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6.01.2016

World Wide Women: Meera in Melbourne

Today's World Wide Women brings us all the way Down Under to Melbourne, Australia with Meera, an educator who, in her own words, is tumbling through life with love, books, cocktails, tea and travel.

I started following Meera on Instagram to relive some of my graduate student memories in Melbourne, and I continued because of her bright spirit and irrepressible zest for life. You can follow Meera and her travel and reading adventures on Instagram!



Ni Hao Meera! You met your husband on Instagram. How did your modern day love story unfold?

I'm not sure who followed whom first, but Shan and I had been Instagram mates for a long while. Everything changed when I posted a picture of Tin Tin from a toy museum in Singapore. He excitedly commented on it, and after some back & forth on IG, he found me on Goodreads, and then Facebook, and before long we were exchanging Whatsapp voice messages. This is going to sound horribly clichéd, but when I first saw his image flicker across my screen when we Skyped, something in my head went, "So there you are. Finally." And indeed there he was, a physical manifestation of everything that I had ever dreamed of. He truly is the love of my life, and the calm, strong center of my chaotic Universe. 

We had a whirlwind romance built on our mutual love for books, food, travel and geeky things. The first time we met face-to-face was at Changi Airport in Singapore, and the very next day we went on a 2-week European holiday together. In hindsight, it was a pretty crazy thing to travel halfway around the world with someone I had never met in real life, but it was such an amazing adventure! The Venetian gondola rides at sunset, the drives through the French countryside and those walks in London were the perfect backdrop to our budding romance. We then dated long-distance for a couple of years, and I eventually moved, he proposed, we had two wonderful weddings, and here we are now! Thanks, Instagram! :) 

Congratulations on your recent wedding and your epic honeymoon all over Europe! What were some of the highlights of your trip?

Thank you; it truly was epic! Europe over Christmas is stunning. I loved the German Christmas markets. Prague, though, is now one of my favourite cities in the world! There is this old-world charm and a magical sort of fog that hangs around its many bridges and rivers. Words and pictures do no justice. The Kafka museum was eye-opening. We also had a tour of the Klementinum Library in Prague. However, nothing prepared me for Vienna's Bibliothek . That made our jaws drop. 

Our road trip through Iceland was the stuff of dreams. We were fortunate to have been able to stay at a lovely friend's place in Iceland, and we got to experience Icelandic hospitality first hand. For such a cold country, the people are incredibly warm! :) Seeing the Northern Lights dance above the mountains, swimming in the Blue Lagoon, driving past Arctic horses, climbing waterfalls - those are once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I'm so grateful to have had experienced with Shan.

You uprooted your life from Singapore to Melbourne to be with your love. What were some challenges that you faced?

The biggest challenge was living away from my family, and leaving my parents and my brother was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I have a very close relationship with my family, and the day I left, I cried tears I never knew I had. I had to also start afresh after establishing a teaching career in Singapore. That was intimidating.

In my first few months here, I found myself terribly unprepared for the homesickness and the loneliness. Building a social circle and a career from scratch was very difficult, but thankfully, I had incredible support from Shan and his loving family. I'm also so grateful for having made some pretty good friends in Melbourne (hi Daniel, Ups & Tracey!) and that really helped. 

After all, to quote the old adage, “A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.’ I knew I had to move, or I would regret it. What was the worst that could happen anyway? Everything could backfire, but at least I would know I tried, and I could live with that. Fortunately for me, it has all been worth it. More importantly, I have also found a place in education here, and that keeps my passion for teaching and learning burning, giving me a sense of belonging and purpose.

I love seeing pictures of your trips around and outside of Melbourne. Where are some of your favorite spots?
What I love about Melbourne is that if you travel a couple of hours North, East or West of the city, you would find yourself in incredibly different landscapes. One of our favourite road trips is down the Great Ocean Road. We usually stay in a lovely little cabin with a view out to the ocean. There's also the Wye General Store/Cafe that we always visit for brekkie or lunch. We never get tired of the coastline, and there's something calming and intriguing about the ocean that allows us to recalibrate.

We also like driving up to Lake Daylesford in autumn. Our favourite bookstore and cafe overlooks the lake, and on clear days, there is a perfect reflection of the orange and gold trees on the water. We have chais by the lake whilst watching the duck and geese play. Just beautiful.

In winter, we try to drive up to Lake Mountain for a bit of snow play. In Australia, when everything is draped in snow, it is Christmas in July. In fact, some restaurants have Christmas trees and play Xmas jingles, whilst serving pudding!

You post a lot about the books you read. Can you recommend us your favorite reads?

This is a difficult question that always stumps me! I have too many favourites. My all-time favourite book has to be Alice in Wonderland. We collect different editions, and each time I revisit the text, I discover something new and wonderful! 

Some of the more contemporary books that I truly enjoyed were Antonia Haye's Relativity, Rachel Elliot's Whispers through a Megaphone, and Vendela Vida's Let the Northern Lights Erase your Name. The plot of each of these books is simply exquisite and the writing is beautiful. Compelling storytelling without the need for verbosity - a rare and timeless skill.

Do you have a favorite quote to share with us?

I have a favorite passage from Alice in Wonderland that can be read in so many ways:

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'
'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.
'I don't much care where -' said Alice.
'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.
'- so long as I get SOMEWHERE,' Alice added as an explanation.
'Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, 'if you only walk long enough."

Thank you for taking us along your adventures Meera- I definitely hope to visit Melbourne again!

If you know someone who could be featured in this series, you can email me at tricia [at] nihaonewyork [dot] net.

4 comments

  1. lovely post! Crazy how she uprooted herself and moved, but it's so cool how that changed her life in a positive way. love all the photos!!

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    1. Her story resonates with me because I (and my other women) have done the same, and I am glad you enjoyed the article. :) Her Instagram is just a feast for the eyes! :)

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    2. Thank you, @Storybook Apothecary (love your user name!) 😊

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  2. Thanks so much again for the feature, Tricia! I'm very flattered. ❤️

    I suppose another hard thing was being away for important family events like weddings and worse, funerals. And also not being able to be there when nieces and nephews are born. I suppose it's slightly easier to reach out with social media but it can still be difficult! Would love to hear your story too :)

    Thanks again love! Was lovely going down memory lane.

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