Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Datapoints Perth 05.


Subject: Australia Day. Perth log Day 03.

Today was an early start. Considering that I was at the airport at 2am waiting for Calamariforthought and his partner to arrive. Missed a turn heading back from the international airport and ended up in the northern suburbs. Calamariforthought mentioned that he could smell the haze from the fires. Methinks it might have been just the leftover pizza in the car under the seats.


As I pulled into quietly sleeping Perth city area, I noticed a car tailing me a couple hundred metres behind in the shadows with lights off. Was on St George's Terrace trying to make a right (no right turn) to get to Pier Street with somebody in the car urging me to just make an illegal U-turn on a "no right turn" junction. Had my right indicator on and was about to do a quick U-turn when I thought better of it.

The car on my tail in the shadows me matching my speed, pulled up, turned on the lights. Followed by turning on the the red-and-blue lights on the roof. Police cruiser.

Left indicator on. Pull over the side of road. Hazard lights on. Muttered to passengers to make sure they had their selt belts on. Roll down window. Unlock door. Both hands on the wheel in plain sight. Resist urge to scrabble in back seat for driving licence which was in my bag on the back.

Standard procedures.

"Did you know your indicator was on?"
"Yes, officer, I know my indicator was on. Was trying to make a right to Pier Street."
"Licence please."
*scrabbles around in back and hands over licence*
"Do you have an Australian licence?"
"No. Sorry. Only got here two days ago. Went to pick up my friends at the airport."
"Just a minute, sir."

They walk back to the cruiser to run a check on my licence (and probably the car plates as well). One of them comes back with a breath-analyser. Which of course I pass with flying colours. They hand me back my licence and we get on our way.

This is the second time I have gotten pulled over in Australia. Do I drive suspiciously or something? As Calamariforthought documents in his blog, I can be a hazard with cars. Guess the Australian police must be reading his blog or something.


***


C. comments about the fragrance of eucalyptus in the city in Datapoints Perth 04. Something which I totally missed initially. It is a very faint scent that pervades the city. Something so subtle (especially with the traffic in the city centre) yet unmistakable once you start being aware of it.

Today is Australia Day. What exactly does Australia Day celebrate? January 26th is actually the anniversary of the landing of the First Fleet of convicts in Botany Bay off Sydney. To establish the penal colony of New South Wales. This land has certainly come a long way since then.

I have made an interesting discovery here: Australia Day contains within it the secret of happiness.

No, I am not referring to the Aussie philosophy of giving everybody "a fair go" or the Aussie tendency to make the best of a hard situation ("she'd be right, mate"), or even Aussie habit of rooting for the underdog.

The secret to happiness - as revealed by Australia Day - is as follows:


  • Eucalyptus - natural aromatherapy for relaxation
  • Beer - artifical pharmaceutical for more relaxation
  • Sunshine - nature telling you to take a siesta and relax

From what I see walking down the north banks of the Swan river, Australia Day is just an excuse for one big party. Actually that is not quite precise. One big party implies some sort of central coordination. It is more like thousands of mini-parties along the river. Everybody just brings their coolers (beer!), their tents, their beachwear, their music, their soccer balls, tennis balls, rugby balls and head out to the water to chill. I can imagine the same scene being played out on the south banks of the Swan and in King's Park.

The Australian attitude to their flag would astound and horrify the Americans. And probably get you arrested if you pull similar stunts in Singapore. The Aussie idea of a visible display of patriotism is to show off the flag. And I do not mean just flying the flag off buildings, flying the flag off cars, flying the flag off hats, flying the flag off little sticks stuck in the ground. They use the flag as capes, as sarong-style wraparounds, modifed as blouses, as singlets ("wifebeaters"), as skirts, as hats. They imprint their flag on their bikinis, on their jeans, on their slippers ("thongs").

Ignoring tradition, I agree wholeheartedly with the Aussies. If you have to display a piece of printed cloth as a symbol.. you might as well make the best use of it!

And what is it with the "Ozzie! Ozzie! Ozzie!" rally cry anyway? It seems to be deeply ingrained in the youth population. So if ever have someone yell that at you - the correct response is "Oy! Oy! Oy!". Matching the number of "Ozzies!" of course!

***

Well, there is some central coordination. A good portion of the Perth city roads have been closed off. Volunteers are going around distributing yellow (for recycling) and red (for trash) bags to dispose of waste and keep the party areas clean. The highlight of the evening will the 3000kg of fireworks to be detonated over the city and river. And police (approx 900 officers on duty) and medical services are out in force. Police have been keeping a high visible presence, with foot patrols of around 5 officers each and cruisers running all the primary roads. In both the party areas as well as the deserted town centre.

Fireworks. Lot of fireworks. It is going to be an excellent show..

[ Signing out to grab some food and watch the pretty explosions. ]





1 Comments:

Blogger C said...

Hehe, well you won't get much of that in the actual city, but that eucalypt scent is unmistakeable in a lot of the suburbs.

January 27, 2005 2:40 PM  

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