The day I left India I wish to remember everything that was buzzing in my mind and that’s why I’m here writing this blog. I have such a bad memory, so thought of using this space and let me not regret in the future.
30 July 2004- I was in the airport. Dad asked me to check in immediately and assured me that I can come back after the check-in and talk to them. I got the two heavy suitcases-which were for sure exceeding the weight limit allowed by Singapore airlines. Ya, it had 8 kgs in excess-I didn’t want to take anything out of my suitcase-I asked the lady in the Check-in counter-“Can I pay for just 5 kgs?” She said “Yes”…Might be she felt pity seeing the any-time-I might-cry look on my face.
Everything was done and it was time to say bye to my parents. Mum continued her advices, “Don’t worry, uncle will join you in Singapore and you won’t have any problem in your aunt’s house, eat properly and don’t diet. Take care” for the nth time. Archu gave me her expensive watch, for which I had fought with her a week back. The person behind me-some airport staff asked-“shall we go?” Like a dam broke-open and water started flowing… I cried…everyone were looking at me, I didn’t bother. I was holding my mum’s hands and never wanted to lose the hold. But I had to go. I could see them till I stepped on the escalator [turned my head a dozen times before I reached the escalator] mummy and Archu were still crying, craning their necks to see me, dad with a very hard, rigid face and slowly... one by one...they were all gone. I was all alone now in the 1st floor of Chennai International Airport. I was waiting near the gate unable to control my tears-wishing to rush back to my mum and hug her.
The travel was comfortable and uncle joined me in Singapore. We reached Sydney on 31st July 2004. It was late in the night and Tara, my aunt [that’s how I called her when I was small-unable to pronounce her name Saradha properly and now everyone calls her Tara] had come to pick us. It was really cold outside, but I hardly felt anything. My mind was too much occupied with other thoughts. It all seemed to be a dream. Tara was showing me those tall buildings and saying “This is the city, and this is where your Uni [University] is. We are living in a suburb called Cherrybrook. You have to catch a train from Pennant Hills to Central and you can walk to the Uni from the station”. Half getting into my mind and half left in the air, I was looking out. It was very dark on a winter night; I could hardly see anything other than lights. Got home-the house was sooooooooooooo pretty, like the ones I have seen in Hollywood movies. Got down from the car and ran to see my cousins, both were jumping in joy to see me and their dad. Then Tara was dialling my home, I was so excited and picked up the phone,
Me: Daddy the house is soooooooo beautiful, It is really cold here….
Dad: Oh really!! Was your journey fine?
Me: Ya daddy, will be going to Uni tomorrow.
Dad: Ok ra, Mummy was crying through out the night and she hardly slept ra kanna. Talk to her first.
Gosh how did I forget her? Tears started rolling down, weeping loudly I spoke to my mum.
Me: Mummy...........like a little girl streching her hands and calling her mum..
Mum: Dear, How are you? [Kanna, Bagunnava?]
Me: mmm-this was the answer for all her questions after that.
Said bye and slept.
1st of August, 2004, I woke up at 8 a.m. I hardly felt any jet-lag. My cousins were rushing in their school uniforms. By the time I had brushed my teeth they were ready to go. After they had gone I went to have a shower. I loved the shower room and to see the bathroom without any bucket n mugs. I was shivering in the morning cold and Tara said I might feel better after having a warm shower. Opened the shower knob to the maximum and cold water just rushed out of the shower. OOOOOOOOOOFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF the water was ice cold…...I felt like 10000 needles trying to pierce into my skin.. all over my body. Couldn’t even look at the knob to close it…again tears….I was so fragile that every little thing made me cry…Later Tara told me to open the one with a red label first to get hot water.
I was ready and Tara drove till Pennant Hills station, where we got to catch the train to Central. Only then I noticed how mind-blowing the suburb looked, as sweet as the name-Cherrybrook. I would never get a chance to live in a place like this. I still can’t explain the beauty in just one word. It was amazing, awesome, stunning, striking, wonderful, terrifying,……. We reached the station in 10 mins. The two-way train fare was $5.40 [approx 5*35=175] my mind started converting…OMG I need to spend Rs.175 everyday for just commuting….hmmmm.
In the process of getting enrolled I learnt to say few things like “Thanks, Sorry, Excuse me” frequently, which was new to me. We found an Indian restaurant in the ground level of my Uni. [There was a long argument between my uncle n aunt regarding whether they mean floor when they say level 1, 2 etc]. Since I missed my orientation I had to meet my course co-coordinator [oops!!! I already forgot his name]. Heyyyyyyyy I remember now--- Mr.Antony Kadi. He was surprised to see my aunt and uncle who had accompanied me. I felt a bit embarrassed too-I was supposed to do it all alone. While picking up the class timings, most were in the evenings and I remember him asking me “So, if you have to go to the bar on Friday evening then you can enroll yourself for the Monday afternoon session” I gave him a confused look. I told myself-Do I look like a drunkard????. He looked confused too. He was waiting for my answer. I said “No sir, I don’t drink”. Prof- “Oh, then you’ll soon learn to”. It was supposed to be a joke but I was not smiling. Frustrated he continued “Well, that’s all for the day, you can attend today’s class at 6 p.m”. Got up to leave...errr forgot...said "Thank you sir". He smiled.
An Indian guy named Prasad [from Chennai], who had already finished a semester came forward to help me, seeing that blank and bewildered look on my face. We had the 'Technology and Innovation Management' class by Kathy Kelen. I heard students calling her Kathy and not mam/madam-I was able to recollect the way I addressed Mr.Kadi in the morning[Giggle...]. Prasad helped me with everything he can for the next 1-2 weeks. Class got over by 9 p.m and by that time my uncle and aunt had gone home and had come back with my cousins to pick me up from the Uni. Discussing with them what had happened later in the afternoon, we reached home. Before bed I prepared myself to face the beautiful new world awaiting for me.