Rose Week/Thorn Week: The guy who silenced me, the road that 'CB'ed me, the films that enlightened me.

Unapologetic heat in Brisbane last week licked my kaya-toasted face and coiled around my limbs like a great hot-blooded serpent. The heat was so devastating I thought I was going to shrivel up on the spot, dehydrated. The sun seemed to bite into me, ate into my skin and eyes. I almost made it to the coffee club that the trio meet-up group decided to have a coffee chat.There are various interest groups that one can sign up for- travel groups, sports, film buffs, foodie, random groups. 

 So I just signed up for a coffee chat with this group. I had only seen their profile pictures in the group chat. One was a Spanish lady who came here few months ago for work purpose. And the other one was a local Indian chap working as an entrepreneur. It was a good 45-minute bus journey from my place. Changed 2 buses, got down at the wrong bus-stop which was basically the most ulu-ulu place in Brisbane, googled ways to survive, perspired and lost 2kg of fats, and somehow managed to take an uber ride to this coffee club.

I reached the place, grabbed a chair and I wished I could just lie down on the table as my head was already spinning like Madhuri Dixit in Devdas Song. My phone beeped. The Spanish lady who was supposed to be part of the group, couldn’t make it. So it was just going to be a duo coffee chat.

I was literally regaining consciousness after surviving the heat. He came.

“Hi…” he extended his arm for a handshake. 

With a stubble just maintained perfectly, tight body-hugging shirt, sharp facial features, I regain my consciousness quicker than I thought I would.

After the mandatory name introduction, “Have you ordered?”  he asked.


He went over to the counter to get latte for me and some milkshake for himself. He came back to sit at the pointed edge of the table.

Me, being Miss nice, “why don’t you make yourself comfortable?

 I took my bag from the side of the table so that he could sit comfortably on the opposite side of the table. He had mentioned in the group chat earlier that he was Tamil-speaking person and that he rarely got a chance to speak Tamil here.

To actually start a proper casual question I asked, “So what do you during weekends?”

“gym and cricket.” And since I knew a bit about cricket, I shared the names of the players I admire and like and the interest that I used to have watching IPL when chennai super kings was rocking the league.

His reply, “I don’t watch IPL.”

Silence dominated. Silence and aroma from the freshly-prepared latter diffused the air particles. More waves of silence hit the shore. Like an experienced oral language examiner, I waited patiently for some sort of sustained conversation to take place. Probably he was nervous. Probably he had a bad day. Probably the heat slaughtered his soul as well.

I tried to strike the conversation again by asking about his school and university education. More one-word answers were thrown.

This was the moment that just made everything froze for a second. All of a sudden, as he was giving monosyllabic replies, he started flossing his teeth with this forefinger.  

My mind reminded me instantly, “you don’t be judgemental right now. No one is perfect. Everyone has flaws. You think you are completely perfect.”

It was also an occupational hazard- you think everyone deserves a chance. Everyone is nice. Everyone needs to be embraced. Everyone has some goodness in them. You start seeing everyone as a human being despite their public-displaying teeth-flossing habit.

Silence lingered in the air, thick and heavy, like a blanket. The silence stretched thinner and thinner, like a balloon blown big.

Then, he casually asked in a strong-Austrailan-Tamil accent, “Neenga Tamil theriyuma thaane?” (You know Tamil, right?)

Now it was my turn to reply in one-word, “Yes.”
And I answered in English, “So where did you learn Tamil?”

I just adamantly refused to speak Tamil for god-know-why reasons. I couldn’t believe that I was doing this to a language that I love the most. In my head, I was relentlessly apologizing to every Tamil word that I knew. I just needed another coffee to break this momentum and I was about to order one, he immediately stood up.

“Shall we just walk around?” he requested.

Before I could even answer, I saw him walking away.
Didn’t we come for a chat at the coffee club? According to my life experience of 32 years, when I go for a chat or lunch or dinner with my friends, we would just sit at the exact same restaurant/cafe for hours not even moving an inch. That was how I led my life all this while. This game changer, lowest oral exam scorer, self-proclaimed dentist was already 100m away from me. I couldn’t do much but to grab my bag and follow him.

Have you ever wondered how does it feel to walk beside the President who randomly stops to talk to the soldiers at the National Day Parade? I exactly felt the same as this guy was making unannounced stops to enter shops in the mall. As he walked, he was twirling his white earphone that was still attached to his handphone in his pocket. He slided in a way where there was friction between the ground and his peach-coloured rubber boots and I was 100% sure about fire sparks forming under his feet.

Love is blind. Really. I truly missed this Spanish lady who was supposed to meet us. I wished she had come. I wished it turned out to be a better day. I wished we had more fun. I wished I didn’t have to be President-parade-follower. I have never seen her before. And I sincerely missed her presence. I have never shown such affection towards a complete stranger. I didn’t know I was capable of showing such unconditional love. 

That was the day I strongly acknowledged what Devayani did in the film Kaathal Kottai was right. That someone can fall in love with a person whom she had never met before. That someone can sew a jacket for someone whom she had never seen before, yet sew it to perfection.

That is genuine love, people! Spanish lady, No sé quién eres pero te extraño.

It was unbearable to waste anymore time. Thus, I inititated, “I am going back. Thank you.”


After hunting for a good 2nd hand car from many dealers’ websites, spending hours travelling in buses and trains to visit these car dealer shops which were usually at the outskirt areas. The crucial decision to buy one came after several hours/days of waiting for buses and trains when I had to travel long distances. Getting a car here was as easy as buying corriander leaves. For less than 7k, you can own a car within 3 days after clearing all the paper work, applying for a CRN number which is something like a COE but it is just free of cost.

This dealer at Wynnum central, was probably one of the sweetest and most friendliest persons that I have met so far. He has been running this business for years. After listening to my life-history and that I took a brave decision to travel all on my own to this place, he gave me some discounts and a free complimentary car-servicing deal. Thank you, unker! As I was driving back from the dealer shop, which apparently was my first time driving here, the signs on the road screamed ‘CB’.

Now, look, Mr road, I know I am being very cautious here driving slowly but that doesn’t mean you spit vulgarities at me.

Then a few lanes down the road, I realised it meant ‘City Bypass’

Watchdog Short Film Festival

Ranging from 7 to 25 minutes, each film offered glimpses into the many facets of life and society. Each director brought us various tales of love, technology, war, refugees, health, which gave audiences a viewing platform to reflect on all the  complexities of the world. There were more than 15 short films screened and awards were given at the end of the show. Most of the films exposed the dysfunctional mindset of humanity and ‘Mariam’ a documentary film was my favourite among all masterpieces.

Mariam is a participatory documentary that took us into the devastating war zone in Iraq. This documentary was the dehumanisation epidemic regarding innocent Iraqis whose lives are at risk every second. The documentary crew reached the frontline, Iraqi people could be seen fleeing from ISIS soliders who were shooting at them and destroying their villages. The filmmakers then helped rescue the Mosul family after their house was blown up by ISIS. Iraqi security forces and the documentary team crawled into a destroyed house, managed to get into the debris where there was a lady screaming for help and his husband was buried even deeper into the mess. There were explosives heard right outside the house. Despite the risk of being killed, the brave soldiers and the team, without any equipment, got the injured family members out of the house. Every second of the raw footage reminded us of how important documentary shorts could be – in an age of viral videos and fake news, they  cut through the chaos to provide snapshots of truths and glimpses of human stories that otherwise go unnoticed.

American film critic Roger Ebert once said that cinema is a machine for empathy. This is a demonstration that empathy comes in all forms!

A perfect way to end the weekend, and start the new week!

(Click on the labels below to read other rose/thorn weeks)