Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Perth Day 1

Truth is, it hasn't been terribly interesting. Partly because I spent the day hanging out in Fremantle, Perth's neighbouring historical town by the sea. Shades of Townsville - that doldrum of a seaside town over in Northern Queensland where we had World Interplay last year. Chilly, rainy and dominated by generic shopping malls, touristic kitsch and colonial ruins.

Fremantle used to be incredibly important as a port, though - saw a rather good exhibition on the history of colossal post-war immigration from Europe into Australia, which mostly went through Fremantle. Whole families were encouraged to move over, ten pounds an Englishman/woman and the kids sailed for free, just to boost Australia's population from 7 million to 20 million in case the Cold War rolled south. World War Two had been risky for the Aussies, but it hit Europe worse: English, Germans, Dutch, Hungarians, Latvians, Italians and Greeks moved over, with the state-controlled press focussing on shots of the "beautiful Balts", the blonde Eastern Euro girls, to allay fears of racial/cultural dilution. There was a big white Australia policy being pushed, though - multiculturalism only became state policy from '77, with phone and hospital interpreters introduced and all us Asians being allowed to move in. (Including a Japanese guy called Sanshi who was trying to teach me how to play the didgeridoo in his store. Cool fella. They do recitals on Thursday nights.)

The real big news for me, though, is that my Couchsurfing connection worked - I'm being hosted for a couple nights by a pretty cool commune of three siblings and a husband, named Eliesha, Lara, Gabe and Ben respectively. I've talked to Ben mostly: he's a pianist and music teacher who works in jazz and rock; he just cooked me some rather nice briyani (of course he's done gigs with his band in Delhi before), and he says the cashew sugee I got him from Bengawan Solo tastes like shortbread. Eliesha and Lara are both social services workers. Gabe's in college, but gets up at 4:30 in the morning to work as a garbage collector so he can earn money to go visit his girlfriend who's somewhere in Europe or North America, can't remember where. He's also a psychology student (the whole lot are in college, really, they just skipped years here and there) and though I haven't seen him - and probably won't have time to - he looks hella adorable in the photos.

In other news, my mother and father are in China but were not killed by the earthquakes (some of their staff lost relatives, though). My brother's whereabouts are unknown, but I somehow can't get worried for him - first, because I'm pretty sure he's still in America and is headed for the South of China anyway, and second, after being in viewing distance of 9/11, disaster feels very abstract.

I have photographs of my life, of course, but none are very spectacular. I leave you instead with a taste: Australian meat pie. Dig it.

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