Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pew Pew Pew

I haven't posted much in a while, so this one will be quite lengthy.

The weather this weekend was simply awesome. We've had the hottest two days in Sydney since I arrived and clear skies to boot. My roommate and I went to Sculpture by the Sea, the world's largest annual free-to-the-public outdoor sculpture exhibition, located on the Tamarama Beach to Bondi Beach walk.

Squeeze it

Tamarama Beach

Portal

My roommate Rashid is a pretty interesting guy. He moved in about a month ago, but he'll be moving out shortly because his room might have bedbugs, but that's another story altogether. Rashid's a year younger than me and he's already seen more of the world than I will ever see, but hope to. He's from Leeds, UK and he's already been around the world. This is courtesy of the practice of a gap year in the UK, where the reasons behind this practice are that you develop skills outside of the workplace, and you open your mind to how the world works. Not only is it encouraged, it's pretty much awesome. Other countries that participate in this gap year are Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. It's no coincidence that I've met a lot of people from these countries in my time here, and rarely any Americans.

Not the clothing brand.

The countries Rashid has been to include Egypt, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Pakistan, USA, and most of Europe. That's just out of the places he's told me about...and it makes me jealous. Through his stories he's given me a perspective of how other countries view America, and while America seems to get vilified a lot, I can see why people feel the way they do. However, the criticism is generally geared to America as a whole, and not individual citizens, e.g. elections, public/economic policies, war. He told me while traveling across borders in South America, Americans were given a hard time and would have to pay off the border patrols to get through, simply because America makes it difficult for their compatriots to travel into the US. This can be linked towards his own personal experience traveling to the US.

Rashid is Pakistani, and when he went through customs, to his surprise he was detained for 3 hours. The Department of Homeland Security questioned him in a private room, and appeared to know everything about his life back in Leeds. They asked him about family, friends, neighbors, school, job, girlfriend, and the like. Why was he singled out? Because someone who lived a bit down the street from where he lived participated in 7/7, the 2005 London bombings. In some ways I guess this makes sense, but it's kind of like the Red Scare isn't it? America seems to have recurring trends of massive paranoia that borderlines on xenophobia. Slavery, Chinese/Indians banned from immigration, the Red Scare, Japanese internment camps, now anything Muslim after 9/11.

Option 1 or Option 2 below

Really America? Really?

This leads me to a bunch of articles I've been reading recently about the new scanners the TSA has put up in America. It's kind of ridiculous isn't it? If you decide to opt-out of the x-ray body scanner, you're subjected to a pat-down search where they physically grope your private parts. What the hell happened to America and individual freedoms? If you want to board a plane, someone gets to see you "naked" or you get sexually assaulted. Here in Australia, it's like America before 9/11, at least for domestic flights. You print your ticket, you line up for security and walk through metal detectors while you keep your shoes on and that's it. They don't even check ID's, though to be honest I'm not sure if I like that.

Traveling seems to be getting ridiculous in America, and it's something I won't be experiencing it for a while. Living literally halfway across the world, where it's 19 hours ahead of LA, the vacations you plan definitely change because of the distance factor. The next time I plan on being in America is in October 2011, for a wedding. I haven't decided if my trip will be one or two weeks, it really depends on if/when people visit. Since I live so far away, when people visit me it's kind of a big deal, so I want to take the appropriate measures and take time off. This cuts into my 4 weeks vacation time and all of a sudden I don't have many vacation days to myself. I already have 3 weeks planned out for 2011, and the 4th week will either be an extra week in America or an extra week for any visitors I get. Sadly, this means my days at TAF are over, along with any mini excursions my friends will partake in, unless the ticket prices are reasonable.

Yeah it is, Batman.

Speaking of friends, living a world away you really learn to appreciate who your "true" friends are. At the risk of sounding too emo, let me explain. Growing up it's pretty easy to make friends; you're surrounded by your peers all the way through high school, and college for those who attend (unless you're some type of social outcast that is.) When you graduate and you're thrown in the real world, it gets a little bit harder. Why? Life happens. Friends take jobs in other cities, friends decide to go back to school in other cities, friends get married, friends have kids, friends work so much they have no social life, friends move out of the country, and so on. The new friends you make won't make a big effort for this very same reason, unless you are under the same circumstances (new to town, etc.)

That's life.

It's a fact of life that people will come and go, since people get so busy and caught up in their own lives they forget about the experiences they shared with their friends. Sad, but true. It's the ones who don't let this get in the way of the bond you shared that you learn to appreciate over time. I know I can be a better friend in a lot of places, but I also know I'm making an effort to keep in touch with the friends I've made over the years. To my friends that are making the same effort to keep up with my life and/or plan on visiting, do know that I really appreciate you and thank you. You guys are the best.

Isn't this just so ugly?

Side note to guy friends getting married: You should totally do bachelor parties Australian style, called stag parties.

Instead of showing the groom a night of "freedom" before marriage with cliche things like drinking, gambling, and strippers, where the fun is for the groom, in Australia the groom is the entertainment for the night. My co-worker told me of the last bachelor party he went to where the guys setup an obstacle course on a beach that the groom had to complete naked, while getting pelted with eggs. The groom then had a few challenges to accomplish. Then they had a bonfire and drank at the beach. Does that sound awesome or what? At least, if you never get married and go to stag parties a lot you have a great time...

2 Comments:

At November 15, 2010 at 3:31 AM , Blogger Jinny said...

Yeah, the security regulations are getting creepy. Nov. 24 is National Opt Out Day to protest these irrational use of security measures. http://www.optoutday.com/

 
At November 16, 2010 at 1:33 AM , Blogger Bo said...

love your posts man. this blog makes me want to just drop everything and runaway to a sunny place

 

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