I leave the memories undisturbed, or take a look inside?
I knew I had to take a look to see what it’d hold.
Medals? Spoils from the war – silver, jewels or gold?

The old man went off fishin’ of a Sunday with Bob Gray,
So if I was gonna do it – that would have to be the day.
I started out determined – I was done by ten past two.
With half a broken hacksaw blade, I cut the padlock through,
But even as I opened it, the truth was plain and clear,
The old trunk held no gold or jewels, there was no treasure here .
A pile of letters tied with string, an old moth eaten flag,
A rusty metal helmet and mouldy webbing bag,
A cup made from a jam tin, an emu feathered hat,
And a newspaper clipping with the title “Desert Rat”,
Some photos of the pyramids – a rusty bayonet,
An IOU – Jack Carmody – two quid (a two-up debt).

I folded out a faded map as the day began to wane,
Foreign places like Benghazi, Tobruk, El Alamein.
Then I came upon a satchel and a little leather book
And a photo of some young blokes – so I took a closer look.
It was 20 young recruits, their faces tanned and worn
From places like Cohuna, Moama and Bamawm.
Farmers, shearers, stockmen off to fight a noble war,
For the empire in a foreign land they’d never seen before.
And scrawled across the bottom, in writing rough and coarse,
Twenty names below the words, the Echuca Boys – Light Horse.

I turned the photo over, and there upon the back
Were words that sent a chill through me, and made my mouth go slack.
A solemn list of 20 – the fate of each the same.
Every one but Uncle Basil had a date beside their name,
Some said April ’43, some said June /July.
A record from our history, the date that each had died.
I turned back to the photo and looked in every face,
And written over each one was a month, a year, a place.
A grinning, sun-bronzed soldier’s face, each now with a name
Like November 1943 – the words El Alamein.

I wonder did they think, as they sailed across the foam,
That amongst them only one – Uncle Basil – would come home?
Recorded in that little book – I remember to this day –
A record of their actions and how each had passed away,

A mortar shell out on patrol; a sniper in the night;
A landmine took one’s legs off – he died before first light.
The death of each was brutal, the reality was stark.
Forty pages written there, I finished just on dark.

I slowly closed that record of the men who kept us free
And turned to see my father, standing silently.
He didn’t do his block as I expected that he would,
He just said, “Come on pack it up, I reckon that we should.”
So with loving care we packed away the treasures from the past,
When I came upon the photograph – it was put aside ‘till last –
And with new respect and love, I recorded there his fate.
Next to Uncle Basil I wrote April ’68.
Yeah, Dad and I we packed it up and put it back again
And wrapped it in a bit of tarp, to keep it from the rain.
We never spoke about it or discussed what I had read.
I reckon that was his way, to respect those men long dead.

There’s a statue of a digger in most every country town,
And a list of names of locals, who fought with great renown.
And now, when I go by, I remember what I read,
Sitting on the floor out there, in our old shearing shed.
And I think of Uncle Gordon, lost somewhere on Ambon,
Uncle Jack on the Kokoda and, in England, Uncle John.
I remember still that photo, with sadness and remorse,
That mob of grinning faces, the Echuca Boys – Light Horse.
In a cemetery near Ivanhoe lies a bloke who’s left his mark,
Basil Thomas, of Echuca, Tobruk and Baden park.

Image from here


Madurai Tour Leader and Guide

I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs Malar, a dear friend of my friend Vijay whilst in India recently. Mrs Malar lives in Madurai in Tamil Nadu, South India and she took time out from her busy tour schedule to spend with me and show me around the incredible Meenakshi Temple in Madurai.

Mrs Malar was helpful and informative and made me feel very welcome. She was extremely knowledgable about the temple and the history of the Hindu religion.We were lucky to also be there the night before Shivaratri, Lord Shiva festival.

 

Meenakshi Temple - North Gate

The temple was alive with colours, people, music and rituals. I got to learn so much about this special day for the Hindus and see some incredible architecture. I was really blown away by the stunning colours and the warmth inside this beautiful place.

 

 

 

 

Mrs Malar is a tour guide for South India and she is based in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

I strongly recommend contacting her to arrange your trip in this beautiful part of India:

Email: vizhimalar6@gmail.com

Mobile nos:

+91 956 6695 461

+91 98 651 41 000

+91 95 666 95 462

She is a cultural promotee and can show guests:

  • Saree demonstration about Tamil culture for ladies
  • meegandhi doing (henna)
  • South Indian cuisine – Demo class, lunch and dinner
  • Classical dance – Bharatha natiyam
  • Classical karnatic, folk dance and music
  • Religious explanation class
  • Transport, food, accomodation and anything else you need can be arranged.

 

I hope you get the chance to meet Mrs Malar and enjoy the beauty and difference of South Indian culture.


My Summer Photo Shoot

Photo shoots are a lot of fun and in the promotions and marketing industry which I’m in, they are essential to getting more work and more notice for your brand.
This was my Summer shoot with the lovely and talented Sarah Churcher of Sarah Churcher Photography.

Sarah and I had some ideas for a summer photoshoot and with our powers combined, we came up with some great stuff.

These are Sarah’s favourites that she has chosen of me and as the professional, I take her word.

 

 

 

Choosing location, style and theme can be hard, so with a talented professional by your side, it makes things a whole lot easier. She also sees things in a way I never would have.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m so happy with this particular part of the shoot through the long grass as it was Sarah’s idea. The soft light, the grass as a feature and me getting to show off my writing prowess. It all worked so well in the moment.

 

 

 

 

We did this shoot at Port Melbourne which has a great range of backdrops and scenes for a photoshoot and with the wind up that day, we were lucky to create some magic.

 

 

 

 

For more information or to view Sarah’s great work. Visit her Website – http://www.sarahchurcher.com

Or like her Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sarah-Churcher-Photography/236651589691660

You can also connect with Sarah on Twitter @photosbysc

 

 

 

 


World Read Aloud Day Celebrations – Dharamsala, India

March 7th is World Read Aloud Day! I was honoured to be invited to take part and read aloud to children whilst I travelled. It just so happened I was in the beautiful city of Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India.

The lovely bookshop where I picked up my books

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This beautiful backdrop is also home to some very sweet and very eager young children. I managed to find two places where I would be able to read to them.

Yong LLng Kindergarten

I was approached by the great people at Pratham books who I met through Twitter and saw one of their great stalls at the Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai. When I tweeted saying i’d seen them and I was in India, they invited me to take part in this great day and of course, I jumped at the chance.

Generally the lovely team at Pratham Books would send you a book that you could read on the day. Of course mine would have to be in English as my hindi is very basic and Tibetan is most certainly a foreign language to me. Unfortunately due to my constant moving around the place in India we couldn’t arrange to get the book to me. No dramas though. I found a lovely little book shop and found two great books, one about Australia and one about animals. Both with lots of pictures and not too many words.

I had no introductions there in Dharamsala so it was just trying to find a place there were children, or any age people, who wanted to read aloud with me. Obviously kids would appreciate it more so that was the best option. I was informed there was the Yong LLang Kindergarten and the Tibetan Childrens Village. So off I went.

Yong Llang Tibetan Kindergarten was beautiful. I asked the office if I could read to the children and they quickly organised for approcimately 40 bright and smiling little faces to come into a room so I could read to them. They were aged 3-5 and they sat patiently waiting for me to start my story. I read the Lion and the mouse as it was easy to translate and understand. There assistant teacher helped me and we had a super fun time making animal noises together. Rah for the lion and squeak squeak for the mouse. They got so into the story and loved reading along. They all clapped and cheered when I finished and it warmed my heart.

She broke my heart, so cute and she just loved holding this book!

As I thought we were over the assistant teacher said to me “They’re asking for another one.” So I read them the second book. It took longer to translate but they still enjoyed it and liked having me and the teacher tell them what was happening. The teacher said to me at the end that they really had fun and enjoyed it. The kids grasping on to my clothes and not letting me walk out the door was a testatment to this. They just loved looking at the books and trying to read it for themselves.

Don't go!!!

I then went on to the Tibetan Childrens Village and loved seeing again all the children in this great learning environment. The school has a policy of not interrupting the childrens schooling and program so I wasn’t able to read to them. I think this a great policy and I completely respect their focus on the children and their future. We did visit the library and got to see some of the children in a lesson which was lovely. I donated the 2 books to the library so that many children can enjoy reading them for many years to come.

I’m so thankful to Pratham Books for asking me to be a part of this wonderful day and for giving me the opportunity to have this experience with the children. I look forward to taking part again next year – no matter where in the world I will be.


Met Craig this morning and could never have known what a beautiful and talented writer he is. Very much enjoyed this piece and I look forward to reading many many more.

anacoluthia

There was a time when I could hit the big reset button. The old cut-and-run. I’ve done it twice.

The first cut-and-run spilled from a brew of friend, girl, jealousy and strangely, a burning will to do the right thing, or at least not the wrong thing.

I cut the two of them out of my life. I just stopped calling. I didn’t return calls. It was like pruning a lemon tree. Faith was required; faith that something – some fruit – would grow back on the empty limbs. I didn’t burn bridges. There were no self-righteous confrontations. I just cut myself off.

I remember weeks of aching loneliness. A big part of my life had been hollowed out. I think my hair started receding. It was stressful. It felt like it took more courage than I had. Alone with my thoughts way too much, undefined in the world. Things…

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Emma conquers Machu Pichu for mood disorder awareness

Hey everyone,

Last year I went on the adventure of a lifetime and I climbed Mt Kilimajaro in Africa for Alzheimer’s on behalf of my late Grandpa Jack. The night before I went on that incredible journey, I started thinking…”What next?” 1 challenge was just not enough. I was addicted before I began! And here I am, heading off on the next big adventure – PERU CHALLENGE 2012.

Peru Challenge 2012 will be trekking aloing the ancient Incan trails to the incredible Machu Pichu. On 20th October, 2012, I’ll be embarking on the Peru Challenge through Inspired Adventures and am raising funds for Blackdog Institute.

Each year, Blackdog aim to advance the understanding, diagnosis and management of depression and Bipolar Disorder and improve the lives of those affected by these mood disorders. Please help me in my cause by donating through my page.

I’ve chosen to do this with Black Dog Institute in honour of my late Grandma, Doris Lovell. My dear Grandma lived with depression for the majority of her life. She wrote diaries from the age of 13 and I have since been reading them and the insight into what it’s like to live with a mood disorder such as depression is heart wrenching. Every day is often a struggle. We are fortunate now to live in a time where great organisations like Black Dog Institute are there to support us and inform us of ways to get help. Grandma was lucky to have received support from family and medicine at the time but the understanding was just not there, and still isn’t. It’s so important to raise awareness about these unfortunate and debilitating disorders and give support to those who need it most.

I feel so passionately about this cause and can’t wait to help Black Dog Institute with their great work. I’ve been personally affected by mood disorders as well as had very dear friends and family suffer. Unfortunately, I’ve also lost family and close friends due to mood disorders. It’s an important issue – but we can make a difference and help those in need.

You can also join the trip!! Visit our information page to learn more:
http://www.inspiredadventures.com.au/microsites/BDIPeru/

Please click on Donate Now to make a secure online donation to my fundraising efforts and this incredible cause.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Your support is greatly appreciated.

Kindest regards

Emma Lovelly

Sponsor me at:

http://peruchallenge2012.gofundraise.com.au/page/Lovelly

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It’s not Awkward – It’s Awesome!

Justine “JMac” McInerney has been performing in the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in her show “Proactively Awkward”. I was delighted and honoured to attend on her opening night and it was AWESOME!

Yes it was awkward. Yes I will never look at my dear friend Justine in the same light, but damn it was funny.

This is Justine’s debut show and the girl rocked it! To stand up for an hour and make a room full of people laugh is no easy task, but this woman looks as though she’s been doing it all her life.

Great use of video, live music, images and sound effects-  this show had a bit of everything. Definitely for a more mature… or immature audience… with lots of profanity and inappropriate themes – though that’s what makes it awesomely awkward.

Audience participation was welcomed and be prepared to be picked on if you are in the front two rows – of course that’s where I sat.

JMac has just 3 shows to go.

Visit her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JMAChostwiththemost

Tweet with her: @jmacstepback 

Book tickets here: http://www.comedyfestival.com.au/2012/season/shows/proactively-awkward-jmac/


Can’t get you outta my head

During a 10 day silent meditation the last thing you want is a song stuck in your head. My friend gave me a warning about this as some of the last words before I left but I think it was inevitable. Without any outside stimulation and no new tunes coming, concentration becomes crucial and the breath comes more important than ever.

My Vipassana location in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India.

It is rather funny to observe what particular songs came into my head and for what reason- generally I cannot put a finger on it and it will boggle my mind for years to come.

Stan – Eminem

This one I kind of understand as the line I kept coming to is “I cut myself sometimes just to see how much it bleeds, the pain is such a sudden rush to me.” Now I’m not advocating or condoning self harm and I didn’t feel like doing this during the course thank goodness.  It was actually the “pain is such a sudden rush to me” which I actually felt during our vipassana sensations when a pulsing throbbing would come up somewhere in the body and we just observe it and not react like we habitually do. Great lesson.

Smelly Cat –Pheobe Buffet- FRIENDS

This one was a pain really. Why?? Why”?? I kept asking myself over and over. Really this proves I have the monkey mind – the chattering mind that wanders. And for an entire day I just kept coming back to it.

Bleeding Love – Leona Lewis

There are a lot of lines in this song that reminded me of what I’m going through. The title itself is great. I’m hurt, but I bleed love. We were being taught love and compassion so I actually really like this. She is going through pain in the song but still she loves. It’s also a song I really like so that was nice. “Everyone’s looking around thinking I’m going crazy.” Maybe I am….

Queen- I want to break free

I’m not so happy about this one as it implies that I was unhappy or wanted to run away from my Vipassana, which I didn’t. I was surprised actually during the week how happy and content I felt at pretty much all times. Though this song just would not escape me. Perhaps it’s to do with the fact that my room did somewhat resemble a prison cell and they did refer to it as our “cell”. On the other hand it could express my desire to want to break free from my old life and habits and welcome the change in me. Let’s go with that one, far more positive outlook!

What would be the worst song to get stuck in your head during meditation?


What’s your good name?

If I had a dollar for every time in a day I was asked for my good name in India, I would be buying polkee raw cut diamond jewellery in no time. The Indian people have a fascination with knowing my and I guess other foreigners story.

 

This is worth $US 8000

The conversation which I had multiple times today, tends to go along the lines of this:

 

–       Hello Miss… Maam.. Excuse me (alternatively) /Namaste

–       Which country?

–       Oh Australia – cricket!

–       What is your good name?

–       Emma, that’s a very nice name

–       First trip to India?

–       6th trip to India!!

–       You speaking the hindi?

–       Are you a student?

–       What is job you are having?

–       How long you stay?

–       Where you go next?

–       Miss? Miss?

–       Photo with you please.

 

Most of the time I’m happy to oblige and I’ll answer a few questions and have a bit of a chat. However, after having the above conversation 10 times consecutively, you will only be receiving one word answers from me. Generally if I feel the motive is just to get my picture, I may be shorter. If they are trying to sell me something – I don’t really engage at all. Nahi chai yeh – No, I don’t want it.

Where I wrote this post - Dharamsala, India

 

I sound like a horrible , stuck up and arrogant traveler but really I just feel as though I’m experiencing Déjà vu. The same series of questions over and over – where do I come from, who am I and where am I going. I’m just a bit tired and when walking next to stunning scenery and beautiful waterfalls, I’d actually rather just take in the environment without the chatter.

Thank you for your kind interest in me, but (bas) stop, I’m tired. Actually very much looking forward to my 10 days silence where I cannot engage in conversation, make eye contact or have any other form of communication with another living soul.

Photo please miss. Taken at Gulmarg, Kashmir, India.


Coal baskets in Kashmir

When I was first advised that Kashmiri people where a woven basket full of scorching hot coals under their coats, I wouldn’t believe it. Especially coming from a fellow Aussie and a bogan at that. But after a quick demonstration by a passing Kashmiri man I was a believer.

The tradition is to where this woolen overcoat with wide sleeves and then take the woven basket full of coals in one hand and hold it close to your belly. The coal basket is called a Jangri and it’s the most popular and inexpensive way to keep warm. The 4 handles on top allow you to get your hands as close to the coals as possible without burning  whilst keeping extremely warm.

 

I was lucky enough to visit a kashmiri home in Tangmarg and had freezing feet after trekking through the slushy snow to get to the house. They gave me a big blanket and the woven basket of coals and told me to place my feet on it- within 5 mins I was toasty warm and had forgotten about my near frostbite toes.

Keeping warm with Grandmum with a Kangri at my feet

 

I also got to use the basket after catching the shikara, low row boat, over the Dal Lake and my fingers and upper body were freezing. I held onto the basket in the car and actually had to put it down after getting too toasty warm.

It looks crazy – but the system works, gonna go get me one of the toasty warm coal baskets for tonight I think.

 


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