Days spent pining over cult-worthy-cups-of-coffee, artistic laneways and kitschy shops evaporates as fast as the 35 degrees sun dries my sweat drenched top. Lifted away beads of water they did, the sun failed to take away the nagging feeling that’s been weighing my steps. The same clear blue sky, the same crouching trees, the same familiar market smell and laughing friendly faces. Yet, there is restless in the atmosphere hiding between the complacency.
Sterile. Everything feels so sterile.
Pretty dresses adorning the shops. Quirky muffins display decorating the alleyway. Girls in high heels and bulging necklace balls. Thirty dollars dinner. Hippie summer concerts. If South East Asia screams money from every corner, Melbourne purrs a collective sigh of pleasure. And no, perhaps not the kind that you’re used to. The pleasure that the city seeks and gets set the tone of the activities that the inhabitants will partake. The go-green initiatives, living the simpler life, artistic expressions against the mainstream, going back to nature, the sporty and adventurous Melbourne. Polishing the surface would show a picture of an idyllic Melbourne that it is trying to be. And sometimes you can’t help but wish that you could afford to go to all the simple yet pricey places, wearing yet another simple Australia made garment whose pricing strategy baffles the mind. How could a country so close to Asia retain such competitive pricing? That is beyond the scope of this aimless ponders. In essence, Melbourne is expensive. And I don’t know what I feel about that anymore.
It’s almost like a guy who’s been flirting with you unashamedly until you fall into his charm completely, only to find out that he’s got a second mortgage for his branddiction (I just made that word up, don’t google it) and a big gambling problem attached to a mailbox that shits out brick-thick credit card bills every second week of the month. Ain’t pretty my friend.
Analyzing such brutal reaction from the gut, I would most likely pin it down to the fact that Los Angeles, where I lived for the last few months of 2011, was cheap. The fact that I spent another month combined in Peru and Indonesia could only further recalibrate my monetary brain to what should worth how much wealth. In terms of US$ bottle water, it was 1 for US, 0.7 for Peru, 0.5 for Indonesia and a proud 3$ for Australia. Don’t get me started on other basic necessities.
This was not supposed to be a rant on the economic implications of each said countries’ monetary policies. As my economic and public policy examination result could attest, I am probably not the best to discuss such matters.
And so I went to bed. But before I fell asleep, I came across my dear roomie’s magazine, Peppermint, and I came across this article of the woman who went to Bali and set up an orphanage (She has nine kids on her own btw!). One sentence that she, Cate Bolt, said was “but when you go from three weeks in a third world country, sitting in the gutter holding babies that you know will be dead within weeks, or meeting kids with HIV or mothers who have lost their babies to preventable illness, and then you come back to Australia and, you know, people are complaining that their dishwasher are broke … it’s tough.” And then I realized I wasn’t being to idealistic nor delusional for feeling like that during the first few days I was back. There is almost an undercurrent of guilt coursing through under every decision on which restaurant I should spend my next twenty Australian dollars or what sort of pleasant items and experiences I should expose myself to.
Sometimes in life, you see things that put other stuff you grow accustomed to into its rightful perspectives. And it is unsettling to realize that the world you’ve been carefully painting and striving to achieve is not what you really care about after all.
-pin drop sound-
Change is coming. And I kinda like it.