On Wednesday, 11/16, I decided that I wanted to fly to Australia to meet some friends and family. And so, I flew out to Sydney (got there like 2 days later), spent the better part of Thanksgiving week on the eastern coast of Australia, and had a helluva time.
Its funny the kinda life that I live. Most of you know I moved to my new apartment a few months back. Some of you also know about my inability to sleep. And my conduciveness to catch a cold at the drop of a hat. I’d come to terms with the kinda life I was living. Mostly out of the apartment, on the road, in the office, at coffee shops, etc. I got to experience something so unique on this trip, that I just had to blog about it. I got to see what life is really about.
My buddy, aK and I, used to work at Cisco together. Last week, he decided to call it quits, and basically, do nothing. Well, not really. But he’s decided to take a break from his life as he knew it. I thought to myself that there couldn’t be a better time to fly out there and visit him as he was winding down and getting ready to leave Sydney for good. I stayed with him for a few days, and then with a dear cousin of mine (who I’m starting to detest heavily because she lives fairly close to the beautiful Gold Coast).
Australians are interesting people. They’re amazingly polite. How so you ask? Consider this – aK, decided to throw a little farewell party for himself. He decided to have the party on a Friday night, at only the most famous place in town (Bungalow 8). The bouncers weren’t too thrilled to see two of us guys walk up (with no girls with us) wanting to get in to the place. In the city (San Francisco), the bouncers would’ve stopped short of kicking us in the crotch and spitting at us before throwing us in to a lion cage where they expect us to be mauled to death (for showing up without women). Here’s how our conversation with the bouncers at bungalow 8 went :
aK : Me wants to party. Me’s invited half of the male population of Sydney, and 1 female.
Ausse Bouncer # 1 (with heavy aussie accent) : G’day mate! I appreciate that, but, fair crack of the old whip, unfortunately, we’re all full today? So, I’m sorry? I wish you could come back another day?
aK (starting to panic, and trying to pull off a poker face): Ummm, me friends inside. Me spokes to Sharon’s who said it all cool.
Aussie Bouncer # 1 : I appreciate that mate, but, fair dinkum, we have no one called Sharon here on our staff? I reckon you’re looking for Shaina?
aK : Yee yee
Aussie Bouncer # 1 : Oh, sorry mate, I was just testing you, there’s no one here called Shania either?
aK (to me) : How soon can you put on a woman’s outfit?
Aussie Bouncer # 2 : How about this mate – there’s another nightclub down the waterfront heeya called Cargo, I reckon you give that a go mate? We’ll pay for your cover charge there?
aK (eyes wide open) : Thanks you
Aussier Bouncers : No worries mate, no worries? She’ll be ‘right? G’day mates? Yee? G’day?
And that mostly sealed the deal for us. All right, they’re not that nice, but they’re pretty darned nice people. And aK had in fact invited *some* women.
I’m just totally infatuated with the Aussie accent. How *did* that accent come about? Here’re some of the quirky aspects of the Aussie vernacular I noticed when I was there (to the left of the equals sign is the Aussie word, spelt with an Aussie accent, and to the right, ummm, the non-Aussie pronunciation) :
- heeya = here
- beeya = beer
- yee = yeah
- laschyee = last year
- last few-eers = last few years
- reckon = reckon (I hadn’t heard the word reckon being used since the last time I visited Australia. I mean how many times do you use the word reckon in everyday life? Seriously. ‘reckon’ is like the second word in every aussie conversation)
- sheilahs (pronounced sheelers) = women
- blokes (pronounced blokes) = guys
- bucks nights = bachelor party
- hens nights = bachelorette party
Have you also noticed how every sentence ends in a question? Its not so much a question as much as it is just ‘looking for acknowledgement’. And its kinda hard for me to describe this, but the subtelty lies in the inflexion of the tone at the end of the statement. I’m not making this up!
The other thing that so blew me away about Australia, is the fact that Aussies are amazingly responsible drunks. None of aK’s friends, NONE OF THEM (and there were a lot trust me, like a bazillion of them), would ever drink and drive. Not even after half a beeya. No way. One of aK’s friends had come over to his place, had some tea, and happened to smell a neighbor’s beer in their fridge and decided it was unsafe to drive after that. She felt her BAL was over the legal limit. It was funny because I asked everyone what the legal BAL was, and no one seemed to know. One other person was telling me that his mom dropped him off near downtown and that he would take a cab or the train back home later that night. I mean seriously – his mom dropped him off. At a nightclub. So that he could drink.
I also noticed how some things are so American that they’re not received the same way overseas. A classic example is the “whassup head bob”. I do that a lot. Even with people I don’t know. There was an interesting incident when aK and I decided to break the law and not buy train tickets to ride the train from Parramatta (sp?). Here’s how that went :
(aK and I were sitting in the train when the ticket collector comes up to us. aK and I had decided that I would do all the talking) :
(AI seeing the TC, does his “whassup head bob”)
TC (a little weirded out by the head bob) : G’day mates? Tickets please?
AI : Yeah, ummm, we kinda lost our tickets. We’re so lost. I mean, is this a train? Do we need tickets to get on these things because, you know, where I live, in the US, which is not Australia, which means I’m from out of town, we don’t really need tickets for stuff. Like at all. And Monday Night Football rules! We have a bridge in San Francisco – in fact we have 2 of them. Yep. I’m from out of town.
TC (getting further weirded out) : Yee mate, I appreciate that, do you have your ID on you?
AI : Sure…
TC : Ok, g’day mates.
Have you driven in Australia? They drive on a different side of the road there. I drove up from Coolengatta to Brisbane to see my cousin, and I can’t remember the last time I’d turned on my windshield wiper as many times, involuntarily. It was funny watching people’s reactions as they were wondering why I had my wipers on when it was 80degrees (sorry, 26.67C) and sunny out. And now that I’m back in the US, I’m using my turn signal when I want to turn left, and turning on my windshield wiper when I want to turn right. It got a little interesting this evening as I was driving to my hotel in Boise, when I noticed my Ford Taurus had its gear by the steering wheel.
In any case, I got to spend a lot of time with aK and his family. I’d forgotten what it was like to live with family. And have friends. And have parties. It was also interesting to see my cousin who I grew up with as a kid, now all married and stuff. I wasn’t expecting a dose of reality, which is what I got.
I’m thankful for family and friends (this Thanksgiving). I had no turkey however.
Song currently in my head : “Sunday Morning” by “Maroon 5”
PS: Shout out to aK, Anuja, Faz, Monica, Shimms, Ken, Wayne, Helen, girl with red shirt, drunken real estate lady, and all the other awesome people I met while I was there.
PPS: aK doesn’t really talk like a caveman. In fact, he’s got a thick heavy Aussie accent. Yee.