I may be the planet’s most gluttonous consumer of biscuits.
This statement won’t surprise anyone who knows me in the slightest, I know, but recently my addiction’s become unavoidable, even to myself. Since landing here I’ve regimented myself to a single weekly $25 shop, to keep track of budgeting, and it’s extraordinary how quickly the biscuits disappear. Last week, a typical shop, included a $2.09 500g bag of chocolate cookies, and a $1.29 250g packet of ginger nuts. That was on Sunday. The ginger nuts survive, but I’m down by about 420g of cookies already. I’m typing this on Tuesday afternoon. Last week, biscuit-starved by Thursday, I gave in and bought a 10-pack of Australia’s iconic Tim Tams, which lasted me, ooh, the better part of one evening.
Maybe everybody’s allowed one vice. Apart from the hard baked goods, I think I’m living pretty healthily. I walk a 6-mile round trip to university four days a week, and on other days entertain myself with other active little time-passers like climbing up Mount Coot-tha. Again (see below). I eat lots of fruit and base my evening meals around potatoes, rice or pasta. I haven’t consumed chips, pizza, alcohol or much else in the way of junk since arriving, and I brush my teeth like a good boy EVERY SINGLE day .
(Actually, the “pizza” bit is only true in law, not in spirit. My local supermarket routinely reduces the price, on Sunday nights, of these fantastic things called “Mexican rolls”, which is a large bread roll topped thickly with cheese, peppers and bacon. Take home and whack it in the microwave for a minute, and you’ve got as close to a chewy one-portion pizza as makes no difference. They’re AMAZING.)
This unusual level of health-consciousness (by my standards, that is. Which are the standards of one of the proud co-founders of “pie day” in my flat last year), is probably due to all the ridiculously fit people jogging idly around on every available pavement. Apparently Australia has a rising obesity problem, but that proportion of the population clearly isn’t allowed outside, it case it gets in the way of all the gleaming bronze muscle-droids. Not that I’m exactly pumping iron every day, but it does remind you of the need to stay in trim – which, mostly, I’m managing. I’d be an Adonis, if it wasn’t for the biscuits…
You may think it’s odd, that I’m here filling your brain with nonsense about chocolate chip cookies (mmm, chocola- CONCENTRATE ARAN), when I’ve only been on the other side of the world for a month. Haven’t I any thrilling tales of tropical exploits to relate? But so far, I find that that’s how travel works — you set yourself up for the world’s biggest culture shock, for everything to be wildly and monumentally different, but once you’ve run around for a little while gawping at the climate and the sheer amount of things with legs that can kill you, it’s all surprisingly familiar. At least, it is for me, but this is probably down to over inflated expectations — the other day I actually found myself thinking “now I’m in the Southern hemisphere, does the sun still rise in the East?”. Idiot.
I wonder if this is true for all planned new experiences — if the effort put into preparing for every conceivable eventuality is always going to mean that anything that occurs seems oddly normal. All that is foreign rendered mundane by the simple fact that there are any constants at all. Imagine the conversation, Armstrong and Aldrin (and possibly Collins…let’s be nice), setting foot on the surface of the moon…
“…One giant leap …for mankind”
“Hey diddle-diddle, the cat and the fiddle…”
“Duuude! We’re on the moon and stuff!”
“The cow jumped over the mooooooon…”
“This is, like …the moon and shit, yeah? Furthest mankind has ever been, the greatest achievement of our age?”
“Yeah…why do you think you‘re bouncing? Spring boots?”
“Right, right. Only…Neil?”
“How come down is still down?”
There is, of course, only so many times I can expect you all to want to read a blog that goes “well I’m slightly more settled in than I was before” – I’ve already done one entitled Finding my Feet, for Chrissakes – but I guess that’s basically the theme here. It’s not that I haven’t done anything this past week, it’s just that most of what I have done I’ve done for the second time – I’ve had three weeks of university, two weeks of tutorials, I’ve been to libraries and supermarkets and such multiple times, and I’ve been to Mt Coot-tha and the Cultural Center both twice.
The reason for these last two is that this time, instead of going by myself, I was hanging out with Morgan and Emil – previously encountered in a cheerful footnote on this post here. I went and relived the Cultural Center experience with Morgan on Friday – which wasn’t entirely a sequel, as not only was the Modern Art gallery partially open this time, but there was a room I’d somehow contrived to miss in the main Art Gallery first time around, which turned out to contain the Gallery’s collection of Picasso, Matisse, Braque, Gauguin, Cezanne … oops. And then a couple of days previously the three of us had a great time enthusiastically chasing a parrot around a tree. Parrots, it turns out, are very hard to photograph, as can be seen in this picture HERE…
…and, oh, I give up. Have a picture of a frog called Gary.
And that’s about me for now, but thank you ever so much for reading, all donations to the Aran Ward Sell Australian Cookie Fund are gratefully accepted. For now, I’ll leave you with a video blatantly nicked from Morgan’s blog, in which Emil and myself expertly perform Paganini’s “Caprice For Two People Hitting A Large Metal Fern With Sticks”. Sayonara!