Stories: Overseas Experience
First ←Older Page 1 2 3 Newer→ Last
You can tell a lot by the TV.
Indonesian Idol's final in a massive stadium in JaBoTek somewhere, with god knows how many hundreds of thousands of people. The losing contestants all break down, come down off the stage and go their villages, there en-mass, get on their knees and pray forgiveness for the humiliation and wrong they have done, and receive it. They return to the stage to celebrate with the winner.
Singapore..an ad on TV with a self proclaimed "important businessman" talking about getting a second second line for his office so his family are not able to interrupt his important business calls. Later the same day the Prime Minister was on a chat show with a bunch of kids talking careers. Two kids said they wanted to be a) an artist, and b) a writer. The PM told them to get proper jobs and look at such things in their spare time.
You can tell a lot by the TV
France: An action adventure series whose name I cannot recall, but it "starred" luminaries such as Catherine Oxenberg & Fabio.
Oh yeah - Acapulco Heat. Maybe it wasn't actually french, but that's where I watched it with some degree of fascination.
"a sobering experience on a packed bus in the middle of india that needs recounting?"
Heh - yeah. Running towards the end of an overland trip through India, we decided to cool off from the 40 degree plus temperatures in Delhi and Rahjistan, and decided to head to the far north, to a beautiful scenic place called Manali.
The bus ride from Delhi was one of those gruesome 'don't look now' experiences as for the best part of 17-18 hours we climbed mountain passes, overtaking on blind corners, passing perilously close to terrifying drops etc.
Unbeknownst to us, one of our travelling companions had come down with a fairly potent and quick acting form of Delhi Belly.
I was just starting to think to myself, gee, M's looking a bit rough, when the gurglings in his belly became all too apparent.
At this point, the bus had descended from a mountain to a nice, deep, flat valley, with very little in the way of shade or cover.
M sat hunched, with an increasingly pained expression on his face, when all of a sudden he decided he couldn't take it any longer, and ripping open his pack in a frenzy he grabbed a bog roll and raced for the front of the bus.
No translation required, the bus pulled to a stop, M leapt from the bus as the dust cleared, and every occupant of the crowded bus gathered eagerly at the windows to watch what was happening to the large, shaven headed kiwi.
With absolutely no hint of cover anywhere, and very little time to think about alternatives M was forced to squat in full view of the bus while his body violently purged itself, much to the mirth of the hooting and hollering passengers.
Some time later, he dragged himself back on-board the bus to a hearty ovation.
Why the hell are you still here!
Is it really 25%? Silly people. I'm here because my heart would not have me be elsewhere. Anyway, hairy OE stories.I was a barmaid for most of the three years I lived in the UK. First year in London, working in the Ship and Shovel behind Charing Cross. A couple of incidents there, come to mind. The first was meeting a bunch of scousers - " come back to ours for a wee drink" they say, so I do. Up, up some stairs in their lodgings we go, to the tiny attic room where there are quite a few sleeping forms. Tiptoe in there, only to hear the sound of the door locking. Yelling the F word and C word at them until they unlock the door. I'm told I'm scary - that was the first time I knew I must be. And then after a few months, deciding I didn't want to work in the shithole anymore - last night, not working, next day being docked 20 quid from my final pay because..........well, just because, I guess. Met a few dodgy landlord pubby types in my time, including Frank the Irishman, but that's another story. Moving away from the UK, and to Switzerland. I was there illegally, working for an old lady. She freaked out one day, so I had to go down to the Bureau des Habitants - the Swiss equivalent of MI5 but overt - and organise to leave the country for a week. The lovely man at Vevey train station told me what I should do - go to Geneva, get the train to France and so on. Which I did. Got to the teeny tiny train station in Geneva where you get trains to France. " Can you stamp my passport" says I in wondrous French (praise be for the educative qualities of French telly). " Mais non" says he, and explained that I should have had the passport stamped at the MAIN train station. " De rien" says he. Get on that train over there. Don't worry, he says. So I don't, and have a lovely week in Evian, and Thonon, thinking I can get the passport stamped on the boat back across the lake from France to Vevey. But no..........so you see, I have never been chased by the police in a foreign country, but I have been an illegal!
anne m. >that was my guess! good old monash and its scholarship programme.
you should have caught the train to caulfield. there was a sri lankan hole in the wall there that did the best hoppers you've ever tried.
and the greek places down the far end of clayton shopping centre!! so, so tacky! but great coffee and great cakes!
There was also a pretty decent Italian place (lunch only I think) up near the uni and a Singaporean place near the railway station where the owner would come and boss you about your order ("No, you can't have two noodle dishes. Have nasi goreng instead of sar ho fan"). And a yum char place in Notting Hill where you had to look before you committed yourself to anything - mmmm chickens feet. Oh we ate our way round the world in Melbourne. But getting on the train and going into Richmond and strolling down Victoria St. was the best. SIGH.
Odd isn't it how you remember the good bits and forget the bad, or at least memory glosses over them.
Why the hell are you still here!
Because I like New Zealand for all its many faults. Canada is about the only other English-as-a-first-language nation that really appeals to me, and that may only be because of unfamiliarity.
one of many stories I could tell:
Surfers Paradise 1984 (I think). I'd been kicked out of Sydney by my Aunt's boyfriend who thought I was bludging. My younger sister was welcome to stay but I had to go. So off I went, with only enough money for the bus fare to Surfers to see an old school friend who I heard was working up there. He wasn't working, but I was welcome to sleep on his floor. I lived on a half cup of rice each day for a week by which time I was pretty hungry.
Out walking alone one night I allowed myself to be picked up by a nice young man driving home. Upon hearing my plight he offered me a hot meal and a bed for the night. The bed turned out to be his, and the meal was the proverbial hot pork sausage. I ate it but didn't enjoy it - it tasted like a rubber hose. I ate it because I planned to rob him while he slept, but in the end I just chickened out. Which was just as well because I got a lovely breakfast in the morning, and a long hot shower. That was the best bit.
sheesh .... I didn't mean to be a threadkiller! I've got lots of happy stories too:
The night before I flew home from London in 1987 I got horribly drunk and woke up at 9am with my flight leaving at 11.15am. It was the pre-booked cab driver who woke me up. He literally swept up all my possessions and stuffed them into my two suitcases. I rang BA and said I was on my way and they (I swear this is true, even tho' I know it sounds ridiculous) and they said they would hold the plane!!
Maybe the phone operator was just being sarcastic but I got to Heathrow about 11 and the check in area was completely empty save the two staff waiting for me. I got a boarding pass and sprinted for the gate. Again, everything was 'empty' - it was quite surreal. But I made the flight and we left at 11.30am.
24 hours later I arrived in Auckland and the first thing Customs asked me was "did you pack your own bags?" "No, I was drunk so the cab driver did"
Ah, those were the days ... pre 9/11 ...
I can understand - especially with student loans as a fact of life - why young folk go to London now with their eyes on a prime job, but it was different in my day. I tended to see it as a chance to find my way without too much in the way of responsibilities.
One big difference: does anyone squat any more? New Zealanders used to be champs at it. The council would smash the toilet in an empty house in the belief that that would stop anyone moving in, but doughty Kiwis would just come in and fit a new one. I broke a squat with someone who is now a well-known person - there had been junkies living there before, and the toilet was stuffed solid to the brim with shit and paper. We tried hydrochloric acid, but eventually me and her girlfriend had to literally shovel shit into a bag. I found that shouting and singing stopped me smelling it.
Bonnington Square, in Vauxhall, where I lived later, was first squatted by New Zealanders, then there were quite a few more as it filled up. The long-servers eventually got to purchase their houses as part of a co-operative.
Later on in the same square, the owners of Wellington's Café Astoria (__not__ Verona, as I mistakenly typed) Janice and Sue, moved into a house that was vacant on account of the previous occupant having blown his brains our. They had to paint over said brains on the wall, and they had a little ceremony with candles to make it good with the former occupant. There was a squatter's café there that could be hired for a couple of quid, and I think I'm correct in saying that that was Janis and Sue's first hospitality venture.
It was near a pub that was frequented occasionally by Eno and U2, whose signed pictures were behind the bar. I'm not sure who compiled the tapes they played on Friday nights, but the music was great.
There was plenty of mischief, and one of my most fond Bonnington Square memories is of a group of us boys and girls hoovering up lines, doing a few spots off the stove, then running for the Tube to get in and see The Fall play at Astoria in Charing Cross Road. We burst into the room just as they came on stage and launched into 'Australians in Europe'. Truly, we felt it was for us.
But the best night, without doubt, was when I was cursing my luck at being committed to being at my friends' Hallowe'en party at No.62, when I knew there was a Mutoid Waste Company party (later described in The Face as "the party of the decade") on the other side of town.
And then … in walked my baby. We were never apart again.
Another bus story:
On Penang Island in Malaysia when one of the people I was travelling with started to come down with a kidney infection. A plan was concocted to head towards Bangkok in case advanced medical treatment was required, the problem was that the trains had stopped running. So we hired a old merc taxi to get us over the border into Hat Yai in southern Thailand and from there an overnight bus to Bangkok.
We were seated up the front of the bus; which is aggressively airconditioned to about 10 degrees and we have no warm clothing, a Thai horror video is played at full volume and the seats are suited for Thais - who are on average a foot shorter then me. So we're cold, bewildered and uncomfortable, but worst of all we can see the road ahead. Roads are rudimentary and traffic is comprised of either motocycles loaded to gunnels with people and produce or trucks loaded much the same. The bus driver considers all traffic infront of us a personal insult that must be overtaken. If in the middle of an overtake, oncoming traffic appears, the driver decides on the basis of how many headlights he can see whether to drop back or keep going and force the assumed motorcycle to the side of the road. "Please god, don't be a truck with a headlight out" was the constant refrain through my chattering lips.
Cap this off at the end of the trip with a taxi ride across Bangkok in rush hour, which is NOT stop/start but more like some cross between a giant pin ball machine, kinetic sculpture and adventure park ride...
I wasn't going to post here as I couldn't decide which tale to tell. But since Russell has brought up squats....
Some good friends were squatting in Clapham Junction (which they eventually turned into a co-op) and their upstairs neighbours were some truly nefarious chemical hounds. I was working in the Scottish highlands near Glenshee and was in close proximity to a golf course that had more mushies than I'd ever seen in one place before (talk about your handicaps!). Honestly, there were millions. I'd shoot down to London on my days off with my trusty MacPac stuffed to the gunnels with the wee magics and swap them for all sorts of goodies with the lads upstairs, catch a show at the Brixton academy and generally run myself ragged...Once back in up north I'd be everybody's darling for a week or three...
Which was all good....until realising that after I'd been back in NZ for about a year, and had pulled out the pack in preparation for a roam in the Tararuas that I had unintentionally smuggled half a gram of pure MDMA into 100% Pure NZ...
So Portebello Road reminds me of Cuba St, writ large. A great, fun little street with loads of character and cafes, but heavily gentrified.
Oh and Singapore...wow...I've never seen a newspaper (Straits Times) so obssesed with women losing weight, oh and university education. Although to be fair to them, I guess they are just taking advertising.
Bonnington Square, in Vauxhall,
oh, yes....went to a party in Bonnington one night late in 83 and found my then girlfriend sitting in the lap of, and snogging a huge Nigerian guy called Cola, who I later found out was a a percussionist with Osibisa. Drinking a large amount very quickly, I left with my flatmates, Shaun and Hugh and wandered north to the Camden Palace where Steve Strange was doing a regular night. I paid my fiver, put my jacket in the coat check and wandered into the cavern. Ten minutes later I tried drunkenly to find a loo and found myself instead outside a closing fire exit on a snowy Camden High Street. Going back to the door I was told to piss off...there were no passouts and I was too drunk to come back in. No money, no keys, and nursing a damaged ego I decided to walk the four miles to the girlfriend's flat in West Hampstead, just to see, y'know, if the Nigerian percussionist was there. So I did, past Regent's Park Zoo, to St John's Wood, thru Swiss Cottage, up Finchley Rd and across to Mill Lane, by which time the sun was coming up and I was stone cold sober with a huge head. I arrived outside her place and began to toss rocks up at the windows, when a cop arrived and asked what I was doing. I said, broken heart, unfaithful lover and the like and the cop was was quite sympathetic..wishing me the best luck...I must've seemed rather harmlessly pathetic by then and I was very cold. Cola wasn't there and there was a reconciliation of sorts. I don't do things like that anymore.
In ’88, having lost my job with the revenue I did up the car, sold it and got a one way ticket to New York. Within an hour of landing I had been abused by an ex-lover and spent the next fortnight blagging my way round the better NY nightclubs pretending to be a new English rock star (anyone go to club Iguana ?). An act facilitated by some old friends from the music industry in the UK, who had moved over the previous year (no-one asked me to sing thank god). In the following weeks I made my way across America, survived one brawl and a serious groping from another bus passenger.
I found myself in San Francisco selling t-shirts to the ferry trippers across to Alcatraz, it wasn’t enough to live on but it did extend the fun. In my best plummy Ahhglesh accent I would invite folk to buy my finest wares. It was all fun in the bright spring sun until the Moonies arrived. I’d heard of them but never really prepared myself for the recruitment drive. Remember this was twenty years ago and I was quite young. Two cute girls ask some survey questions then invite me over for a meal and a seminar (mmm nice). They fed me, we sang songs (Annies song !). I was a bit suspicious but I was enjoying the ride. Then came the hard sell, two more cute girls and a nice guy (all three were plants) $200 for a week long seminar course in the Napa Valley all costs covered; “stay here tonight they said”, “we’ll collect your luggage” (alarms now ringing). So I asked for some more information about these “international community” seminars. By 2am we had got down to their god vs. my atheism - they didn’t win. I left at 3am to get back to my stayover. When I finally stood on the street I shook uncontrollably for quite a while. The proposal and the circumstances frightened me more than anything else I had encountered in the states. It would have been sooo easy to go. The next day I packed my bags paid my rent to date which left me $10 dollars spending money for a three day bus ride back to NY and more money (I eat corn puffs and drank Dr Pepper all the way back). I got back home and ended up with three part time jobs which built my future. I know it sounds cheesy but I can point to that day and say my life changed then. Isn’t that what OE is supposed to be about ?
I might add that it was during this trip that I made the acquaintance of the US security services. By 1988 the first intifada was under way and I joined a protest outside the Whitehouse. I was clearly protesting in a vigorous/menacing way sufficient to get me a stiff talking to in a van a few blocks away. I think I got to stay in the country because I had a special US consular VISA in my passport (rare and important), which must have confused them. That afternoon I went from blissful ignorance to sympathiser for a cause no one really seemed to have heard of back home. I guess that experience shaped me somewhat too. That and the Slickee Boys gig the following night.
And then … in walked my baby. We were never apart again.
I'm not having a go RB, but I'm always bemused how people can travel half way around the world and then still end up with a Kiwi (or worse, an Australian).
And Mr Grigg (still not having a go) is that a pic of you younger, with hair, or Ray Columbus? Can't quite tell.
By 2am we had got down to their god vs. my atheism - they didn’t win. I left at 3am to get back to my stayover.
So 81stcolumn, did you manage to take advantage of the Love bomb before things got ugly? I mean, how 'far' do they go with the 'love'? I've always wondered.
NI ...Bogdan Kominowski of course...don't yer know yer kiwi pop history, bro...
Well I do now! I loved the bit about Flash Gordon (1980) .... Lieutenant of Ming's Air Force. Saw the film but missed that bit!
And BTW - these gravatar pics are quite small. Which is why I picked one that doesn't require glasses.
That'd be a pretty odd place to wear glasses anyway.
Well I do now! I
He was quite the superstar in Palmy. When I was at school there a few in my class had had him as a teacher at primary school as I recall...or at least they claimed as much...touched the hem etc....
I'm always bemused how people can travel half way around the world and then still end up with a Kiwi
You mean, I assume, NI, people who go Over the Oceans, and meet one of their own, who has also gone Over the Oceans? One would imagine, nay one knows, that love is found in the familiar, and the strange. I remember my mother expressly warned me, before I set off my adventures, not to marry a "foreigner". Never met a marryable one anyway but I did come home, and almost immediately met the man I'm married to now, and have been for 15 years.
I'm always bemused how people can travel half way around the world and then still end up with a Kiwi
I must say I have met the occasional foreign girl who promised to "love me long time" but they weren't what you'd consider the marriageable types.
But that's what you get for visiting the more insalubrious areas of cities like Bangkok, Saigon, and Manila.
Post your response…
You may also create an account or retrieve your password.