It’s a bit odd coming back to a quiet house after I enjoyed three weeks of pleasant chaos. Mum, my sister Erly and Irene, my niece flew out of Adelaide this morning via Sydney to return to Indonesia. We got up this morning at 5am so we could get ready for their flight at 8.50am. We thought that it would be wise to start early, knowing that there were lots of us who had to get ready.
The Indonesian food on the dining table also served as a reminder of their visit here. Gone are the bucket of water and a plastic bowl that Mum used to wash herself from our bathroom – she couldn’t stand using toilet paper to clean herself up. The spare bedroom is also disconcertingly tidy and quiet. I’ve got accustomed to seeing Mum sitting on the bed, knitting and listening to a radio station from somewhere in the world using her mobile phone. I’m sure I’m going to miss Mum’s Blackberry alarm waking everybody up at 5am in the morning and the sound of my sister and Mum chatting in the morning. I’m also going to miss thinking of which places to take them to, so they would enjoy their trip in Adelaide even more …
I would miss teasing my sister for her unorthodox way of shopping – I remember the time when we had to buy kencur – a type of Indonesian spices that is sometimes translated as ‘lesser galangal’ or ‘zedoary’. I told her that nobody would sell it here in Adelaide – as we could only find either ginger, galangal, or turmeric. She didn’t say anything but was still stubborn in trying to find it in Central Market in Adelaide. We went to an Asian greengrocer’s stall and I stepped out to finish the chocolate croissant that I bought earlier. When I came back, I saw the bewildered shopkeeper – presumably Vietnamese – who told my niece, “I don’t know what your mum is trying to tell me! Ken-churr, ken-churr!“. Apparently, my sister had taken the liberty to step behind the counter, showed her shopping list to the shopkeeper and pointed to kencur while only mentioning the word over and over. In her mind, all Asian shopkeepers would know what kencur is. 🙂 To her credit, we went to another Asian supermarket – by now Yani had arrived from work to help us as well – where they found some powdered kencur. How did they find it? Apparently Yani and my sister just asked whether they had – yeap, you’ve guessed it – some ken-churr. 😀
Things are now back to the way it was before Mum’s trip – even Indy has also resumed his spot nearby in my study. He was usually either called for by Mum or chased by Irene around the house. Now he’s enjoying his deserved uninterrupted nap …
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, it took a little bit of getting used to having my family over. Yani and I were so used to our quiet evenings, I suppose we have been “Adelaide-ised” over the years. Yani and I have enjoyed my sister’s great cooking – we still have some dishes in the fridge that would last us weeks probably. 🙂 It was great to have some of the food that I grew up with, and introduce them to Yani as we grew up eating different kinds of dishes and snacks, growing up in different parts of Java. I also re-discover my family’s idiosyncrasies – that although they annoy or frustrate me, they remain my family. Mum is still the same stubborn lady and my sister Erly remains the family’s scrupulous accountants. I almost had to force her to buy some souvenirs sometimes because she always had second thoughts or reasons not to buy something that she actually liked. I told her that she would probably feel sorry for not buying the goods when she had returned to Indonesia. In the scheme of things $5 or $8 isn’t too big a deal! 🙂 I apply this rule whenever I travel –  if it is within my budget,  I have not blown my expenses, and  I really like it as a memento or see the place for it in my house, I would buy it. I’ve had regrets in the past when I wished I had bought more knick-knacks that would serve as souvenirs from my trips.
At least Mum, my sister, Irene, Yani and I got a chance to explore more of Adelaide and its surrounding area in the last couple of days – on Sunday we went for some ice cream in Semaphore, a seaside suburb to the north of Adelaide, and then we also went for a major drive on Monday to Cleland Wildlife Park (where we had our photo with the koala), lunch in Aldgate, Adelaide Hills, and then after a brief stop in Hahndorf, we visited Strathalbyn (where we witnessed a great flight of white cockatoos that hovered above us near the Soldiers Memorial Garden). We then continued our journey via Port Elliott (where we bought some chocolate donuts from the bakery there) to Victor Harbor. I pushed Mum’s wheelchair along the bridge to the Granite Island – with my sister struggling in the cool winds behind us. We drove back to Adelaide afterwards and went home after we had dinner in Chinatown.
Yesterday, they spent most of their time at home while I went to the uni to teach – I caught up with my sister, my niece and Yani at the shopping centre near to our house in the evening, and then we drove home to pick Mum up for our last dinner in Adelaide with some friends from church. We had a good dinner at Ginling Chinese Restaurant over at Marion Road. It was a thanksgiving dinner for my graduation and to thank my friends for welcoming my family.
It’s a pity that their trip had to end, but I know that time doesn’t stand still. They’ve got their lives back in Indonesia and with Autumn slowly slipping into Winter, I know that they would struggle even more when the days get shorter and colder. At least my family had enjoyed nearly three distinct seasons during their trip – it was unseasonably hot when they landed here in Adelaide three weeks ago, and then we enjoyed some pleasant Autumn days for most of their stay with one or two cold and rainy days towards the end. The rest of my siblings are throwing an idea of having a big group trip in around three years’ time when I have my PhD graduation – I hope Mum is still strong enough to come along again. I’m sure it’ll be more chaotic (our family thrives on chaos!), more exciting and more memorable. I’ve learned from this trip that when I don’t hold on to unrealistic expectations and enjoy the moments for what they are, I will be rewarded with great memories.