When I was about to move here, I read up a lot on Australia, and I learned all kinds of terrifying information on the wildlife here. I read about killer spiders and jellyfish, poisonous snakes that jump out of trees and the ravenous rabbit population.
None of that prepared me for how wild this country truly is. Examples follow.
1. I was in the Cole's Shopping Village with my housemate. This is basically a giant grocery store, like Kroger. The two of us are walking along, and this 65 year old man walks directly between us, and says to me, "'Ello, Black Magic." Can you believe it??! I mean, it's one thing to be hit on by an old Australian man, but the racist pick-up line is truly rare.
It's so amazing, because I've never been called Black in the States, of course. Here, Aboriginal people are called Black. And even though I'm Indian, everyone just assumes I'm Aboriginal because I'm darker than most Aboriginals. Most Aboriginals are only half-Aboriginal or less, so they're not as dark as a 100% Indian beauty like me. So, here, I'm Black....Black Magic, no less.
But, it's not just a racist thing to be called Black here. An Aboriginal friend of ours, BJ, was the first person to tell me I was Black here. I was asking about the rough area of town, which is of course, predominantly Aboriginal. He said the area wasn't bad, and that it has a bad reputation because people have a lot of racist ideas. Then he said, "But you've definitely got nothing to worry about because you're Black." I said, "Ummm, well actually, I'm Indian. Well, my parents are both Indian." And he said, "Yeah, that's the same as Aboriginal. You're Black."
Seriously, folks, this place is out of control. I may never understand it...
2. There's this one stretch of lebanese restaurants in our neighborhood; most of them are really good. But right next to this stretch of restaurants, there's this room. This room is always closed up during the day, and its windows are always curtained. But at night, you can sometimes get a glimpse through the doorway. This room is about the bleakest thing I have ever seen. At night, this room always has a few old Lebanese or possibly Turkish men in it. They are not having a social party. Some of them are drinking tea all alone; we have not seen any tea-making facilities. Once in a while, two of the old men will be quietly talking. It is lit only by fluorescent lights, there are a few folding card tables and folding chairs in it. There is no TV. There is nothing on the walls save a poster of Cyndi Lauper. We think there may be a microwave. This room has no readily understandable purpose. Why would old men go to this room?
So what have we learned today? Even a place as similar to America as Australia has already presented its share of really odd situations to me. Did you know Australia just stole the title of World's Fattest Country from America? I think it was probably me and Craig being here that tipped the scales...