July 2010


I can only afford to fly economy (there goes the tiny violin) so as far as clinging onto comfort is concerned, I’ve chosen my seats (aisle for the first leg, window for the valium-induced second) and the Hindu non-vegetarian meal, buon appetito.

Here’s hoping that none of my fellow passengers fall ill on the flight.

M25 sunrise

Revision break at uni. BT tower peeping through

Trees, Eye, Clouds

Roots

Elephant Parade, Marylebone

St Giles in the Fields

Reflecting the building opposite

St Giles Central

The whale photo would suit this post, but here is the Lady Knox geyser instead. Just add soap

Inspired by this post I decided to look at popular Googling trends in New Zealand.

I should explain that when I studied Anthropology, I wrote a 10,000 word dissertation on the subject of fetishism, so my searches relate to that and not my own perversions.

New Zealand’s most popular search term is… New Zealand. In Italy and the UK its Facebook.

New Zealand’s biggest fetish-related search is the foot fetish. The highest number of hits are in the Taranaki region.

Auckland is the only region to search for whale porn.

Worldwide, Tunisia is the number 1 country to do a Google search for Google

Happy hump day!

Bangkok, baby

“The more you travel… I think, the more you realise you’re a product of where you’re from” Elizabeth Gilbert

I grew up in England, raised by my Italian family. If culture is the lens through which we perceive the world, then, like many people, I had two of them. It took me a long time to accept the way both cultures defined me but they both flow well together without one contradicting the other too much… flailing hand gestures meets the ability to form an orderly line.

I lived in Bangkok for a very short while; 2 months exactly, but in a city as manic as Bangkok I think it counts. I worked in one of the big public hospitals and the other students kept me company. My status as a foreigner was pretty obvious; cultural differences were a given, and I found this oddly reassuring when it came to dealing with the contrasting social interactions, conversations and jokes. I managed not to commit any faux pas, and even kept my sense of decorum and politeness when I passed out on the labour ward (I asked the resident in a chirpy voice, ‘Please can you hold my glasses?’ before I hit the floor)

I’m a little apprehensive about the move to NZ in this context. I’m a caucasian person moving to an English-speaking country so on the surface, many people have told me I will have no trouble settling in, but I’m not convinced. There are differences, ever so subtle ones, and no doubt they’ll become clear as I get to grips with living there. I’m not sure if my anxieties about getting everything right as an ex-pat stem from my background in Anthropology, post-colonial paranoia or a mix of the two. From what I can remember from my interactions with people out there: they’re very friendly, eager to help you if you’re in a spot of bother (I couldn’t unlock the flap to fill up my car with fuel. A man named David spent 5 minutes sitting in my car to ‘get a feeling’ about it) and are anxious to know that you’re getting the most out of the country (David recommended a different route to my destination as it had nicer views and was keen to know if I was visiting the South Island)

I did visit the south island. It was awesome

Putting my experimenter glasses on, it’ll be interesting to see how it pans out. And if anyone holds those glasses while I drop to the floor, I’ll be on a roll

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Post title quote: Ralph Waldo Emerson

The lucky terrapin is coming too

I can travel light, I backpacked for 3 months through several climates with 9kg on my back, so I’m generally quite confident in knowing what’s sensible to take and what I have to leave behind. My cookbooks fall into the latter group, and I feel a small pang of longing for the large pile I have accumulated over the years. I don’t want them gathering dust on the bookshelf, so friends are adopting them and good things will happen.

I am taking one book with me: Leith’s cookery bible as it’s the most useful and least gimmicky. It’s also ridiculously heavy and is going through in my hand baggage.

Confirmation bias of ‘what an awesome place I’m moving to’ aside, I have won a cookbook with Kiwi-compiled recipes, so I consider this a good omen! I’m so excited as the last thing I won was a hi-fi cleaner when I was 7. Share, Indulge, Enjoy: the recipes look vibrant and delicious, right up my street. It will be waiting for me before I’ve even touched down, so I’m happy that I’m already making my mark from a distance.

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A good piece on the subject of confirmation bias

Treehousekitchen oh great provider of recipe books!

Strawberries after a chemically induced growth spurt

Someone asked me what I will miss about London. It’s a difficult question to answer; it’s a city and my memories and attachments are involved in the people I have connected with along the way. Any answers are also dependent on the home-to-be and its environment; I’d miss the empty roads of central London if I moved back to Bangkok just as I would miss the honourable, noble politicians of the UK if I went to live in Italy.

Arbutus meets London Pride

The best way I can articulate my answer is that if you buy or grow seasonal produce, you’re so wrapped up in the sweet little strawberries, you stop missing bananas. So there will be times I will yearn for creature comforts but there will be something different to learn and get used to, and until I experience long-term separation, I won’t know what they are. I also think that one city cannot fully meet a persons needs, so I don’t feel a pang of conscience while weighing up what I can gain from relocating; geographical cheating!

If I have to give an answer and predict  I will miss, it’s the diversity and juxtaposition: a 5 minute bus ride can separate the wealthiest and most deprived areas. Talking to one patient about their career as a judge, and the next as a graffiti artist and full-time sadist. And sitting in my favourite restaurant, watching the semi-naked world go by.

xkcd: Sheeple

Something very disturbing happened to me on the Tube a few weeks ago: a stranger struck up conversation with me. After I got over my initial shock and repulsion, we had a pleasant exchange on the subject of the Bakerloo line. He thought that Londoners are friendlier than they’re made out to be, and I guess our exchange proved this, although he probably sought me out on an unconscious level to confirm his expectations.

Robert Fisk said that war represents the total failure of the human spirit. I’d suggest trying to get on the northbound blue line at Victoria during rush hour for a contemporary, slightly less traumatic insight into the human condition. When forced to assume the position of nose-to-someone-else’s-armpit, that violation of personal boundaries is more than enough to quell the idea of verbal dialogue.

An individual could of course strike up a conversation about the weather, it’s such a useful ice-breaker embedded in English culture, but the underground for most part removes the opportunity. Despite the negative outlook, there’s an unspoken cohesiveness: the cost, the sour milk stench at Waterloo, the long interchanges, Northern line time, black phelgm and those bloody A4 sized wheelie suitcases: we’re all being taken for a ride. I look forward to not missing it.

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