Perth – settling in

I’ve been back in Perth, Australia for over two weeks now. I’m living at my Mother’s house and seeing my siblings and their families often. The weather is fine and cool. It is great weather in fact.  Perth is so clean and tidy, all the infrastructure is so well maintained and so convenient… except that everything is so spread out and there seem to be few people.  Australians are fortunate to have such good living conditions.

I’ve applied for many jobs already and will continue to apply until I am employed again. My main job market is government service and university administration. My expertise is public policy analysis and project management. I’ll get something soon, I have good qualifications and experience.

I went to Murdoch University campus for the first time since 1992. There are many new buildings and modifications to older buildings.  I’ve also joined Murdoch University Alumni, thinking this is another network and such networks can be helpful.  Following their advice, I joined the Murdoch University Library as a Community Member with the usual $99 annual fee waived. I also got a “green zone” parking sticker for free. The annual fee is usually $137 for staff or $74 for students.  The friendly Alumni office staff also gave me an attractive  aluminum covered notepad with pen and a special tube of Alumni sunscreen lotion. I first went to Murdoch in 1979 which wasn’t long after it opened.  I was a full-time student there for six years. Now I’m considering options for doing a postgraduate diploma there next year in part-time mode. I’m not sure yet.

I don’t have a big network of friends in Perth because I lived most of the past 18 years in Canberra and traveled overseas. It is easy to make new friends though.  Australians tend to move a lot. I’m not sure if any studies have been done on how often people move house or even relocate to different towns and states but feel confident that Australians move more than other nationalities. I’m generalising of course.

Since I left Na Uyana Aranya, Sri Lanka I done much meditation. I have spent a lot of time on my Mother’s computer surfing the Internet as well as writing job applications.  While I was in Asian meditation centres I was unable to keep up with news or do research by “following my nose”. Now I have time and opportunity…

I prepared a schedule in Google Calendar for an ideal way to manage my time and this includes sitting meditation for one hour in the morning (4:30 AM start) and one hour before sleeping. However, I confess that so far, I haven’t got into the routine. Sometimes, I follow my nose on the Internet and two or three hours pass in subjective minutes.

Even so I still chant every morning and evening and do a little loving-kindness and recollection of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. I also read a little Dhamma each day and some days read a lot. During day when I drive the car, or walk somewhere, instead of letting the mind wander I often focus on the breath touching the upper lip. It feels good and centres me straight away. I note the good feeling and try to focus on the touch sensation.   I even do this kind of short meditation when waiting in queues or walking around shops.

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Negombo, Kuala Lumpur, Perth

Negombo
On Tuesday, 11 May, I travelled from Kandy to Negombo by regular bus.  It was a hot 4 hour journey sitting next to my luggage on the seat next to me. I bought two seat tickets (one for my luggage). The conductor alerted me to the stop where I wanted to get off, Parakrama Road close to a Nayomi Bakery just about 5km just south of Negombo town. I drank some tea and ate some cakes before taking a 3 wheeler with my 3 pieces of luggage 1km down Parakrama Road to Srilal Fernando’s guest-house. I had booked the room a few days earlier.  I did not wish to go to the Negombo beach which is north of town. Srilal Fernando’s place is relatively close to the Bandaranaike International Airport (Sri Lanka’s international airport). It is very clean, comfortable and economical.

Kuala Lumpur
I flew AirAsia to KL arriving about 2pm, stored my luggage at the airport and rode a shuttle bus into town to visit a Dhamma book distribution centre where I picked up two books and made a donation. I ate roti and dal and drank milk with Mrs Lim from the distribution centre at a nearby restaurant. We chatted about Dhamma and life in KL. Then I went back to the KL airport by shuttle bus and a short while later boarded the flight to Perth.

Perth

I arrived in Perth on Saturday, 15 May 2010 before dawn. The air was crisp and cool. Someone told me the temperature of around 2.5 degrees Celsius though the minimum is usually around 6-8 degrees rising to a maximum of around 22. It was a huge contrast with Negombo, Sri Lanka which was very very humid last week and had a temperature range between 31-27 degrees C.  The southern hemisphere is in autumn now. I enjoyed passing through Perth on my way to my mother’s house. There were few vehicles or people to be seen. There is so much space between things. I travelled by shuttle van from the airport to the city and then by light rail and local bus. Everything seems so clean and luxurious. So much space, so few people… I have experienced this many times and yet each time I return to Australia after some time away, I am always delighted.

I’ve caught up with many family members. The adults haven’t changed during the past year or so while the children have noticeably grown taller and one now talks incessantly.  I have already begun looking for employment.

New Job and New President

I start a new public service job on 11 November. I have a 4 month contract until mid March 2009. This suits me fine. The salary will be sufficient for me to save and to continue on my journey.

My primary goal is to travel to Myanmar and do a 6-12 month intensive meditation retreat. I may decide to ordain as a monk or I may decide to return to Perth, find another 4-6 month job, save money and then go back for another retreat. Although the global economy seems to be slowing right now, I am confident I can find work when I need it.

I was offered the job a week ago and was glad my new employer asked me to start next week. I’ve become obsessed with the US general election and been following it very closely on the Internet. I’ve followed many blogs such as the Huffington Post, Think Progress and FiveThirtyEight. I’ve been up late and up early, especially this week. I was up at 3 am yesterday morning (UTC/GMT+9) to follow the voting and watch the acceptance speech live on TV around 2pm.

I am very inspired by the Obama campaign and how it appears to be transforming American and global culture. Barack Obama and his team have been so cool and professional. Amazing. I watched speeches on online and read so many political articles. The presidential acceptance speech at Grant Park was brilliant. I’ve been touched so many times watching this campaign… The impact on African Americans and everyone else is profound. Healing. I really believe this will change the US and the world. I particularly admire the way that the Obama campaign has appealed to the better side of human nature. Extraordinary. Hug somebody. Cry tears of joy.