Tag Archives: melbourne

Are You a Melburnian?

6 Aug

Today the Herald Sun has an article up called, “You’re not a Melburnian until…

There are 18 items on the list and I have to say, pathetically few apply to me. Like maybe about five? Perhaps that’s because so many of them have to do with coffee (which I don’t drink) or sports (which I don’t follow). Melburnians do seem obsessed with coffee and sports. That’s probably why I have a hard time making friends here. :-p

But I have acclimated to the bad traffic and the crazy weather. And in my very first week here, when I ventured out by tram to the CBD by myself for the first time, I did in fact look just like this guy:

“But it was sunny when I left!”

So how many items on the list can you check off? Anything you would add?

Edit: And now I bring you Part 2, which, in my opinion is a slightly better list: “Part 2: You’re not a Melburnian until…

Werribee Open Range Zoo

12 Feb

I mentioned before that H was going to take me to Werribee Open Range Zoo for my birthday, but I got sick and couldn’t go. Fortunately, we finally got to make the trip out there about a week ago.

The Werribee Zoo has mainly African animals and has been built in a big crater where they have tried to recreate an African savannah and let the animals roam semi-free. In order to see them, you have to go on a “safari” which is included with your admission.

Not all the animals are in the free range area. Only the non-predator animals that get along, like giraffes and zebras. If you want to see lions or gorillas, they have their own enclosures.

I took some pictures to share with you.

A one-humped camel. I didn't see any two-humped camels. And I don't know if these camels really came from Africa or if they just scooped these guys up out of one of the rogue Outback herds.

A one-humped camel. I didn’t see any two-humped camels. And I don’t know if these camels really came from Africa or if they just scooped these guys up out of one of the rogue Outback herds.

American bison. They don't actually live in Africa, but they are a threatened species and I guess the zoo just wants to help keep them alive. And since they are a grassland species, they fit right in with the rest of the animals.

American bison. They don’t actually live in Africa, but they are a threatened species and I guess the zoo just wants to help keep them alive. And since they are a grassland species, they fit right in with the rest of the animals.

Scimitar-horned oryx are extinct in the wild and now only live in captivity. They used to live in herds of over 1000, but now most are fewer than 20.

Scimitar-horned oryx are extinct in the wild and now only live in captivity. They used to live in herds of over 1000, but now most are fewer than 20.

The Przewalski horse, or Mongolian wild horse, is the last truly wild horse in the world and has never been tamed by humans. It is native to Asia and parts of Europe, but being a grasslands animal, has managed to fit in at Werribee.

The Przewalski horse, or Mongolian wild horse, is the last truly wild horse in the world and has never been tamed by humans. It is native to Asia and parts of Europe, but being a grasslands animal, has managed to fit in at Werribee.

Przewalski horses died out in the wild in the late 1960s. It exists today only because of captive breeding programs and all Przewalski horses alive today are descended from nine horses that had been in captivity in 1945. Fortunately, these horses have been successfully reintroduced into the wild in Mongolia and there are now about 300 wild horses.

Przewalski horses died out in the wild in the late 1960s. It exists today only because of captive breeding programs and all Przewalski horses alive today are descended from nine horses that had been in captivity in 1945. Fortunately, these horses have been successfully reintroduced into the wild in Mongolia and there are now about 300 wild horses.

The addax is critically endangered, having been overhunted for its prized meat and skin. Fewer than 500 are thought to exist in the wild today.

The addax is critically endangered, having been overhunted for its prized meat and skin. Fewer than 500 are thought to exist in the wild today.

The grasslands animals have a huge area in which to roam.

The grasslands animals have a huge area in which to roam.

The wetlands area of the open range section. All the wetlands animals were off napping somewhere.

The wetlands area of the open range section. All the wetlands animals were off napping somewhere.

Zebras! I was so excited to see them, but unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of the bus to get very many picture.

Zebras! I was so excited to see them, but unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of the bus to get very many pictures.

Two funny giraffes. Did you know they have blue tongues? It helps keep their tongues from getting sunburned. Fortunately, giraffes are not endangered. Werribee has about seven giraffes, all male.

Two funny giraffes. Did you know they have blue tongues? It helps keep their tongues from getting sunburned. Fortunately, giraffes are not endangered. Werribee has about seven giraffes, all male.

The common eland is a type of African plains antelope. Fortunately, they are not endangered, though their population is decreasing. They are the second largest antelope in the world, after the giant eland.

The common eland is a type of African plains antelope. Fortunately, they are not endangered, though their population is decreasing. They are the second largest antelope in the world, after the giant eland.

These southern white rhinos were happy to just watch us go by. They are one of five species of rhinoceros that still exist. Their only predator is humans and they are under threat from habitat loss and poaching. Their horns are especially prized on the black market. While a rhino can survive without its horn- their horns are sometimes removed preemptively and very gently to discourage poaching- poachers often hack it off with a chainsaw or machete, causing serious harm to the animal and leaving it to die from blood loss and stress. A rhino's horn is worth its weight in gold on the black market.

These southern white rhinos were happy to just watch us go by. They are one of five species of rhinoceros that still exist. Their only predator is humans and they are under threat from habitat loss and poaching. Their horns are especially prized on the black market. While a rhino can survive without its horn- their horns are sometimes removed preemptively and very gently to discourage poaching- poachers often hack it off with a chainsaw or machete, causing serious harm to the animal and leaving it to die from blood loss and stress. A rhino’s horn is worth its weight in gold on the black market.

This is Leeroy. Our guide told us that he is very funny and gets bothered by the different species of animals socialising together and will try to herd zebras with zebras, giraffes with giraffes, etc and will go around herding until they are all segregated.

This is Leeroy. Our guide told us that he is very funny and gets bothered by the different species of animals socialising together and will try to herd zebras with zebras, giraffes with giraffes, etc and will go around herding until they are all segregated.

A  whole zebra family and this time they were on my side of the bus! How cute is that baby zebra???

A whole zebra family and this time they were on my side of the bus! How cute is that baby zebra???

The zoo has three male gorillas. Werribee Zoo is a sort of holding facility for male gorillas that take part in international breeding programs. They are endangered in the wild.

The zoo has three male gorillas. Werribee Zoo is a sort of holding facility for male gorillas that take part in international breeding programs. They are endangered in the wild.

Meerkats live in southern Africa and belong to the mongoose family. They are burrowers and can dig up to 400 holes a day. They also appear to be immune to snake and scorpion venom.

Meerkats live in southern Africa and belong to the mongoose family. They are burrowers and can dig up to 400 holes a day. They also appear to be immune to snake and scorpion venom.

The vervet monkeys were some of the few very active animals we saw. (Most were just resting.) Vervet monkeys exhibit a lot of human-like traits, including very strong kin relationships, anxiety, dependent alcohol use, and spite. They have four predators (leopards, eagles, pythons, and baboons) and have a distinct call for each. They should perhaps develop a call for humans because, while not endangered, they are facing threats from human encroachment, including loss of territory, electrocution, vehicles, and being captured for bush meat, use in traditional medicine, or biomedical research.

The vervet monkeys were some of the few very active animals we saw. (Most were just resting.) Vervet monkeys exhibit a lot of human-like traits, including very strong kin relationships, anxiety, dependent alcohol use, and spite. They have four predators (leopards, eagles, pythons, and baboons) and have a distinct call for each. They should perhaps develop a call for humans because, while not endangered, they are facing threats from human encroachment, including loss of territory, electrocution, vehicles, and being captured for bush meat, use in traditional medicine, or biomedical research.

Hippopotamus spend most of their day wallowing in mud or water. In order to keep from getting suburned, their skin secretes a natural sunscreen, which has a pinkish tint to it. Hippos are listed as a vulnerable species. Baby hippos are subject to predation by crocodiles, lions, and hyenas, but adult hippos are left along due to their size and aggressive temperament. They are subject to poaching from humans for their ivory teeth.

Hippopotamus spend most of their day wallowing in mud or water. In order to keep from getting sunburned, their skin secretes a natural sunscreen, which has a pinkish tint to it. Hippos are listed as a vulnerable species. Baby hippos are subject to predation by crocodiles, lions, and hyenas, but adult hippos are left along due to their size and aggressive temperament. They are subject to poaching from humans for their ivory teeth.

These two cheetahs are two adolescent brothers. Cheetahs are the fastest land animal and can run up to 70 mph or 112 kph.

These two cheetahs are two adolescent brothers. Cheetahs are the fastest land animal and can run up to 70 mph or 112 kph.

Every day, there is a serval demonstration, where the keeper brings out a serval and gets it to leap around and be adorable while explaining why servals do what they do. I'd love to be able to tell you more about it, but honestly, I couldn't hear anything the keeper said because there was a very rude mother behind me who let her child scream in my ear the entire time. But since most of the animals are not that active during the day, this is one of the few chances you'll get to see one of them doing something other than resting.

Every day, there is a serval demonstration, where the keeper brings out a serval and gets it to leap around and be adorable while explaining why servals do what they do. I’d love to be able to tell you more about it, but honestly, I couldn’t hear anything the keeper said because there was a very rude mother behind me who let her child scream in my ear the entire time. But since most of the animals are not that active during the day, this is one of the few chances you’ll get to see one of them doing something other than resting.

We had to come back to the lion exhibit three times before we finally saw one. I'm glad my camera has a decent zoom lens because this picture has much better detail than what we were actually able to see. The zoo has three male lions and one female. Sadly, their population in the wild is rapidly decreasing and most wild lion populations are isolated from each other, causing inbreeding.

We had to come back to the lion exhibit three times before we finally saw one. I’m glad my camera has a decent zoom lens because this picture has much better detail than what we were actually able to see. The zoo has three male lions and one female. Sadly, their population in the wild is rapidly decreasing and most wild lion populations are isolated from each other, causing inbreeding.

The Werribee Open Range Zoo is not a huge zoo. You can spend maybe three hours there before you’ve seen everything you want to see, assuming all the animals are visible. (We didn’t see any African wild dogs, since they were just not active, and almost missed the lions.)

The safari to see the grasslands animals is probably the best part. It’s a bit difficult to see the animals that are in enclosures, but the safari animals are free roaming and you can get pretty close to them.

I was also really looking forward to the serval demonstration because I really like servals. Well, I like all wild cats, but servals are very cute. I love their spots. Unfortunately, at places like zoos, you always have selfish people who don’t care if they ruin the experience for everyone else.

I hate to be Debbie Downer, but I have a message for parents: If your child still needs afternoon naps, don’t drag them around a zoo all day long. Your kid is tired and cranky by 2pm and they need a rest from all the excitement. Make sure they get it because no one else wants to hear your screaming brat and your screaming brat is miserable and you’re a terrible parent for ignoring their needs. If you, the parent, want to see the serval demonstration, then get a babysitter and leave your kid at home. Your toddler is not interested in what the keeper has to say, but we adults who paid for our own tickets are interested and want to be able to hear what he is saying without your brat screaming throughout the entire thing. So let me make it simple in case you didn’t know why everyone was giving you the stink eye: please just leave because no one likes you.

As much as I liked seeing all the animals, by the end of the day, H and I were both a bit depressed. The whole day was basically, “Look at this animal; it’s going extinct,” and “Look at this animal, it’s extinct in the wild,” and “Look at this animal, it’s severely endangered because of poaching,” and so on. It’s really sad to see all these majestic animals and know they are struggling to survive and that in most cases, humans are to blame. I’m glad we have zoos that run conservation and breeding programs to keep them alive, but it’s still very depressing.

But if you can get past that, then Werribee is a neat zoo and worth visiting. I don’t know of any other zoo that takes you on a mini safari. I admit I did like Healesville Sanctuary a lot better (there’s more to do and see there) and I haven’t been to the Melbourne Zoo yet, but it’s not bad for what it is.

Melbourne Christmas Square

20 Dec

Welcome to Christmas Square!

Nutcracker sentries

I’ve been surprised by the number of public Nativity displays in Melbourne, considering the country’s overall obsession with political correctness.

There is an animated display of the Nativity story for children to enjoy.

A random Christmas wombat?

A beautifully decorated tree stands out among the surrounding high rise buildings.

People enjoying the little hedge maze, looking for all of Santa’s reindeer.

Santa’s reindeer are hidden throughout the maze. Here is Cupid, along with a short story on how he got his name.

Here’s Blitzen. According to his story, he is electrically charged!

These nutcrackers are stationed at each entrance.

A quiet respite among the hustle and bustle of the city.

The square was packed with people enjoying the nice weather, or perhaps just taking a break from Christmas shopping.

Giant sized ornaments!

I noticed the hedges had Christmas lights running through them. Maybe worth visiting at night time when they are all lit up.

Schoolchildren out enjoying the day, maybe an end of term celebration. They are so cute in their little hats.

The Melbourne Christmas Square is located at the corner of Swanston and Collins in the CBD and runs through January 3.

This blogger has posted some nice shots of the Square at night time.

Costco – A Little Slice of America

30 Oct

 

I recently made my way down to the Docklands to check out Costco, holding on to a tiny sliver of hope that I might be able to find some American goodies there. I was really excited to go there, finally. Is it lame that I’m excited about an overgrown supermarket? Whatever. I don’t care.

The first thing you need to know about Costco is not to park in the Costco parking garage. It costs $12 to park there and you’ll have to wait in a long line to take your cart back down there on the elevator after you’re done shopping. Instead, park in the parking garage across the way nearer to the other shops that charges only $6.

The second thing you need to know is that Costco requires you to have a membership to get in, just like in America. Your Costco membership is good around the world, if you’ve already got one, but if you don’t, you can get visitor passes Monday through Thursday only (and you will only be allowed to pay in cash), or you can sign up for a full membership for $60, which is fully refundable at any time if you decide you don’t like Costco. I signed up for a membership to keep things simple. It was pretty painless. You just need a photo ID and something that proves your address.

Upon entering the store, you will find that Melbourne’s Costco is just like any other warehouse club. It’s big and no frills, filled to the rafters with items ranging from homewares and electronics to jewelry and clothing. They also stock a lot of seasonal items. Right now, they have Christmas stuff and camping equipment, among other things.

My main reason for going, though, is for groceries. Discounted, bulk groceries, to be specific.

I was moderately disappointed in the selection and the prices. Many items were either the same price or slightly more expensive than it would be at the regular grocery store when that particular item is on sale. Is it really worth it to buy 60 rolls of toilet paper for $30 when that same brand goes on sale for $12 for a 24 pack at Woolworth’s every two weeks? Since I live in a small flat and am not willing to waste any of my precious storage space with toilet paper, I decided it wasn’t.

Or take, for example, a 3-pack of Tim Tams for just under $10. That’s $3.33 a pack, but if you wait for them to go on sale, you can get them as cheaply as $2 a pack at the grocery store. So don’t assume that just because it’s Costco and everything is bulk-priced that you will be saving money. It helps to know what things cost for comparison’s sake.

Some things are a great deal, though, especially once you get away from the packaged foods. I got a huge block of Pecorino cheese for only $10.55, where a little sliver of the stuff at the grocery store is $7 and up. I also got an entire kilogram of grape tomatoes for $7. At the grocery store, you’ll pay $4 for 200-250 grams. Not bad, especially because I happen to love both Pecorino and grape tomatoes.

Of course, you’re just dying to know what great American treats they have in there, aren’t you? Of course you are!

My personal favourite was the candy section. They had Reese’s Pieces, Reese’s Miniature Cups, and Christmas coloured M&M’s. Jackpot!

I also found Ruffles potato chips, Hormel bacon bits, and A&W root beer, all direct from America. I’m not a huge fan of these items, but I know some people are, so I thought I’d give them a mention.

I was, however, baffled by the presence of a large pallet of Spam. Seriously, that stuff is GROSS. Who the hell is eating that in sufficient quantity to justify importing it?! Yuck, yuck, yuck!

Anyway, even though I thought Costco was moderately lacking in some area, there are certainly some good deals to be had and I like knowing that I can get Reese’s Pieces when I want them. Someone also told me they will stock any item if you request it, but I’m not sure if that is true. I kind of doubt they would stock ANY item, but I might inquire about candy corn next time I go there. Or Tampax. I noticed they did NOT have any American feminine products, which was a HUGE disappointment. Pretty sure they could have imported some of those instead of, say, grapes.

Probably the thing that reminded me the most of America was seeing a bunch of fat people push their giant carts around, filled to the brim with oversized junk food, like the guy who had four packages of the giant dozen-count muffins from the bakery. Not that you don’t see fat people with junk food at the regular grocery stores, because you do. But it’s more like America when the portion sizes match the people, as it does at Costco.

I’ll probably keep shopping there and I’m sure by the time we have several children, it will make a lot more sense to buy certain things there. As with any warehouse club, when you shop for just two people, what you can buy is a bit more limited. (No way would the two of us eat 5 kg of carrots before they went bad.) But I still found plenty of paper products and non-perishables to make the trip worthwhile, not to mention a few of the perishable items that we do use up quickly.

Like most people who live in Australia, I think the Cole’s/Woolworth’s duopoly sucks, so I’m happy for any opportunity to shop elsewhere. Oh, and I also love that the shopping carts don’t require a coin deposit.

So far, there are only three Costco locations in Australia: Melbourne, Sydney, and Adelaide.

The Royal Melbourne Show

2 Oct

On Sunday, we went to the Royal Melbourne Show, which is kind of like a state fair. Actually, it’s almost exactly like a state fair, only on a slightly smaller scale. There are the usual livestock and craft competitions and carnival rides and all that sort of stuff. But I hadn’t been to a state fair in many, many years, so it was fun to experience it again, Australian-style. And I took lots of photos with my new camera. (It turns out a new camera doesn’t make one a better photographer, though. Who knew?)

First we walked past a dog competition. I wasn’t entirely sure what was happening, but it seemed like the dog was supposed to retrieve an egg and deliver it to the handler without breaking it. He did pretty well!

dogshow

Our first official stop was the poultry pavilion, with ducks, turkeys, chickens, and lots of feather and squawking.

Some cute ducks.

A plucky rooster.

The cutest, goofiest looking chickens I have ever seen.

We wandered past a few rides, but we didn’t go on any for two reasons: 1) They are pretty expensive, and 2) after H’s bad experience at Knott’s Berry Farm where he puked his guts out, we decided any rides had the potential to ruin the day completely. I really don’t like vomit.

There were cooking demonstrations scattered throughout the show. This one was about how to prepare lamb, in the “paddock to plate” pavilion.

Plenty of activities for kids, too, including pony rides. I wanted to ride a pony, but G thought I was too big and would break the pony’s back. I don’t know why I let him get away with saying that!
And of course, there is the obligatory Ferris wheel, from which one can presumably see the non-operational Southern Star Ferris wheel, which overlooks the industrial wasteland of the Docklands area

Eventually, we started to get pretty hungry and H wanted to try these things. He liked them, I didn’t.  They were filled with some spicy beef mixture and olives, which was okay, but the crust was really dry and they were very messy to eat.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Royal Melbourne Show was the peculiar Australian tradition of “showbags”. I’ve never seen this in America, and as I understand it, it’s something unique to Australia. What are showbags, you ask? They are bags with all sorts of goodies in them, usually following some sort of theme.

For example, if you really love Skittles, you might get a Skittles showbag with a variety of different kinds of Skittles in it, or same goes for Tim Tams. Most of these bags contain junk food or cheap plastic children’s toys from China, but some of the ones geared towards adults have some useful stuff, like coupons or product samples or whatever. The bags usually cost about $10 or $20 each, depending what’s in them, but there are some that cost a bit more or less. Generally, the value of the products inside well exceeds the price you pay, so I guess a lot of people think they are getting a great deal on them.

It used to be that showbags were for the agricultural industry to showcase their latest products and get them into the hands of the public, but now it has turned into something much more commercialised. However, the showbags pavilion is definitely the most popular area of the whole showgrounds, with a massive queue just to get in and everyone packed shoulder to shoulder inside, so tight you can barely move.

Seriously. A whole pavilion for this. And it was the most crowded place in the entire showgrounds.

The queue from the back.

Halfway through the queue, thinking this better be worth it!

A selection of showbags. I got a couple from here, but it was the only counter that I could actually squeeze my way up to.

Showbags for candy and other junk food. Most of these didn’t seem like an especially good deal to me, but I guess if you’re used to paying $3 for a candy bar normally, then five for $10 seems like a steal.

Later at home, I emptied out the two I bought, so you can see what’s in some of them. I got the Women’s Health one and the Marie Claire one, both for $20 each. Aside from the magazines, they mainly just had coupons and product samples.

After fighting through the throngs in the showbag pavilion, we decided to go somewhere more civilised and ended up in the arts, crafts, and cookery pavilion, which had all kinds of things on display. Here’s a sampling:

A spinning demonstration

This was made entirely from eggshells. How cool is that?!

Our next stop was the livestock pavilion. For some reason, H really wanted to see the cows and sheep!

Baby lamb! So cute!

I just want to bury my face in their wool!!!

More babies! Squee!!!

This poor fella had hay stuck on his face that he couldn’t shake off.

We watched a cow judging competition and this one was the winner. However, after they put the sash over her, she started to have fits and tried to shake it off. I guess she didn’t like her prize!

There were all kinds of cows, from hairy ones…

…to gigantic, meaty ones…

… to white baby ones!

After seeing some cows and sheep, we figured we’d head over to the wood chop pavilion to see if there was anything going on there. Here are a few sights we passed along the way:

Daffodils are my favourite flower! I never knew they came in so many varieties before and I especially liked the white and pink ones.

Yes, the euro is indeed sliding these days… har har 😉

Fortunately, we were able to catch the end of the woodchop competition, which was pretty neat to watch. The youngest competitor (who was actually really good) was only 15!

The winner (from Victoria!) was presented with a golden axe.

We decided to leave around 5pm, having seen most of what we wanted to see. I don’t know if the Royal Melbourne Show is something I’d do every year, but maybe every other year. We definitely had a good time and it was cool to see a state fair, Australia-style. On that note, I’ll leave you with a picture of a gigantic inflatable crocodile!

Annie: The Musical

9 Aug

I haven’t been posting much lately because I’ve been insanely busy with wedding plans and visa nonsense, but yesterday I took a break from all that when H surprised me with tickets to a matinee performance of Annie at the Regent Theatre. I love musicals and I love Annie, so I was super excited.

I guess it didn’t occur to H that a 1pm showing on a Wednesday would mean the place would be filled to the rafters with schoolchildren on a field trip and he was unpleasantly surprised to see how many noisy little nose-pickers there were. I admit, I was a bit worried about that, too, because children do not always make for the best audiences.

Fortunately, our seats were in front of a group of girls who seemed reasonably well behaved and calm. As it turned out, most of the kids were sufficiently entertained by the performance that they were quiet during the show, becoming restless only as the intermission approached.

I’ve seen a lot of shows in my day, from low budget productions up to professional ones. I have quite a few years of experience in theatre, so I really appreciate what goes into these shows and everything that has to happen in order to create a magical performance.

Annie was probably one of the best productions I’ve seen. The adult cast is filled with well known Australian actors and the children’s cast is filled by local girls who rotate out the parts every night, so there are three different Annies and three sets of orphanage girls. Among the adults, Julie Goodwin as Grace Farrell really stood out to me. Her dancing was just superb and she has an amazing voice.

And as good as the adult actors were, the little girls really stole the show. Not only were they adorable and talented, but unlike the adult actors who sometimes seemed to be running on autopilot (and who can blame then after doing the same show twice a day for three months?), the children had a lot more exuberance and passion. The rendition of It’s a Hard Knock Life was probably the highlight of the show for me.

And not only were the actors fantastic, but so was the orchestra. The sets were beautifully designed and all the set changes happened seamlessly. Many of the kids in the audience seemed quite impressed by the way the pieces of the set seemed to move on their own during scene changes. No doubt many of them had never been to the theatre before and it was all new to them.

Something that was amusing for me was the fact that Annie is set in 1933 New York City and so of course there are a lot of references to America and American culture at the time. While I had no trouble understanding all of these things, most of the kids in the audience and even some of the adults probably missed out.

For example, in one scene, Miss Hannigan is listening to the radio when an advertisement for Jello is playing. Nobody in Australia even knows what Jello is! They don’t have it here. In another scene, after Daddy Warbucks invites President Roosevelt around for Christmas Eve dinner, he shouts to the staff to “find out what Democrats eat”- a line that would have induced peals of laughter from an American audience evoked only a handful of chuckles from the Australians.

At the end of the show, something happened that I have never seen before in my life at any performance. One of the actors, Bert Newton who played FDR, gave a rather longish and boring speech that culminated in a fundraising solicitation, asking people to make a donation to some fund to help make theatre accessible to young children on their way out.

I don’t know if such solicitations are the norm in Australia- I do notice that there are a lot more charity solicitors out and about here in Melbourne than I have ever seen in any other city in the world, so maybe it’s normal here- but frankly, I was quite put off by that. For those of us who didn’t come with a school group, tickets start at $100 for nosebleed seats and then they try to fleece you by selling you programs for $20 (I remember when a program used to come free with the ticket!) and Choc-Tops and bottled water for $5 a piece. Asking us to empty our pockets yet again is insulting. The only Hoover flags I want to see at the theatre are on the actors playing the homeless people in the shanty town.

But aside from that little etiquette faux pas, it was a really enjoyable production.

Unfortunately for everyone in Melbourne, the show is winding down, having been playing for nearly three months already. This is the last week to see the show before it goes to Perth for five weeks. Brisbane and Sydney have both already had the show in their cities. But if you live in Perth, I definitely recommend seeing it.

Disgusted By Humanity

15 Jun

Last night, H had just come home and I was standing in the kitchen writing a shopping list when I see a young Asian fellow out on the sidewalk shouting and waving to get my attention. Kind of odd as there aren’t any Asians on our street and certainly no one has ever waved to me before. (I’ve noticed that smiling and waving at strangers just for the sake of being neighbourly is looked upon as being weird here.

I couldn’t understand what he was trying to say, so I said I’d send H out to see what he wanted, since he still had his shoes and coat on.

Apparently, this guy was an international student from out of town and had been down in South Melbourne doing touristy things where someone pickpocketed him. Since the thief took all his money, he had no way to get back home (some few hours north of the city by train- I forget where exactly), so he had made his way to our neighbourhood looking for some relatives he thought lived here, but it turned out they weren’t here after all.

He was crying and just wanted to know if we could give him enough money for a train fare to get back home. I felt so bad for him. It’s not nice being stranded in a strange city as it’s getting dark and not having any money or anyone to help you.

We gave him what he needed plus a little extra (fortunately, thanks to me, the swear jar always has plenty of reserve cash in it), but I wonder if we shouldn’t have offered to drive him to the train station or made him a sandwich to take with him or something. It’s not far to the station and it wasn’t that cold out yet, but he didn’t have a jacket and he had probably been walking a long time already. I hope he got home okay and that no one pickpocketed him again.

It really disgusts me that there are people in the world who, while not being serial killers or bank robbers or anything like that, are still just as morally depraved. A petty thief who pickpockets someone has the same disregard for another person’s life or safety that a more hardcore criminal does.

I mean, suppose that boy hadn’t found anyone to help him and just wandered through the city all night. Any number of bad things could have happened to him. He could have been the victim of another crime or froze to death or come down with pneumonia or something. All because some selfish pickpocket wanted what little cash he might have been carrying. The person who pickpocketed him obviously thought that his getting a few free dollars was worth more than another human being’s safety and well-being.

It also upsets me that this boy had clearly been out walking around for a long time, visibly distressed, and no one else had helped him. It was about 5pm, and between 3pm and 7pm, there are always a lot of people out and about in our neighbourhood, as kids get picked up from school and people come home from work. No doubt dozens of other people saw him, but didn’t offer to help.

I know if it were me in that situation, I’d have to be feeling pretty desperate to go and starting shouting into a stranger’s window for help. Not only is that a bit dangerous (you never know who lives there- I’m hoping it was my polka-dot apron that put him at ease), but it’s a very humiliating thing to have to start begging for help and I think most people would first try to avoid having to do that. I’m disappointed in all of my neighbours that must have surely seen this boy walking through the streets crying and just chose to look the other way. No fewer than half a dozen other people passed by my window in the ten minutes preceding. Is it that much of an inconvenience to approach someone in distress and try to help them?

I often say that I hate people, that humanity disgusts me. The usual reaction I get to making statements like that is disbelief or a “you don’t really mean that” mini-lecture. But I do mean it. Most people, when given the choice between doing what is right and doing what is easy, will always choose the easy path, thinking only of their own conveniences and comforts. Sad.