Here And There And Everywhere.

I  watched  Dancing With The Stars-our local NZ version of course-and I rooted for the charming, handsome Tamati Coffey. Not that Barbara Kendall was bad at all. Just that Tamati is such a gorgeous dude 🙂

Just back from Australia, Melbourne to be precise and I keep thinking about the crap media in that country. Nothing that reflects the diversity on the streets, nothing. I love Melbourne. It is a great, photogenic city, lots of buzz, many things happening, the public transport is superb and the shopping is great fun too. Then I look at the television shows and I see crap. Big haired blondes and blokes going yeay-yeah (that is my bad version of the Australian accent).  I always look forward to visiting Melbourne. This time I decided to check out places I had not been to. One day I went all the way to Heidelberg. This is a northern suburb and you have to change to the Hurstmere line at Flinders St. Station, take a train going towards Eltham and get off at Heidelberg. Then I took a bus-on a Sunday afternoon too-to the Heide Museum For Modern Art. There is an exhibition on modernism in Australia. I love travelling by trains. The stations, the graffiti on the walls, the passengers, the railway stations…these stations in Melbourne are a delightful mix of old, colonial architecture and new fangled structure. Wrought-iron railings, the odd iron filigree on columns supporting the ceiling, electronic signs, clipped announcements and the people. I also like walking the streets of the city. I hung out at St. Kilda and thought it was cool. Except that the Tasman Sea is out of bounds. Imagine living in a seaside city fringe suburb and not  being able to walk over to the beach easily. That is one of things I would miss if I ever lived Melbourne. The easy access to the ocean, the bush and the mountains. Yeah so Melbourne is one of my favourite  cities but Australia? Nah full of Australians mate! And where is black Australia? I visited the Koorie Heritage Trust Cultural Centre on King St and cried at the stories of the Stolen Generation Kevin Rudd apologised but what after? For every Tamati on NZ television and for every Maori word spoken colloquially, I wonder when I will see an indigenous Australian as a normal, regular person on their television? Maybe there is, I just have not seen it.

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I tried to say gl-o-b-al- wa-r-mi-ng through my numb lips but only managed to pout, sexily I hope. This was perhaps the answer to botox and lip plumpers. Mwah mwah. Cheap and easy. All it takes is to be up bright and early on a cold Saturday morning at the Tongariro National Park, to do the Tongarirro Crossing. I could not do the summit of Mt Taranaki-Egmont at the beginning of this year but I was determined to do the crossing. Seven mad hours of hiking with 300 others. It was super!. It is always good to go into the wilderness in New Zealand and get away from it all. With strangers thinking just like you are. To cross a volcano, queue for a pee, tramp across mountains and streams, into the bush. Yeah. Next on the list is Mt Ruapehu…I think.

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Another of my journeys between the long time writing this blog and the previous one was to South Auckland. I went to Manurewa (instead of Mangere where I was supposed to be). It was between two appointments, one at the Nathan Homestead in Manurewa, so I thought I would sit in the local library and blog. The library was shut, it was getting dark-not yet the end of daylight savings but getting there, so I sat in my car.  Paranoid, afraid of some South Auckland type wrenching open my door and mugging me or something. Yes I am ashamed. I sat in the car hunched over the eee PC, hungry and almost fainting. I did not want to get out and look for food but I did. Walked to the local shops at the town centre after asking two school girls for directions. It was an interesting place to be. There were buildings that must have been around for a long time, I thought. An old settlement with a colonial history now in the news only for the murders, killings and muggings. On a normal day I would not venture into Manurewa. I have been to the Otahuhu shops but why would I go to Manurewa? I am secure in my middle class, pseudo-intellectual, pseudo-liberal existence in the city fringe. One day I was at the bus stop with those tall, hulking teenagers just out of the local boys college at 3pm and felt intimidated. They spoke a language I didn’t understand. Some kind of hip-hoppy, New Zild, Bro’town accent. These guys are going to get into a fight or do something to me, I thought. Not true. When the bus came they stood aside like gentlemen and let me get in first. After you, they said very sweetly. These are fears I create myself. That evening in Manurewa was revealing. I thought I was cool and inclusive and liberal. How can I explain the cowering little woman in the car? Here is room for improvement and this is going to be one of my tasks. If there is an ‘Other’ then that has to be respected because there is nothing to fear. That is all I can say for now.

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