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Naughtie McCourtie Series: Handling the Indian heat

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By Rebecca McCourtie

India 2

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.

India 3

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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More than 200 Commonwealth Games Athletes Seek Asylum in Australia and 50 Go Missing

More than 200 Commonwealth Games athletes and officials remain in Australia after applying for refugee visas, with another 50 staying in the country illegally.

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More than 200 Commonwealth Games athletes and officials remain in Australia after applying for refugee visas, with another 50 staying in the country illegally.

The figures were revealed by Immigration Department officials to a Senate committee hearing on Monday night, reports Xinhua news agency.

A total of 8,103 athletes, media representatives and officials arrived in Australia on temporary visas for the Gold Coast event which concluded on April 15, with 7,848 returning home after their stay expired last week, meaning 255 stayed in the country.

Of those who have remained in Australia, 205 were legally in the community on bridging visas as they await approval to stay on a permanent basis. Border Force officials have commenced a nationwide search for the other 50 who have overstayed their visas.

The majority of foreigners seeking asylum in Australia were from war-torn African nations such as Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria. However some members of the Indian and Pakistani teams have also remained in Australia.

Swimmers. Pixabay

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs deputy secretary, Malisa Golightly, told parliament on Monday night that most of the remaining participants “have applied for protection visas”.

“Anybody that is onshore can apply for protection legally once they are here, but of course then they are considered against … the criteria for that visa,” she said.

The temporary protection visas allow the Commonwealth Games participants to stay in Australia for up to three years and receive welfare benefits.

Peter Dutton, Australia’s Home Affairs Minister, said he was disappointed with the number of people who have stayed illegally as they had been welcomed to Australia “in good faith”.

“Australians hate being taken for a ride by freeloaders,” Dutton told Newscorp Australia on Monday night.

Also Read:Indians Among Top Asylum Seekers in the World: International Migration Outlook 2017 Report

“Australia is now obliged under international law to consider these protection visa applications.”

In comparison, only 45 people extended their visas or sought asylum in Australia after the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

–IANS