A Week Down Under
July 12, 2012 at 8:29pm
The wind was icy as I found myself stranded in an unknown street, alone, cold and hungry. In the middle of our shopping, my brother was called to work so he told me “This is the city, you can walk around” and left me on my own for four hours. I normally wouldn’t mind exploring but with my sense of direction and a heavy laptop bag and a phone not yet activated and dangerously low battery, I stood at the same spot near the car park for a good one hour.
After a good self counseling session and reminders of being an ex-cabin crew, I reluctantly left the safety spot but not before memorizing the places nearby. I quickly took a couple of pictures and walked to the left, got back to the spot, then to the right and back to the spot. I was terrified that my brother wouldn’t know where to look for me and equally terrified that I wouldn’t know how to get home. So I kept circling the same spot with a few breaks every now and then.
I still don’t know why I hadn’t left the laptop bag in the car….I not only did look un-cool but I was tired of lugging it around. I was hungry too as I looked around for something to eat but the mental conversions told my freezing mind that everything was expensive. I found a Mac store, just a few steps where my brother had left me. I went in, looked at a few gadgets while I quickly put my phone on charge. I had just enough time for a green bar to develop when a salesperson came my way. OMG…with hardly a few dollars in my pocket, I put on my best convincing act. But it was unnecessary and he had come to inform me that the store would be closing in 10 minutes. It wasn’t even 5pm, but this I would discover later on is how business is in Melbourne. All stores, shops and malls close by five or six maximum except for Thursday and Friday.
Once again I found myself back in the same place and I quickly made a call to make my whereabouts known. Afraid that I wouldn’t be recognized in the dark, or my brother might forget that he’d left me standing four hours earlier, I patiently froze and cleared my throat every now and then to disguise the grumbles that were revolting against the lack of required nutrients and waited. All is well that ends well; I was collected and delivered home safely.
Now as I was going out yesterday, I met my neighbour, an old lady in a walker who asked me, “do you know garbage?’ For a moment I thought I had misheard, why would someone ask me about garbage? Of course I know garbage but Lois mistook my confusion for ignorance and capitalised on the advantage to educate me on the topic.
I was subjected to the different colours and what they signified and the combination days in which they would be collected. All three green bins were separated by their types and most important, their lids. The half hour lesson left me more confused than I was at the start of the conversation.
To add to the muddled mind, I was given a brief history about the English language and an offer to give me free English lessons. Was it my accent or her hearing problem? I would have liked to think that I spoke reasonably well or if I may boast, pretty well. Totally demoralized and a mental note to pick up the Aussie accent as quick as I could, I excused myself in whatever English I could remember before and ran home.
And now on to tales of losing and getting lost- Last night I got lost.
I mean how imaginative could the architect have been, building the same kinds of houses and streets? He must have really hated me because no matter how hard I tried, I went round and round in circles trying to locate “Flinders Street’ from RMIT, Le Trobe. My desires to look good with my new boots back-fired and my foot neatly squeezed in the new confines were not very happy.
Getting to my college had been easy. I caught a tram with my brother and he left me just outside one of the hundreds of buildings. The explorer in me didn’t have to work too hard as I was standing exactly where I should be going in. The problem was in the return. Armed with a map I had no idea how to use no matter where I turned it, I began my supposedly short walk back. With my brother constantly on the phone to guide me, I still took a good one to stop using ‘Seven Eleven’ as a landmark (there was one in almost every street!) and second, to stop moving round and round in circles.
I couldn’t help wondering whether it was me or is it women in general that are terrible when it comes to directions? I mean we can multi-task home, careers, children, husbands but when it comes to directions, it’s like..huh? Left? What is ‘left’…were the children left? You know what I mean!
I was thrilled when Sudeshna came to meet me a day back. A week in Melbourne and supposedly better sense of direction, we took the Tram 35 (Free Tourist Tram) for a city tour. The first stop was the Melbourne Aquarium. Remembering my old crew habits, we quickly clicked pictures and then decided that we were not ready to pay a rather high price to see fish swimming in water. I’d grown up seeing plenty of fish, in and outside water, and I didn’t think they were any different in the paid water. And moreover, Google and You Tube would supply the necessary visuals in case we were really curious to compare the fishes.
Hours of walking around aimlessly had me limping again. It wouldn’t have been so bad if we knew where we were going. It was the case of the blind leading another. Yes, I know I promised not to wear boots again but the new boots were bought at the chemists…they were supposed to be special boots which are NOT supposed to hurt! I spent 10$ on buying special toe protectors (again from the same chemist), I even carried spare shoes in case things went out of hand 🙂 And the boots, my dear friends didn’t let me down……I mean I reached Hilton, with a proper impressive limp and very red and angry looking feet:) I hope I have learnt a lesson.
Tomorrow is a brand new day, a day to meet with my counsellors in college. But first of all I have to find where building 59 is because that’s where I will have my orientation classes. Finding one building from a hundred shouldn’t be too hard. Anyways, wish me luck. I might come back with more stories.
End of Part-2