Making choices

The day you get your permanent residency is a very important day in an immigrant’s life. Today is that important day in TCG’s life and mine, thank you.

This means that we get to live in New Zealand for as long as we like, without having to worry about our visas anymore. It means that every time we go overseas and come back to New Zealand, we don’t have to stand in the long common queue for international visitors; we get to line up the ‘Kiwi’ queue, which is smaller and faster of the two queues. Cheap thrills, I know. I am silly that way.

It means that, God forbid, if we lose our jobs, we don’t have to pack our bags and go home.  It means we know which direction our life will be moving in, at least for now. It means that the uncertainty hanging over our heads is laid to rest, and we can focus on having small to medium term goals and achieving them one at a time; until it is time once again to do some serious long term thinking like where we eventually want to live; New Zealand, India or elsewhere, whether we want to buy our home here or in India, whether we want to raise our child (when that happens) in a foreign land or homeland…

But for now, we are happy. The dream we were after for so many months, has finally come true.  And it has put a lot of things in to perspective. We have some clarity now and we are no longer insecure about immediate future. It means I will have better job prospects, and I can perhaps hope to get a job of my choosing.

It also means having to decide whether we want to continue living in Wellington or move to Auckland. TCG and I have been toying with this idea for a while now; we haven’t been able to come to much of a conclusion.  You already know Wellington is a cute, little compact city with the best of both world. It has the glitzy city charm with its quaint cafes and popular clubs, as well as the laid back country side to it. It is big enough to find all modern-world pleasures and small enough to reach anywhere within measured time.

Auckland, on the other side, is the biggest city in New Zealand with the third of the country’s population living there. It is highly metropolitan and home to all the cultures of the world. It’s faster and glitzier and offers little more opportunities to do things on weekends. TCG has lived in Auckland for over two years, already has a thriving social circle (which sadly we don’t in Wellington) and knows the place too well. I have never lived there, and knowing my love for big cities, a part of me aches to give that city a shot. We would earn slightly better than we do in Wellington, but that would be set-off against higher rents and added costs of living. Living in Auckland will also mean accepting that traffic jams will be a part of our lives once again and we might not be lucky enough to stay close enough to work like we do in Wellington. Which in turn would mean spending an extra hour or two commuting at the cost of missing workouts. But if we manage to find good jobs, and a right place to live, it would mean a better way of life. And oh yes, it would mean saying bye-bye to cold, harsh and windy Wellington weather. Auckland is way warmer.

The reason we can’t decide is TCG has a hi-profile job here in Wellington; I, on the other hand started at the bottom and am making my way upwards slowly. My current employment contract ends in a couple of months. I have been working here for a year, and have hopefully gained ‘enough’ kiwi experience to get a slightly more interesting job.  There is a good chance that I find something of my interest in the very same organisation by the time my existing contract ends. Am I prepared to forgo a year’s efforts and start everything afresh yet again in Auckland? And would TCG find an equally satisfactory job? He quite enjoys his present job. We keep going in circles without making any headway. We are tempted but we don’t want to make any impulse decisions. I know it will boil down to prioritizing what is important to us, but it seems scary because lot is at stake.

Hopefully, we will figure out soon!

 

 

 

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Road trip to Auckland

Last weekend, TCG and I decided to go on an impromptu road trip. I was jumping with joy when he told me that we were going on a road trip to Auckland, which is a good 650 kms away from Wellington. And I think my chin must have touched the floor when he mentioned that we will be camping on the banks of a river? WHAT? I had always dreamt of camping-in-the-wild-kind-of-adventure and finally it was coming true.

Oh and by the way, he even mentioned that I would get to drive too. What??! Wow, is this my lucky day or something?!

While I got busy packing snacks, lunch, clothes and other such picnic paraphernalia, he busied himself with Google maps, making itinerary for our trip. Instead of taking a direct road to Auckland, we were to take a different route so that we could make the most of this trip and see other tourist places on the way. And I am glad we did.

Because what was to come was sooo beautiful and breathtaking; that in my mind I hadn’t imagined anything close to that. Let’s just say that God is the greatest artist. So, we started Thursday early morning, an hour later than scheduled, thanks to TCG.

“I told you we will be late. I told you we should start early. I was telling you since yesterday, I told you that,” started I.

“Relax, we are on a holiday. What’s the rush?”

It is hard to get TCG angered or worked up or tensed easily. I am a stickler for schedules. Sometimes, much to my dismay, my obsessive behavior takes over and makes me rant, before I realize it’s pointless. And this time I did agree with him. Heck, we were on a holiday and we needn’t rush. And we needn’t strictly adhere to any schedule. After all, we just make schedules for our convenience, don’t we?

It was a bright sunny day, the kind of day that begged for a road trip. First destination on the itinerary was a place called Taupo. The drive till Taupo was so beautiful that suddenly now my iphone wasn’t good enough. I wished I had a DSLR. It would do some justice to that sheer beauty that surrounded me and that I so badly wanted to capture. But at the same time, I didn’t want to get caught up with clicking pictures and missing the view in the process. I have told you before how I suck at taking pics, haven’t I? But I still managed to click a few, because I really wanted some pictures that would fill my memories in the years to come.

 

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Yellow, green, red, brown, orange trees symmetrically dotting the roads, thousands of happy looking fat, wooly, cuddly white sheep meekly grazing the lush green meadows, furry black and white cows scattered on the fields, sun peeping through the clouds and shining radiantly on a patch of lemony-yellow trees, happy birds chirping away flocking from one tree to another, gentle, cool breeze ruffling my hair and some of our favourite Hindi music playing in the background –  Can it get any better?

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Lake Taupo is huge. I didn’t believe it’s a lake, it looked like sea. And I am sure Taupo features somewhere way on top of things-to-see-in-NZ list. The beautiful Lake Taupo is about the size of Singapore – more of an inland sea really. At various places here in NZ, there are scenic look out points. We stopped at several places to get an eyeful of nature and scenic brilliance. Lake Taupo had me in its awe. I already want to visit Lake Taupo again 😛

Next we saw the beautiful, wild, roaring Huka falls. The sea green-blue gushing water flowed at a speed enough to turn a small boat over. A lot of tourists flocked this place and all we could hear was the angry sound of gushing water and click-click of many a cameras. The Huka Falls are the largest falls on the Waikato River, near Taupo on New Zealand’s North Island. The Waikato River, NZ’s longest river, stretches a massive 425km on the North Island.

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There after we parked at a spot near the lake, saw the sun setting down on us, went around the small tourist city exploring its bylanes while the breeze blew cool against our faces, before finally parking at a camping site called Five Mile Bay and calling it a day. Luckily for us it was a full moon day and we were parked right on the banks of the river, not more than 15 feet from the water. It was all very dreamy, moon shining on the water, and nobody but us to see that magnificence. The day couldn’t have had a more perfect ending. At the camping site – all by ourselves, and not a soul to intrude.  It was like our own private little piece of haven. Adventure at its best. Could it be any more thrilling? This was just out of my imagination :). And Oh my God, imagine waking up to the sound of waves and the mellow yellow sun peeping through a heavy blanket of clouds? What a beautiful morning!

A steaming cup of coffee later, we started our onwards journey. Next on the list was a place called Rotorua, a city on the Volcanic Plateau, having world’s most lively fields of geothermal activity, sulphur hot water springs and natural spas. This place is also famous for all the adventures it offers including skydiving, zorbing and luging.
Not prepared to do anything too serious for an adventure, I suggested we do luging, which is a cake walk really; but so much fun. After 3 luge rides, we checked ourselves into a natural hot water spa resort. And now, who doesn’t like spa?

 

 

Late that evening, we started for Auckland. Auckland is just another city now, but the biggest in NZ. People of all cultures swarmed the streets. It is like any other metro. We spent a whole day in Auckland socializing, meeting with all of TCG’s friends; hopping, skipping and jumping from one place to another. And there was one question that all his friends asked me. So you like Wellington better or Auckland? For a while I felt like I was back in India. Do you like Delhi better or Mumbai? May be this cold rivalry between cities is a  global thing, I thought.

Anyway, one day is far too less for Auckland. But we managed to squeeze out a little private time just before sunset and went viewing the skyline of Auckland from the viewing deck of the famous Skytower, the tallest building in the southern hemisphere.

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All in all, it was a trip that we will remember for a very long time. Until TCG takes me on a new trip and we make new memories:P

And just for the records, I like Mumbai better. Gosh, I miss Mumbai so much, I just realised that. 😐

P.S. Some images from Google, since I was too lazy to transfer photos from my phone.