That’s Not A Knife, This Is A Knife

Here we are four adults, or near-adults, crammed sardine-like into a two-bedroom apartment until we find an over-priced, under-sized house to buy. Living cheek by jowl with teenaged children is like living in a share-house with bears who forgot to hibernate through winter. I do not recommend it for long periods of time. My epithets for the children – Godzilla and the TeenWolf – have never been truer. Their appetites, their ability to generate landfills’ worth of garbage, and their Bollywood levels of melodrama leave me dizzy and gasping.

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An Ode to Things and a Farewell

So, here we are in part 2 of the ongoing repatriation saga.

Packing and moving over continents is always a stressful act. The emotions tied to watching your possessions be carefully, or not so carefully wrapped and boxed can be overwhelming. It’s easy to dismiss possessions as nothing more than trinkets, clutter that fill your living space, but for most people those are expressions of themselves. The tiny fat dodo bird made of green glass that sits on my mantle may be nothing more than a dust collector to visitors, but for me, it is the embodiment of a carefree, relaxed week with my oldest family friends in Mauritius. It’s the memories of that week, the comfort of being my
self around people who’ve known me almost my entire life, and the memories of childhood holidays with the same people that that week evoked, all encased in a squat glass bird.

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Then and Now

Gather round, grab a bean bag, get comfortable. I’ve got some things to get off my chest, so let’s start with my story of expatriation and repatriation.

 

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Fashionable and stylish on our departure from Brunei

On the 1st of February 1975, my parents and I arrived in Australia from Brunei as new migrants. My mother was 41, my father 47. I wasn’t yet 6 years old. My siblings would join us from India a few months later as we set out to reunite the family. Through a series of circumstances and choices, we found ourselves uprooted both from the home my parents had created in Brunei, and from the boarding schools my siblings had called home for so many years. We were flung together, casting about for a foothold in our new country, our new home, trying to stitch up the edges of a family.

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El Sibonéy

 

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Yellowtail filet with yellow rice and fried plantains at El Sibonéy ©Asha Rajan

Our second day of vacation in Key West, we Yelped for restaurants not too far away (always a criterion when moody teenagers are in tow), and El Sibonéy came up. The rating was good, though not stellar, but the reviews piqued our interest. They were resoundingly good.

We headed out for a late-ish lunch, bellies rumbling, tempers just beginning to fray. Only a very few confused, hangry directions later, we found this unassuming treasure.

The building’s a brick 1970s home, gutted and converted into this bustling Cuban restaurant. From the outside, apart from the snaking line of waiting diners, there’s nothing to suggest that this is somewhere you might obtain an actual meal.

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