Hello Again, Sydney

One Sydney-sider's experiences moving back to Sydney after a long absence overseas.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hugs and kisses

Most embarrassing work moments ...

Mine came when I was introduced to a female co-worker who was visiting from interstate. Mark meet Elaine, Elaine this is Mark. So far so good. We shake hands and when we make eye contact she inclines her head very slightly to one side, and I instinctively lean forwards and kiss her on the cheek. Why? I don't know. As I turn the colour of beetroot, silence falls over the assembled colleagues – over the whole building as I remember it. Thank God for open-plan offices, eh?

If I'd done that in Colombia, however, I'd have been a good chance to get away with it. Over there it's cool to kiss (not always in work situations, but sometimes) and quite alright to hug your male friends. This warmth extends to conversations too. Affectionate sentiments in Australia are generally encased in boofy reserve. "I love ... your work." Actually, that's a favourite of mine. But why is it I can tell my Spanish-speaking friends that they're very special, while to do that in English would seem a bit drippy?

And what about compliments? A while ago I mentioned an anti-marijuana ad here that reads: "you've got great eyes, when they're not bloodshot." Putting the health warning to one side, what kind of a line is "you've got great eyes"? Great eyes!? Geez, don't strain yourself Cassanova. A Colombian guy would get his citizenship revoked for uttering a piropo that lame.

And then we come to the goodbyes. I used "chao" a lot after I came back, until it started sounding affected. But I still like it. Solid and sonorous, isn't it? Compare it with the classic goodbyes here. "Take it easy" is good. "Bye-ie" is a weird one, but quite common. The usual though is a flat, limp "Bye" which makes it sound like you no longer know the person you’re talking to. Sydney in a syllable that is.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

It's a jungle in here

The soundtrack of our lives for the last month or so has been The Lion Sleeps Tonight, aka Wimoweh. During this time the immediate family have been going by animal names. I am Gorilla, my wife is Elephant (which she's thrilled about, obviously), my brother and his wife are Giraffe and Zebra respectively and so on. Santi (who is Barbary Sheep) calls us collectively, "my dangerous animals".

Parents will have already guessed that this has something to do with that darned Lion King movie, and you'd be half right. We've given the DVD a fair old hammering over the last month. But a lot inspiration came from our visit to Taronga Zoo a few weeks ago too. Here's the view from the picnic area, looking across the harbour to the Opera House and bridge. It could not be dangerous to be living in a town like this, could it?

There have also been a couple of family singalongs, and with all of this animal hijinx afoot, Meerkat (that's Uncle John) decided to scour the iTunes music store for different recordings of the Lion Sleeps Tonight. We now have a CD with no less than 24. I can recommend the versions by:

- The Tokens (this is the one everyone knows, but avoid the 1991 remix - total cack!)
- Mory Kante
- Karl Denver (Scottish bloke yodelling with surf-style guitars - go figure, but it works)

But the standout is definitely the original. Forget all that "in the jungle" business, and get down with this, Solomon Linda's Mbube.