Wake Up Call

At home, my slumber is usually broken by the sound of an alarm clock or the coffee grinder in the kitchen as my husband prepares our morning brew. On the odd occasion, it’s an over-enthusiastic kookaburra or the rain pelting against our bedroom’s glass doors. This week, my sleep has been somewhat rudely interrupted by some very different sounds.

I’m staying on the 28th floor of a hotel in the Mangga Dua district of Jakarta, Indonesia. Around 4am, 2 hours before sunrise, while even the roosters are still sleeping, the speakers around the local mosque blare out the first of the five daily calls to prayer. If you listen really hard, you can hear the same call echoing all over the city.

Encouraged by the melodic tones of the Muezzin, the roosters start to crow, announcing that the day has well and truly begun. Now add the noise of motor cycles, buses and cars into the mix and the crescendo starts to build.

By the time the sun has fully risen, the cacophony has reached fever pitch with an added mix of rumbling trains, whistles, car and motor cycle horns, as well as the occasional screech of brakes and shouts from local vendors.

Welcome to morning in Jakarta!

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I in 1.4 billion

There are 1.4 billion people living in extreme poverty – one of the many statistics we’re bombarded with on a daily basis. In fact I’m such a words girl that as soon as I hear or see numbers, I chill out and they become almost meaningless. But last night I met 1 of the 1.4 billion. She wasn’t a statistic; her name was Rosa and she was trying to sell me a rose as the sun set over Manila bay.

Manila Bay is where the rich and the poor converge under a reddening sky to appreciate nature’s celebration of the day’s end. Luxury hotels and office blocks line one side of the multi-lane boulevard while the other side plays host to local joggers, tourists, ice-cream sellers, and touters of tacky souvenirs and fake pearls. It is also here, on sheets of plastic and cardboard, that Rosa makes her home. This is where Rosa and her five-month-old baby spend their days (and nights) trying to make ends meet.

So how did she end up here? Like everyone who ends up in a place like this, there is a story:

Rosa’s husband recently died, leaving her with four children and no income. Like so many from other parts of the Philippines, Rosa thought she’d have a better chance of finding a job in Manila. So leaving her three other children behind with her sister, she arrived here with her baby.

Unfortunately, Rosa has discovered that finding work with no vocational training is almost impossible. No proper job means no income. No income means no rent money. No rent money means no home … and so the cycle of extreme poverty continues. Rosa gives street-side massages during the day and tries to sell roses to tourists like me at night. She earns around 2 dollars a day. Not enough to pay rent; not enough for a return ticket home.

I tell her that I don’t want to buy a rose, but I would like to buy her a meal. I slip her a few pesos and feel a little taken aback when she begins to cry. The measly amount I have given her is more than she’s made all day.

We say goodbye and an hour later as we drive away, I see her standing under a street light, her baby asleep in her arms. She still has 5 roses in her hand – the same number she had when we met.

I’d love to say there is a happy ending to this story, but there’s not. I presume that Rosa is out there again tonight. It’s raining heavily as I type. It just doesn’t seem right…

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A new kind of dog’s life

Did you know that last year we Aussies spent a little over $3.6 billion on our dogs? In comparison we donated $346 million to World Vision and $11 million to Breast Cancer Research.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a dog lover and the proud owner of a very controlling golden retriever. However, I’m sure if she finds out how some of her poochie mates are living in other parts of Australia she may just decide to leave home.

According to the magazine article I just read, Doggie Day Spas and Retreats are popping up all over the country.  At the most upmarket ones, your canine has the choice of the Disney or New York Suite complete with luxurious leather upholstery, dimmed lighting and mood music. Qualified dog nannies are on hand to care for your dog’s every whim, including vegan diets.

Organised themed puppy parties appear to be all the rage, so why not indulge your rottweiler by dressing him up in an elephant costume? (He won’t look nearly so scary to his friends!) And for the labrador who likes to party hard, not only can you buy him a pair of dark sunglasses, but you can even book him a doggie taxi for the ride home.

Maybe your pooch doesn’t like to party. Don’t worry, party-pooping poodles can stay home and relax in designer, jewel-encrusted collars, silk PJ’s and slippers.

But wait there’s more; the ultimate spa treatment for your dog: Doggy Detox as well as a manicure (nail polish provided),  bubble bath and massage using hand made organic spa  ingredients designed to calm, soothe, replenish and refresh …

If there weren’t over one billion PEOPLE still living in extreme poverty, then all this could seem really funny. Instead it makes me incredibly sad.

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Don’t write me off!

I realised the other day that I have an irrational  fear of getting old. (You’re already old, some may say!)  So where does this fear come from?

Well, it’s not because of the increasing number of grey hairs or laughter lines (my euphamism for wrinkles) or that my birthday cake gets bigger every year in order to accommodate the required number of candles! No, it goes much deeper than that. Continue reading

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Vote of thanks

Today in Australia it’s the federal election. As it’s a beautiful, sunny, winter’s day, I decided to walk to the polling booth. During my stroll there and back, several thoughts occurred to me that have prompted today’s ramblings … Continue reading

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Blind Justice?

I understand that rules are rules, but sometimes there has just have to be exceptions. I recently came across two articles in a British newspaper that make exactly that point.

In Scotland, a blind man was issued a fine for 40 pounds by an unrelenting policeman, because he failed to pick up his guide dog’s poo from a piece of wasteland!

Now it may just be me, but isn’t there something wrong with that story? Continue reading

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Real Books for Life

As I was browsing in my local Christian bookstore the other day, I began to feel a little overwhelmed at the sheer volume of books, DVDs, and audio books all supposedly designed to ‘help’ me become a better Christian and to live a ‘better’ Christian life; titles ranging from “Tree-pruning in the Spirit” to “Cast out demons while working out “! OK, so I exaggerate a little, but there really are an awful lot of suspect titles out there, not to mention the perfectly-coiffed, smiling men and women on the covers. Continue reading

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The Great British Airport Conspiracy


Ok, call me suspicious, but I actually believe there’s a secret, somewhat clandestine training school, perhaps under a runway somewhere, where all airport staff, including engineers and terminal architects, receive training on how to make life as difficult and complicated as possible for airline passengers using British airports. Continue reading

Posted in Rants and raves, Reflections on life, Travel | 4 Comments

It’s been a while!

Yes it’s true, I’ve become a vicitm of blogger’s block. During the course of any given week I find myself thinking of and mentally composing creative and witty posts that will impress my followers – yes all six of them!

But, when push comes to shove, I just seem to lack the motivation to put the thoughts into words and I end up staring at a blank screen unable to form a sentence and becoming increasingly distracted by the constant barrage of facebox and twitter updates.

So why do I even want to blog? Good question, Shona. I’m so glad you asked! Continue reading

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A Hope in Hell


Haiti may indeed be the voodoo capital of the world and there has been much heated and controversial debate about this earthquake being God’s punishment on the people … (BTW, I disagree with that theory, but will leave that discussion for another time.)

We’ve all seen the death, destruction and devastation in the capital this week: rotting bodies piling up in the streets, mothers weeping for their lost children, children crying for lost mothers and fathers … Continue reading

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Haiti


I am so deeply saddened by the news and footage coming from Haiti. It seems so unfair that a country so badly affected by extreme poverty is hit by yet another natural disaster of such severity.

I have spent the entire day thinking about what I can do … Continue reading

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Another chapter


As I stood at the front of the church, I couldn’t help blinking a few times just to check that the scenario unfolding in front of me was actually happening. I even pinched myself for good measure. Ouch! YES, it was real! Continue reading

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Just tell it like it is …

Ok, I admit it, I’ve become a little obsessed with social media and spend way too much time on twitter and facebook. Continue reading

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Mind your language

I am wondering if I inadvertently slept through the traditional ‘Christianese’ lessons during Sunday school, or perhaps I was on holiday when the revision lesson was given at church!

However, I am guilty of coming out with the odd smattering of modern Christianese! Let me explain what I mean: Continue reading

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A lasting legacy

Over the last few days, I have been outraged by the amount of media coverage given to a certain crass, visiting chef from England who appears to spend all his time abusing, berating and bullying unsuspecting individuals. Continue reading

Posted in Rants and raves, Reflections on life | 3 Comments