Posts Tagged ‘Melbourne Cup’

The dismal round trip to Centre-link.(unemployment office)

April 28, 2018

IMG_0046the fuchia

The Fuchsia and Cyclamen giving us joy; just like that!

Some time ago we were kicked out of the Australian aged pension. There isn’t a universal aged pension here, but instead a pension only for those that have assets and income below a certain amount. It is called ‘deeming’. One is deemed to have less than what is regarded as acceptable to live in comfort in old age. Only then people get a pension so small one needs a torch to find it. Coming from a culture where pensions are a right for everyone, rich or poor and not a ‘hand-out’, this has always been a thorn in my side, no matter how often I eat meat pies or watch the Melbourne Cup.

We grew up rich in a frugal culture with nothing wasted.   That’s why all our three adult children were helped by us with an original deposit enabling them to buy their own places. That is the reward for not wasting and squandering. Squandering is easily done. Just look around the number of young people walking while ‘downloading’, either electronica or huge burgers with Coke. One can almost hear the cash registers at the Telcos and Dominoes running red-hot.  We hoped our example would set a standard but I am not sure young people really understand it.

The not squandering money stood us in good stead but the Government recently used it to not  pay pensions and instead now rely on the old to spend up the hard earned savings and then hopefully cark it before they are so poor they might just beg for the miserly and dismal pension from the Government’s tight wadded fists. They prefer to give away billions to large corporations in tax concessions so that they can whoop it up in Lichtenstein or the Cayman Isles.

Anyway, with this and that, our savings have now fallen below the amount whereby it might just be possible to creep back into the Australian Pension. Hence our walk, cap in hand, to The Centre-Link office. Centre-Link now is he Australian Federal Governmental Hub whereby all social welfare is handled, from child endowments to unemployment income (‘the dole’, what a dreadful demeaning expression!)  single parents subsidies and the Old Age pension and much more as well.

You know, something dreadful is forever happening here at Centre-link. One sometimes see the police trying to calm down a person driven to insanity. No wonder. The grey-blue fluorescent lights saps the spirit immediately on entering. There is just nowhere to rest your eyes.  There are painted steps on the carpet which one has to follow. It leads you to a battery of computers.  This in an attempt to foster self reliance in doing all the complicated and tortuous paperwork. One is expected to join ‘MY-GOV’ and follow all the prompts to its destination whereby, hopefully one receives whatever benefit is asked for.

Even joining the MY-GOV website is way too difficult and especially the elderly give up. What, with creating e-mail addresses, passwords and a host of identification proof. The atmosphere not only effects the clients but also the staff. It is all so grey and doomed. A ghoulish blanket settles over everybody within minutes. This is a Dracula snooping around in need of a blood top-up exercise.

We can’t wait to get out of the place. I did manage to fill in all the questions, even uploading all the bank statements and withdrawals, the drivers license, my passport and rate notices, proof of citizenship, so much more.  I did the same for Helvi. It doesn’t matter that she is my wife and that all banking, income is shared. This extra punishment is demanded. And of course, all that information they already have from earlier times.

We now can’t wait to go to our radiation hospital treatments, get a needed spiritual lift. Or go home and look at the garden.

I was so determined to get above it all.  I’ll seek council through the Fuchsias and Cyclamen instead.

Float your Sins on the Ganges

February 11, 2013

Float your sins on The Ganges.

Those millions queuing up to take a dip in the Ganges must have something that we don’t know about. I know that for many, a wash in the rivers of ‘insight and wisdom’ has for hundreds of years been the annual aim for  devout Hindus. As someone from an alien culture, I wonder what it is that seems to beckon those millions to wade into those waters.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-02-10/tens-of-millions-bathe-at-ganges-festival/4510894

Is it a communal confession? The ritual is to cleanse oneself from sin and it seems rather poetic and certainly in contrast with the western method of confession whereby a solitary figure sits in a dark little room separated by a screen. He or she confesses his wrongdoing to another mortal. It must be a bit of an embarrassment, especially in a small village; to have bared your soul to someone you might meet again at the butcher shop next day.

I like the Hindu way of letting the magic of the river carry your misdemeanors and sins downstream much better. The figures are amazing. Over 110 million Hindus are expected to enter at Sangam which is the point where three rivers join at Allahabad. Over 50 000 police are there to try and give everyone a chance to enter the water over a six day period. An ‘en masse’ show of spiritual cleansing and breaking the cycle of death and re-birth.

A nice sideline is that apart from the cleansing of sins it is also a celebration of the Gods overcoming your demons with the promise of precious nectar that would ensure immortality.

With the solitary Christian confession it is a bit of a lonely trip, isn’t it? No promise of goodies coming your way, just hell and damnation if you fail in your effort to keep hands above the blankets or refuse to do the washing up or lay the table, swear at your sister or throw a rock over the neighbours fence or do the shopping for mum. Perhaps, the goodies our way is the sitting around with angels, boring…! Who wants to be good with that kind of reward?

No, they definitely have the edge over us at Allahabad. There it is, millions of people wishing to assuage their most inner self, seeking spiritual salvation, renewal and revival through a wash in the holy Ganges till next year’s pilgrimage.  The clanging of cymbals, the emerging saffron heads rising above the water with the garlands of marigolds tangled around the ashen painted aesthetic piercing the rising fog.  This seems to be a reward in itself and present in this life as well for all the Hindus…It doesn’t lighten the burden of life but is ‘shows’. This is the loveliness of the annual ritual of the Hindus.

It’s hard not to be seduced by the magic of it all. Although for us cynical westerns, we would probably see it as just as a dirty muddy river and ask ourselves; what about the hygiene of it all? Where are the flush duel buttoned toilets? I want soap and hair conditioner with carotene and triple layered loo paper. Perhaps, that’s why we will forever be looking for salvation without finding it. Lost to the arid desert of consumerism and brick veneers with beloved colour bonded fence, separating us from each other till the privacy of our dismal end by the funeral director or “Ladies in White” and final consumption by the fiery but lonely cremation at Rookwood…

Some say, we have our rituals and then mention ‘The Melbourne Cup’. The whole nation stands still wearing large hats and thousands punting on horses and their pacing hoofs. We have Anzac days with two-up in the pub while wearing rosemary and drinking cleansing schooners. Let’s not forget the footy ‘finals’ and tennis. They are our cleansing rituals as well.

I am not sure. I so wish I could believe that.