Archive for the 'Australia' Category
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I’m not sure who’s going to do the honors, but somebody is going to have to roll me out of Australia when we leave tomorrow. Seriously. I think I’ve gained at least five pounds on our culinary tour through the country…maybe more. Today we were strolling through the St. Kilda suburb of Melbourne, a lovely, seaside borough brought to life by an old-fashioned boardwalk and amusement park, shabby chic cafes, and eastern European pastry shops. Australia is a country who, much like the United States, has been shaped by immigration, and the culinary landscape is evidence of that. St. Kilda was the domain of Russian and Polish emigres in the 1940s, and the residue is cake shops whose windows gleam with golden fruit-studded babkas and fluffy white pavlovas. I selected a boozy rum cake robed in chocolate, an all-time favorite of mine that is rarely executed well, but whose perfection was achieved today. We waddled down the road, dipping into the vintage clothing stores that dot the streets. I found Mecca at Ruby Red Dress, an exceptional shop with a great selection of vintage finds. I squeezed myself into a darling floral-print jumper from the ’80s, sucking my stomach in as I studied myself in profile in the mirror. “It will be fine by the time we get home,” I assured myself. All hope hangs on next week’s four-day, 30 kilometer hike on the Milford Track.
I threw caution to the wind four weeks ago and decided to enjoy myself as I ate my way through Australia. The wineries of Western Australia produced outstanding fare, Adelaide’s Central Market was impressive, and Melbourne’s global cuisine is unrivaled. A trip to the city’s Immigration Museum was a lesson in Australian history; Europeans poured into the country at the first part of the 1900s, opening restaurants, cafes, and bakeries that reflected their cultural heritage. We sipped lattes from Melbourne’s first espresso machine at Pellegrini’s, a cozy, Italian neighborhood restaurant whose simple menu perched above the counter. A slice of traditional almond cake, layered with airy chocolate and delicate plums, was something I couldn’t get a home. We tucked into Borscht, Vodka, and Tears one blustery evening, whose menu touted “modern Polish cuisine.” I never knew there was such a thing as modern Polish cuisine. Page upon page of vodka cocktails (I ordered one the color of blush, mixing grapefruit juice and melon vodka, a perfect balance) gave way to dressed-up classics like pierogi and Polish sausage, which we enjoyed as candles flickered all around us. We indulged on chocolate “tapas” at San Churro and real tapas at Basque, offering bite-sized portions of Spanish classics like spicy strips of chorizo and piping hot patatas bravas. I sighed in disappointment when we learned that the Fitzroy neighborhood’s Babka Bakery Cafe was closed, and laughed when I passed by a restaurant called Gluttony It’s a Sin. If that’s true, then I’m a sinner of the highest degree!
Eating my way through Melbourne was a visceral way to experience Australia’s amazing diversity. The country is proud of its multicultural make-up, but there are looming questions as to how to handle immigration into the future. It’s a vast country, comprised of only 21 million people, but most of that land is in the middle and uninhabitable. The cities that ring the country are, at least by Australian standards, packed, although even this is a point of debate. At the Immigration Museum we learned how policy has shaped the country: at one point, one in two immigrants was English. Now, Asians comprise one of the largest immigrant populations, and the city’s famed Asian cuisine is evident in this trend. It is clear that complex questions are inherent in issues of immigration. (In one particularly fun and interactive exhibit we were asked to “interview” and make decisions on different immigration cases throughout history, based on the current immigration policy of the era. The task of making decisions to accept or reject an applicant was surprisingly difficult, even in a simple museum setting. I can only imagine what it’s like to be faced with the task of ruling on people’s fates in a real-life setting.) But it’s clear that the people who have adopted Australia as their home have added a great deal to many aspects of the country, and certainly to its culinary landscape.1 comment
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Until now, we’ve been out of touch with the presidential election. For those of you back home who have been inundated with election news for months, this must seem impossible. We didn’t learn until recently that Sarah Palin’s name is pronounced Pay-lin, not Paw-lin, and I think we’re the only people on the face of the earth who haven’t seen Tina Fey’s controversial impression of her on Saturday Night Live. The only news we’ve received has been through brief glances at Internet reports or snatches of stories from Americans we’ve met while traveling. But despite the paucity of news, we’ve observed intense interest in the election while traveling the world. We are constantly asked, “When is the election? Who do you think will win? Who do you want to win?” And as the election has drawn closer, we have been badgered with one question: have you cast your ballot? There is clearly a vested interest in the outcome of this election from all corners of the globe.
It felt odd to spending this historic election so far from home, and we wanted nothing more than to be with our countrymen on Election Day, which, given the monumental time difference, falls on Wednesday in Australia. A quick Google search revealed that Democrats Abroad was hosting a party at the Maori Chief Hotel in Melbourne from 10:30 am until “late.” Finger food was promised. We weren’t sure who would attend a party mid-morning on a Wednesday, and feared that we’d walk into a geriatric scene. As we approached the hotel on foot, we saw a sea of Obama ’08 shirts spilling out of a packed bar. Beer, sweat, and anticipation filled the air, and we were directed to an upstairs banquet room. CNN blasted from a large screen television, and we were immediately greeted by Sandeep, the Vice President of Democrats Abroad’s Melbourne Chapter, who was sporting an Uncle Sam Hat, an Obama T-shirt, and a blue velveteen blazer studded with Obama ’08 buttons. He said he was so excited that he couldn’t sleep last night.
We ducked our head into a small room, where partygoers palming schooners of beer were packed in like sardines. Early election results were sprinting across the screen, and a news crew filmed footage of the rabid Democrats, who were pumping their fists and chanting, “O-bam-a, O-bam-a!” We angled for a seat on the outside patio, which was also screening CNN, and settled in for a long afternoon. I immediately noticed the mix of people, from young college students to professionals to retirees. Most of them lived in Australia, and I couldn’t help but wonder how they got the time off work to attend this soirée. As I listened to the unfolding conversations, I was surprised by the number of Australians who had turned out to watch the results. Some were partnered with Americans, but many of them were there to celebrate what they hoped would be a victory.
As Florida and Iowa went to Obama, big cheers waved through the rooms. A cannon shot of victory exploded as it was announced that Obama had taken Ohio. “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation,” Wolf Blitzer reminded us. The most excited viewer was Ishmael from England, who donned skinny black jeans, a funky white shirt, and clapped at everything. I overheard him recount the story of the first time he had heard Obama speak. Ishmael was watching television in Cambodia when Senator Obama was broadcast questioning Condolezza Rica. “I saw this man, who was obviously so smart, and I thought, ‘Who is he?’ I asked my girlfriend to look him up on the Internet. And I knew. I just knew: he was something special.” It was as if he had single-handedly discovered Obama and carried him on his shoulders to the White House. Still, I couldn’t help but admire the guy’s enthusiasm.
Our BLT was delivered (how much more American can you get?), and only the West Coast votes remained to be counted, when a riot of applause swept through the rooms. Suddenly, the television screen flashed, “Obama Elected President.” Ismael was on his feet, screaming. As footage began playing of supporters in Chicago, I watched tears roll down one woman’s cheek. Another man, held in rapt attention, began to cry, his lower lip quivering. We watched McCain’s concession speech in near silence, except for the periodic heckler. When McCain referred to Senator Obama, a lone, Australian-accented voice piped up from the back, “That’s President Obama!” The troops refueled as we waited for Obama to give his acceptance speech, ordering rounds of frothy Cooper’s beer. A bottle of Dom Perignon champagne was produced, chilling in a rustic Budweiser bucket. We knew this would be the pinnacle of the day – indeed, of the last two years. It was the moment we had been waiting for.
As Obama made his way to the stage, a shiver ran up my arms. He began his speech, and electric silence took over. I carefully scanned the room, watching men and women, old and young, Americans and Australians, wipe tears from their eyes. The feeling of hope and optimism that gripped this room, thousands of miles from where the action was taking place, was palpable. I was completely moved, and soon hot tears streamed from my eyes. As Obama referenced the people abroad who were watching this election, a cheer of pride raced through the room. I finally understood, on a very real level, the impact of American politics abroad.
The crowd slowly dispersed after the speech ended, and the mood shifted to a festive party atmosphere. Australians were congratulating Americans, shaking our hands, and we all expressed our genuine hope and excitement for the years to come. It’s sometimes hard to be an American traveling overseas. We as solitary citizens are often blamed for the unpopular politics of our government, and it’s sometimes hard to hear others’ impressions of our nation. But today, as a grassroots participant in this truly global election, I am proud to be an American.7 comments
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
When I was a kid, I spent every weekend with my father. My parents have been divorced since I was two, and their joint custody agreement dictated that I spend non-school days with him. As it was, spending time with my father was like entering a different world where even the furniture seemed foreign.
The centerpiece of my bedroom were massive solid stained wood Ethan Allen bunk beds, laid out like an L. Despite their solid appearance, climbing on the beds revealed an unfortunate alternate reality. The entire construction would start to creek and moan, and the slightest movement of my body would amplify the beds into a terrifying wobble, belying a potential structural failure.
Picking the lower or upper bunk was the toughest choice. On one hand, I could sleep on the bottom and risk getting the top half of my body crushed by 500 pounds of oak. On the other, I could take my chances on the top, riding the giant bed down, perhaps only suffering spinal injuries and a lifetime of physical therapy.
Undoubtedly one the biggest disappointments of this trip has been having to prearrange accommodations much of the time, as we’ve been traveling much of the world during high season. I was, however, completely confident that we would visit Australia during shoulder season, and would have our choice of prime rooms.
My first inkling of my faulty thinking came in the form of a tall, frizzy-haired Aussie man we met while hiking in 100 degree weather in Cappadocia. He had the air of a slacker who drank his fair share of beer and enjoyed the ladies. As we walked, he proclaimed that, if we were lucky, the greatest party in Australia, the Melbourne Cup, could coincide with our visit and we’d be wise to book ahead. The most famous horse race in Australia, the Melbourne Cup apparently surpasses even the Kentucky Derby in its popularity, warranting a public holiday. It may have been the dehydration, but I quickly removed this thought from my mind.
Two weeks before arriving to Melbourne, we started to hear lots of press about the Melbourne Cup. I asked Liz if the big event would take place during our visit. Yep. Alarm bells went off in my head, and I immediately contacted several hostels and hotels. My dream of having our pick of rooms quickly evaporated as place after place informed us they had already been completely booked for quite a while. Then, the well-regarded Claremont Hotel informed us that they had a private double room available with bunk beds but shared bathroom during our desired dates. Panicked, I quickly snapped it up.
“It won’t be so bad,” Liz and I reassured each other. She quickly claimed the bottom bunk upon check in, relegating me to six nights of high-altitude sleeping. The bed itself must be a model Ikea sells direct to hostels and university dormitories. It has a minimalist, mass-produced appearance, with thin, black painted steel bars which give the feeling of a hospital bed. My bunk lets out an ear-splitting, prolonged creak each time I lay down or get up, and a coil pokes my hip when I try to sleep on my side. The ladder to the top bunk has two small hooks holding it in place, and climbing must be an exact science, or it will pivot from the top and crash loudly back into the bed frame. Each trip up and down makes me lament the loss of the pliable bones I once had as a child, making bunk bed sleeping possible.
Getting older (I am in my 30s, after all) has gifted me something else: the need to pee at least once during the night. If I’ve had a few drinks, double that number. Once trivial, the process of going to the bathroom has lengthened to a 10-minute ordeal. The process goes something like this:
- Sit up in bed as quickly as possible to minimize the god awful creaking sound.
- Slide body to the end of the bed and hang my legs over the edge, taking care not to castrate myself on the metal “footboard.”
- Slowly lower myself down the ladder, taking care not to bang ladder against the bed frame or, worse, fall and break bones.
- Rummage through clothes to find something presentable for my public appearance in the hallway.
- Slip on flip flops, taking care not to step on the trick floorboard, which also makes a god awful creaking sound.
- Go to bathroom, making sure not to close our room door too loudly, waking up the entire floor.
- Reenter room, taking care to avoid the trick floorboard, while disrobing.
- Make the perilous journey back up the ladder, slide the upper half of my body on the bed, legs flailing helplessly in the air.
- Mentally prepare for god awful creaking sound #2, flipping my body around and quickly laying back down.
- Ponder the absurdity of this process for an additional 10 minutes.
This was not our first experience with bunk beds. In Fremantle (see Backpacker Hell post), we also landed a bunk bed room at the Old Firestation hostel. Our saving grace was that the bottom bunk mattress was sized for two people. But many of our hostel rooms have come with two twin beds, separated by a small nightstand. Experiencing this very Ward and June Cleaver-esque sleeping arrangement is certainly not conducive to modern marriage. “Good night, Ozzie,” Liz calls through the darkened room. “Good night, Harriet.”No comments
Monday, November 3, 2008
When we were in Bhutan, we asked our guide, Dorji, if McDonald’s had arrived in Thimphu, the capital city, yet. “Oh yes,” said Dorji, gravely. “It is the only place in town where you can buy hamburgers. Would you like to see?” I wondered if the hamburgers would be cloaked in chiles and cheese, and if the Playland would be festooned with merry-go-rounds fashioned after prayer wheels. Or maybe the Happy Meals would come with a McBuddha action figure. Instead, we arrived at a small place called The Swiss Bakery, what amounted to a chalet-style cafe, with no iconic golden arches in sight. Inside, we could choose from a menu that consisted of dodgy-looking pastries, coffee and tea, and hamburgers. It dawned on us that, in Dorji’s mind, McDonald’s wasn’t a brand name but an institution synonymous with hamburgers. And since the Swiss Bakery was the only one serving up patties in this neck of the woods, it might as well have been McDonald’s.
We couldn’t bear to let him down, so we ordered a desiccated chocolate cake and settled down at a booth, the only thing that bore any resemblance to a real McDonald’s. Within minutes a Bhutanese woman breezed in the door with a pack of school-aged children dancing in her wake. Her English was impeccable, with a slight British inflection, and the children’s language abilities were equally impressive. These were Bhutanese of a certain class, the ones who go abroad to study and return to cushy government positions. Dorji had told us that they have a propensity towards all things Western, so we weren’t surprised when she ordered a round of hamburgers for everyone. The arrived wrapped in limp plastic steaming with condensation; the whirring of the microwave in the background moments earlier gave a clue as to their heat source. An emaciated patty was sandwiched between a bakery-style bun; there were no vegetables.
As the kids doused their hamburgers in ketchup, they chatted in English. The woman, obviously the mother of the girl dressed in pink, suddenly turned toward me and asked me where I was from. Within moments, the woman, talking a million miles a minute, revealed that she had recently appeared in a Bhutanese film, Travellers and Magicians. Although she worked professionally at the Bank of Bhutan and had never acted a day in her life, she landed a role in the film, and even went to Los Angeles for the premiere, where she was given “the red carpet treatment.” She even got to ride in a limousine. Deki was eager to know if we had seen the film; I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I’d never even heard of it. “Well,” she sighed, “it was back to Bhutan for me. No more limousines. Just my little red car.” She jotted down the name of the movie and her email address as Dorji approached our table. They spoke a few minutes in Bhutanese, and suddenly she was off.
We watched her make her way out to her little red car as the children piled in. “She was in a Bhutanese movie,” we told Dorji. “I know,” he said, “she told me.” He had never heard of it either.
* * *
Yesterday we found ourselves at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne, a must-see for anyone with an interest in film. Home to a number of exhibitions pertaining to the cinematic world, it also contains a number of theatres that play host to a rotating series of independent films and thematically exciting film festivals. An image of Buddha on a poster caught me eye as we passed by. “It’s a Buddhist Film Festival!” I said. Maikael studied the poster, looking at the list of films that were being screened. “Look what’s playing!” he cried. Travellers and Magicians. We glanced at the dates of the week-long festival: it was ending today. “What are the odds that this film is playing today?” we asked ourselves. Miraculously, its one and only screening of the festival was in a few hours.
The film was the embodiment of Bhutan, and everything was immediately familiar, like a giant memory blowing into my mind. Sweeping scenery, flapping prayer flags, dried chiles, terraced rice fields, gray ghos and colorful kiras, balls of rice, Indian trucks filled with hitchhikers, monks, magic, mystery, and folklore. The opening scene showed three men yelping as they scored an archery victory, and we smiled broadly, remembering the day we watched the Prince of Bhutan play in the national archery semifinals. This audience tittered when one character warned another about ghosts on the highway at night. Unless you’d been to Bhutan, you’d never know that warning was no joke.
The storyline revolves around a government worker who is dying to leave Bhutan for America, and when an opportunity arises he tries to make his way to Thimphu, a journey that takes days from his tiny village and is thwarted at every opportunity. The government worker meets a monk along his journey, and when he tells the monk he is leaving for America, his “dreamland,” the monk warns him against chasing empty dreams. The monk shares a fable with the government worker to illustrate his point, which becomes a parallel storyline.
I squealed when Deki’s unmistakable face appeared on the screen, the starring woman in the alternate storyline. Leaning across my seat I whispered to Maikael, “Can you believe we met that woman?” She was a pretty good actress for a government worker, and we found it ironic that she was starring in a film about the dangers of chasing Western ideals. The film was as much about Buddhism as it was about Bhutan: just as I experienced when I visited, the two things are inextricably bound together. Bhutan is struggling mightily with the encroachment of the Western world; most people used to be relatively happy with their lot, but with television in most homes, people see there is more to want. Buddhists believe the only path to happiness is to desire less.
So there we were, watching a Bhutanese film starring a Bhutanese woman we knew in a movie theatre in Australia, on the only day at the only time it was showing at a one-week film festival. It was all a little too bizarre, and I knew the Bhutanese would say it was no coincidence. We were meant to see that film.
At the end of the screening, a graduate student of Buddhist philosophy, visiting from Sydney, was on hand on answer questions about the film. He wasn’t Bhutanese, but with his shorn head and long, gray robe I guessed he was Buddhist. Someone asked him to give his interpretation of the film, and he stated that the central theme was a struggle between accepting our lot in life and aspiring for something greater. “At the end of the day, do we remain content with what we have, or crazily chase after our dreams? Which is better?” He explained that he wasn’t there to say which one was right, and that Buddhists believe that you have to inquire and question and struggle with yourself to find the right answer; the reason, he explained, why the ending to the film was intentionally left open-ended. “You have to give meaning to your own life,” he insisted.
This Buddhist man had unwittingly summed up the central struggle of not only the film but my own life. For years I have wondered if I should accept the fact that my life didn’t turn out as I had planned and continue with the status quo that I had set for myself, or if I should try to aim for something that’s more in line with who I am as a person. The greatest thing I’m struggling with now is that I don’t have a dream to “crazily chase after.” In the past, I have tried to solve the big questions of my life through occupational means, convinced that choosing a new career would be the key. In fact, I’m fighting not to fall into the same trap again, as new career ideas are percolating in the background.
That night, I had the most vivid dream. I dreamed that I was a substitute teacher for a small, mixed classroom of elementary and middle school children. When I took over the class we were working on an art project that I was helping the kids to finish. As I stepped into this role, largely unprepared, I felt immediately comfortable and at east, as if I had been a teacher my whole life. Suddenly, I found myself in a conversation with my “dream self,” who I can only guess is my subconscious, that great ruler of the dream world. This has never happened to me before.
I asked my “dream self” what this meant. “Does this mean I should be a school teacher?” I asked. “No,” she responded, confident and clear, “it’s a symbol. You will be a type of teacher, but not in a traditional way, or the way you think.” In fact, I have always regarded my role as a counselor as a teacher more than anything. In the dream I was teaching art, and my “dream self” somehow seemed to know that what I would teach people would have to do with creativity.
I’m not sure what the dream means, but I can only guess that seeing that movie unlocked something in me. I am vowing to make a conscious effort to avoid immediately jumping into a new career or endeavor when I return from this trip, to begin a quiet search for the different ways that being a teacher might manifest itself in my life. The astrologer in India told me that I would come into contact with many spiritual people during this year, and so far that is holding true. The path I’m on is invisible at the moment, but I feel my feet are treading on something, real and true.No comments
Friday, October 31, 2008
Today is Halloween, and I’m really bummed to be missing out. Not only is it my favorite holiday, but it falls on a Friday night this year, making it a particularly sad year to be gone: we undoubtedly would have held a big bash. Halloween isn’t a big deal in Australia which surprises me, given the fact that it’s an excuse to party (not that the Australians need one). So I won’t see any sweet kids dressed as black cats, witches, scarecrows, or devils. I can’t pass candy out at the door as the young ones shriek, “Trick or treat!” There won’t be any pumpkins winking at me as I drive through the twilight neighborhoods. And I won’t get to wear a costume, which has always been my favorite part of Halloween; an opportunity to be someone other than who you are. Since this trip has turned into a quest to (re)discover who I am, maybe it’s not a bad thing that I’m missing out on dressing up.
Since there won’t be any sweets to gnaw on tonight, I’ve discovered a new vice: iced coffee in a carton. Ben and Colleen introduced me to this saccharine, caffeine-crazy drink, which can be procured in any grocery store, restaurant, or cafe. In South Australia, iced coffee is wildly popular, outselling Coca-Cola! Rather than spending a princely sum for a dressed up concoction at Starbucks, I can enjoy the same beverage for a fraction of the price. And with summer just around the corner – at least in the Southern Hemisphere – it’s the perfect sweet treat. It’s no substitute for good old fashioned Halloween candy (why do the little packets always taste better?), but it comes pretty close!4 comments
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Adelaide is an underrated city. Most international visitors head for straight for Sydney, or maybe Melbourne, never making it this far. I swear I’m not working for the tourist bureau, but believe me when I say that Adelaide offers something for everyone. It’s a lovely city to walk around; old Victorian buildings, outfitted with frilly wrought-iron balconies, sit affably alongside their modern counterparts, creating a dynamic cityscape. The Torrens River cuts an elegant swath through the town paralleled by miles of lanes, shaded by mature, arched trees, to bike or jog down. One afternoon we sat by the river and watched groups of young men in crew teams silhouetted against the late afternoon sky, as a gigantic, snowy pelican swooped down to perch on the dock.
The city center boasts a vibrant core that seems to be buzzing at all hours of the day. The excellent public transportation system is usually packed, ferrying passengers to hip restaurants with world-class, global cuisine. Adelaide is a foody’s dream. Leafy pedestrian malls offer local shops and boutiques to browse through. One edge of town is ringed by Glenelg, a soft, white-sand beach that locals can escape to. With its breezy shops and towering palm trees, it feels like a laid-back southern California beach town.
Adelaide has a thriving arts scene, hosting the world’s second largest fringe theatre festival, second only to Edinburgh’s. A huge arts complex rests alongside the river, providing multiple performing venues in one space, hosting shows from all over the world; Adelaide has more arts festivals per year than you can shake a stick at. Add to this a number of universities which gives Adelaide an open, intellectual feel that is always exciting and fun.
Just outside of town is the award-winning Cleland Wildlife Park which houses an amazing array of Australian native species, from toothy Tasmanian devils to towering emus. Here you can hand-feed kangaroos and snuggle a koala, something I never dreamed I’d do in my lifetime.
The amazing thing to me is all of this is happening in a city of one million people, the size of Albuquerque.
My hands-down favorite activity in Adelaide was visiting the Central Market. We spent a full morning cruising through the fruit and vegetable stalls in a cool industrial building, boasting locally-grown produce from South Australia. We scavenged the market for dinner, choosing bright spring greens (a novelty in October), slender haricort verts, finger-sized asparagus, crunchy peas, and sweet little cherry tomatoes. We dipped into one of many cheese shops, selecting soft, white mounds of Barossa Valley cheese and toothsome, veined Tasmanian blue to accompany our recent wine purchases. Then we selected briny, burgundy, tear-dropped olives and heaps of dewy fruit to enjoy as an aperitif to what was amounting to a real feast. Next it was on to the pasta store for fresh fettuccine. Famished from all the shopping, we sat down at rustic tables for lunch: Maikael chose homemade Russian piergois dressed with sour cream and fronds of dill, served up by a real Babuskha who was busy dissecting massive heads of cabbage. I settled for an outstandingly fresh baguette sandwich. I was surprised, but delighted, to learn that the European style of a la carte shopping is thriving in Australia.
If I’ve learned anything on this trip it’s to share what I have, even, as is at present, it isn’t much. So we brought our bounty home to enjoy with our hosts, Ben and Colleen. They have helped us to have a great South Australia experience, and most nights have ended in shared bottles of wine, laughing, talking, and furious rounds of Guitar Hero. There has also been a fair amount of razzing about which side of the road is the proper one to drive on, and how to pronounce “basil.” Ben feigned mock horror when he discovered that Maikael hadn’t been using his turn signal to negotiate roundabouts. We’ve been given an education in Australian lexicon, which is not British English but a whole new vocabulary: it’s not just lorries and lifts and crisps. I know that bogans are holligans, tea is dinner, and that tall poppies are fierce overachievers. But clobbering, spuds, and hicksville have the same meanings for them and us, and I am reminded once again that most of us in this world are more similar than different.1 comment