Memories of Oz – Australia

Memories of Oz

How do you know when an Aussie has drunk too much? When he starts singing, “Andiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii will always love youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuueeeeeeeeeeeoooooooooouuuuaaaah!”

It was a pathetic sight seeing a red faced pulping mass emerge from the local pub warbling a song that had waaaay too much airtime. But I digress.

When was the last time you took a taxi and really talked to the driver? Now, I understand that you may be busy or have other things on your mind but I would like to suggest that you talk to your cabbie. Granted, some can be a bore at best but you might find that they have an interesting story to tell. Ask, where they are from and what was it like there. I met an Ethiopian for the first time while taking a taxi. I was told of one cabby’s plight to leave Vietnam on a boat for Malaysia and wound up being beaten in a Malay prison before his release and subsequent arrival in Sydney. I learned about one man’s love for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and his hero, Rowdy Roddy Piper and….er, well, two out of three ain’t bad but I think you get the idea.

Coming from Southeast Asia and then landing in Brisbane, I noticed something missing. Actually, more to the point, it was something in abundance that struck me solid. It was space! Vast open quantities of space. There was so much of it, I thought it might collapse upon itself. There weren’t a million people clamoring to fill the space and support it. The sidewalks were empty. I could walk straight to my goal, never veering from my path. Not being used to this feeling beneath my feet and around me, my head began to swim with the sensation that you get when you stumble off a boat after being on it for ten hours. “Where are the people?” I asked aloud. Was it Sunday? Was there something going on downtown? In fact there was. People were going to and from work. It was a “traffic jam”. “Traffic jam??!!” I laughed aloud. “You’ve never seen traffic!”

Yup, coming from the land that has cars and bikes driving all over it and when they’re not, people are doing literally everything else on it, it was such a relief to walk with my proximics intact again.

How dangerous was Australia? Well, one day there was a very unfortunate incident for an eighteen-year-old boy and his family. We went to west beach in Adelaide and as we arrived, we saw, helicopters buzzing overhead. Curious, we left the car and before we could make our way to the beach, people coming from the beach told us not to go in the water because somebody was taken by a shark not more than 30 minutes before we arrived. At the beach we saw boats forming a line in the water, combing ocean for the grizzly remains. Helicopters flew overhead looking for the shark and any remains. Then we saw it not more than 50 metres from shore. The shark. It was still cruising around the area. Eventually it went on its way and the family and friends who had gathered further up the beach were left to pick up the pieces of their life and move on.

Despite this unfortunate incident, and for all of Australia’s deadly superlatives, we never saw any snakes (except for one being eaten by a Kookaburra), crocs, jellyfish (except for dead ones on the beach), spiders (except for Huntsmen) or hardly anything remotely dangerous. Australia is fairly safe with the biggest danger probably coming from the ones that walk on two feet. The closest I came to death was a pathetic near overdose on chocolate during the Christmas holidays.

As you know, Lizzy and I went to Australia and visited Lizzy’s friends and relatives and along the way we got married. Being in Australia for the first time was a very, very good experience. I got to meet some really cool people along the way. Lizzy’s relatives were fantastic hosts for my family and I. Living up to their reputation, the Aussies I met were fun luvin’, gregarious, generous and ready to have a good time. We couldn’t have had it better. Well, I suppose we could’ve stayed longer!)

I was super happy to have my family down to visit me. I was really impressed and grateful that my brother, sister, mother and father made the arrangements in their personal life to go all the way to Australia on the other side of the world for our wedding. Having them there was a special moment for me that will last forever. It made the wedding perfect.

The wedding was a small one. It was a very relaxed ceremony surrounded by our immediate family members and some friends. That was how we wanted it. Nothing too big or we wouldn’t have done it. Why bother spending all that money when you can better put it to traveling is our theory. By the way, Lizzy has chosen to keep her family name, so no ‘Mrs. Kutschke’ or anything like that. (Actually, it’s has been a great source of amusement saying ‘Mrs. Kutschke’. A fairly one sided amusement mind you, that usually ends with a cold stare but amusement nonetheless, heh heh heh)

People talk about marriage being the ceremony that seals a commitment to your partner forever and from that point on, you’re supposed to be a husband and an in-law to name a couple of marital terms. Frankly, I didn’t really feel any different after the ceremony. Don’t get me wrong, I was elated to be marrying Lizzy and the ceremony was perfect, but I didn’t instantly feel this newfound sense of being joined to a new family with new roles until I had a very innocent conversation with two young children a few days after the wedding.

Thankfully, Lizzy’s brother and his wife were able to get away from their life in New South Wales to attend our wedding. Rhys did a fabulous job of MC and without Karen’s witnessing signature; our marriage wouldn’t have been complete. They also have two beautiful little children that they brought along. Now, Lizzy’s parents have this indoor pool that is separate from the house, which everybody likes to swim in. A couple of days earlier, I left my shorts and shirt hanging in there to dry. One day, Lizzy’s niece and nephew were swimming away with the joyfulness of youth, oblivious to the coldness slowly creeping in, as children do, when they asked me to join them. I accepted their invitation and grabbed my shorts to go change in the bathroom in the house. They asked me where I was going and I told them. The youngest, the niece, replied with, “You can change here, we won’t look.” And with all the innocence of youth, my new nephew replied, “Yes we can, he’s our uncle now!”

I changed in the house.

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