Sunday, September 30, 2012

A long weekend

Being that tomorrow is Queen's Birthday, which is a national holiday in Western Australia, and it's been a sunny day, the amount of people hanging around Kings Park was insane.

Australians usually go berserk when there's a sunny day and they go out, have a barbie or a picnic, go fishing or simply enjoy a walk through the park or along the river. You could see eager swimmers on the first sunny days of spring, even though the water is not that warm quite yet.

H & G invited me to join them for a picnic in Kings Park, so I joined them and some other friends for a sunny Sunday arvo. There's a wild flower festival taking place in Kings Park at the moment, but it's also a botanical garden at the same time, and a very popular chill out place for all Perthlings.

It was really lovely and, even though I was late and pretty much unprepared, we had a nice picnic, a bit of a chat and a couple of beers. There was tons of people, people playing frisbee and parents walking their kids. We took a spot just by the edge of the park, so it was a bit quieter and cosier. A blanket, some cheese and olives, Brazilian mango paste and some weird fruit... It was a feast!

There were parrots dropping by for a nibble of it all, shamelessly circling our blanket and eyeing us from the branches above. It was lovely and sunny and cosy and perfect for rolling around the grass barefoot.

Pioneer Women's Memorial

Parrots enjoying a nibble

Finishing up the picnic

Parrots don't mind

Old school

Perth CBD in the distance

Another memorial in the Botanical Gardens with a view of Perth CBD

Perth CBD

Perth CBD

Friday, September 28, 2012

Stuff cut up

As I was telling the story of how sharp the knife at my apartment is and how I'm amazed by the fact that I haven't cut myself yet, I managed to do just that.

Apparently you don't need a really sharp knife to cut off the tip of your finger.

Source unknown
I'm always amazed by how some people find the right photos to post, so I'll use this one

Running the bush

It’s almost nine in the evening and this is the first moment I have to breathe in, relax and chill out a bit.

It’s been long two days, I can tell you that. But as tiring and exhausting they’ve been, they’ve also been very fulfilling, productive and life changing. The two days spent out in the bush were part of a survey – the first one I was in charge of. It was a survey indeed, both of the bush and myself.

All the responsibility lying in it made me a bit tense. And there’s a good reason for it. The proprietor, the liaison officer and my co-worker for starters, and the mining blokes, the whole community and my work to end with. Not an easy task for me, especially with over a dozen people divided into five Land Cruisers roaming the Australian outback.

Gather everyone, drive to the location, stop the whole caravan, call out the location on the radio, determine the distance, the easting and westing, wait for the confirmation, mark it on the GPS, take a note, punch in the next set of destination coordinates, release the hand brake, first gear, go – and do that about a hundred and fifty times.

Spending a day like that made me cherish the rare moments of wonder I get to experience as well. Like listening to the old folk’s stories, visiting special places (that not even all Aborigines are allowed to visit), eating honey from tree branches, sitting in the red Australian soil, learning foreign words, seeing boys tease girls with grasshoppers pinched between their fingers, feeling the smell of the low bushes being driven over, chasing the clouds through the spinnifex-infected, seemingly endless plains…

After buying a hand-made boomerang off a local girl, finishing a spicy and tasty dinner and writing a bit of this, I can finally call it a day. A good day.

A special hill
A special hill I'm not allowed to name

Friday, September 21, 2012

Get off!

Sometimes I wish I had a bigger mouth. Not that it didn't get me in trouble before. But I do choose my words.

Sometimes I wish I had the courage to say what's going on. To point out the problem.

Look, man! That's your problem. Leave me out of it if you haven't kept me in the loop in the first place.

More and more situations arise where I just wanna say, you know, get off me. You bitch about everything everyone does. Understandably enough, I don't do everything right. Far from that. But at least I have the stones to say so.

Man, you can't see my little bonsai from your gigantic eucalyptus jungle.

I don't know why I get upset so much. But I know I do.
Maybe I should just act like them. Not give a fuck. One ear in, one ear out.
Seems to be working.

I'm sure I have my own issues that might press people's buttons. But whether I change them or not, at least I'm aware of that fact.

Don't fucking pick on me for not having a girlfriend.
Don't fucking pick on me for not weighing a hundred and twenty.
Don't fucking pick on me for having an accent.
Don't fucking pick on me because you think you could've put it better.
And don't fucking pick on me because you've been around for a week longer.

This seems appropriate:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Traffic in Perth

Riding the train in Perth is probably the same as riding the train in any other bigger city out there. I can't tell you much about NYC and I can definitely tell you it's nothing like Mumbai, but you get the idea.

I'm not sure whether it's the busy lifestyle or the relaxing way of life that makes it so, but people here actually use the time they spend being driver back and forth. Be it reading, updating their correspondence or simply playing on their iPads.

School kids - who you can easily notice, since they wear uniforms) - sit on the floor, each playing on their phone, giggling and hoping no one's going to disturb them in their fun. Sometimes it's weird and annoying, but I'd rather go with that than paranoid people flicking their eyes and looking for any sign of trouble. That just makes me edgy.

Another thing which is not typical for Perth only is the fact that everyone likes to cram up right at the door, while the middle part is right there - so close and yet so far. I just rode next to a guy who kept bumping me with his backpack, obviously not being aware by its size and weight. But that happens a lot.

Even though the people are usually quite decent on the train, I somehow have the feeling that they're still lacking some awareness regarding others. A guy who's on the phone isn't gonna give a crap about the guy who's crossing the bridge on a bike, even though they have the same right to be there.

Pedestrians have the right to cross the street in theory only, so you have to look in seven directions while crossing the street. It's really weird to see people care about certain stuff as much, and not care at all about other at all. It makes me think...

Claisebrook Station
Perth CBD from Claisebrook Station, where I catch the train to go home from work
Graham Farmer Freeway Bridge in the front, Perth CDB in the background; Claisebrook Station, on the way home from work
Graham Farmer Freeway Bridge with Perth CBD in the background;
taken from Claisebrook Station after work today

The fly

There was a fly buzzing around the office yesterday. If you imagine a dog the size of a bull, take that proportion and you get the size of the fly.

It must've been buzzing all night, because it was still around when I got back to the office. So I took my shoes off, climbed my desk, picked it up with two of my fingers and kindly escorted it out the office door.

No sound was to be heard after it was soother with the initial grip. Two fingers, kung-fu style. And there it was, free.


Not that we're at it, this sounds like some serious haiku material, so here goes.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Out in the Field again

It's early morning, and it's dark outside. I'm not sure if it's today or yesterday, but I know I don't like it. Nevertheless, I have to catch the six-fifteen flight and, being that it's four in the morning, I'm not sure whether I slept at all, or just levitated through the two or three hours of sleep that I got.

The airport is unimaginably busy and probably the last place one would want to be in on a sleepy, cold morning - and with no caffeine in the blood stream. Everyone running around with their luggage, probably going for a meeting or whatever. The drowsiness makes stuff more complicated, so it all seems like a big circus.

Getting to the company house in Kalgoorlie doesn't help much, since the Jeep is completely messed up, the trailer can't be attached and it all seems to be getting more and more complicated. It takes us hours to drive around the city, get the mechanics and electricians to fix it all up, and then another six or so hours to drive to Wiluna.

We get to our destination just before midnight, but being completely tired and worn out, I hit the sack and wake up seven hours later. The morning brought some nicer news, especially when I woke up and realized I was surrounded by palm trees. The thing was that the place we spent the night in is a vineyard located around an oasis in the middle of the desert. Now, the desert isn't a desert in a Sahara way, but it's vast and dry alright.

Spending the night at a desert oasis
The vineyard accommodation in the desert

The field work went alright, with not so much stuff going off course, and with some of the Traditional Owners recognizing me, hooking up and, finally, sharing some stories. My co-worker told them about the research I did back in Croatia, which they listened to carefully, only to exchange some looks, nod in agreement, and share some of their stories.

We have the same thing, you know...

It felt great! The concerns about getting into the community, having them open up and share, and actually take me in popped into my mind very often. It takes a long time, a bunch of nerves and an open mind, so I can only hope I'm headed in the right direction.

Driving back...
Driving back to Wiluna after dropping some of the guys off

Grabbing a sammich at a diner
Dropping in for a sammich along the way, with an elderly couple checking out the news

Desert Sunset
The desert sunset

Shadowed in the desert; taken during the field survey with the whole team

Rearview Sunset
Catching the sunset in the rear mirror

Ant skyscraper and cow poo
Honey ant habitat and a bit of cow poo

So, after two days in the desert (and some will be disappointed to hear there was no camping involved this time), we took off and, this time, flew from Wiluna back to Perth. No driving, no pain in the butt (literally), and a new experience. The airport is tiny, with only two benches, a toilet and a large scale for the luggage. I took the chance to weigh myself when no one was looking, and I realized I'm gaining some weight. Not much, but still.

I've never flown in a smaller-than-usual plane, so the thirteen-seater looked both fancy and scary. I was proven right when I realized how much that thing dances around up there. It was nevertheless a cool experience to fly in it, seeing the pilots do their stuff and be able to take some photos out of the window, and now seeing clouds only.

Wiluna Airport
The Wiluna airport; number of passengers: 13

Flying time
The thirteen-seater that took us back to Perth

Flying in a thirteen-seater
The reason we're all out there after all - a mine

There was a fly on the plane. I tried imagining how it must've felt. I felt weird myself. Being so far away and so high up made me go all existential, you know. Where am I, what am I doing here, am I like this fly, what's the reason for all this, what if we crash, how would I react and would I react at all, and stuff like that...

Weird, isn't it?

Life updated

I’ve wanted to write a lot, but I just haven’t had the time. There always seem to be more pressing matters - whether they indeed are more pressing or not.

Maybe it’s a good thing that I don’t let the time run me over, so I hope you don’t mind me skipping a post here and there.  Sometimes it’s more important to get some sleep, prepare a nice dinner or simply chill out with no stuff on one’s mind.

Life’s been really busy with every passing day and with every new segment of work and life I’ve been involved in. Much more paperwork, many more meetings and dozens of e-mails I get to be CC-ed in make me have to try to get my head around things. I usually do that by taking notes, but when I got to five notebooks at the same time, the point was kind of lost.

Check notebook one for info about the details from the notebook three. Right.

I’ve also been travelling and out in the field a lot lately. Even though I’ve only been to two field surveys, I’m starting to do more and more. I’m actually supposed to lead the next one, which was confirmed for the next week just today. That means I’ll be flying out next Monday again, and flying back on Friday – right in time for the Australian Football League Grand Final.

A large part of your regular Australian’s social life spins around sports, especially football (the Australian kind) and, to a lesser extent, cricket. Soccer is also really in, but it takes a bit of insanity to wake up at four in the night to watch the English league.

I digress. I just use it as a chance to hang out with people, have a couple of laughs and, finally, trying to work out the rules. But considering that I managed the Cricket World Cup in India, I reckon this will be a piece of chocolate cake.

The thing that needs a lot more focus is located outside the city. Being in the desert is not as hard as it sounds, but dealing with people in their own environment, among their own kin and on their land is something that needs mastering.

People have been asking me how it is working with the Aborigines, sleeping out in the open and dealing with everything the desert brings. To tell you the truth, it’s not that different from what I experienced in India – people sitting in a circle on the ground, sipping tea and cracking jokes.

It gets a bit different once you get included into the stuff that’s going on, their personal issues, intra- and inter-community relationships and alike. That’s where your social, negotiation and human skills are supposed to surface. And not even decades of experiences can prepare you for that.

It’s definitely going to take some time to adjust to going out there on a regular basis, spending long (and I mean looong) days out in the bush, and communicating, co-existing and living with these guys day after day.

Most of the things going on are culturally sensitive and often related to a certain gender only. That means that the topic needs to be dealt with in a certain way, respecting the customs, the elders and everyone in general. It’s definitely a special feeling going to places that not even some Aborigines can go to, but it carries a lot of responsibility with it as well.

I just hope I can fill in the boots.

Other than that, I’ve just been trying to take it easy, not respond to all the stress piling up (Australians are luckily the type of people who take it all easy), and enjoy the free time I’ve got on my hands.

I joined H & G for a walk yesterday, and it was lovely. It was sunny and nice and there was a cool breeze that kept it all nicely wrapped up. We went for a round of the Waterfront, grabbed a couple of beers and caught up after a couple of busy weeks that everyone’s had.

 Hm, so may of my posts end up being I-posts, which I’m trying to avoid. It’s just hard to write about stuff that’s going on without starting a sentence with I. Or without writing in the third person, which might be an even worse solution.

I will try to write in more detail though, kind of more on a story side than diary style. So we’ll see how that goes…

For now, here's a couple of photos from yesterday arvo down by the Swan river waterfront...

A palm tree, mmm... (I'm a sucker for these...)

The city skyline

Seagulls almost shat us all over while sitting at a pub by the river

And last but not the least, the tired, beer craving me, having a drink at the Waterfront.

I'm not this thin. It's the new camera.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I know, I know.

And I do know. It's been a while. So much to write, but so little time.

I'll try to write when I can. I have bits and pieces laying all round. I just have to get them all together.

Here's a teaser until that happens...

Perth. I like.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


So, I went to a Japanese karaoke bar with a couple of co-workers the other day.

The reason why I haven't mentioned it before is that I just started coming back to my senses. The weird thing is that I went there with some of my co-workers, including some people who're basically running a lot of stuff in the office.

We first had a couple of drinks at the office, sitting outside and chatting about stuff. I taught one person how to say some things and once I got back from the kitchen, half of the people were yelling "jebeni zaaaakon", which means something like fucking awesome. I should've gotten the hint there and then...

Anyway, after being offered two rides home, I still said yes to the crazy plan of going to a Japanese karaoke bar in the CBD and that's were we ended up. I was talking to the guys how I'm sure it's a great way to bond, but I'm not a particular fan. I mean, I sing and hum all the time, but getting up on the stage and singing is a bit of a different story.

But I wanted to give it a try anyway (since I was there), so I applied while I had the guts and the next song was mine. It was Englishman in New York, which was kind of appropriate for the situation I found myself in.

Being that we got there really early, the bar quickly started filling up with regulars, everyone was saying hi and I ended up meeting a lot of people, drinking uncountable beers (I even said no to some rounds being offered) and, if I remember right, I was hit on by someone who I'd just met. She liked the fact that I was 30 even though she thought I looked too young at first. She told me that.

So yeah, after basically having spent the last day and a half reminiscing what the hell happened, now I'm thinking about how I'll make it through the BBQ and drinks today...


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Work work (echo echo)

The situation at work is progressing rapidly.

The more I figure out, the more I have to handle. With the knowledge comes responsibility, which can be a lethal combination when you're the guy who offers to help out every once in a while. I do hope no one will try to take advantage of that, because that will make me very angry. Something like that happened yesterday, but I just chucked it in the they-didn't-know drawer. We'll see how it goes.

Anyway, I had to go to one of the Ministry's Departments and check out some files, initially to see how it all works, so that I can do it when I'll need it (and I will). In the end I was stuck there copying four files which took me two hours because the scanner kept dying on me, didn't save properly and persistent with connection errors.

A pain, yeah. I just hope I wasn't left there just to do the job, since I would've done it anyway. But leaving me in there and "calling some people up" doesn't sound really cool to me.

All in all, there's much more organizing and planning, much more research and logistics, and much more to do in general. I have to go to meetings, stay in the loop and get back to everyone on everything I do. Not to mention CC-ing five people in each email (which means I get CC-ed as often)...

I'm going out on another survey out in the bush next week - this time even further up north. It's going to be a combination of an anthropological and archaeological research, which will provide yet another interdisciplinary casserole to my professional kitchen (I don't  have a clue where that comparison came from).

I was told that I would be leading the next survey, with A. (who's showing me around at the moment) shadowing me (his words) and making sure I do everything right. It's work that involves numerous components, out of which each bears its importance and has an essential part. Not to mention the amount of money invested in the whole thing.

So, all in all, it's been busy, but it's been cool as well. It's nice to feel included and filled in on everything that's going on. In Croatia I'd simply be told do this and do that with no additional info. The info and the feedback you get over here makes such a huge difference.

A lot more preparations are to be done, but the majority is almost done, so I'll probably have a chilled out weekend, seeing some friends and visiting some new proud real estate owners for a house-warming party.

You have a good one too, and I'll try to write about the next trip (or whatever's roaming the expanses of my air-deprived head) once I'm back. Enjoy the weekend!

More Perth

Just a couple more photos...

Crossing the street on the way home, with Perth's skyline in the background
Crossing the road on the way home the other day; Perth skyline visible in the background
Drinks after work
Drinks after work last Friday; Perth Waterfront
Sydney vs, Geelong
Sydney vs. Geelong last weekend; tried Fat Yak beer (me like!)
Crossing the rail on the way home, with Perth's skyline in the background
Crossing the railway on the way home; again Perth CBD in the background
A big storm the other day
The hard-core storm that hit us the other day

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First time in the bush

After spending my first couple of days at a survey out in the bush, I came to notice tiny but nevertheless highly noticeable similarities to what I experienced in India.

People looking away, almost uninterestedly; sitting on the ground all around the place, huddling together, separated in smaller groups or even on their own (showing respect to be given to the elders); mumbling under the breath and then just expelling what sounds like a magic spell out there, toward everyone; making jokes in local languages and giggling… It all just seems so familiar.

I didn’t really expect anything in particular, but I’ve had an image of what was coming up - unlike others, who are probably eagerly awaiting detailed feedback on how I did - which I understand, because it’s surely not easy to rely on someone you’ve just hired to do the job properly. Especially when it’s so sensitive.

Being that there’s also a fair amount of driving to be done (half of the way is flight, the other half or so driving a 4WD), I had my initiation and, boy, did I have one! I was driving with my co-worker and two of the elders into the sunset, the Sun shining into my face, bouncing off the hood and piercing me with its rays from a couple more directions. It’s a non-asphalted road, straddling the countryside in a straight line, and lined by low vegetation on the sides.

Nothing but that, an occasional rabbit, kangaroo or eagle, and the mighty Sun. The sunset was kick ass nevertheless, at least the bit that I managed to actually see.

All in all, there I was, sitting in the bush, sharing an orange and sipping tea with the elders (who filled me in on some basic vocabulary), the initiated men, right next to what is probably their most sacred site. I had the privilege and the chance to go to where even non-initiated Aborigines aren’t allowed to go.

Now, doesn’t that kick ass?!

Aaaaaand, we're off!
Taking off from the Work House in Kalgoorlie
The Gwalia (meaning Wales in Welsh) mining site in Leonora, where H.C. Hoover (the later-to-be president of the US of A) was hired to work as a geologist
Right as I thought to myself how good we were doing, we got a sunflower-shaped blow up
Hoover's house (now the whole complex is a museum)
One of the bedrooms (some people thought it was my new place when they saw the photo, hahaha)
The Gwalia mining site
Our Toyota in front of the Hoover House (built in 1898, I think)
List of the miners working at the site at the time
The site from the air (a photo of a photo)
The office house and she shadow of my nose and hat
Preparing the road
Bottles and old cars and stuff
Driving back
The scenery (and this is still quite lush and green, compared to the summer and what lies further inland)
Eucalyptus trees, which catch fire as easily as pine trees, which of course created huge problems and large fires
I saw a couple of kangaroos (and had to watch out not to hit one along the way, since they jump out), rabbits, hawks, owls, ravens and similar
Red sand
Washing the car before leaving for the airport
Google Earth image of the tracks we took - so cool!


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