Sydney? Me and you need to have a talk.
That’s sounds really stupid and passe and whatnot, but it is fundamentally true. I went down to Sydney last week, (as you may have noticed from one of my previous posts, if you pay any sort of attention) and it’s left me all contemplative and melancholy. Like my first, last and probably only failed relationship, I’m filled with things I feel I need to say, questions I need to ask, and I… can’t stop thinking about you. Sydney, I may have anthropomorphised your sprawling brick and glass, dirty, urban acres into an ex-girlfriend, but please don’t be offended. My intention was not to diminsh. Besides, me and my ex get on great.
Let me just set the scene. I am, at heart, a country lad. I’ve been living in this charming parochial backwater for five years now, and while I did spend some time in the ‘big smoke’ when I was a wee lad, I was born in said parochial backwater too. My English teacher would probably ask me to relate this back to the concept of Belonging but I’ve got better things to do. Like procrastinate with both hands.
So my return to the gleaming heart of capitalism which is Sydney’s CBD was like a sort of anonymous prodigal son/messiah figure returning to his place of ascenscion. The fact that I was with two hundred of “me mates” did however dampen the sombre mood. I will go through a number of topics which hit as I traversed through the urban landscape.
That was the first thing I thought of. Apart from sex. There’s so many of them. A lot of them are really tall and made of glass, and some of them are odd shapes (I’m looking at you Opera House). The ramifications of these simple facts are wide ranging. When I walk through the ancient streets of old Sydney Town, down George Street where my forefather’s got pissed and traded the stockmarket in an ever repeating cycle, down Pitt Street where my relatives still toil, I am affected with a certain feeling. That folks is apathy. The whole scene is so… big that my mind just goes ‘kewl buildings’ and blocks most things out. I walk zombie like through the place, guiding my compatriots to places I hardly knew existed, while a strange undercurrent runs through the back of my head, like a leaking septic line saying “Shit..”
Sydney people are weird. There’s two things you need to learn about Sydney people. There’s a whole lot of them, over four million, and lots of them are foreigners of the mustachioed and non-mustachioed type.
They also can be quite rude. One thing Sydney people could learn to do is be polite. Up hear in the sparkling Great Lakes, when one person sees another on the street the common thing to say is something along the lines of the cliched, yet still extensively used ‘G’day’, or at least a curt nod. When purchasing things in the local trans-national super conglomerate of your choice country folk use manners, and sometimes even attempt to formulate highly mundane conversation. Sydney folk don’t. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that curtly nodding at everyone you meet in the street on a trip from Martin Place to Darling Harbour would probably severly damage your spinal cord. Perhaps its the fact that everyone’s suffering from the building affect.
People (Part Two) Race
It certainly isn’t foreigners, no matter what Pauline Hanson tries to ‘exploin’ to you. Once my mum almost hit a Subcontinental woman over the head with an umbrella. The woman was neurotically cheerful about the whole situation, insisting that the whole affair was nothing, and that Jihad was totally unneccessary, banishing all of my stereotypes to the darkness of the Netherlands. Admittedly the whole Jihad question was a little stupid on my behalf, but I was younger then.
I don’t fawn over Multiculturalism like all those other neoliberal bleeding heart hipsters, mostly because I try to be an internationalist when I can, and am probably a closet Fascist, but I do value it immensely. It’s one thing I love about Sydney. An aspect of multi culturalism I don’t like is the phenonemon of ethnic ghettoes. An entire suburb overwhelmingly dominated by Lebanese, bordering one dominated by Vietnamese and then one dominated by Anglos reminds me more of Northern Ireland than a classless, raceless utopia.
But birds of a feather flock together, and although people aren’t birds, neither are ducks. I’m talking about the whole webbed feet business. Mercifully the CBD, as the hub of the entire city is actually an example of the ‘melting pot’ multiculturalism’s all about. Or is that assimilation? That’s bad. Refer to the Borg.
Here Endeth Part One…