Feb 19, 2009

'Tis Tasmania (from a Malaysian eye)

For weeks I've been procrastinating to write about the romance of living in Tasmania. Arriving in Hobart, I felt that I had come to, quite simply, a good place. But I have to confess to you, dear reader, things were unexpectedly different from what I've imagine before arriving.

The first night was remarkedly memorable. I was seriously culture shocked to see all the shops were closed. It was 4pm on Sunday. I don't get used to seeing shop closed in bright day time because shops in Malaysia are always open, whether it is on Sunday or public holiday. That moment, I knew that I've landed on a commercially boring land.

Dad wanted to drink badly and someone told us to go to Welcome Strangers. We spent some time there drinking and playing pool. Quite a strange feeling though. You always think that parents are supposed to forbid their children from drinking. And there my dad was forcing me to skull some Guinness before going back to sleep. I have strange parents, though. They are typical Asian parents who give everything (materially) to their children, but at the same time very Westernized, as they don't forbid drinking, going out at night or sex before marriage. You should be jealous of me that my parents are cooler than yours. Anyway, that was my memorable first night in Tasmania.

As I passed by many houses at night, every house were lit with yellow lamps. The TV set will be turned on. But strangely, you can never see a single soul in the house. Strange. Very strange. This is something I still find it disturbing. I thought I was the only person who realize this strange habit of the house occupant. Apparently, Arvid notice it as well.

Geographically, Tasmania is separated from the rest of Australian land. Therefore, Tasmanians are a little weirder. They are proud of their island, just like how Penangites do. But at least, Penangites know for sure that their island is an international industrial town. Tasmanian are proud of their mother nature as if it is made out of their own hands. Sometimes you can just refer to them as kampung-minded. That's a simpler way to define Tasmanians. It is funny how some Tasmanians thought Malaysian lives on trees. I love to tell them that Malaysians do not have the technology to build houses on trees, so we live in the caves. Most of the time, they were really shocked. I'm not boasting about my country, but I hope they can see that the size of Hobart (the city centre) is only as big as the land in KLCC. The distance between Hobart (city) and Sandy Bay (suburb), is just like walking from Old Wing 1-Utama to the New Wing. But you have to agree with me that Malaysians are too exaggerative when it comes to shopping malls. Needless to say, being spoiled with shopping facilities back home, Hobart is hopeless when it comes to shopping. It is a good thing, at least for me. I won't spend too much money on unnecessary stuff. But if you're here to shop for vegetables and fruits, you'll find yourself in haven.

Overall, this is a laidback place where most elderly spend their retirement here. Just like how you live in Ipoh or Tawau in Malaysia. In Tasmania, I feel a peacefulness that was redolent of social harmony, of human decency. It is so different as compared to my stay in Kuala Lumpur where I had to fight for a taxi in a long queue (not to mention Malaysians never queue for taxi) and then fight with the taxi driver for overcharging me. However, this place where human values are respected; where people live together without fear; where kindness migh be encountered. Such resonances seem inherently unlikely, but still there are places that somehow reflect the contentment and peacefulness of those who have lived here. Whatever lies behind this phenomenon, Tasmania seems to be such a place.

But of course, this is not a fairy land where everyone is nice to each another. Being an outsider with obvious different skin color, I have often encounter discrimination. Ocassionally you'll get unfriendly bus drivers.

That's the a very minimal discrimination. What angers me the most is their egg-throwing habit. Reader, if you have followed this blog faithfully, it would have ring a bell of my experience being throw by eggs on the road side.

Unfortunately, it is getting very late now. I'm afraid I have to retire to bed for early jog to Lower Sandy Bay tomorrow morning. To be continued.

1 comment:

jlshyang said...

Hi I came over to your blog from the link you left with your comment in Anil Netto's blog.

People throwing eggs huh?

I had enough of them in Wales and England, I'm not sure if it has anything to do with discrimination or just a random prank. I didn't know the Aussies inherited that from their English ancestors too! GRRR. I've been thrown rotten eggs by the streets of England and Wales.


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