City love (and lack thereof)

There are lots of things I love about you, Sydney.

I love your dazzling waterfronts, stretching out from the Sydney Harbour that the tourists see, all the way west up the Parramatta River – simply spectacular, even on an overcast day.

I love your cafés, even if you’re no Melbourne.

And I actually love your trains, even if people are always complaining about how these are always running late.

Royal Botanic Gardens-6

When I thought I might be leaving you for good last year, it was easy to list the things I would miss.

But loving things about Sydney isn’t the same as loving Sydney.

Now that I’m back here with you again, I’ve realised that I … Well, I don’t love you.

Unfortunate, hey? Continue reading “City love (and lack thereof)”

Australia: Not the place I thought you were

The other day after work, I was flowing with the peak hour crowd down Anzac Parade, when I witnessed something awful.

An Aboriginal man was heckling and shoving an East Asian man. The Indigenous guy was yelling obscenities and things like “Go back to where you came from!” to the suited up Asian guy, who was trying, literally, to shake him off. That was Awkward thing Number 1.

People just watched. And did nothing. That was Awkward thing Number 2.

By people, I mean mainly Asian people. The University of New South Wales appears to be predominantly Asian, even the law faculty – a contrast with the College of Law at my own alma mater. That was Awkward thing Number 3.

And I did nothing because, frankly, I’m both Asian and female. I actually thought I might get hit. That was Awkward thing Number 4.

It made me think about how Australia is not the place I thought it was when I was little. Continue reading Australia: Not the place I thought you were

The opposite of vertigo

The opposite of vertigo
Is your wings poised for flight
and your feet stuck in cement;
Is the skyward pull that makes
you ill to be on the ground.

Gravity versus your dreams.

The opposite of vertigo
Is conversations about the weather
and getting angry at traffic;
Is display windows taunting you
with things that won’t make you happy.

You can see right through them.

From the pit of your stomach
to the tip of your tongue
the air here’s thick,
swallows up inspiration.

The opposite of vertigo
Is the sickening sensation of settling;
Is being shackled when you should be airborne.

The opposite of vertigo
Is the curse of those who come down from altitude;
Is the Icarus in you and me. Continue reading The opposite of vertigo

Why finding a house is like finding a husband

It was my cousin’s wife who said it: Finding a house is like finding a partner. You see a few and then you just make a decision. I laughed and could see the sense in it. But thinking it through, there really are some uncanny parallels. House-hunting is a lot like dating. I write often about the idea of Home, and how living abroad complicates that. I’ll … Continue reading Why finding a house is like finding a husband

Being a tourist in my birth city

Same place, different eyes. We used to come a lot to Kuala Lumpur to visit when I was younger, and I have powerful memories of those experiences. Particularly etched in my memories are the aromas of this place – not just the (incidentally) amazing food, the hawker stalls, but also the scent of shopping malls, the entrance to Chinese restaurants, the faint stench of sewerage … Continue reading Being a tourist in my birth city