Monday, July 30, 2012

First day at work

Monday. The day every working person dreads.

I have to say that Sunday wasn't any better. I could barely get up to my room and slide down under the covers, and all of a sudden my eyes were wide open. That Little Red Riding Hood image from Two Stupid Dogs comes to mind.

That's right. I couldn't sleep until it was past two in the morning, and I even tried stretching out, getting some fresh air, counting stars and what not. As you can imagine, the seven o'clock alarm made me feel even worse.

Truth be told, the curry from the night before had its part in this whole story as well, which just proves that jet lag is harder to overcome than anticipated. I was told it actually kicks in a couple of weeks later in fact, when all the excitement swells down.

I digress.

It's a good thing that my host is also my boss, so I got a ride to work this morning. The tour of the kitchen ended up with a spilt coffee with milk and me surrounded by three co-workers who were squeaking about the fourth one's engagement.

I managed to run after a while and got some reading to do. Two files, around 250 pages each. Old claims. Old claims whose names I can barely pronounce. They were (and still are - and probably will be for the next couple of days) interesting though, and they gave me (and are still to give me) an insight into what I will actually be doing.

Even though it was quite a quiet morning, everyone in the office seemed busy with something. That didn't stop them from laughing and wishing each other good morning and asking about the weekend and so on. It felt really nice, unlike the usual morning bitchiness I'm used to.

So many of my co-workers would drop by my desk, ask me how I was and how I spent the weekend, and offered assistance with anything I was interested in or wondered about. I was shown to my desk and boy, was there something to see. I got a Mac Book Pro, and there was an additional monitor already attached to it. The map was already on the wall, the computer had my user account, even my Entourage account had a signature in it!

My desk at work

Sweet, sweet, and once again - sweet!

I started reading through the files, taking notes, looking the locations up on the map, comparing it to language maps, checking out the pronunciation of certain sounds, looked up stuff on the Internet... I'm sure it's all easy going now, but once I dig into it, it'll be much more intense.

After an issue with the server was sorted, it was time for my induction. It took around five hours and it involved everything from e-mailing, bank accounts, phones, frequent flyer numbers, cataloguing, pay checks, cartography, servers, paper clips, mugs, hot chocolate, the alarm system and God knows what not.

Nevertheless, everyone was super friendly (I just can't come to my senses yet), asking me how I felt, whether I was scared to come over, what I thought about the office, whether I need any help and come over any time if you need anything. Gotta love it!

I got my key, my mobile phone, my paperwork and a lot more stuff to take back home. During the break I took a stroll around the block (because I was too crazy and hungry to go get lunch), and - of course - what I hear when I get out of the office but three ladies speaking Croatian. Tadammm!

The view from in front of my office

Even though my working hours are 08.30 to 17.00 (with a one hour break for lunch), I felt like it lasted 175.89 hours. Maybe it was the amount of information, maybe it was the fatigue, but the time sure as hell didn't go as fast as it could've. I had another coffee (and this time I didn't spill it all over), and sooner than I could turn around, it was time to go home.

We got home, prepared dinner (cous cous with tuna and various vegetables, and a capsicum-lettuce-green beans-carrot salad) and watched an episode of Breaking Bad. It was still the beginning of the episode when we all started yawning one after the other, so we finished it (and we were working on it quite hard), took off and went to bed.

Therefore, good night!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday arvo

One of the first thing you learn when in Australia is that the weekend is highly appreciated. Unlike people in Croatia, Aussies tend to use every single minute of their weekend for fun, seeing their friends, eating out or going on a trip.

Since I woke up quite late, I missed the breakfast, but I joined H and G for lunch. Lunch meaning beer and pizza. We went to a place called The Flying Scotsman in Mount Lawley, which is a pretty cosy place, with occasional DJs playing and quite a decent offer of snacks and drinks.

It's big and covered in wood, so it gives out a friendly and outdoorsy atmosphere, and there are tables filled up outside even though it's winter time. We met up with R, G's cousin, who's sixty and riding his bike around, wearing his festival bracelets and a red wool scarf with pride. He's the open type that starts a conversation with a joke about himself, and we hit it off straight away.

We talked about everything from real estate and book stores to travelling around India and children's books. This was probably the first time that I had the feeling that I was actually in Australia. I could connect to him on so many levels, but at the same time I was aware of the fast that I was so far away and that no one really knew anything about me. It was a weird combination of satisfaction and helplessness.

Luckily, Aussies know how to hit it off. Sundays at the Scotsman offer a pizza and a beer for ten bucks, so the place was crowded and (I have to use this word eventually) merry. Even though the Island guys (as the locals dub people from Polynesia) are quite hard core when it comes to their security positions, it's still a rather nice place to stop for a couple of rounds and a snack.

Pizzas and pints at The Flying Scotsman

The rules here are a bit weird (but they still remind me of rules in, let's say, Slovenia), so you can't sit at the table and smoke, but you can't stand up and drink your beer either. That didn't stop the smokers from standing right next to the table and keeping the conversation going. That's rules for you.

We were going to watch see the new Batman movie, since everyone's quite excited about it here, but we ended up going to R's daughter's place instead. She served curry and gin and tonic, which amazingly got together pretty well (probably because of the quinine). I can't believe I had some of that too, especially after the four little pizzas that we shared, but I have to admit it was a really tasteful snack.

Living in a cute, nicely decorated house with her son, and eating dinner with her father, I couldn't help but notice the relaxed atmosphere that was present all throughout the evening. So many topics were covered that I can't even recollect any of them, but there were so many mentions of childhood memories, vacations they took together, trips to India and 90s bands.

The music playing in the background was always subtle, but never too boring to listen too. Every once in a while there would be someone who's start swinging from side to side to the rhythm of the song that was playing. At the times when the music was secondary, there was so much laughter that no one could actually hear what was being said.

I was also complimented on my English skills, which - coming from native Australians - sounds really good. I always figured that if one can joke in a foreign language, that shows that one is fluent in it. The guys seem to have proved me right, because there were cracks of laughter every now and then.

H and G at The Flying Scotsman

All in all, after two round of tea and a round of raspberry cupcakes, some Metallica in the car and a glass of water, here I am, in my bed, ready for my first day at work tomorrow...

A bi' abou' Freo

Fremantle - or Freo, as everyone here calls it - is basically the port of Perth (I hope no one from Freo hears me, hehe). Being that Perth is separated from the Ocean by a winding river, Freo's always had the roll of the city's harbour.

It's a city more easy going and more relaxed than Perth, dotted with old but still well preserved colonial buildings, café strips and cosy little restaurants, which made it a really famous and popular gathering spot.

Nonetheless, it doesn't lack in historical and cultural background. It was one of the first populated areas, mainly because of the harbour, but also because there was (and still is) a prison to which the British sent their convicts.

It still has its roots in today's communication as well, so you'll often hear Brits refer to Aussies as cons, while poms works just fine when it goes the other way.

One thing about Freo is that it's filled with people. Well, I went there on a Saturday, so it must've been busier than usually, but yeah. We got a spot in one of A's favourite places, had lunch and a beer and a coffee and went back to Perth. There will be more time spent around there for sure.

Another thing that's quite noticeable is the amount of those damn hipsters. They're aaall arooound. And they're all the same. Maybe I'm too old or maybe I'm not tolerant enough, but I just don't get it.

I went to a store to get electricity converters and 90% of people in there were hipsters. Not I-wear-tight-jeans hipsters, but I-spend-like-five-hours-preparing-to-leave-my-house hipsters. They all look so cool and casual, while at the same time they're putting so much effort in it that it loses its point.

Dunno, that's my five cents.

All in all, Freo is definitely going to be one of the places I'll often go to (partly because A lives closer to there). I'm actually going there on Tuesday as well, since I'm meeting D, who's on a breeze by from Melbourne.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

About Perth

First of all, I have to mention that I'm sitting on my bed with the laptop in my lap, hoping it will give me some warmth. Nine degrees in Croatia is definitely not the same as nice degrees over here.

Secondly, I was going to share some information about Perth, which I heard from people or read in various guides. So, here goes.

Perth was founded in 1829 by Captain James Stirling as the Swan River Settlement (Swan river is the one that central Perth is situated on), who - unlike the Dutch - found the newly discovered land attractive.

But before him, Indigenous Australians lived here, arriving from the north about forty to sixty thousand years ago. They have lived peacefully and in concord with the nature up until Australia was occupied by Westerners. Classic story.

I say occupied because Indigenous Australians consider the discovery to be the start of their doom. They have been placed into camps, the land was taken from them and they were pushed to the brink of the society, drained by killings, alcoholism and disease.

But let's keep it on the sunny side, shall we?

Perth is said to have the best weather in Australia and even on the globe ("Perth has the weather California thinks it has."), which puts it high on the list of the most desirable places to live. Up until fifteen or so years ago it has been a cosy little city, but it's getting busier by the second.

During the history, its position enabled it to develop rapidly. The Swan river enabled transportation, while the curvy river meander protected the city from the Indian Ocean. Strangely enough, the English found it more suitable for convicts, who they kept sending down here during the mid 19th century.

Once gold was discovered around 1890, the population exploded and the city and its surrounding were filled with arriving workers, which made Perth as the colony's trade capital. Fremantle (where I went for lunch earlier today) had its port upgraded to cope with the increasing demand and it has kept its architecture untouched even today.

The discovery of various types of ore pushed it even further along the road of development, so that today some of the biggest mining companies have their offices located in Perth (of course, the ones with the most money have the biggest buildings).

Offering attractions ranging from water parks and zoos to buildings that make music and numerous parks and museums, it seems to be the perfect place for young professionals and fresh families.

Let's see how that goes...

Qatar Airways

When I started planning the journey to Australia, I checked all the possible airlines that flew in this direction. It was, of course, important that there were reasonable and available flights from Zagreb too, which didn't prove the easiest task in the end.

Lufthansa was way too expensive, so the price jumped from around 1200 euro to 2850 by the time I checked the flight again. Qatar offered the best option in the end, especially since they introduced new flights to Kigali in Rwanda, and Perth and Zagreb. Awesome news for me.

The flight was really good, especially the first leg. My whole family came to the airport which was a bit hard to handle, but I was off before I thought of it. The Qatar staff was excellent both on the ground and in the air, proving to be a really helpful bunch. Since they're a quite young company, I'm sure they put a lot more effort into helping their customers and they really proved it - at least to me.

The crew on the first leg to Doha was awesome, always helpful and smiling, but never in a forced way. It was a miracle that the only empty space was between me and Martin, a guy who is originally from Australia, but was on his way to Abu Dhabi, his home for the past few years. We talked about Croatia, Perth and G.G. Marquez, and about how it was really weird that the captain didn't make an announcement whatsoever.

Somewhere over Iraq
Somewhere over Iraq (a bit blurry, but still cool)

The layover in Doha was also sweet and short, even though I was a bit shocked by the 35 degrees that hit us as we were switching planes. I managed to catch a tad of WiFi, but then it was already time to board the plane and that was it.

On the 777 I was sitting next to Gemma and Rachel, who were both coming back from their trip around Europe. When they heard I was from Croatia, there were a couple of fucks heard, and we should've gone there, too... Funny.

Inside the 777 toilet
Dork on a plane
I didn't sleep on the first leg since I wanted to avoid serious jet lag, so I dozed off during the eleven-hour flight to Perth. It was really smooth though, with only a bit of turbulence just before we landed in Perth. I gotta say it was a really weird feeling flying over thousands kilometres of the Indian Ocean beneath, but being able to see the clouds only made the experience a bit more relaxed (and not as exciting).

At Perth Airport

I landed in Perth, went through the check in (and the dog sniffing) and I was out. The lady at the check literally said so. To my surprise, A. was there (even though she said she can't make it) waiting for me with a box of chocolate koalas. So damn sweet.

So I called H., she located me (because there were tons of people around and I just couldn't see anyone in particular) and we were off. Luckily, I got used to driving on the left when I was in India, so it wasn't too big of a shock. We got to her place, had a glass of really good Australian wine, talked a bit and called it a night...

View from my balcony at H's
The view from my balcony

Welcome drinks at the office

Well, it's just the beginning, but it might be a good time to start writing and posting. Other than giving you an idea of what my life here is, it's gonna give me the chance to keep memories and details stored for later.

Considering the fact that I'm quite bad with names, I might as well use the chance to practice a bit more. I try repeating the name when I meet someone, but when I met around twenty out of forty people from the office, I could barely remember five. I guess it takes a bit of time, so I hope no one's offended.

Being that H was at work, G joined me on the way to the office. It was a bit weird walking up to the building I've been checking out on Google Maps' Street View, but once I got in there everyone was really (and I do mean really) nice. Everyone asked me how my flight was, how I felt, whether I was jet lagged and whether I liked it here, whether I find the weather OK and so on.

Once I covered the monologue with someone, there would be someone else joining the conversation, so I was repeating the story about seven or eight times. They all found it funny and in the end we were sitting around the table in the conference room, drinking beer and laughing our asses off. A nice bunch of people indeed, who are all looking forward to seeing me on Monday for my first day on the job. I already have my desk and my laptop set out for me and I'm getting a phone next week, so I'll hopefully be a bit easier to reach.

Sorry, no photos. I was too embarrassed to take any.

Day Three

I've already had my ass kicked for not updating my blog, but there's a good and valid reason.

The first day after I woke up, I tried plugging in my computer to update you guys a bit and everything was OK until I realized there was no WiFi. Being that I had already managed to e-mail H, I really couldn't figure out what the problem was. In the end the electrician checked it out and realized the whole house had a dead fuse, so it didn't have anything to do with me in the end.

We finally got it fixed now and I had to spit 34 bucks for converters, but I can finally plug my comp in normally.

Today was spent with A, who I met up with at Perth train station after I went to a new shop opening in North Perth with H and G.

Shop opening in North Perth
This is not at work, but some of the people are from the office in fact
We went for a walk around Kings Park, which is a huge green area and where there's a magnificent view of Perth CBD (Central Business District). Later on we went to Fremantle, which is a city south of Perth that possesses a more of a hippy, relaxed vibe and is filled with cafés and restaurants.

Perth CDB
Perth CBD

Kings Park
Kings Park

Dorkster with the CDB in the background

We had lunch and a beer, and then a coffee; I met her husband R and we talked a bit about Australia, a bit about Croatia and a bit about Peru. All in all, a lot of fun and so awesome to see my old, dear friend (disclaimer: by old I mean from a long time ago, not her being old...).

Lunch at I forgot the name in Freo
Mozzarella-filled fried things with tomato sauce (AUD 14.90)

Now I'm home, chilling out and skyping, and posting this...

More to come...

G'morning, Australia!

I reckon it would be about time to write an update, because I woke up to a whole inbox of how-is-it, how-are-you and let-us-knows.

My whole family came to the airport and said their goodbyes: mum, dad, sister, brother, sis-in-law and three nieces. In a weird way, the younglings were the most aware of the fact that something was going on, although I’m not really sure they can imagine the distance. Hell, even I can’t! 

It's 11 in the morning and I woke up for the third time. Half jet lagged and half cold, I must've realized something's different, even during my sleep. The two cats, Ocelot and Fee, haven't really bothered me, but they're smooching around my legs as we speak.

The beans have been grinded, the water's boiling and coffee time it is!

The flight was OK. I was excited because I love flying, but at one point in the middle of the Indian Ocean my back was aching so badly that I couldn’t wait to land.

Qatar has really shown off with their service and the crew on the flight to Doha was great. Always smiling and attentive, but not in an unnatural way. I met Martin, a guy from Perth on the way to his new home in Abu Dhabi. We both realized the captain hadn’t made an announcement, so we laughed about that and a lot of other things.

Getting out at the airport was hard core, leaving the plane’s 20 degrees for Doha’s 35 and then back on to the terminal’s 18 or so. It’s a bit of a mess since they’re opening up a new terminal in December, but you couldn’t notice anything unless you’re a freak and you read everything about it before you took off.

The flight to Perth was long (eleven hours), but I was sitting next to two girls on their way back from semi-week trips around Europe, so it was interesting to hear what they thought. I have to say they were also quite happy to hear I got a job in Australia and they really presented me with a nice, warm welcome.

Now I’m at H’s, my host and air-quoted boss at work (as she put it) and she’s supposed to pick me up later on for welcome drinks at the office. I’m sure everyone will be thrilled to spend an extra hour at the office on a Friday. But H says everyone’s really looking forward to meeting me, so I hope that goes well.

I have to say it’s freezing here, especially since the house has no real heating system. It’s sunny outside, but the temperature still hasn’t climbed over ten degrees. The house is really nice, filled with a lot of stuff I’d fill it with, and it feels really cozy. I have my own room for while I’m here, with a balcony and a view of the palm trees and the nearby church. By nearby I mean right next to the house.

The city’s quite spread out, which made it look really big from the airplane. I should go sort out some stuff already (like my tax number, electricity converter and so on), but the power is down, so I’ll see how long it takes.

Now I gotta take off, since my laptop’s battery is dying.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thoughts of future

As I'm sitting on the ferry from Split to the island of Vis, my mind is filled with images of the people I am yet to see, of places I am yet to visit and memories I am yet to gather.

Half relieved and half terrified, I am unable to stop various possible scenarios run through my head.

Planes, skylines, deserts, vehicles, flats, street lights, horizons, beer cans, co-travellers, sunsets, skyping, posts, phone calls, weekend getaways, holidays plans, city walks, birthday wishes, Thursday pub crawls, experiences, languages, slang, Adidas, survival, freshly mown meadows, hammocks, tiny curly beings, bigger on-their-way-to-become-curly being, sleepless nights, sunrises, party weekends, friends.

My eyes are kind of itching...

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


This is where I'm going to this weekend.

I slowly (but steadily) started panicking about leaving in seven or so days, and realized I could really use another short break, just to keep my mind from racing.

Many people expect me to hang around here, but it just seems too hard. So I figured I could go visit D, who's gone there last week to work. Even if it's only for the weekend, it will surely be great.

I've had plans to go to Vis for years now, but being a student and usually broke, I was always denied the opportunity. This will therefore be the perfect opportunity to roam the island a bit, hang out with D and say our final third-luck-is-a-charm goodbyes.

The Stiniva Cove at the island of Vis, Croatia

Here's some info on the island, copied from here, just because I'm too lazy to write...

The island of Vis is the most protruding Croatian island with an area of 90.30 km2. The channel of Hvar separates it from the island of Hvar, and the Biševo channel from the island of Biševo. It is approximately 60 miles away from the Italian coast. The island has three mountains stretching across it, and between these mountains are karstic fields. Hum has the highest altitude (585 m), Sveti Duh (563 m), and Mali Hum (514 m). Here's a map of Vis.

The first people settled in Vis in 3000 B.C. They were of Mediterranean background. In 2000 B.C. they were pushed aside by the Illyrians which formed their own government in the fifth and sixth century B.C. The Sirakuski tyrant of Dimitrij the Elder in approximately 397 years B.C. established his colony on Vis and its settlers expanded their influence towards the central-Dalmatian islands. The Illyrian king Agron I and queen Teuta, who where defeated by the Romans in 219 B.C., threatened the authority of Vis (Issa). Since then Issa has acknowledged the authority of Rome.

After the downfall of the Western Roman Empire (year 476), Vis at one time acknowledged the authority of the Goths and then the Byzantines. The Croats started settling in Vis in the seventh century.
Vis was occupied and destroyed by the Venetians and under Venetian authority from 1420. With peace in Campoformio in 1797, Venice hands it over to Austria, and after peace in Požun in 1805 it comes under the French who fortify it. In March 1811, the English fleet struck a hard defeat to the French-Italian fleet and occupied Vis.

By Regulations of the Vienna Congress of 1814, it was returned to Austria till 1918 when it was occupied by the Italians. In 1921, by the Rapal Contract, it belonged to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenians. In 1941 it was occupied by the Italians under whose government it stayed until the capitulation of Italy in 1943. After this it became the military-navy base of the Partisan army in socialistic Yugoslavia, Vis was closed to outsiders because of its strategic position (this regulation was terminated in 1989) and the entire island was turned into a large military fort.

But this isolation, however difficult it was for the inhabitants of the island of Vis, placed Vis among the favorite destinations of the entire Mediterranean when Croatia became independent. Beautiful beaches, preserved nature, ecological agriculture and preserved traditional architecture are unique advantages of thisunique island.
The locals are into agriculture, fishing and tourism. The coasts of the island are sloped and separated. To the west of the island is the Komiža bay and to the north is the Vis harbor. Vis has always been an island of fishermen and winegrowers. Komiža on the island of Vis is considered the cradle of fishing in the Adriatic, and in times gone by, the Komiža fishermen where well known in all Mediterranean harbors as experts in their field. Today the Fishing Museum in Komiža shows the famous history of the Vis fishermen.

Monastery in Vis town is said that the first grape vine in Dalmatia was planted by the ancient Greeks and that it was planted on a Vis field. 
The most famous authentic white wineis definitely the famed Vis Vugava, which you can try in numerous restaurants and cellars on the island. The Greek writer Agatarhid said that the wine from Vis was, compared to all others, better.

If we add to this unique historical, cultural, and natural heritage the beautiful crystal clear sea, stunning hidden beaches, bays and islands, kind hosts and comfortable accommodation in private houses and apartments, it is clear why Vis is the favorite tourist destination for those visitors who want to try the unique and almost gone authentic Mediterranean environment and way of life.

We invite you to visit Vis island, and we are sure you will never forget it!

Coastal weekend

Being that I'm taking off really soon and that I haven't managed to hang out with some people properly, my friends Z and P invited me to go to Life Celebration Festival with them and their one-year-old son P.

The festival's being held at Fort Punta Christo, an awesome abandoned fort outside of Pula, Croatia, which has been used for all sorts of parties, festivals, camping sites and so on. It's a really nice and interesting place located on the top of a peninsula, surrounded by rocky beaches, pine forests and lonesome lighthouses.

We were camping and chilling most of the time (especially because of little P), so we'd only drop by the floors that played music from time to time. It was rather hot during the day, so we'd go down to the beach, swim a bit to cool down, and simply chilled in the shade.

Another friend, G, took a crazy ride from down south (it took him about twelve hours by boat, several buses and a car), but he made it in the end, at least for a night of partying.

On the way back we stopped at a place famous for its sea food and had a yummy lunch at the bottom of an old staircase. Here's a photo from around there. And being that this really sounds like a dear-diary post, I'll just leave.


Love you, guys!

Plans for the other continent

So, I'm flying on Wednesday, I'm landing on Thursday, I'm having welcome drinks in the office on Friday and a lunch scheduled for Sunday. The Belgian beer place. Somehow I'm not sure that's its real name.

Then on Monday or Tuesday I'm supposed to go out into the field and spend the full week there. I don't know when I'll deal with all the stuff that needs dealing with, but it will definitely be interesting.

It somehow makes me relieved that I'll start working straight away, so I probably won't have time to ponder upon and dissect every single thing running through my head. And I reckon there'll be many.

Getting my tax number, fixing up my driver's license, applying for a residence address, checking in with my health insurance provider, looking for an apartment, actually getting an apartment - that's only some of the things I'll need to sort out.

I made a list to make it a bit easier, since I'll have to go around a city I've never been to, look for streets and buildings and offices and clerks and papers and stamps and blank signature lines.

Perth Central Business District from above the Aboriginal Art Gallery, Kings Park



Last night, as I was going through some photos and trying to decide what to pack, what to throw into the trash and what to leave behind, all of a sudden I was struck by emotions.

Maybe I wasn't expecting it, or I was hoping it to hit me later on, but it's happened. I was talking to my mum and she asked me who I was meeting (as I was heading out). Probably caused by her question (which was, by the way, dangerously lingering between annoying and nosy), images of those people started rushing through my head.

And before I could figure out what was going on and get my grip, I was flushed with memories, images, funny stories, emotions and what not. And for the first time, there was a hot potato - not in my hands, but in my throat.

I'm starting to wonder why goodbyes are so hard. Why does everything get changed all of a sudden? How come all those kilometres all of a sudden make a difference?

I know they do, don't get me wrong. But the date seems to influence emotions much more than the kilometres. As the date's getting closer, everyone's more sensitive than the other. Emotions swell up, memories keep popping up and it's all a lot more messy.

Who knows how it'll end. Maybe I'll be weeping for my country, for the nation that annoys me, for the transportation that can make everyone go berserk. Maybe I'll miss avoiding eye contact in the tram, or crossing the street, trying not to get run over.

I'm completely clueless.

About fricken time

I'd say it was about time to drop a line.

I just got home after the whole day spent visiting relatives, meeting friends, closing my bank accounts, getting stocked up on contacts and some shirts and stuff. Three coffees and three semi-meals later, I still feel like someone forgot to defragment me.

My mates keep asking me how I feel, my mum keeps making me more and more paranoid, and everyone seems to be really stressed about the whole thing.

No one's considering the me part in the equation. Okay, I'm being asked a lot of questions, but I'm also being blamed for tons. All of a sudden it's a problem that I can't meet everyone at once, it's unbelievable that I'm taking off for a short weekend on the coast, and I'm to be blamed for everything that's going wrong.

Everyone would like to spend some time with me, but when it doesn't work out, it's my fault. So, people are away all the time (everyone should lead their own lives anyway), but somehow I've turned out to be the bad guy.

My mum would like to spend some time with me, meaning we'll probably watch CSI or talk about what my plans are when I get there (like I have a clue). My parents spend a lot of time (especially during the warmer months) at their weekend house. I go and visit them when I can, because I have my stuff and they have their own anyway. But when they're around, I'm miraculously expected to sit with them all day long.

That means rolling my eyes to tons of really weird questions (Will you have a fridge there?), but at the same time acting like it's all OK and I'm not annoyed at all. That will be followed by dozens of worn out advice, blessings and what not.

It's weird how it turns out it's all about them, and not about me.

So, I'm taking off, I'll live thirteen thousand kilometres from the place I grew up in, it's me who's going to live way too far away from his friends and (at times smothering) family, but it's them who're having a hard time.

Sounds legit.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Indigenous Australian flags

Naturally, Indigenous Australian have their own flags, which (again, naturally) differ from the Australian one.

1. The Australian Aboriginal flag was first created in 1971, but has grown in use and is now accepted and recognized as a symbol of the unity, identity and community of Aboriginal people.

The Australian Aboriginal flag
(photo found in an image search)
The flag's colours represent certain aspects of the Indigenous way of life:
  • black represents the Aboriginal people of Australia 
  • yellow the Sun, the life giver and protector and 
  • red the earth and the red ochre used in numerous rituals and ceremonies related to the spiritual relation to the earth. 
No permission is required to wave it, so feel free to do so (hehe)...

2. The Torres Strait Islander Flag was designed as a symbol of the identity and unity for the Torres Strait Islanders and adopted in 1992.

The colours on it represent:

  • green - the land 
  • black - the Indigenous peoples 
  • blue - the sea 
  • white - peace.
The white dhari, their traditional headdress, represents the Torres Strait Islanders and the five-pointed star the five island groups within the Torres Strait. The star also symbolizes the importance of stars (especially the Pleiades) to seafarers and in naval (as well as mainland) orientation and navigation.

The Torres Strait Islander Flag
(photo found in an image search)

One-way flight

I've always dreamed of booking a one-way flight and just getting the hell out of here.

Perhaps it was during a busy, hectic or crazy period, but it was one of the first things I would see as a potential exit. If you can't work on it, if you can't fix it and if it can't be sorted out ― just book me!

What would usually float around my head were images of Polinesian islands, endless sandy beaches, quiet mountain valleys and sleepy villages. This journey of mine may not include any of those, but I got my one-way ticket alright.

I'm flying on 25th July, which is only a couple of weeks away. I just got my booking done and I have to say it's finally starting to kick in...

It is surely going to be a wild ride!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Aboriginal people - Chapter One

First of all, let's clear out the space that's usually crowded by people debating on names, nomenclature and political correctness (which is known to have turned backwards on those who pushed it).

The name Aborigines comes from the Latin ab origo, meaning from the beginning or from the root. It was simply an expression for those who have been here from the start, but its usage has (as usually) been a bit changed.

What is accustomed today, especially in Australia, is the word Indigenous, which then automatically refers to the country one finds himself in. I have to say that Australia has made a great step forward considering this issue (and many more), but I'll talk more about that later.

The Australian Aborigines refers to about 750,000 people who used to live around Australia before Captain Cook "discovered" it in 1770. Wrong! It is wrongly thought (even in schools) that James Cook discovered Australia, but he only claimed its territory to be under the British rule. Yes, it was obviously that easy in those days...

The first Englishman to visit Australia was William Dampier in 1688, and it's been speculated that the Portuguese had arrived there even earlier, in the 1500s, but there's no records of their visit. There was also Willem Janszoon, a Dutchman who was the first European to step foot on Australia's shores in 1606, but he thought that Cape York was part of New Guinea, so it wasn't charted as a separate continent back then.

Before them it was some more non-Aboriginal people, Malay and Indian traders from Indonesian islands (which are rather close to Australia), who traded slugs with the Chinese. And before that, it was Aboriginal people. Even before that, it was Torres Strait Islanders. And this is where it gets interesting.

Torres Strait Islands is a set of hundreds of little islands located at the far tip of Australia, just north of Cape York Peninsula. It is thought that they have been residing in Australia from even before the Aborigines did, but being separated by all that water, they developed different relationships, regulations and customs.

The Torres Strait Islands on a map

Being that this area is located really close to New Guinea's islands, their customs and languages resemble those of New Guinea more than Australia. The intricate web of family relations, taboo, secret languages, ancient handiwork, complicated rituals and much more have made the Islanders the perfect investigation topic for European anthropologists.

Some of them have luckily have a more than a beneficial influence, taking some items back to Europe during the 20th century and thus preserving them (and the culture that lays behind it) from those who invaded and wanted the culture crushed.

Living in such an isolated area, people have gotten used to handling their lives as well as they could. Depending on the sea and the weather that much, they have developed a system of beliefs, ritual dances, initiation rules and mind-blowing ways of passing the knowledge on to the next generations.

The other Aborigines, who have roamed the vast areas of the Australian deserts, have lead even harsher lives for millennia, moving from a water hole to a water hole, a bit like nomads, but still well aware of the ways and paths they were supposed to take.

Being that they have no written language (aside from linguists' attempts to write it down in order to preserve it), it was of utmost importance to save the knowledge for future generations. They have therefore developed a system of remembering through song, reciting thousands of words in order to remember and locate billabongs, water holes or good hunting grounds. It's an amazing achievement which is still (although less than before) being practised in Aboriginal settlements around Australia.

A billabong in the Northern Territory

Another thing that Aborigines cherish and practice is the Aboriginal art. There's, naturally, all kinds of "art", so it's not all really Aboriginal (especially in contemporary and tourist-orientated art), but there are certain hints to that as well. Being that I listened to a lecture by an Australian professor who lived with a tribe for more than a decade, she really enlightened me about some things.

I guess you've run into some of their art, specific for its dotted artwork, colourful spectre and seemingly abstract theme. Well, it's not like that, since all the traditional art forms imply a certain amount of tradition, storytelling, orientation and remembrance. Remember that it takes as little as eight hours to die of thirst if stuck in the desert, so it's really important to know how to find water and food. It is often necessary to dig as deep as 2 meters to reach a bucket of water.

It's therefore implemented in the Aboriginal psyche to memorize certain gathering and hunting locations, which has later on developed into various form of art. Most of the paintings (according to prof. Christine Nicholls, PhD from the University of Adelaide) should be presented and observed looking from above, since it shows what we would regard as areal maps, with details of deserts, water holes and other important characteristics of one's area.

Kathryn Nakamarra's painting

Aside from that, the cave art that was found around Australia had been dated to as far back as 40,000 (and even as far as 60,000 to 80,000) years! Being that it has always kept the same purpose, it's considered as the longest living art form on Earth. Crazy, I know.

All in all, the Australian government has finally started working on recognizing the Indigenous tribes and people and trying to preserve their art, culture and language. It makes one sad when one realizes that out of the 250 languages that were spoken around Australia, only around 30 are still alive. It's therefore of utmost importance to preserve what those who have come from the source preserve and share their knowledge and wisdom.

I guess that's enough for now. Ask away if there's something you find interesting or want to know more...

A bit about Aborigines

It's been around three months now since I got a permanent position with a Native Title Services office in Australia, where I should be taking up a position at the beginning of August. It's been a wild ride and it's been hectic and crazy and stressful and mind numbing, but it's here.

So I reckon it's about time I write something about what I'll be busy with. In the next couple of months for sure. And probably much longer.

I'll share some information that I've gathered so far, from university lectures, news articles and, generally, reading a bit about it. I'll be writing from my head, so take all the info with a pinch of salt and the notion of a rather personal opinion.


The whole day has passed and I still feel numb.

Well, I've been busy - maybe that's the reason. But every Facebook notification makes me think someone else is going to re-ask me the same question: how are you feeling?

The same question I haven't been able to answer for the last couple of weeks.

It's been exactly 52 days since I applied for my visa. That's a really nice development, being that people usually wait much longer to have their visas granted.

All in all, it's a roller coaster of mixed emotions: happiness, excitement, fear, panic, hope, anger, lack of patience and, in conclusion, madness. I wouldn't know whether the worse part is gathering all the papers or waiting for the whole thing to be processed.

I'm both relieved and aware of the consequences I'm being brought in front of. How I make it depends solely on moi. And that's scary!

Other than moving to another continent, it's a whole new environment, a brand new culture and a completely solitary world. Well, at least in the beginning.

I've been asked how I'll cope with being alone. There's no real answer. I'm guessing it all depends on how one deals with it.

My personal opinion is that I won't even have time to think about it. Once you get to a new place, there's so much to do, so many things to sort and so many working hours to cover. Especially since I'll need to collect tons of overtime if I want a decent vacation next year.

So, I'm getting on with it - with the packing, the planning, the googling, the check-mark-putting, with dealing with stuff, with daydreaming, with not sleeping, with chanting as we speak...

But I'll go grab a couple of beers first.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Visa granted

I'm not really sure whether I should be panicking or feeling relieved.

With one thing less on my mind, there are many more sprouts of new thoughts.

How will I manage?
Will my plane crash? (I dreamt I was in a plane crash, which wasn't really important until I dreamt I got my visa and then actually did get it two days later...)
How will I manage without my friends? Will I spend a quarter of my pay check on Skype credit?
What will I miss the most?
Am I going to feel homesick?

There's so many I can only sit in front of this screen and wonder...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...