Saturday, February 23, 2013

Going on the trip of your life and ending up robbed by Murphy

I'm sitting in my friends' backyard, cat sitting and pondering upon existence.

It sounds pretentious, I know. But it, unfortunately, doesn't make me smart. It just bums me out.

They flew to Europe, and barely made it to start with, because, kahem, someone forgot their passport. It was all good in the end, but it would be way too nerve-wrecking for me (not that something similar never happened to me).

I, on the other hand, am so paranoid with my passport that I check my pocket every seven seconds, which probably makes me the most suspicious bloke at the airport.

And now I'm going for a trip in Myanmar, which just happened somehow, and I didn't even have time to think about it.

Is that a good thing  I keep thinking to myself. Travelling yes, but barely being aware of it? Going on a trip, but only being able to think about what awaits you when you're back?

Looking forward to your trip, but then letting the most important things slip your mind? That's something that, amazingly enough, I see happening to me, and it scares the crap out of me.

When we're young and broke, we would do anything to travel. And then work turns you in this drone whose mind becomes caged.

Why does Murphy always take the charge?

I don't and won't accept it!

Myanmar, see you in a week!

Clear blue skies in Perth today...

Friday, February 22, 2013

'Cause I've got one hand in my pocket, and the other one is... holding my passport with a visa

My Myanmar visa is here!

There's a
thin line
between feeling
happy about it
freaked out by the fact
the trip's coming up

Can't wait though!

My #Myanmar visa is here!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dress code

It's one of the things that annoys the shit out of me. Not as grossly, but almost literally.

After making sure I don't forget my room card, I take the elevator down to the restaurant and take a table for two in the far corner. I bring my iPad, so I'm checking my e-mail, dropping lines back and checking if someone's on Skype. There's a couple of rather loud couples scattered at tables around me, but I'm too hungry to care.

I sit there and nothing happens. I don't know if I'm invisible, but I surely don't think I am. Waiters walk around, busy around some fancy people, and I'm not getting less hungry. All of a sudden there is a waitress, obviously intended to go through the back entrance, who notices me and stops abruptly:

- Are you okay there?

- Yes, thank you. Could you tell me what beers you have?

She looks around, as if to receive a confirmation from someone and asks me a counter question:

- How did you get in?

Slightly annoyed, because I know where this is going, I explain that I came for dinner from upstairs.

- Oh, I didn't see you there...

She pretty much leaves it hanging in the air, as if waiting for further explanation as to how I got teleported to the restaurant table.

- Are you staying at the hotel?

I'm going purple.

Yes, I'm staying in the fucking hotel! Just because I'm not suffocating in a suit and a tie doesn't mean I rocked up from the neighbourhood squat!

- Yes, I am. Could I have a pint of Fat Yak?

She scans me again, probably checking for my wallet.

- I will get a menu and then I'll tell you what kinds of beer we have.

She walks away toward the reception, exchanges a couple of words with other staff, and they all give me a bit of a glance from afar. One day I'll flip out and make such a scene I'll get kicked out from the chain of hotels for sure. But it will probably be worth it.

After I finally ordered the beer and got the menu, I kindly ask for Gorgonzola gnocchi and Rocket salad.

- Both at the same time?

I'm just blinking there. Like when you drop a glass and someone asks you if you dropped a glass. No, I climbed the Everest. I wish I had a glass. I'd like to break at least one now.

- Yes, please.

- Very well. It won't be long.

Those were, truth be told, her first nice words to me. Don't get me wrong - I'm not the classiest man out there, but wearing grey trousers and a dark blue top doesn't mean I'm a homeless person crashing a dinner. Besides, I have my room key on my table and I ask to check if they just charge it to my room.

Bottom line, even if I were a rock star, the prime minister's son, a hobo or a businessman, you're expected to serve me if I'm sitting at the table. At least be polite and ask me questions (if needed) in a polite manner. I could easily be a billionaire, coming down for dinner in my pyjamas - who the fuck cares?! And who the hell dares  judge?!

It just pisses me off so badly! Just because I'm not all suited up, I get scanned and doubted. Even in Australia, where everyone's pierced and tattooed and what not. I was outraged by both the circumstances and the attitude.

There could be a guy running a brothel on the 14th floor, but his suit would surely ask as an immunity cloak. Twenty-year-old volunteers sit in their T-shirts and no one doubts they can pay for their beer. Fuck that, and fuck you!

The food was nice and tasty alright, but everything else was sour. Judgemental, shallow, scared... That's what you are! And if you're treating all your customers that way, good luck!

I'm not getting into a fight with people who handle my food - I'm not that stupid. But I have a slight feeling that the next time it happens I won't give a fuck anymore...


Just a quick photo update from the Australian capital...






Friday, February 8, 2013

Please, pass the remote, God.

I so need a remote to deal with some people.

Just on and off.
A small on and a big off.
A tiny on (so you need a toothpick to click it),
and a gigantic off (so you can hit it at any time).



Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Traveling into the Unknown

It's so exciting, booking hotels and buses and trains and boats and stuff in a place you've never been to.

It's amazing how it slips your mind when it doesn't happen often. Or at least as often as you'd want.

And you start to panic a bit – in a good way, but still.

Will it all work out?
What's the hotel going to look like?
Are we going to get lost in this gigantic city?

And then you get tingles because you're going someplace really amazing, mysterious and unfamiliar, and even a bit dangerous.

You don't tell that to your mother, of course...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Je suis fatigué.

All this stuff seems to be draining me.

The move, the organising, the boxing up. No one's replying e-mails, phone lines are busy, the queues are so long.

In the morning I have to have a giant mug of coffee to function, then after lunch (because all the bloods avoids my brain, and then I have to have another one to wrap up the day's work or I start speaking nonsense.

At the same time, I'm looking for the week off, and fearing the twenty of them that will follow it...

Luckily, my friends are helping me out, which makes it easier. I get to hang around more and more.

Last weekend I went to a bush doof – an open air party in the Australian bush. It was busy, hot and interesting, but most of all fun. Even though I was there with a bunch of people I've never met before, the atmosphere was positive, I got to lie around in my hammock, and I got a thank you note from the guys who organised it. Ain't that sweet?

Anyway, planning the Myanmar trip, trying to sort out the visa (which gets a bit more complicated as I have to mail it to Canberra, even thought I'm flying there on Sunday), checking out sights, organising the carpet cleaning, apartment viewings, friends' cats being taken care of, sorting out address changes, grocery shopping, systematic packing, staying sane...

The Chill Out Stage we all helped create...
Chill Floor
The Festival Foot
I even got my feet dirty...

Monday, February 4, 2013


Indigenous communities in Australia are well known for thabul (better know as taboo), which basically means they're not supposed to use some words. The thing is that people don't really have an idea about what those words are.

I reckon the first things that pop into most people's mind is private parts, 'sex' and similar, but there's much more to it. Honestly, I had my concern about it when I first started doing a bit of a background research, and after I realised how much more lay behind it.

The interesting part starts with figuring out all the numerous situations occur, when you’re supposed to follow the rules or suffer the consequences.
  • Avoid family relations – a man doesn’t have any relations whatsoever with his mother-in-law, which can prove to be very difficult when I’m supposed to pick them up in the same car; also sister and brother after he’s been initiated etc.
  • Hunt totem animals/plants – a person gets a certain totem depending of his family background, place of conception or birth, where she/he lives etc.
  • Avoid saying certain things out loud – usually closely regarded to initiation, but also widely used in men-only or women-only situations, e.g. men will discuss men stuff and women will simply scatter around, and vice versa.
  • Women are not to play the didgeridoo – this is especially noticeable in social situations, which are regulated by the Dreaming Law; some ethnomusicologists believe the situation is changing, especially in the contemporary development; even though the taboo is supposed to refer to Aboriginal women only, Nicole Kidman was said to have broken that taboo by blowing into the didgeridoo on German television (and thus cast a shadow on that custom, making others think it was okay to do so), and was said to be barren due to that.
  • Avoid naming the deceased – saying the deceased person’s name brings grief of the family and friends, and is thus replaced by a replacement word which is, amazingly enough, “replacement” (or, in some cases, this and this person's mother; someone's neighbour etc); the struggle starts when you’re dealing with names like Friday, Alice and Rose, and you’re trying to say you’re meeting your friend in Alice Spring on A Friday – what you’d say would quite literally be “I meeting replacement on replacement in replacement’, and you won’t be able to use the words rose, rosebush etc; it is thus a common practice to use more and more really exotic names (Binbeal, Dorak, Mearann, Pindan, Ungud, Gymea, Lournea, Apanie, Oranta etc)…

And on that note, I shall tell you a story about the name I’m being called.

Being that my name is rather unusual (and my surname even more), there's an incredibly slight chance that it might become taboo. Nevertheless, it's unfamiliar and hard to pronounce, so I figured I'd be baptised something else.

Even though I had already done a couple of surveys before, it was the big meeting we had up in the desert that was supposed to be the moment I actually get introduced to the community. Everyone was gathered around, the women, the elders and the initiated men, while kids ran around and made quite an admirable amount of mess.

One of the lawyers said she wanted to introduce me, but as soon as she said my name, we realised it's not going to be as easy. Because they rely on their family relations, they wanted to know more about my background – a bit about where I come from, what my history is and, finally, what my full name is.

I tried pronouncing it as slow and understandable as I could, but it didn't work, even with the help of a microphone. Our lawyer found it funny and used the chance to giggle at me and make me repeat it a couple of times. To make up for it, I had to make a round and show my face to everybody, after which a new topic was started. The community was, nonetheless, immensely intrigued by the whole thing and, even though we would meet each other more often in the future, they wanted to sort that out.

They told the lawyer they wanted to sort it out, so – based on my initials, which are MM – they would call me M&M. Everyone agreed, there was a bit of a murmur and that was it. I was in!

Being that I'm a bit of a newb out there, the nickname would work out just fine. After all, initials are often used as a way of referring to someone or calling after them. And it's not even the first time I got called that (previous trips resulted in some people calling me M&M), so it kind of made sense.

Until everyone else picked it up and my new name was spread around the office and stating that M&M – being I'm white and all that – is actually Eminem, after which I've been dubbed Slim, Double M, Marshall etc.

And something tells me it's not going to stop there...


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