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  • prequel

    "Top blog/Renato Obeid's World/Today's pick: This rambling weblog is worth reading not so much for its satirical posts but more for its insight into the minutiae of life in Lebanon, including the etiquette of road accidents and how to hire a taxi.” -Jane Perrone, The Guardian

    Wednesday, May 09, 2001  
    I've just got back from a night out with Maha and Matt.
    When I got to Central Station this afternoon, I tried to call Matt from a public telephone but it was occupied by a man who was spelling, rather than speaking, – "boy (sic) for Barry…" (No NATO phonetic alphabet for this man – it's all names of blokes down the pub).
    Realizing that a spelled out conversation was going to take a lot longer than an ordinary conversation, I ventured off looking for another phone booth, hopefully unoccupied or at least occupied by someone capable of stringing letters together, and got stuck in Sydney's torrential rain.
    It doesn’t rain that often here, as opposed to Melbourne, but when it does rain, it really makes up for it – it buckets down, torrential rain, the Flood-type rain.

    Matt has just got back from his trip to Qweld (QLD - Queensland) and he told us all about his travels north – including a visit to the Madrigrass Festival in Nimbin, the hippy, marijuana etc "capital" of Australia.
    As the name suggests, there was lot of "grass" on offer – at stalls along the main road, just two hundred meters down from the police station.
    The same police station that houses dogs which are used for drug raids.
    My suggestion is that, rather than stiffer dogs, they get some Seeing Eye dogs to help them detect the marijuana stalls, which they're apparently blind to, just down the road from them.
    On the subject of drugs, isn’t it ironic that heroin users get free needles from the government but diabetics have to pay for their needles (except in NSW where they’ve been receiving free needles for the past six months – but even that is tenuous, with rumors that it's going to be scrapped)?
    Obviously diabetics should give up their insulin indulgence and take up something considered essential and necessary enough by the government to warrant issuing of free needles - like heroin.

    Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, has apologized for what he claims is the "accidental killing" of a four month old baby during Israeli shelling of a Palestinian refugee camp in Gaza (isn’t the whole of Gaza essentially a Palestinian refugee camp?).
    Ariel Sharon has really come a long way – previously he'd kill Palestinian children at Palestinian refugee camps and now he kills Palestinian children at refugee camps, but now he apologizes for it ("sorry, there'll be no more accidental killing of children - only deliberate killings of children!).
    What a statesman – being elected Prime Minister has obviously done him and the world a world of good!
    A kinder, gentler Ariel Sharon.

    Matt is very intelligent and informed, but the only news that he’s interested in right now is that that pertains to his work, the dance music scene, so he asks me for regular briefings on current affairs.
    In that capacity, I was telling him about the Pope’s recent trip to Greece and the controversy it generated – due to the Great Schism (Catholic/Orthodox*) of 1054 (to put it simplistically) and explaining the history of said schism to him.
    During this, in a Beavis and Butthead-esque moment, he asked me “did we learn this at school?”
    “Of course we did” I lied jokingly, “this was the only thing we learnt at school, we learnt this every day, how can you not know this!?!”
    But, in truth, of course we didn’t learn about the Rome/Constantinople divide, we learnt about the Sydney/Melbourne divide – that great Australian tale of two cities.
    This rivalry is pretty much one-way – Sydneysiders have a superiority complex and look down on Melbournians, who are too cool to care.
    But it’s more often than not good natured and in jest.
    About twenty years or so ago I was with Sam at his university in Sydney.
    Sam was telling a classmate that we had to get back to Campbelltown because I had to catch the bus to Melbourne.
    The classmate asked whether I lived in Melbourne or was going there for a visit.
    Sam replied ‘’he lives there – who’d want to visit Melbourne?’’
    They jokingly call their southern neighbours Mexicans.
    Even the state apparatus join in on the fun.
    Once Noel me mate and I got pulled over by the police for a routine traffic check in Sydney and the policewoman, on learning that we were from Melbourne, joked that we were Mexicans.
    So what is the difference between Sydney and Melbourne?
    In my opinion the difference came be summed up in this metaphor - Melbourne is the queen of the Southern Hemisphere whereas Sydney is the beauty queen of the Southern Hemisphere.

    Beggars it seems, can be choosers – a heroin user, interviewed on TV about, the new legal safe heroin injecting room (sic) was complaining that, being on a busy street, it wasn’t private enough.
    They obviously need something more exclusive, with valet parking and room service heroin – Sheraton on Heroin.

    We’ve already established that the Melbourne uniform is Country Road, but the Sydney uniform is two-toned t-shirts and tops (where the body is one colour and the sleeves are another colour) - all the rage here in Sydney, very cool and trendy in a Sydney sporty casual way.
    I’m quite a fan of them myself – I’ve bought two of them (when in New Rome does as the New Romans do).
    Although my Sydney uniform is of the cheaper variety – having paid $11.95 and $19.95 respectively for my two two-toned t-shirts (a Sydney tongue twister) at Harris Scarfe (a middle-of-the road Sydney department store).
    I never pay full price! I want top-quality, top brands and top value at the lowest price!
    I also bought some Cotton/Nylon/Elastane “Sock it to me” (get it?) brand “Aussie Socks”, emblazoned with the Australian flag, for $2.20 from Everythings a Bargain" at Liverpool Westfield Shoppingtown – ironically made in China, as are most Australian flags, souvenirs and even the Olympic Sydney 2000 merchandise!
    A tragic footnote to all this, Harris-Scarf have since gone into receivership.
    I fell guilty, responsible; it’s all my fault!
    I knew that they couldn’t keep this up!
    It’s one thing me never paying full price etc but what about those who have to bear the brunt of that?!?

    *Aka Muslims with crosses.
    Lebanese Maronites joke that Orthodox are closer to being Muslims.
    This is exemplified in a joke doing the rounds in the early 1990’s about a Maronite who went to his parish priest and told him that he wanted to convert to Shiite Islam.
    ‘’We lost the war, such and such a (Maronite) leader is dead, such and such a leader is in exile, such and such a leader is in jail etc’’
    The priest says ‘’you’ve got a point son but why don’t you stay within Christianity – why don’t you convert to Orthodoxy?’’
    The man replies ‘’no- it’s not that bad!’’

    1:45 am

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