22 April 2007

Melbourne - Part Three

Back in downtown Melbourne, this is the Regent Theatre on Collins Street, the venue for the International Comedy Festival Gala. I took this photo during the 10 minute intermission. I'm standing just next to the underground public toilets which, by the way, are a convenient, common feature throughout the city. Had a great comedy night. The show started around 8:00 and didn't finish until 11:00ish. The following days, we took this opportunity to see other shows, one from Corinne Grant and the other from one of my favourite comedians, Stephen K Amos. He reminds me of French comedian, Michel Lebb.

Melbourne has retained many of its old buildings. This splendid Gothic structure is the old ANZ bank on Collins Street.

This is a renovated bridge on the Yarra River. Far right, you can see the restored "Princess" bridge dating from 1880. Ok, I know, it's not Le Pont du Gard but it's quite impressive...well...sort of. Honestly, I prefer this modern bridge, it has more character. And I liked the view as you approach the city from Southbank.

Here we are then, in Acland Street, St Kilda. This is the window of one of the 5 side by side patisseries gracing this divine street. There is a story behind this photo. Basically I was dying to take a snap and Jason was too scared that we'd get in trouble for industrial espionage (or something...) So I hesitated for a good minutes while simultaneously trying to decide whether I'd settle for the almond roll or the mocha creme gateau...I also fondled my camera to boost my motivation and reminded myself that I was a pro. After all, hadn't I taken some daring shots of the crepes display in Harajuku when visiting Japan last year? I wasn't going to stop there was I? But I stood there amongst the crowd with a fake air of nonchalance, pretending that I wasn't salivating for the cakes, like everyone else. It wasn't until a couple of Japanese tourists took the lead and began snapping away that I had the courage to take this. Hey, who's calling me greedy? You should have seen the desperate crowd behind each store...like kids! Kids, I tell you!! Famished they were. It was a mad brawl to the counter.

Melbourne - Part Two

This photo was taken on the 55th floor of Rialto Tower (Collins Street), one of the tallest buildings in the Southern hemisphere. From there you can obtain a breathtaking perspective of the huge development efforts that are underway in Melbourne's new Docklands area. There are a couple of meshed balconies accessible to visitors on the observation floor which make for some great pics of the city. The visit is $15 per adult.

A 30 minute stroll past Collins Street leads you to the completed section of Docklands. These photos were taken at NewQuay, a waterfront precinct where there are great views of the harbour and a range of restaurants and cafes.

Still in Docklands, this is the waterfront in NewQuay. We had a Moroccan dinner at Mecca Bah, a dim restaurant with some plush sofas shared between tables and awesome night time views through its large glassed windows. Upstairs in the same building is Livebait, a seafood restaurant. There are plenty of interesting artworks scattered through Docklands. I thought these looked cute at night.

If it's artwork you want, or perhaps an alternative culture, then why not explore the hidden alleyways of the city? Start in Flinders Lane, a sophisticated lane with some truly expensive designer boutiques. Then, turn left into the subversive universe pictured below. This particular lane was cramped with bars, cafes and secret basements.
For something more sedate, you must try Hardware Lane, off Bourke Street. It has a more European feel and is lined with a gaggle of ambient restaurants. It reminded me a little of some places in Milan. There are a number of hidden lanes in Melbourne where nightlife looked promising but I didn't have the time to indulge my seedy side. Perhaps next time...

Reality... Hmm Hmm...

Been severely hooked on the remix of Enigma's "Boom Boom" track.

I like the elusive, dreamlike quality of the lyrics.

Simplicity, complexity, oh what a tragedy
Reality, insanity, strange normality

21 April 2007

Melbourne - Part One

Melbourne City skyline from Southbank.

Melbourne Federation Square - think of it as the heart of the city. You'll find it at the end of Swanston street. It has a very helpful Visitor Center and is across the road from Flinders Train Station and a major Tram stop.

More of the city view from Federation Square, you can see Melbourne's Visitor Center on the left so you can't miss it. Oh, look! It's Jason sitting on the front steps! What's he doing here?

Now if you walk across the bridge from Federation Square, you hit Southbank. This is the gorgeous Melbourne skyline from Southbank.

South Bank Promenade - lined with lovely restaurants. Reminded me a little (just a little) of Paris. If you've visited Brisbane, you'll see an obvious culinary difference here. I mean that, 'real' restaurants. One of them, "Bristro Vite", has exquisite French cuisine and great service. Loved, their toilets too. Tres rustique!

This is further south, in the suburb of Toorak and St Kilda. This is me shopping till I drop on Chapel Street. I didn't buy anything apart from a pair of hot pink pointy heels from Zu and a hot pink tee from some dingy clothing outlet. Not sure what happened there, guess I just don't like brand clothing. But the Bardot there is awesome. There's an impressive Borders inside the Jam Factory shopping center. It seemed like a hundred meters of books but I'm not sure because I was exhausted by that stage. I spent a good hour in there looking at Jung dream interpretation books. Again didn't buy anything because I had already got my fix from the Readings bookstore in Lygon Street. What did I get? "Notes from the Underground" by Dostoyevsky and "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" by Laclos. Also bought another psychology book. Ooops, enough rambling. Let's continue with Melbourne shall we?

Melbourne - Intro

As promised here's a little travel blog to throw the limelight on Melbourne.
What's so special about Melbourne? Well to begin, it has repeatedly been voted one of the top 20 most liveable cities in the world. Check out the stats here.
While you shop on Chapel Street, stroll Acland Street for mouth watering patisseries, dine in an Italian joint on Lygon Street, explore the city's secret lanes and alleyways, celebrate the colorful Melbourne skyline from a cafe in Southbank, then daydream on the steps of Federation Square or even make a memorable historical journey through century old buildings, you could be forgiven for thinking that you are in a sophisticated European city. And yes, grandmother Melbourne has class. There are some impressive architectural developments springing to life in its new Docklands area overlooking the dark blue waters of Port Phillip Bay. And I'm not forgetting those old favourites, like the Queen Victoria markets (which isn't really my thing but I thought I'd throw it in there), the gambling powerhouse of Crown Towers (which again, isn't really my scene but I thought I'd throw it there for some bling) and the beautiful, calm waters of St Kilda beach.

We had some nice weather during our visit, early April for the International Comedy Festival. The temperatures varied between 20-25 degrees Celcius during the day and dropped to around 11-14 at night. You could spend the day walking everywhere without sweating. A welcome change from Brisbane since I hate sweating.

Here's a little pictorial journey to get you packing your bags for the next International Comedy Festival.

13 April 2007


The big news is that I've now written 240 pages on my novel. It's an amazing process and I'm loving every moment of writing. Although sometimes the characters won't behave themselves, they keep surprising me and I never know what they will do next. I'm slightly schizophrenic when I write but then again, I'm just saying that to make everything sound more dramatic than it really is. But in actual fact, I'm not crazy.

Just before Easter, Jason and I enjoyed a lovely Melbourne escapade. I hadn't been there since 2001 so there were a lot of new places to see (for me anyway). I ended up writing over 12 pages of travel log while away but I haven't had the energy to enter these pages into this blog. All this energy was somehow sucked by one of the characters in my novel. She's not mischievious, just very willful. She was on an urgent mission and there was nothing stopping her. So I let her have her way. You see, you have to let the characters get their way, otherwise they begrudge you and they never come out again. The next thing you know, you hit writer's block and it's your own doing for ignoring your characters in the first place.

I will see if I have the time to post some piccies and ramblings about Melbourne.

10 April 2007

Family is Everything

Family is an institution. And every institution has its own discourse. You know, a mode of language that serves to perpetuate myths, order and hierarchy. Some of those myths serve to ensure that the institution, no matter how corrupt or disfunctional, will live on. The institutional myths are never challenged, as a result of the power of hegemony - that voice that tells you that "everyone else thinks like this" and warns you that dissidence will be swiftly oppressed. No one would dare challenge the order of the family. And so you too, must remain quiet.

Family is everything. Oh so I've heard. So much is it everything that even a murderer or a rapist can reside safely within his family. One would gladly live in denial to maintain the status quo.

That institution which often (not always) reeks of authority, bullying, manipulation, that powerhouse of inbred insecurities, resentments, lies, misunderstandings exists only because it provides opportunities for depraved individuals to engage in power roles that society can not otherwise offer them.

Family is everything you say? Six year old Nandini has been sold by her parents to a brothel in the filthy backalleys of Calcutta. During her miserable existence, she'll regularly send her earnings back to help her family. No matter if she dies of Aids in the process. Family is everything.

I laugh everytime a person, in an attempt to reassure himself that he is a good hearted person, devoid of selfish motives, a person of integrity, will proudly proclaim his devotion to his family. Family comes first! Somehow they equate caring, love and friendship with family. Seriously, I don't know how. The two are mutually exclusive. Sometimes they happen to cohabit.

Blood is thicker than water you say. Who is the idiot who said that? That would be what I would call an 'us against them' mentality brought upon by senseless identification with a group, all for the sake of sustaining one's own fragile ego.
And it's absolute bullshit. Some of the most supportive people that I know and who I count on are not part of my family. Conversely, some of the family members I know are the most destructive, petty individuals I have ever met. No. Blood is not thicker than water. But I admit, it is a very convenient thing to say. And can be useful when one wants something.

I would so much like to choose who exactly constitutes my family. Sometimes though, I succumb to base hypocrisy and I let myself befriend those that are related to me by blood, without as much as considering their relative virtues. Instead, I drop my standards and allow rogues, ignorant braggarts and absolute dickheads to speak to me on familiar terms because they share similar genes. Some of my family's members are lovely. Most are not.

You know what else I think? (Leave now if you can't take it. It's only going to get worse.)

Family is that thing you fall back on when you don't have a career or a passion in life. It's that thing that you fall back on when you are a hopeless failure in every other way.

Got made redundant? No matter. Family is everything. Now you will be able to actually get to know the people you say that you love. Spend time with them, find out what makes them tick. And if you get bored, you could use their weaknesses against them once in a while.

If you are dying of envy for someone else's success, if you despair ever attaining the same drive they have to make it through their goals in life, if you crave their wealth, don't despair! Family is everything. You can pat yourself on the back and knock these successful people down. They are, after all, missing out on the most important thing in life: family. What do they know of the real pleasures of life.

Louis Pasteur was too busy making vaccines to save the world from disease. He should have known better than waste his energies. After all, family is everything. Lay down all your vile passions, I say. Do nothing. Give up your talents, who needs them? You'll only make your family jealous and it would be downright silly. No, no, be a family doormat instead. Let them use you and make rightful demands upon you. Let them bring you down to a level that they can feel comfortable with and measure you against the worthy cause of the family which they only, can define.

What's that? I'm a murderer you say? I've just murdered the family. How dare I speak this way. I have no shame.

I can see the religious minded people rolling their eyes up to the ceiling. Another institution, Christianity, is very proud of the family. For them, what I'm doing here is disgusting. I am lost. (Shake of the head). Truly, I have erred and I am lost.

But wait.

Christians read the Bible right? And they are familiar with the New Testament. So they would know the following passages from Luke's gospel:

Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you." But he said to them, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it."

You like that one? Ok, how about this:

Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, "Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

Of course I wouldn't take that literaly. No one is asking you to hate your parents (although sometimes that does happen). But even for non-religious people this passage is clear. Let us suppose that Jesus and his teachings represent a truth, an ideal which his disciples must put before each and everything. In that case, this truth is universal. It does not only imply religious truth, whatever this may be. This passage is about putting truth before everything.

How does all this translate to this fabulous post about family?
Truth, not denial.
Truth, not hypocrisy.
Truth, not avoidance of conflict to avoid being crucified by the institution.

There you have it.
Truth is everything.