Saturday, April 24, 2010

Round Dumplings

I've just checked the weather for the various upcoming cities. April is a good transition month between Australia and Europe. In theory in any case - I'm off to London with my fingers crossed...

Today is Anzac Day. It commemorates the sacrifices of thousands of Australians and New Zealanders in a failed attempt to quickly defeat the Ottoman Empire (which at the time also consisted of today's Syria) at Gallipoli. Generally though, it's just a long weekend here. It's either quiet (my experience at a restaurant last night), or, as rumoured by a family member, there's drunken debauchery in the City so I should definitely avoid Chinatown in particular. Or, as my architect-cousins experience, it's just another working weekend as they work to get a tender package out, on a project with very expensive angles.

Have just come back from some time on the east coast now. Coming from the Middle East, one thing that stands out is the amount of skin and cleavage here. It's not as much as in Moscow, but about one stitch more. On the beaches lie beautiful people in beautiful nothings. There's certainly not one hairy man or woman in sight, and rare are the overweight, the over-70s, and women who only have a modest one-piece black swimsuit (me) - they are wiped / wipe themselves from public view. Be beautiful or be gone.

London-based photographer Zed Nelson has an incredible exhibition entitled Love Me at the Sydney Centre for Photography. He shows with true clarity the price paid to fulfill the never-ending and highly demanding expectations of a beautiful body. There is a image of a nip/tuck from a surgeon's point of view that I find particularly memorable.

So right now I am going back to my aunt's place and am going to stuff myself with some soulfood brought by my aunts, maybe some of this sour soup that has been in our family's belly memories forever. I just learned how to make "tong yeun" yesterday from 5th Aunt and can't wait to do it again.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I'm not sure that the world is ready for China. And equally so, I'm not sure that the Chinese is ready for the world.

Apparently a miniscule drop of Mainland Chinese -- very affluent of course due to our collective consumption of Made-in-China goods -- have come to Australia and very recently have upped the real estate market by a very considerable amount. It's made the sellers very happy but of course not first-time home buyers. It's yet another "reason" to keep Australia, well "Australian".

Many countries have residency- or citizenship-ownership laws. In Oman, only Omanis can purchase land. And to be an Omani you have to be resident fo 30 years.

It's nothing new of course. I doubt that the Aborigines / Kooris have economic access to land here. And I remember the combination of Expo 86 in Vancouver / the Hong Kong handover hiking prices up. But everythings been legal. Everything is by auction, allowed by property law and banking law here.

Not so in the Middle East, and of course I am talking about Isreal and the Isreali settlements in the Palestinian Authority. I'm currently engrossed in a book by Stephen Glain, "Merchants, Mullahs, and Militants". Easy to read, I'm glad I'm reading it now after Syria, and I highly recommend it.

And as said, the Chinese are not ready for the world. I always knew that I had a physically hard time existing out of my "bubble" that is Vancouver. Actually, it must be some part of China. I have skin and lung sensitivities. I'm getting to know more and more Chinese living outside of China to have serious and severe skin and lung sensitivities, and major allergies, right from the time of birth. One young relative is even allergic to rice. (!) Even my father, who never in China had hay fever, developed it in Canada.

So we'll see how long this all lasts...

Currently in Sydney. Off to Parramatta in a little bit.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Usually I leave my taxes to the very last day, in tact with the rest of Canada, but to the dismay of my father. But this year I am being a good girl, and have just finished them now. Besides bearing gifts of winter wear and packages of family photographs for the relative here, he also brought my T- slips and a couple of Christmas cards. He will return with a minor bundle of excess cargo from me...

It is quite a culture shock to be in Melbourne from the Middle East. Even my friend M., who I met in Damascus but is now back home here, is just getting over it after 4 months. As cities, the difference between Canberra (where she studies now) and Damascus is far and wide. Culturally, I am still not quite used to it. I'm converting prices into Syrian pounds and nothing makes sense. (I even convert to Canadian dollars and nothing makes sense) When I was at the bank, I asked for some small bills - there were never enough small notes in circulation in Syria. And generally, it's too easy here. My brain is numb from how easy it is to do easy things. I know, people spend their entire lives making daily life easier for the general public, but still...

Despite that it's the usual thing - they drive on the left side, the water's spins the "other" way, it's late summer here, and everyone walks upside down here down under - except me, of course, being from up and over. And there's no recession here, there never was. A highly coal-fired China has propped up the country like nothing else.

My father came in earlier this week, and that night the entire clan got together for dinner. My current research project is to find out who's who here, and have managed to collect data for a well-sized family tree. Inputting names should be interesting - formal Chinese name (blah blah blah), informal Chinese name (ah blah), transliterated Chinese name, English name, and "relation" name (what I call that relative, because of my relation to him/her).

The Chinese food intake has been constant and consistently very good. I think it's actually better than Vancouver. The dishes are a little different but very well done, and I have also had by now some good ol' jook and cheung fun.

Whereas last week I will getting over jetlag, this week is about visiting relatives. Next week may involve some local travelling, possibly a walk from Torquay to Anglesea.