Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Australia 101 - lesson 1b


lesson 1b from textbook In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

What if tickets for those flying from North America to Australia contained some warning that states, "Pasengers are advised that on some crossings twentyfour-hour loss of existence may occur"? Shouldn't there be such a warning?

On return flights, however, it *is* possible to arrive in LA before you even left Sydney. I'd say that's a pretty neat trick.

B.B. says, "Let me say right here that I love Australia--adore it immeasurably--and am smitten anew each time I see it. One of the effects of paying so little attention to Australia is that it is always such a pleasant surprise to find it there. Every cultural instinct and previous experience tells you that when you travel this far you should find, at the very least, people on camels. There should be unrecognizable lettering on the signs, and swarthy men in robes drinking coffee from thimble-sized cups and puffing on hookahs, and rattletrap buses and potholes in the road and a real possibility of disease on everything you touch--but no, it's not like that at all. This is comfortable and clean and familiar. Apart from a tendency among men of a certain age to wear knee-high socks with shorts [I wonder if Ruth's father engages in this costumed tradition on his off days], these people are just like you and me. This is wonderful. This is exhilerating. This is why I love to come to Australia."

Bryson's previous trips to Australia had been limited to rides in a cab through the Sydney districts of Ultimo and Annandale [hmm, that sounds familiar ... where have I heard of that place before?], on his way to book-signings.

Are the locals really called, "Sydneysiders"?

During this particular trip, a colleague from the Syndey Morning Herald decided to take him boogie boarding at Freshwater Beach, near Manly, one afternoon.

"If you're caught in rip," his guide told him, "the trick is not to panic."

"You're telling me to drown calmly?"

Bryson recounts a story in which a group of fisherman captured a 14ft. shark in 1935 near where he was presently wading in the water. It was taken to a public aquarium where it swam about happily for public viewing. After a few days, it regurgitated a HUMAN ARM! No doubt it had been some young man swept away by a rip tide attempting to hale the lifeguard for assistance.

He continues by saying that three years later four freak waves, each 20ft. high, hit a nearby beach, sweeping 200 people out to sea. Good News? There were fifty lifeguards on duty that day that were able to save all but six.

Are Australians, in general, big gamblers. I read something about "clubs".

6 comments:

CraigS said...

Annandale - thats my little town...

And Australians are *massive* gamblers...

The Borg said...

But not if they're Christians... mostly...

ckhnat said...

okay ... how much money have you lost ...

John Dekker said...

An interesting but little-known fact for you:

"Sydney-sider" refers to anyone in the state of NSW - that is, on the Sydney side of the Murray river. ;)

Donners said...

Yes, gambling is a national sport for some. Where I last worked everyone was always putting in for "scratchy tickets" to try and win. Some went to the TAB ( horse race betting) or the pacing on weekends. There is a real culture of it.

Not my cup of tea.

Another fact about Australians is they like to cut down "tall poppies", so if someone gets a 'big head' or starts getting 'ticket on themselves', in other words, praising themsleves ro even just acknowledging their talents...they will be 'cut down' as much as pssible.

Can be a not very nice cultural habit.

byron said...

Yep, but it means to our ears all Americans sound up-themselves... (just a warning if you're ever over here or meet an Aussie - an insult means they like you, idiot)