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            <<  Canberra, 17-Oct-2013  >>

Everything neat and clean

Pretty absurd Australia capital and peeping through a keyhole into the "bright" side (and peeping through a hole into darkening skies). Art.

Of course I knew that Canberra was an artificial city, built on purpose to serve as Australian capital as Sydney and Melbourne could not agree on which of them would be the capital, but I did not know that it was artificial to THIS extend. Washington DC might be artificial as well, but by now itís a proper metropolis in its own right, with all the goods and bads of a bit city. But Canberra? Wow, this is an island! All the way from Snowy Mountains to Canberra there was not even a petrol station! Empty hills, sheep, cattle, and suddenly without a warning you arrive to the downtown of Canberra. Canberra has no suburbs at all, not agriculture surrounding the city, no industry. From pastures into the center in 5 minutes. Quite weird arrival.

Canberra is naturally loaded with government buildings, galleries, museums and uber-significant architectureÖ and thatís it. As long as you work for the government and earn loads of dollars itís not a bad place to live Ė it has all the possible and impossible amenities, its traffic must be the best traffic of all capital cities in the world, as the roads were well planned, affluent neighborhoods Ė but itís pretty detached from everything else. Of course not in the way as Darwin or Alice Springs are, itís only 30 minutes flight or 3 hour drive to Sydney, but it has pretty much feeling of overgrown farm that turned to be the capital.

CouchSurfing blessed us again and we stayed with Tom and his family in affluent (read posh) neighborhood close from the center (ehm, Canberra does not ďhaveĒ a center, it IS a center, just the center). Letís get right to the point: Tomís family is a ďproperĒ family. That kind of family you could see on commercial for orange juice. Tomís dad works as business consultant (rings a bell, huh?) and volunteers in a church (that does not ring a bell, huh?), his mother works I donít know where (something serious) and volunteers in elderly care, Tom is 19 and he can run a marathon, studies Physics at university, wants to study at MIT and conquer ďThe 7 SummitsĒ (climb highest peaks of all 7 continents), he is a voluntary firefighter, his sister spoke fluent Spanish and goes to study to Spain next year. Got the picture? American dream Down Under, in all its glory. They took great care of us, Tomís mom cooked fantastic dinners, they drove us around the town and gave us bikes. Being there struck me even stronger than the death of the silhouette kangaroo. The point is obvious I think, this was a peeping hole to my life as it might have been, if I didnít deliberately abandoned it. A neat, clean house, in a neat, clean neighborhood, in a neat, clean town. But it was all too neat and clean. They were very lovely people, all of them, but something was missing in this orange juice paradise. Missing for me, I mean. Something of that dirty, raw energy of life. Touch of the dark side.
One way or another, this place was miles away from the hippies and junkies of Byron Bay or Nimbin, from drunkards of the outback, from beach Barbie dolls and slutty chicks of Gold Coast. It was fascinating to see this kind of place. It could be house of my colleagues, house of my own. I would lie if I said that I didnít feel some sort of nostalgia and craving for a life less crazy than the life I have now, life where people have homes and families, and spacy rooms and kitchens with a dishwashing machine. Comfort and security are the passwords. But, there is one huge BUT: But, I know Charles Bukowski doesnít live here. And neither William Blake nor Allen Ginsberg. And Hendrix, and Alexander the Great, and Marco Polo, and Joplin, and Vincent Van Gogh, and Kerouac, and Arjuna, and Genghis Khan, and Hesse, and Vatsanapata Babhrava, and Shaka Zulu, and Karl Marx, and Jesus, and Marcus Aurelius, and Crocodile Dundee, and Odysseus, and Jim Morrison, and Christian Fletcher, and Spiderman, and Thomas Aquinas, and Robin Hood, and Mr. Hankey, and Charles Darwin, and Billy the Kid, and Captain Morgan, they all donít live here, mateÖ


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