Monday, February 02, 2009

Thank god we're home

Well that was our first reconnoitre to Melbourne as a potential place to live next year and I have to say we did not see its best side.

It was SOOOOO HOT all we did was sit in dad's backyard and play in the 2-inch-deep swimming pool he built out of a bit of tarp and two four-be-twos.

It was SOOOOOO dry; the nature strips are parched dust and the trees are dying

And of course all the things we remember about Melbourne so fondly - great restaurants, great coffee, great theatre - we couldn't do what with the Little Ones. Instead (when it was cool enough) we bought iced coffees and sat in dusty scorched playgrounds surrounded by scraggy sad gum trees. We did manage to see ChaCha Sam as part of Rainbow Families' Midsumma program and that was a lot of fun - singing and dancing with your toddlers. It was nice to be surrounded by so many rainbow families.

The other great thing we remember about Melbourne - real multiculturalism, not a sprinkling of Chinese restaurants run by third generation Australians of Chinese heritage - is actually a bit scary close up. Dad's next door neighbour, a lovely woman in full purdah, (yes in 45 degrees) invited me in for coffee (Dad, of course, has never been invited in; he was a bit miffed). It was a huge gorgeous ritual involving plates of pears and nuts and honey cake and a very long process of brewing coffee - but when she asked about 'my husband' I dodged and said, 'The children's father'. I really hate being closeted - life's too short - but I had a sudden vision of Dad's windows being stoned by an angry local congregation. Actually I suspect that many Musl1m people are just as moderate as many Chr1stians, and I think that ancient Persian culture was pretty tolerant of male h0mosexuality - but in the absence of any common language (our conversation was being translated by her seven children, with much arguing amongst themselves about what their mother or I had actually said and how to translate it) I didn't want to run the risk of a transnational education campaign.

It's green and cool in Brisbane and it hasn't stopped raining since we got home.

And I have two more days to prepare my documentary pitch so it will be all quiet from me.


JahTeh said...

You really did pick the worse time to visit.
I'm glad you were able to get around and see what Melbourne has to offer and 40 degree days don't happen all that often.

Anonymous said...

oh the sad sad irony of someone coming from brisbane to melbourne and complaining about the heat and potential intolerance!

i hope you enjoyed cha cha sam - we sure did!

Anonymous said...

i've had to come back to this because i've been thinking about it so much. i feel disappointed that the experience with your dad's neighbour was a negative one for you - for no real reason other than fear of the unknown. congregrations of muslim people stoning neighbours windows because of a gay family member? has the media gotten to you? it doesn't happen, not here in melbourne! being the feminist that you are, i would have thought that you might give this woman a bit more credit. sure, this woman's religion might not condone homosexuality, but that doesn't translate to her and her family and friends committing acts of violence against your family. our daughter's lovely de facto aunty is muslim and she is completely embracing of our family. just like my own catholic parents are.

we all know what it's like to make decisions in casual conversations whether to come out - a constant piece of work that straight people can't imagine. and it gets more complicated when there's kids. i understand that aspect of it. but i just think your imagination is taking the potential consequences to an unreasonable extreme.

your posts often given me food for thought beyond the time it takes to read them. and i promise i don't always disagree with you. what you wrote recently about how we think we're redefining family, but the gender roles are as traditional as ever when it comes to donor dads etc - that really struck a chord with me.

mikhela said...

You are so right.There is no reason, apart from my own stereotypes, to expect that she would respond badly. It was a combination of the hijab, the lack of common language, and the religious texts all over the walls - all combined to make little red flags go up in my brain. It's preconceived notions like these that make true cross cultural connections difficult.

Also I realise I haven't lived in Melbourne since before 9/11 - maybe I have become provincial in exile.

Also, some other time, I'd like to write about what it feels like to be the sort of person who is closeted. (Not very good).

Anonymous said...

I was more upset by you not liking Melbourne!

E, SS and the Little Man said...

That makes me sad that 9/11 has potentially made people have pre-conceived notions about muslims all over the world. I thought that only happened here since 9/11 occurred in the U.S. I feel so bad for muslims in a post-9/11 world. We think we have it bad as gay people.

mikhela said...

I must confess it wasn't all bad.
The food was certainly better! I could do a whole blog entry on: fabulous yum cha in Preston; the deli around the corner from Dad's (a proper European deli with salami hanging from the roof and elderly Greek men pondering the choice of cheese - not one of those frou frou 'deli's' called 'The Hungry Olive' selling hand-reared lamb's milk curd in wattle seed syrup); and the excellent home cooked meals that happen when surrounded by such a culture of delicious ingredients...

See, already I'm getting nostalgic. Even though our lush green lawn here needs mowing yet again.

Cha Cha Sam said...

Hey! It's Cha Cha Sam. Thanks so much for coming to the Midsumma show. It was lovely for us to to be be back home amongst Rainbow Families. Hope you've been to the site to pick up your free song!