Thursday, November 02, 2006

Omnia Mutantur

Standing on an arbitrary street corner in Sydney at first glance I could be in downtown San Jose. But look a little closer and the scene begins to resolve to a more familiar one. For one thing there are too many people on foot for this to be an American city. And the local authorities have had the good sense to have the citizenry drive on the left hand side of the road (as intended by the gods).

For an Irishman there is much about Australia that is customary, or at least non-American. Simple things; ‘Colour’, ‘routeing’, ‘harbour’ and ‘aluminium’ are spelled without randomly omitting letters, you can actually purchase tea in coffee shops and people aren’t all tucked up in their beds at midnight on a weekend night.

There are some welcome colonial advantages; they have a warmer, dryer climate that has much more in common with Northern California than Dublin and the infrastructure looks like it has been parachuted in from Boston or New York. On the face of it you would have to say that they appear to have the balance just right.

Much of what is familiar heightens one’s awareness of the little distinctions that remind you that you’re on the other side of the planet - and not just enjoying one of those rare meteorological anomalies that occasionally bring the Mediterranean to the British Isles. Such as the birds and plants. Wander through any of Sydney’s many parks and open spaces and they’re everywhere. Gum and Eucalyptus trees swarming in alien birds; Cockatoos, Kookaburras, Noisy Minors and the bizarre looking Australian White Ibis. The latter are about 40cm tall and promenade around on long, black, stalk-like legs as they forage in leaf litter and litter bins with their preposterously large, curved beaks. They’re not even slightly concerned about being around people either. They’ll walk right up to and look you in the eye as if to say, “you’re not in Dublin any more Darren”.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You need to update your profile, it claims you're location as Ireland.

Even the White Ibis knows that you're not in Dublin any more.

It may however take more than clicking you're heals together and saying "theres no place like home" to get back here.