Friday, May 29, 2009

Thoughts and too much red wine

Mats and I were sitting on our balcony last night drinking wine, listening to music and talking about how much we love Amsterdam and how much Sydney wore us down. It's occurred to me many times that on the road to Hawaii I ended up in Amsterdam... physically and climate wise further away from Hawaii than Manly, the little beach town in Sydney where we used to live. Regardless of this it actually feels closer to the dream to be here. For one I'm actually on the road, but most importantly the people here have the laid back beach spirit. Manly didn't have this because there was always tension under the surface, plenty of rude and racist people* and zombies...

I call Sydney people zombie's for good reason. And last night when the song 'Mad World' was playing ('dead faces') and I had a few too many glasses of red wine I remembered exactly why I call them zombies...
The ferry which takes you from Sydney City to Manly in half an hour crosses Sydney heads, there is almost always a swell as you cross the heads, because they open up to the pacific ocean. As you cross this the ferry rocks from side to side, on the days with the larger swell the captain makes an announcement and warns everyone to remain seated. One day the swell wasn't particularly big, but big enough for someone drunk sitting on the outside to fall into the water. Ten minutes before docking the captain announced someone fell off the ferry and regulations required the ferry and all other working vessels in the area look for him. Everyone on the the ferry at peak hour, that is roughly 600 people, sat there, reading their books and their newspapers, no one flinched, I watched in amazement... Completely flabbergasted...
The people who moved first were the American tourists who worriedly wanted to see what happened, after they moved around for 30seconds trying to get a good view of the water people started looking around to see what everyone else was doing, one of the Americans yelled "hey look the zombies are waking up!"

Is it just me and the American tourists that find this behaviour completely and utterly bizarre and maybe just a little bit fucking scary?

*Looking the way I do I always encountered racism in Sydney as far as I can remember, this didn't change in Sydney's picturesque Northern Suburbs, if It wasn't directed at me it was directed at someone else, but I always noticed it. The only thing that changed between the Western suburbs and the Northern suburbs was that the Northern suburb racists' teeth hadn't fallen out. In the west it came in the form of a buck tooth redneck screaming at you on the street to "go back to your own country" in the North it came in the form of chasing people from your market stall yelling at them and telling the other browsers how much you hate "Chinese and Indian people because they steal my ideas and sell them cheap". Or maybe in the form of 60 teenage kids going on a racist rampage on Australia Day, smashing Chinese and Lebanese shop windows while screaming out "Australia is full". The media's and government's reaction to this? "Oh it's just young boys being boys" No no, Australia doesn't have a problem with racism at all...

3 comments:

Emmy said...

I completely understand where you are coming from and could have written a similar post substituting London for Sydney. I could never get my head around the way some people acted in London, stealing tube seats from pregnant women or the elderly and barking obscenities at anyone who tried to suggest they move. People who would push you on to the tracks just to get on an already overcrowded train even if there is another one just minutes behind. The rage and the fury brought down on other hapless humans if they are delayed by just one second (going where? Is your next meeting such a matter of life or death that you can't wait one second longer for someone to get out of your way?). I hated it, but I never thought that Amsterdam would be such a complete change. I love the laid back style here, it fits me completely. I didn't know what we were getting into when we moved here and now I can't imagine being anywhere else. Yes, the weather sucks and yes, I have had to grow a very thick skin to deal with the Dutch straight talking but its becoming home and I love it. Have I rambled too much? I don't even have the excuse of too much wine...

Angela Rhodes said...

You're not rambling at all! :) These are the exact things that irked me about Sydney too, I guess Amsterdam has the small town spirit rather than the rush rush of a big city?

I'd heard from people that it was really laid back, but I didn't expect it either... I must admit I like it so much that I'm trying to plant very very deep roots :)

Sara said...

Similar to Emmy, I dealt with the zombie factor in London when I lived there three years ago, fresh off the plane. I was taking the train into London Bridge station with all of my luggage, dazed from the jet lag, when I heard the overhead announcement that there was a person who went 'under the train', and that the train would be delayed and rerouted to Victoria station. No one flinched, even from the idea that they had to reroute the train to another station, let alone the idea that someone had either accidentally or intentionally went under the train. Even the overhead announcement seemed bored. I was pretty well stunned.