Last post from Sydney!

As we take a break from packing to enjoy the bounty that is the-last-stuff-in-the-fridge, I thought I’d take the opportunity to make what will no doubt be the last post from Australia for quite some time.

I say "packing" but we are, of course, not actually packing but rather preparing for the packers of OSS (Overseas Shipping Services I believe) to arrive at 7:30 tomorrow morning. As lovely as it sounds to have someone else pack for you I would actually venture that it is far more stressful because of the sheer level of organization required. When you pack for yourself you can organize as you pack: "Hmm, forgot we had that, guess I’ll put this in this box here" "Ah we’ll need that before the Sea shipment comes guess I’ll put that in this box here." Instead,one must provide a detailed inventory to the company some weeks in advance for both insurance purposes and as a guide for the packers THEN, as the day approaches, you have to find ways to ensure that it is communicated to the guys on the day. Having experienced this process to a smaller degree when we were transferred to Sydney, I can attest that packers (as in the guys who come and pack your stuff, not a certain wealthy Australian family with a penchant for gambling from both sides of the table) give a good impression of locusts. They arrive, they buzz about determinedly for what is probably a few hours but feels like a few minutes and when they are gone everything, and I mean everything is gone. I was recently told about a diplomat whose shipment arrived after two months on the sea and eagerly opened it up to find her partially full rubbish bin in a box. Seriously. Think about it. Two months in the sun on a container ship…

So, we are grouping everything in stacks or on shelves with big yellow, blue or pink stickers with Air, Sea or Store on them and hoping we’ve got it all right! Our consultants in the office have asked us to be around to direct everything which is a good sign since the lat guys asked us not to be present – so we should be okay. When it all comes down to it though, by midday Friday everything will be packed and "uplifted" and there will be nothing we can do anymore – which is exactly why I always preferred exams over assignments lol.

Sydney has been … well it’s been. We really, really, should not have lived in The Shire. We chose it because it was 3 minutes from Superman’s work and, frankly, we just didn’t know.  We had some glimpses when we told people where he was working and they said "You’re white, you could live down there." We wondered at the seeming racism but ignored it. No one suggested we NOT live here though. No-one told us that we would never hear a language other than English spoken nor see a complexion darker than ours that wasn’t due to an insane amount of time spent on a tanning bed. No-one told us that in the very few, just-barely-above-supermarket-quality greengrocers here garlic would be found "down there with the other exotic things" or that "brown" is still a descriptive used to describe bread – though "whitebread" is a perfect descriptive for the whole area so that’s probably ok. Having our cars vandalized when they couldn’t break into them three times hasn’t really helped our impressions either…

We were told that, because of the traffic (made worse, especially for new people by the higgledy piggledy civic "planning"), you’d have to "live" where you live  and that was, essentially, true – going into the city from here is a nightmare by car or public transport. Nevertheless I found solace slowly driving the 25 minutes to Hurstville to do my grocery shopping. The Westfield mall there is quite small and has become like a small town market. Every time I went around 11 in the morning I would see a group of ten or so 65+ yr old husbands of various European origin who seem to have made a club house of some sofas near the exit to the car park and chat for seemingly hours while they waited for their wives to finish shopping. I could shop for terribly exotic things like mirin or Chinese cooking wine or – shock horror – homemade kibbe and hummous.  Best of all, I could stand in the medicare line and eavesdrop on little old french ladies lamenting their daughters’ not yet being married or listen in blissful ignorance to the gentle rhythms of Mandarin or the bright clang of Cantonese. When we return we will live in Hurstville I think 🙂

Anyway enough procrastinating, my feet are almost not sore!! Must get back to it. No doubt my next post will be from our new home in Nagoya!!

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