Thursday, February 25, 2010

Excuse Me, Where is the Toilet?

The ranting (or commentary on cultural and linguistic differences) continues...

If nature is calling, asking for the restroom or the washroom will just receive confused looks from the askee. If you are looking to relieve yourself, better just ask for the toilet. Excuse me, where is the toilet? Now to me that just seems brash. It's as if I am asking where the actual fixture which I need to use. Somewhat rude and crude, if you ask me. But that's the Australians for you, direct and to the point. Why use a euphemism when you can cut right to the chase?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How are you going?

In Australia, you do not ask How are you? or How do you do?, you ask How are you going? I’ve tried to adopt this phrase in order to blend in, in order to meet my commonwealth compatriots halfway, but, I’ve discovered, I can’t. How are you going?! How am I going where? By car? By train? By foot? The question is just such a strange (and so Australian) turn of logic that feels foreign to my tongue. So, from here on out, How are you doing? is going to have to do. I’ll just mumble my way through this one.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Seeing that I haven't written in over a week, I realize that I must say something, anything. I have a few ideas in mind and they are slowly distilling. I've been busy focusing on networking, applying for jobs and following up. A lot of energy has been going out and, so far, the response has been slow and unsuccessful. Don't get me wrong, I have had some incredible meetings and received very positive feedback. The constraint of only being here for a short amount is definitely playing against me. Were I here for 3 years, I would definitely have a job right now (but both my own personal schedule and my mother wouldn't allow that!). It looks like I am going to have to resort to Plan B (B for Barista) and nail something down very shortly. I usually write big emails to friends and family every month or so, but have been holding off because I wanted to write when I had good news. But life isn't all about good news, sometimes it is about struggle, and accepting that struggle and the humility that comes with it.

It has been a period of great learning: learning to network, find resources, meet new people without previous contact, make many iterations of my CV, write multiple letters, and call people back to follow up. It's been tough, but it's been beautiful.

More soon, I promise.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Love-ly Day at the Art Gallery of NSW

"Religious people kill each other. Those who go to museums tend not to." Either Gilbert or George of Gilbert & George.

Today, I had the pleasure of experiencing pandemonium (or at least an easily thousand-person crowd) at the Art Gallery of NSW. Gilbert & George the influential and provocative British duo active in the 1960s and 1970s were visiting. They signed a Limited Edition Valentine's Card (which had sold out well before I arrived) and then spoke in an interview. They were quite the dapper and adorable duo. They spoke of their daily artistic practice, their background and topics of religion and world view amongst others. Quite often the crowd burst out laughing to their clever quips. Nice to see so many people out in appreciation of two great artists so engaged with life and their art.

Both before and after I enjoyed experiencing the art of Tatzu Nishi, a Japanese Cologne-based artist. The installations, part of the Kaldor Public Art Projects, involved constructing intimate spaces around the two equestrian sculptures flanking the front of the Gallery of NSW. A stunning transformation that reframes monumental statues and causes a confrontation of scale and environment.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


After three days of rain and gloom, the sun and heat came back to Sydney. Yesterday, Talya and I started the day with a stop at Black Star Pastry, a cozy little storefront in Newtown. My latte was delicious, a silky smooth duo of espresso and textured milk. I didn't even use sugar it was so good! But the pastries are definitely the selling point of Black Star. Decadent and delicate. I had the Strawberry Watermelon Rose Cream, a layered almond cake that included a slice of watermelon (how refreshing!) and was piled up with strawberries, blueberries, pistachios and rose petals. Divine! Everything there looked delicious, including the ginger ninjas (think gingerbread men with attitude and more chocolate).

In the afternoon I walked around Paddington to visit a few galleries, drop off my CV as well as pop into the Australian Centre for Photography to review their shows. While all the art was well and good, the highlight of my afternoon was finding the Neild Avenue Maze. This miniscule and easily-missable park. A little non-descript sign indicates the park's entrance and all you can see is a hedge. But this waist-high hedge is actually a very manicured maze you can walk through. What I discovered walking through it, is that on the other side there is a little park with a few benches. A lovely little enclosed shaded spot. Easily my favourite little meditative patch of Sydney thus far.

Before heading to a Thank You Reception hosted by the Sydney Festival, I chilled out in Hyde Park. I snapped a few photos and, on my way to the reception, saw that the cockatoos had the same idea I had had: they were chilling out in the shade of the park, walking around on the grass!

Just a few moments from my life, more soon.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Of the birds and the trees

Walking down the street, I am simply amazed. The sounds I hear, the fruit I see. Aviary conversations happen in the early morning and in early evening that introduce me to a whole new vocabulary of sounds, a whole new flock. Caws and rhythmic cries call out from across the neighbourhood, fly overhead. Parrots fly in bright green couples, ibises scour the garbage, cuckoos appear surreptitiously, myna birds are always all over the place and morning doves don’t sound the same at all. And there is another bird, whose name I do not know, which is tiny, no bigger than the size of my hand. And once the kookaburras get laughing, I’d like to see you try not to crack a smile.

And at night, the air is thick with cicadas. So thick it’s almost deafening.

Every day, out in our back yard a rabbit lives among the trees, figs, mangoes, avocadoes, passion fruit. The rabbit, also known as Chubby, splays herself out on the pavement, hops over to your feet, stays close as you hang your laundry. She tries to make an occasional attempt at escape, coming up to the fence as you’re leaving. But we aren’t fooled. Chubby loves to be petted and patted, she’s really quite the social rabbit. And she has earned her name too. Most often than not, she is out on the grass chewing and munching and nibbling, seemingly always hungry, always grazing. But she is a cutie, and we shower her with attention, calling out to bunny from our porch in higher pitched voices.

Friday, February 05, 2010

One of those days…

Today is just one of those days. I woke up heavy, not awake at all. And I sort of drifted for a good long while, somehow managed to meditate and do some yoga, but skirted around any of the writing that I need to accomplish this weekend. But some days, boredom should just be embraced, not negated because “it isn’t productive.” Meditative moments in the shower, snacks here and there. Wanderings, wanderings of the half-conscious. Languishing. Some days it’s just one of those days.