<<  Melbourne, 5-May-2013  >>

I'm in Australia, what now?

Arrival to Down Under. OK, wo I'm here, in Australia, congratulations Marcel. And what the hell do I do now?

My grandfather’s brother immigrated to Australia, I don’t know when, but sometime very long ago. I know nothing about him (and my grandfather died few years ago, so there is no way to find out…), but my grandfather once told me that in the first letter which his brother had sent from Australia he had written that the strangest thing about Australia has been that the moon, when not full, is not shaped like C or D an in Slovakia, but as U or ^. My grandfather found it funny, that his brother came to the country on the other side of the planet, where everything was different – the people, the nature, the language, the culture – and from all these things he was mostly surprised by something as plain as shape of the moon. Although, as I have already traveled across almost all latitudes and altitudes I have seen the U-shaped moon many times before, still when I passed through an exit of the Melbourne’s airport and I spotted the moon, U-shaped, I immediately remembered this story and thus mentally recreated a moment of life of the man whom I don’t know at all and who is probably dead by now. Often I wonder how it felt for these people to leave Europe, knowing that they would never see it again.

The arrival to Australia after 5 months in India/Nepal/Sri Lanka was BRUTAL.
I haven't seen a proper trash bin for 5 months, and the first thing I saw here, when I arrived after midnight was a car, which was thoroughly cleaning each single trash bin, located 50m from each other with high pressure hose. In a single block in Melbourne there is more traffic signs telling you what you must do and what you cannot do than in whole India. All churches are empty, girls in miniskirts everywhere. With all the wealth around people must spend their whole lives working to maintain this. And in front of my hostel there is a park bench with this messaged stamped on it: "Do NOT sit on this bench. Thank you. Management."
The first thing that came to my mind after arrival to Melbourne was the legendary scene from Demolition Man where Sylvester Stallone is waken from his crypto-coma and enters the world of future regulated by absurd rules and ful of inventions he doesn't understand. And it's exactly like I feel here. I wouldn't be surprised to find 3 shells on toilet instead of toilet paper...

All I can say, at least so far, about Melbourne city as such is that it looks like a great place to live (later I heard that last year it had been voted as World’s most liveable city), with its green parks, wide clean streets, fresh air, zillions of bars and restaurants and, but as I have already seen tons of US cities and also New Zealand, I found Melbourne not very surprising. Remains of Victorian districts under patronage of sky scrapers – it is typical British influenced modern metropolis, not very different from Auckland, Seattle, Portland, or parts of London actually. As good looking and neat as it is, it’s somewhat “empty” and characterless for my taste, it misses that patina, wear-and-tear feeling of European cities, accumulated unintentionally through centuries and I would say that even US cities, have a bit more of that something-happened-here character. Melbourne is mighty pleasant, bt if I wanted to live in a city like this, I would choose something closer to Europe, that’s for sure.

Even though it completely different from Bratislava, being back to city, I found even the slightest similarities strongly reminiscent of Bratislava – retail shops laden street with a tram running through it seemed almost identical to Obchodna st., trees lining a park were just like trees around Namestie Slobody. After spending 5 months in the extraterrestrial world of Asia, the whole West seems like army of clones to me. You would probably say I’m insane and blind, but try being in and around India for 5 months and you’ll see for yourselves.

But the people in Melbourne, they are definitely different from Slovakia.
I can safely say that until now I have never seen a city so glamorous and posh as Melbourne. This city makes California’s Orange County look like down and out destination.
I walked through Saturday night streets of Melbourne and could hardly believe my eyes. Thousands of Hollywood style chicks in super tight mini dresses and miniskirts, ritzy cocktail bars all over the city and army of neatly shaved, neatly dressed and neatly perfumed guys following them. Downtown Bratislava gets pretty hot with miniskirts wearing girls in the summers, but Melbourne looks like setting filming commercial for Prada. In my hostel in St. Kilda district, there was a huge Mexican themed party and there was a dance floor with 2 striptease poles, and practically ALL the girls were climbing onto the pole and did crazy striptease dancing movements on the poles, and hell, they did it like real pros – I bet that they do this every weekend! Even in Europe this would be considered completely sluttish. It’s a strange world down here...
But that’s not to say that Melbourne is just playground for brainwashed barbies. Actually, despite their miniskirts often not longer than those of prostitutes, the girls and women don’t have that stupid and artificial doll like look in their faces, as this category of girls has in Slovakia. They are just damn hot and posh. Good looking but definitely not the types I would like to talk with not even mentioning having relationship, but I’m definitely out of danger, none of these hotties would ever want to talk to a guy who looks like Muslim hippie :-)
Apart from abundance hot, three-fourths-naked girls another thing I can tell about Australians, or at least people from Melbourne is that they are incredibly friendly. From the guys working at hostel receptions, to people in bars and on streets. The first evening I was here I went to a Mexican restaurant/bar and some men sitting next to me, aged 40 – 50, during day obviously businessmen, asked me where I was from, we talked for one hour, they bought me a drink and shared their tacos with me. Yummy! When I asked the guy sitting right next to me what was his job, he gave the most improbable answer he could: “I’m an owner of aerospace company”. Fuck, that’s a coolest “job” I’ve ever heard! How do you become one? :-) Later when I got to my hostel with its party downstairs, to return to the Universe what it granted to me in form of the drink for free in the Mexican restaurant, I bought beers to 2 guys with whom I shared the room. Great guys, from Australia who came to Melbourne for Aerosmith concert. Next day I went to Australian Rules Football match with them and in the evening they bought me a drink to repay yesterday. On Sunday, when I decided to switch Melbourne for Bells Beach for 3 days (more about that later) I stopped to see Cathy, whom I met in Varanasi and who used my photos from Maha Kumbh Mela for her university project, and as we met in a Coffee where she works at I got free lunch. As I was travelling on the train to Bells Beach, some older lady sitting opposite to me asked me where I’m going, I said to Bells Beach (which was 20km from the train station where I had to get off and where I had to transfer to bus to get to Bells Beach) and the lady sitting behind her just offered me a lift to Bells Beach. Wonderful people these Australians. And next day in Bells Beach after 6 hours of walking along the coast I tried hitchhiking and literally the first car that passed by stopped and took me to my hostel. THIS is a lesson in hospitality!!! Ozzies, so far I love you :-)
My new motto is: “Fear not, the Universe will provide” :-)

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     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak