Thoughts…inspired by A Good Muslim Boy

Last night I had the pleasure of attending an author talk at the Darwin City Library – it was Osamah Sami, author of “A Good Muslim Boy”.

I was keen to hear it because a part of my heart belongs in the Middle East. The land of my childhood.

The Muslim kids of my childhood are not what we read about in the press. The Muslim people I know are all kind, generous individuals. So you can see how the title of Osamah’s book was bound to have caught my eye.

Now here is a man who knows how to use words. His first language was Arabic, but his English (learnt after he came to Australia as a 13 year old) is fluent. Yes, there’s a trace of accent, but that’s what makes us all unique – our accents.

Osamah Sami
Michelle Hanton & Osamah Sami – Darwin City Library 19 July 2017

It’s a shame there were not more attendees, but the audience that was there was very appreciative of what Osamah shared.  He read excepts from his book, it had us in fits of laughter at times and at other points, I think it safe to say that we were all deeply moved by the horrific and unimaginable experiences he had suffered.

I guess the sad thing is that Osamah tale of living in a war zone is not unique.Although the way he has told his story is absolutely unique. In the book he shares real and raw experiences – yes, I stayed up late last night reading it. He’s a skilled storyteller and it’s a well paced book that’s easy to read.

Our world, and us as human beings, have committed so many atrocities. I think what makes it worse for me, is that these things continue to happen.

Surely to goodness we ought to have learnt our lessons from history? Yet, it seems we have not evolved enough. We keep repeating the same patterns.

Hmm – as I get older, I get more frustrated with how we are seem to be bounding ahead with technology, and yet humanity seems to be going out the window.

Hiding behind a keyboard, feeling the need to “conform” with popular (or at least what your circle seems to think is right) seems to be reaching epidemic proportions.

What happened to grit, to courage and having a backbone? Have we all gone soft?

We live in an affluent western country, yet it seems that those with less, have more moral fibre that those with more.

His father faced many challenges, yet retained a positive attitude and a very strong sense of what was the right thing to do despite all the setbacks and despite public opinion and pressures.

We hear these kinds of stories time after time. It’s encouraging. There is hope and we each have a part to play in keeping that flame flickering.

Michelle

 

 

GUEST BLOG: Darwin – My Home by Maisie Austin OAM

A lovely insight into what it was like to grow up in Darwin – thanks to Maisie Austin who features as a guest poster for our Lord Mayor this week.

Katrina Fong Lim

Maisie, Austin OAM has been awarded The Order of Australia Medal, the Australian Sports Medal and inducted into the Northern Territory Sports Hall of Fame. I am honoured she has agreed to be my guest posters this week and shares her memories of Darwin and the uniqueness of what makes this place she calls home so very special.

Katrina

Darwin is my home. It is unique, full of different nationalities, traditions, and cultures, where you can wear the same clothes all year round, with perhaps a cardigan or tracksuit pants on two or three days during the Dry Season.

The changes to Darwin have been many since my childhood days, from sharing a Sidney Williams hut with our extended family to now living in a 3-level house with sea views.

I lived at Parap Camp (now known as Stuart Park) since 1949 when my family returned to Darwin after having…

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Let me take you on a Tourney

Diary date for 2018 – looks like a great event!

the short story press

It’s been a while since I came back to Australia and officially put my travel blogging on hold. However once in a while, I get to enjoy some pretty neat things in my home country, and with my recent move from the Northern Territory to Queensland, I’m getting to enjoy lots of new things.

SO I thought it might be cool to reignite The Wandering Writer once in a while, starting now.

The Joust of Things

This past weekend on Sunday the 9th of July, I had the amazing experience of visiting the Abbey Medieval Festival. I’ve always wanted the chance to go and see a medieval festival and it was such a treat to be able to go with two of my cousins.

I’m especially grateful to Hans Electrical Service here on Bribe Island who, as sponsors of the event, kindly gave me a free ticket.

We arrived…

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Manners

Have you noticed that good manners seem to be going (or have already gone) out the window?

Call me old fashioned but manners cost nothing. Simple little courtesies like saying thank you, asking pemission, standing up to offer your seat to someone who is more in need. These are all little things that take hardly any effort, yet just make our world a little nicer.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for equal rights.

I don’t expect a bloke to stand up to give me his seat. I am perfectly capable of opening my own doors, and standing up on a bus. BUT, what about heavily pregnant women, Dad’s with their arms full of shopping and a toddler in tow that they are juggling on public transport and so on the list goes.

Yes, I’m on my soap box this afternoon!

Have you noticed the amazing propensity, especially on social media, for people to be very opinioned?

Yes, we are all entitled to our own opinions and to freedom of speech.

BUT, it has got to the point where what is expressed is often downright hurtful and inconsiderate. I was always taught that if I did not have anything nice to say I should keep my mouth shut.

Even when expressing a negative opinion, there are right and wrong ways to go about this. Name calling, swearing and involving children has no place in this.

Are we a world that is fast losing our emotional sensitivity? Is there any wonder that bullying and depression abounds?

What do you think?

Michelle

PS When someone does open the door for me – I simply say “Thank You” and smile – as opposed to biting their heads off!

Vale Derek Van Buerle

Derek was my cousin. To be precise, he was the eldest of the Van Buerle cousins. Both of us were born in Malaysia, and I guess Derek has been around my life forever.

We were not the type of cousins that saw each other often. My Dad worked for the United Nations so we lived wherever the UN sent us.

A a child I would see Derek when we went on home leave to Singapore. The visits were every two years. In between those times we’d correspond occassionally. Derek’s Dad, my Uncle Harry, also used to write and send me first day covers of stamps issued in Singapore.

At about 16 Derek was sent to Australia to finish school. I was at boarding school in Beirut at that time. We continued to stay in touch, but not as often, as by this time Uncle Harry and the rest of the family had settled in Perth.

Eventually, in 1981 I came to Australia and made Darwin my home. Derek, footloose and fancy free, came to visit, driving up from Perth. In Katherine he became very ill, I think it was pleurisy – but my memory is not the best – whatever it was, driving was very painful for him. We ended up driving down to bring him up to Darwin.

Derek liked Darwin, got a job and remained in the Territory for a while; we became closer once again. It was nice getting to know each other better as adults. We used to take turns cooking and I have fond memories of Derek pouring through my stack of recipe books deciding what to cook. He was always up for trying something new.

Derek learned to scuba dive while in Darwin, then headed off to the Barrier Reef for a diving holiday. Sorting through a box of stuff the other day, Cheryl and I came across this postcard dated 1987 that Derek had sent to us all.20170429_092025-1

One holiday let to another and he ended up back in Penang, where he met the woman who would become the love of his life – Maree – and mother to his three beautiful daughters.

Over the years, we didn’t see each other very much. I guess our lives got busy with kids and work. I caught up with Derek and Maree in Canberra and in Sydney, and there was the odd phone call and letter.

As cousins, we were all reunited three years ago, when my Uncle Harry, Derek’s Dad passed way in Perth. It was at the funeral. Derek had a bad cold, but was looking forward to going on a cruise with Maree in a few weeks.

The cruise was not to be. Maree called – Derek had been to the doctor. Leukemia. Derek underwent treatment and many of the Van Buerle family members were tested for suitability as a donor for a bone marrow transplant.

During this time, we stayed in close touch. I guess we were all reminded of the fragility of life, the preciousness of family and how fast time flies past. It brings into focus what is really important.

A couple of month ago – just after I had bought the house here on Bribie Island, I got a call from Derek. I remember the moment very clearly. I was sitting outside, on a fold up chair as he said “it looks like I’m going home sooner than expected.”

By this, Derek meant that he was going to be reunited with his Father in Heaven, and would be leaving this earthly life. Treatment options were exhausted. Time was running out. But Derek, in his own way, had made his peace with this world. He had his Christian faith and was unafraid of death.

As we finished our chat,  I promised to visit. Soon. Together with my cousin Cheryl, I flew to Melbourne a couple of weeks later – 2nd of April.  Cousin Michael, who lives in Melbourne also joined us.

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L _ R Juliet, Rebecca, Maree, Michael, Michelle, Derek, Cheryl, and Kathryn – 3 April 2017

Derek was frail and skinny. But still the same old Derek and so thrilled to see us all.Me_Derek

We laughted, we talked about death, we talked of childhood memories, we drank champagne and looked at old photo albums.

We spent a very happy couple of days with Derek, Maree and their three lovely daughters.

Derek kept thanking me for coming. My response “well, I rather come and chat to you when you’re alive than come after you have gone for your funeral.” He laughed saying “blunt, but true.”

As we said goodbye, I knew I was unlikely to see my cousin again in this life. But he was content and at peace with the journey ahead of him.

The end came faster than expected. Derek passed away last night at 7.15 pm.

Vale Derek – you’ll always be my eldest cousin that has a special place in my memories.

Rest in Peace

Lots of Love

Michelle xxx

 

 

 

Speed Kills

Indeed speed does kill, and too often the lives lost are the innocent and the young. Slow down and take your time – we only have one life and better to arrive late than not to arrive at all. Michelle

Katrina Fong Lim

Territorians have always had a love affair with driving at speed.

Just consider for a moment the controversy that raged about the removal of the ability to drive at any speed on the Stuart Highway. Or the raging popularity of events such as the V8s. And I get it, really, I get it but seriously? Enough is enough.

The speed limit across Darwin is 50 km per hour unless signposted otherwise. School zones are 40 km from 7 am to 5 pm. But remember, you still need to drive to conditions and on wet days, it is sometimes better to drive below the limit.

Across Darwin more and more people are demanding that drivers be made to slow down in the suburbs. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you view it, we have plenty of wide roads, built for speed limits over those that are posted. We have wonderful crescents…

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Marching on….into April

It’s 3 months since I last wrote here on my personal blog although the Dragon Sisters blog has more consistent publications. Guess that shows where my focus has been. On business. Afer all, when you work for yourself, you have to make hay while the sun shines.

On the personal front, our dear and old faithful dog, Janie, left us for doggie heaven. She was a part of our family for so many years, and is missed by us all. But it was her time to rest, so we let her go, via euthanasia. Sasha and I were beside her side until the end. She was 15 years old and had a very good innings.

Wayne is making steps forward each, and is on the long road to wellness. There are good days and there are bad days. But, he’s vastly improved. Cooks meals for Sasha and myself and helps out as much as possible given his restricted movement with his back. I am thankful for the small improvements and the fact he is no longer in that bleak and dark place of 12 months ago. There seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s been a very good 3 months on the business front. Many new clients, challenges and also a lovely trip to Bali for the Refresh, Reframe & Relax sojourn. If you follow me on Facebook you would have seen a few photos.

I loved the Bali trip as I got to present workshops all dedicated to Brand You, but best of all  was the daily pampering in the luxury our own private villa. Absolute bliss! We’re doing it all over again from 25th to 30 October. Can’t wait.

Now my friends, I know some of you that follow this blog are in business, so I’m taking the opportunity to let you know that Dragon Sisters has some openings for guest bloggers. If you’d like to contribute please get in touch and let me know what your topic is.

Love to hear what you have all been up to these last 3 months, if you’ve written a fantastic post, share the link below. I won’t be so tardy these next 3 months 🙂

Bye for now,

Michelle