I finally watched Social Network. With all the Oscar wins and rave reviews, I had built up high expectations for the movie. I had no clue about its content or characters, beyond the fact that it was about Mark Zuckerberg and the founding of Facebook. I was taken aback in the first scene itself- I couldn’t relate the character of Zuckerberg to the real life one. The celluloid version is arrogant, rude and appears to be mildly autistic. Sure the real Zuckerberg might not be a saint, and did worse than just mislead the Wicklevosses and Divya. According to a Wiki article, he also irreversibly sabotaged their ConnectU code and much more. All the same, he has far better social manners than in the movie. He comes across as shy and awkward, not rude and socially dysfunctional. Maybe he is conceited, but I can’t imagine him being so unnecessarily insolent like his silver screen counterpart . That was just too much of a stretch for me to fully appreciate the film. Movie Zuckerberg is a complete tool. Real Zuckerberg is not Mr congeniality, but he appears normal enough.
Also, I would be annoyed if I was Priscilla Chan- his long long time girlfriend ever since Howard, much before Facebook and had absolutely no mention in the movie. Instead a girl he went on two dates with ages ago is the object of his obsession through out the picture. Specially if that girl started a blog like this http://ericaalbright.com.
I understand the concept of creative freedom and everything. I understand that Social Network was not meant to be a biopic. Still, I can’t help it- for me, part of the excitement of watching a film based on an actual person or event is to see how closely it has traced the real life characters it is portraying and even though Social Network is a well made entertaining flick, I am disappointed with the gap between real and reel Zuckerbergs. Plus, I had been looking forward to seeing some kind of romantic side story between Priscilla and him.
PS:- Mark Aller came up with the title. I wish I had.
I am in Canberra!! Can’t believe it- I have been counting down to it for months and months. I am very happy. The kids photography company that I was working for in Adelaide happened to be coming to one of the shopping centres in Canberra for the two weeks immediately after my arrival here and offered me to work with them. It has proved to be a great help in the initial settling down process. Last week (which was my first week in Canberra) I worked with Emma (yay!) who is dutch, and 4 other girls of English, Irish, German (yay again!) and Swiss nationality each. It is fun working with backpackers again- Adelaide sets mostly has locals now. Emma and the Irish girl fly to Darwin today so next week-probably my last week with the company, ever- it will be just the four of us and a new girl.
As I mentioned already, I am very happy!! I love our home, a cozy two bedroom townhouse. Mark’s being an awesome boyfriend. He takes such good care of me- makes me breakfast, readies and packs my lunch everyday and has dinner ready for me when I come home late after working long hours. Only one of the days he was due home later than me and I was so determined to have dinner ready and waiting for him when he got home that I made a big mess of the kitchen and forgot a couple of ingredients, and cut my finger pretty deep with a large knife. In the end, though, I still managed to have reasonably yummy chicken burritos ready for him in time.:-)
Emma being as awesome as she is, gave me Saturday off so I could spend some quality time with Mark on our first weekend together in Canberra. So, we went lounge hunting around Canberra today, couldn’t really find anything we liked in our affordable range and have decided to look at some more stores tomorrow. Mark showed me around Canberra centre and took me to the Indian shop here which I loved. It had everything from food, spices, thumbs up to Indian hair oil to bollywood movies! I shopped to my hearts content and bought 9 bollywood movies, readymade rasgullas (which we had for dessert tonight and Mark absolutely relished), gulab jamun mix, jalebi mix, ras malai mix, green chilli pickle, and mixed fruit pickle among other things.
As happy as I am, I am also very worried about the whole finding a job thing. I had been looking for jobs I can apply to through out the last week and bookmarking them, intending to apply to them on the weekend. Sadly, Saturday is already spent. I didn’t even realise how the day got over so fast, but I am resolved to work on all the applications tomorrow. Let’s see if I stand fast on my resolution. Calling it a night for now, Auf Wiedersehn!:-)
I last updated my blog more than 6 months ago. Since then, as is already mostly known, I’ve gotten a job with a mobile children’s’ photography studio. By mobile, I mean that we stay at one shopping centre for a 1-3 weeks and then move to another. The company has a permanent set in Adelaide so my team only goes to shopping centres in Adelaide and then every 2 months to somewhere interstate in SA for a few weeks. In September we made a 4 week trip to Mount Gambier and Warrnambool and then again a 3 week trip to Mount Gambier, Hamilton and Murray bridge. It’s just meant to be a filler job to earn my keep, since there was no point in looking for an IT job when I was going to leave Adelaide in a few months.
It’s a challenging job, that is, approaching people with kids passing by our set and getting them to have a photo shoot with us. I am the main PR person. The term “PR” is a convenient way of referring to doing what I described above. So every set has a couple of PR people and a couple of photographers. Unsurprisingly, I get a lot of insults thrown my way, but, surprisingly I am very good at getting people in. I am one of the top PR people in the company. Seeing that I have considered myself socially challenged for the most part, it’s been quite self-revelatory for me.
What I like about this job is the fact that I get to meet backpackers from all across the globe. Because of all the travelling involved and also in part because of the nature of the job, Gotcha prefers to employ backpackers and vice versa. The company provides free accommodation, car and fuel.
At the time I joined in July, they were looking for some photographers. I refused to photograph, but got Supriya, who loves photography, a trial shift with them. That is how, Supriya and I became work mates and had some great fun together on our Gotcha trips. On the downside, working together so closely for long hours can also be trying on the friendship, but fortunately, our relationship has weathered through and survived.
The shopping centres in Adelaide that we usually go to are Elizabeth, Tea Tree, West Lakes, first two of which are more than an hour of commute away. It becomes mentally as well as physically exhausting overall- we’re standing all day, running after kids etc etc, so once I get home I’m drained out and ready to fall dead on the bed. Because of the long commuting time, I end up spending around 12 hours out of home every day.
In other news, Mark and I are moving to Canberra soon. He’s got a cool Government job there, though I am still to find an IT job, possibility of which is dismayingly low in a government dominated place like Canberra. Federal government is the largest employer and the private IT companies usually have the federal government for client so they can’t hire non-citizens either. In rest of Australia, my employment prospects would improve considerably after getting a PR, but in Canberra, there are only government jobs and the companies who cater to them and for that nothing less than citizenship would do. It might be a professional suicide of sorts for me, but I don’t care. I will figure something out. I will keep looking for IT work, while doing some other full-time/part-time job on the side. Also, it might be easier when I’m actually in Canberra.
Mark’s parents and Aunt have been buying us lots of household stuff for Canberra. So, we now have a cutlery set, sandwich maker, baking set, plate set, glass set, saucepans, pots, kitchen utensils, fry pans, soda machine etc etc and there is still more to come. I am very very excited about it all!
So that was a catch up on what I’ve been upto for last 6-7 months. I will try to get regular with my posts from now on.
The morning after the Easter weekend brought awesome news. My interim visa application was successful and my thesis results are out, so now I can at last send them for skills assessment. I am quite sure about getting a positive assessment and finally being able to apply for PR. Phew, to think, it was only a month and a half of waiting in angst that felt like eons. Ah, well, the debacle is over. I only hope that PR rules don’t change to my disadvantage again.
I got a surprise present from Mark’s parents for finishing my Masters- an electric fry pan, same as the one that they have and that I liked very much. I considered it perfect for my curry experiments and often mentioned wanting to buying one “when I start earning”, so I was touched by their thoughtfulness. They also had a surprise black forest cake waiting for me. I always felt really lucky to have Mark, but now I feel even more lucky because of his wonderful family that extend their love to me.
I was all upbeat till the next day or so after the good tidings until I had to come back to facing my other pressing concern- Earning my own keep. I have been applying to both casual and IT positions, but haven’t heard back from anywhere. It kills me to ask for more money from my parents. There are no Centrelink style schemes in India. Everything comes out of their pocket. I want them to enjoy their hard earned money and to have as much saved as possible for their old age. I can’t wait to stand on my own feet and pay them back. I wish I had been mature enough to set my priorities right from the beginning. I was far from what an ideal international student here should be like. Didn’t study hard, didn’t bother to hold on to a steady well-paying casual job. Regrets! But, no good crying over spilled milk. The situation used to be better, just that my father lost his well-paying job early last year and only recently found work again. Funding me was not a problem before, but the past year, with zero income, I burnt a big hole in their savings.
Another worrisome issue now is that Mark will most probably have to move to Canberra for work next year, since almost all the jobs he is well qualified for are with the federal government. Given the pervasive nature of IT industry, we considered it a perfectly reasonable compromise for me to move with him. However, there’s a catch-22 here as well. The ACT job market is government dominated. Government does not employ non-citizens. And the private IT organizations mostly cater to government clients, so they want citizens too. I have been exploring the job sites and the internet in general for the past few weeks just as an exercise to spot jobs I am eligible for, but the prospects look gloomy.
My blog stats show that hardly anyone ever reads this blog. Nonetheless, I like to pretend that I am writing for a large audience waiting with baited breath to hear about every tiny little update in my life.
Mark and I had planned to go camping with Supriya and Roshan over the Easter weekend meaning to come back just in time for the Easter dinner at Currans. I have never been camping before or fishing, so I was super duper excited all week leading upto the weekend. I did all my packing a week in advance, tried to convince everyone to decide on 5:30 am as the leaving time, and managed to get them agreed on 6:30 am, and was bursting to try my luck at fishing. Mark and I practised setting up the tent in his backyard, and I was rather happy with it. We did all our shopping- canned food, pasta, Indomie, hot-crossed buns, white chocolate cake, sour worms, orange m&ms, alcohol. I bought new sunglasses and a hat. In a rare occurrence, I was up at the first sound of the alarm on D-day and ready and all set in no time. Sup even prepared delicious chicken sandwiches for everyone.
But, woe and behold, all the campsites at and around Deep Creek were either full or too crowded for our liking, so we decided to come back another weekend and just make it a day trip. We rocked up at the Rapid Bay beach, and since I had been going on and on about wanting to go swimming irrespective of the water temperature and Roshan had been threatening to hold me to it, he actually did hold me to it. We had left the swim gear in the car (which was a steep flight of steps away), so I actually went into the water head deep, in my normal clothes and loved every minute of it. To everyone’s surprise and relief, I wasn’t cold and didn’t complain of being cold the whole time like I usually do.
Good thing about the cancelled trip was that I was at Mark’s place instead, on the afternoon of Easter Sunday and got to help his mom prepare salad and dessert for the Easter dinner which was fun. She told me what to do step by step and I followed her instructions blindly. Later at Tim’s she gave me full credit for all the cooking, garnering me undeserved compliments about my non-existent culinary skills. Mark and I got a big pack of Celebrations chocolates from his parents as well as Easter Bunny and Egg from Curran family. Ashamedly, not a single one of these survives at the point of writing this.
Next week’s to-do involves lots of visa paper work and more job applications, getting back to reading which I had abandoned under stress and attempting to go swimming at least three out of the seven days.
I am still in Australia! Phew! At present, I am on a bridging visa and awaiting decision on the visa application I submitted, which, by the way, is not the actual permanent visa which I have to eventually apply for. I need my results for that and they aren’t out yet:-(. So the situation is this- If my current temporary visa application gets accepted and I pass my masters project, I can stay and apply for permanent residence.
Apologies for not replying to worried friends before deactivating my Facebook account. I was feeling quite wretched and hopeless at that point and didn’t feel like answering/facing anyone. But, thank you, Sam, Maike, Chetan, Sunanda, Namrata and all others who were concerned about me and sorry for dodging you guys like that! Also, my abstinence from Facebook, unlike that by Mark, is not permanent. However, I don’t miss it as much as I did in the first week sans it. I have stopped forming potential status messages in my head for every trivial activity and circumstance in my life. Though, in actuality, I rarely put any of them as my status even while on Facebook.
As you probably can tell from the tone of this post so far, I am feeling much better these days. Apprehension still lurks in the corners of my mind, and sometimes jumps out at me, booing me, catching me unawares, leaving me in tears. Luckily boyfriend and friends help keep it tame for the most part.
I am not eligible for any full time professional IT job until I apply for my PR visa, so, I am trying to find a part-time or casual job to sustain myself in the meanwhile and finally stop leaching off my parents. No response from the positions I have applied to, thus far. But, hey, I have resolved to be optimistic and persevering.
Off the subject: I’m back to cooking as of last week with Mark’s mom getting the long promised Indian cooking lesson from me. The lesson constituted printing out the recipe of Goan-style Pork Vindaloo and Potato and Egg Plant curry from Internet and then Pat and I following most of the instructions. In fact, I have made these two dishes thrice before,but never bothered to save the recipe. I just google it up every time. Mark being the guinea pig for almost all my cooking experiments in past 9 months, shortlisted the above two dishes for his mom’s first cooking class. Few days later I casually made some pork curry without following any recipe, and it was ok- not great. Day before yesterday I made these for Aller family’s after dinner dessert and was happy with the reception they garnered. I didn’t put cloves in because I HATE the taste of whole cloves, but I might have added a little ground clove if I had it.I didn’t have cashews either. Instead, I sprinkled in a couple of pinches of cardamom powder in semolina while frying it. Plus, I used coconut powder in place of grated coconut. If you try this recipe out and use coconut powder too, do not fry it separately as the recipe says, because it will change from amorphic form to solid lumps or will burn really quickly if there’s less oil. Just mix it in at the end. I also didn’t use “ghee” but normal vegetable oil and added unsweetened evaporated milk instead of normal milk which worked wonders. Ok, I did not follow the instructions closely, but, meh, it all turned out well in the end. Today, I again improvised a dish using left-over potatoes and egg-plant and shared it with my house-mates. Now, I don’t know how honest their praise was, but I thought it tasted nice, if a little too salty.
Off the subject again: knowing my fondness for Bollywood music and my limited enjoyment of any other sort of music, Mark asked me to assemble some Bollywood songs to burn into a DVD for playing in his car. Excited, I employed myself in this task for a good part of today. I picked what I felt Mark would enjoy too, while going for a variety of different styles, from fast to slow to cliched romantic to not cliched romantic, from pop to classical, to traditional Quawwali. I haven’t included any ghazal yet, but I’m sure I will. Slipped in a few guilty pleasures, as well. Work’s still in progress. Nonetheless, listening to some songs today made me deeply thankful for understanding Hindi, or the unique and beautiful mix of Hindi and Urdu that we speak and word songs in. Urdu, in particular provides a perfect repertoire for emotional, soul-stirring lyrics.
WordPress won’t allow me to upload mp3s without a “space upgrade”, so I am just including the Youtube url for a few of the tracks I rounded up, though sometimes videos are a tad (or much more) ridiculous and I would just rather have people hear them and not see them.
There are a few more, but I am bored of looking them up on Youtube. Hope you enjoy these! Over and Out.
I was looking forward to getting back to this blog. I was looking forward to getting back to a lot of things- trying to learn German online, reading loads, watching shows/movies back to back, chatting for hours with friends I haven’t been able to stay in touch with, going swimming regularly, going to bed anytime I want, getting up anytime I want, not setting up the alarm- for a while, at least. I couldn’t wait to lodge my PR visa application and get on with the job hunt. And then I found out that the rules for Permanent Residence Visa Application have changed. It could have been worse, but there was some bad news. I had to have my skills assessment results ready at the time of lodging the application or it would be rejected. Now, Australian Computer Society takes 3 months to do this assessment and it requires my MIT results for that, which unfortunately I didn’t have, having just submitted my Masters project report. My current visa expires on 15th March.
I was in despair. Except, I don’t know if that’s the right word, because I must have had some hope left to scramble around for a solution, frantically querying friends and DIMIA. I say it often, I’ll say it again, I am so lucky to have such wonderful friends who are always there for me. Supriya and Roshan were the particular awesome friends here. And Chetan, he’s the one who came up with THE suggestion that I ended up following through. I don’t know if it will work, but it’s my only hope now and fingers crossed, that rules don’t change any further against my interests, before I file my PR application- which is gonna take a while now. I don’t know about my work prospects in this scenario. Very few places are willing to hire without PR or evidence of PR application:-(. But, I’m gonna try anyway. What else can I do? I don’t feel like doing any of the things I was looking forward to doing. I have this 100 tonne worry load on my head all the time. The only calming moments are those in the company of Mark and friends. But then again, they are also a reminder of how badly I need to be here in lieu of anywhere else in the world.
And DIMIA, which was so friendly and full of solutions and answers on phone when answering queries about student visa, was equally short and borderline rude when it came to PR visa inquiries. There was a distinct taste of disdain and contempt in their voice. I could imagine one of the voices going , “Stupid Indians cluttering up our country”..And no I don’t think Australians are racist in general. I have found more love and acceptance in this country than in my own motherland. But it is true, what I relate above, for every single time out of a dozen that I called them:-(.
The sweetest thing that I heard during the despairing period was my boyfriend saying :”Don’t worry, honey I will wait for you even if you have to go back”. This, after I told him that if required to leave, I won’t be able to come back for at least a year and most probably quite more than a year. I love him!
I hope my plan works out. But I am too afraid to get complacent. I have to put all my shame aside and really chase up on my professor and whomsoever needed to get my results back ASAP, so that I can file my PR app before some new detrimental rule comes up dashing my aspirations again. Australia is where my life began, here is where I found love and friendship and trust. Here is where my emotions became real. Here is where I began to heal, here is where I want my home to be.
The sad thing about procrastination is that it has an expiry date. From the moment you embark upon it you’re well conscious of the impending deadline- that point beyond which the shortest possible amount of time needed to finish the work in question is all the time you actually have left to finish the work. Alas, I have reached that juncture and decided to take a break from my fledgling venture. They rhyme!- Juncture, venture. Maybe, I should give poetry a second chance, too.
In case, you’re looking for some escapist fun, here’s my primary medium of procrastination:
I mean, the comic, not hammering nails.