Sunday, May 4, 2014

Australiana #2: No Dramas, No Worries

When you move from a country like India into Australia, you tend to expect something of the First World that you are familiar with because you've seen them a zillion times in American and European sitcoms and films – white faces, snazzy fast cars, parks, malls, skyscrapers, fashion-conscious women running to work with lattes in one hand, cabs zipping past, packed public transport plying on smooth, wide roads, wriggling bodies in discos and pubs and the works. What you get is a bit different. Actually, a lot different. Australia is not America or Europe, though it has borrowed heavily from both. It used to be a British colony and so has many things common with India – the side on the road you drive, English language and the red tape and so on. It also has many things common with America e.g. the way the cities are planned, the preference for suburban life with large houses and gardens and the quest for the great outdoors. But Australia is a lot closer to Asia than any of the other continents. It strikes you as soon as you leave the airport. You hop onto a train in Sydney or a bus in Brisbane, and you could be forgiven for thinking that you are in Shanghai or Singapore, given the number of Asians you may be riding with. Culturally, Aussies have more in common with their Asian neighbours than Americans or Europeans. Sure, they like their steaks and fish and chips, but they also prefer the kebab (typically a Lebanese wrap) over a Subway. Many have been to Indonesia and other parts of the South East. They speak loudly and drive rashly. Queensland's drivers would do well against Mumbai's rickshawalas. The people are very laid back. You miss a train in Mumbai and you will be tearing your hair out. Here, they just plug their iPhones into their ears and wait for the next one – even if it takes another half hour. There's never a sense of urgency. You don't have to get out and look for alternatives or get stressed because you have to be somewhere else at an appointed time. That's how life is. It's a huge country (continent, actually) and things can take their time. There are no dramas, no worries, Mate!

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