A Big Deal? Melbourne Cup memories, millennials and Michelle Payne

I first discovered that the Melbourne Cup was a Big Deal when my kindergarten class ran our own sweepstakes. There was no money involved, of course, and I don’t recall watching the race, but every 5 and 6 year old in the class drew a small piece of paper from a Danish cookie tin. Thus were we each assigned a horse. Being a very rational … Continue reading A Big Deal? Melbourne Cup memories, millennials and Michelle Payne

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

Election reflections: Ecuador and Bolivia

A politician who keeps his word? Who would’ve thought! But after a whole decade as Ecuador’s head of state, Rafael Correa is stepping down. Like, actually. Unlike his buddy Evo Morales, who felt a fourth term to be far too tempting to give up that he tried to change the constitution to make it legal for him to continue as president. Correa’s chosen heir, Lenin* … Continue reading Election reflections: Ecuador and Bolivia

Carnaval Act II: Oruro-Tarija-La Paz

After Oruro, the roadtrip. Oruro to Potosí (Saturday) Making it from Oruro to Tarija in the one evening was wishful thinking. We get halfway, pulling into Potosi, a little before midnight. It’s Saturday night, but there’s no party and we can’t even get a local beer – so it’s a can of Paceña, then to bed. Potosí to … Tupiza? (Sunday) A beautiful, sunny day. … Continue reading Carnaval Act II: Oruro-Tarija-La Paz

Carnaval Act I: Oruro

4.30am. Get up after 5 hours of sleep. For some reason, it’s easier than dragging myself out of bed at 7am. 5.15am. Our tour bus leaves La Paz for Oruro. I get some sleep. 9am. We take our seats at the stands on Avenida 6 de agosto (aka Avenida Folclórica). Parade’s already begun, other stands are gradually filling up, sun is out. Partly what you’d expect … Continue reading Carnaval Act I: Oruro

About my body

One of the differences I’ve noticed between Bolivia and Ecuador is that people don’t stare at me here. People don’t check me out head to toe and comment on my appearance, men don’t address me or try to get my attention in the street, I don’t get wolf-whistled by randoms or asked out by taxi drivers. I suppose it’s a good thing. Reflecting on that distinction … Continue reading About my body

Two words for Washington

If I could choose two words to describe Washington, D.C., they would be EMPIRE and EXTRAVAGANCE. Perhaps they are two words that historically have gone hand in hand: the latter both reinforces and is a projection (and perhaps a symptom) of the former. In twentieth century history and politics classes we often discussed the USA’s imperial character. All the monuments and memorials I saw in DC last week seemed … Continue reading Two words for Washington

Between distraction and devotion

Spiritually and emotionally, this last week for me has been marked by distraction and devotion. I think that’s the perennial question for most believers, but I am particularly conscious of it at the moment. Distraction The other day I was in the car with my sister, the radio was on and it was news hour. Despite my almost total lack of interest in the whole … Continue reading Between distraction and devotion