Monday July 22, 2019
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Naughtie McCourtie Series: Handling the Indian heat

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By Rebecca McCourtie

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Give it to me Indian style. I can handle the heat!

OK… I know what you’re thinking, calm down… it’s not anything like THAT… keep on reading…

Don’t insult me Rumna… I know what you’ve done! You’ve gone and made my dinner ‘white-girl-style.’ I told you that I can handle it! I’ve been working here for over a year now. You know I’m good for it! The biryani last week was just a once off… too many spices maybe. I can handle heat. This vindaloo is not hot! Give it to me like I’m an Indian!

That was when I was 19-years-old and working at the local Indian restaurant in-between university classes. I don’t know if it was then or whether it was inadvertently before this time when I developed an intrigue for everything that is ‘Indian.’

I remember being 18 and on my GAP year in Cambridge when I almost fell into a ditch after spotting the most magnificent earrings in a shop window. They were a bright emerald green, had gold trimming and elaborate filigree detailing. Each earring was shaped like a rotund crescent moon with little white pearls dangling off the edge like stars. I was in love! I wanted them so badly, but alas the minimal pocket money I was afforded by my volunteer institution was not going to cover their exuberant cost.

I would walk past this shop window every day for the remainder of my stay in Cambridge, wishfully gazing through the glass that separated me from the objects of my desire. It wasn’t until my 12 months volunteering was up, that my ‘employer’ gifted me the earrings as a farewell. I couldn’t believe my luck!

I banged around in these earrings for years and years, lapping up every compliment pertaining to their beauty. I wore them to the point that they literally dropped off my ears. I still have the broken pieces in my jewelry box. I had no idea at the time that they were actually Indian. It wasn’t until ten years later when I found myself in a jewelry store in Kochi, peering through a glass display case, that a salesman informed me that the style was typical in the region. You see, I loved India before I even knew I loved India, if you know what I mean?

I think I actually realised that I loved India when I got off the plane and out of Cochin International Airport. I became ‘one’ with the largest crowd I had ever seen outside of an organized event. For me it was the first time in my whole entire life that I was a racial minority and it fascinated me to be ‘different.’ The sights, the sounds, the movement of hundreds of bodies all going everywhere and nowhere all at once. It was a culture shock for a young woman from the northern suburbs of Canberra, Australia. There was just something about the chaos that I fell in love with… it was magical.

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My love was confirmed while working at a school in Fort Kochi. I have one memory that has stuck with me in particular. I can remember it with precision and defined accuracy. It had been sport carnival day. Having learned the hard way that excitable children will bowl you over in any rush of enthusiasm, I stood at the base of the school stairwell and pressed my body against the wall. I braced myself for the swarm of children that would emerge from their overcrowded classrooms as the bell rang. DING DINGDING. I could hear the floors above me rumble with movement. Turning my head, the vision was surreal. A swarm of BRIGHTLY coloured T-shirts covering every colour of the rainbow loudly rattled down the stairs. It was like the Gods had opened a giant packet of Skittles and poured them down the staircase. Noise, colour, vibrancy… laughter… happiness… This was the reason why I fell in love with INDIA!

So who am I? Well, I am Australian, I am 29 and I am travelling the globe with the hope of ending up in India. I want to talk to you about this, that and the next thing… nothing is off limits!

I am Naughtie McCoutie and it is a pleasure to meet your acquaintance.

Naughtie McCourtie

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Australia: Campaign Launches for Citizenship to be Granted to the Great Barrier Reef

The health of the Great Barrier Reef, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, has deteriorated in recent decades

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Australia, Campaign, Citizenship
The Change.org petition, addressed to the Ministers of Environment, Citizenship and Home Affairs as well as Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Pixabay

A campaign was launched in Australia on Wednesday to push for citizenship to be granted to the Great Barrier Reef in order to strengthen protection of the world’s largest living organism.

The Change.org petition, addressed to the Ministers of Environment, Citizenship and Home Affairs as well as Prime Minister Scott Morrison, highlighted that the Great Barrier Reef protects the country’s coastline and contributes about 6.4 billion Australian dollars ($4.5 billion) annually to its economy, as well as supporting 64,000 jobs.

“But despite her massive contribution to Australia, she’s still denied the one basic right of every Australian citizen – the right to live,” said the petition started by social media and entertainment publisher, LADbible.

The health of the Great Barrier Reef, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, has deteriorated in recent decades due to climate change, which also caused two deadly mass coral-bleaching events in 2016 and 2017.

Australia, Campaign, Citizenship
A campaign was launched in Australia on Wednesday to push for citizenship to be granted. Pixabay

The petition said that the ecosystem is being threatened by coal mining, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change inaction and proposed that it should be given citizenship to grant it rights including the right to health, freedom from torture or inhuman treatment or punishment, the right to maintain own means of subsistence and the right to life, Efe news reported.

In a 2017 world-first, the New Zealand government granted the Whanganui River legal personhood, giving it the same legal rights as a human being.

Also Read- Australian Scientists Determines Precise Location of Cosmic Radio Waves

The Great Barrier Reef, home to 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 varieties of mollusks, began to deteriorate in the 1990s due to the double impact of water warming and increased acidity due to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (IANS)