Saturday, March 22, 2008

Making New Friends

Now that you all can envision my neighborhood, I think it's time to share some news about who I'm spending time with. Anyone who's sat through a few episodes of Friends alongside me knows how skeptical I am about a group of people who are friends with each other and no one else for years and years and years. Just never seemed possible to me that they wouldn't have made other friends throughout their jobs, lives, schools.

Well, such an insular circle is alive and well and living in Melbourne. Adi's friends are a group of people who went to summer camp together beginning when they were 8 (a Jewish Socialist camp no less)..and they are all still close friends. There are a few peripheral friends amongst the members, of course, but for the most part, this somewhat incestuous group have all been friends for 20 -odd years and remember, they are about a decade younger than I am! I suppose if all my Brown friends lived in the same city, we'd hang out a lot as well. Whether we all would have dated each other remains to be seen, but that is the case with many of these folks. SO I'm learning the history slowly...its kind of like starting to watch a soap opera after it's been on for a long time. But before you know it, you're hooked.

As you can imagine, diving headfirst into such a tight knit group is a bit intimidating but everyone has been very welcoming. As I get to know them, they are not unlike any other group of intelligent, well-educated middle-class Jews...given that their professions range from journalist to fast food vegetarian burger joint small business owner to health care worker to social worker to a collection of lawyers and law students, you can see that the socialism is more theory than practice. Nevertheless, everyone has been really friendly, and I'm starting to feel more and more comfortable- even making some sarcastic comments now and then. Of course, to know me is to appreciate my sense of humor. Thus, it's good people are starting to get a glimpse of it since this circle pretty much comprises our social life.

We've spent the last two Friday evenings, after Shabbos dinner with Adi's family, at his friend Alyah's house watching a show called Underbelly. This is a an Aussie show based on actual underworld events that occurred in Melbourne between 1995 and 2004. The show has a Soprano's like feel but is fun for the locals since it's based on real events. The show was actually banned in Victoria because there is currently a trial taking place and there is concern about exposing the jury to the show. Of course, in the age of DVD's and downloads, such a ban serves only to pique interest in the production. And now I've gone and blogged about it, so hopefully next week, Alyah's won't be raided.

In spite of occasional cheesy edits, its really good and becoming addictive, so I"m hoping we'll continue to gather with our underbelly gang. While I am learning about this seedier side of Melbourne lift, I am aware that to judge the city on this show is akin to judging the NYC metro area on the Sopranos, so I'm taking it with a grain of salt.

We also had a picnic last Sunday afternoon at the park with lots of nosh and a chance to meet more of the circle. It was fun and I almost convinced everyone that in the Old Country, you get points when you DONT catch the frisbee. I came thisclose to winning!

Tomorrow, I reckon we'll rock up to a bar with the group in the arvo, unless we can't be F***D going somewhere so dodgy.

That's me practicing my Aussie and means: I think we'll head over to a bar with the group in the afternoon unless we don't feel like going somewhere sketchy.

I'm adjusting well, as you can tell by my command of the language- it's coming along quicker than my Spanish did in Nicaragua. And I'm even looking in the right direction when crossing the street.

My work visa came through so I start work on the 31st. That means this coming week is my last one of freedom, so I hope to explore the city a bit more. We're planning to drive down the coast tomorrow and then go to the footy opener on Monday, where I'll be exposed to Aussie Rules Football for the first time. I root for Essendon- I've been told- and other than the red color of their uniforms, I'm all for it. They're actually the Essendon Bombers, so its not too far off from the Bronx Bombers. How much HGH is involved I dont know yet.

I'm learning to appreciate little things about Oz- for example, large file folders, what we would call Legal size, are called Foolscap here, in reference to the powdered wigs still worn by Barristers in court. Poor dad, if only he practiced in a commonwealth country, his little head would stay warm.

I also love that every toilet here offers the half-flush option. Due to the years-long drought country-wide, water conservation is way ahead of the states. So in spite of Australia having a significantly smaller Carbon footprint than the states, green is very much a way of life. And of course, they drive smaller cars- and arely complain about their astronomical gas prices. Gas is hovering around $1.50 per liter right now. When you consider that there are 3.8 L to the gallon, that makes gas almost $6 a gallon. OUCH.

And life in the ghetto continues...we were awoken at 7:30 AM yesterday to the sounds of Purim and there were drunken religos stumbling around the neighborhood all day long. St. Patrick's day came and went with nary an Irish Eyes are Smiling, but this was unprecedented. I got in the spirit of the holiday, laughing as I assmebled some new IKEA furniture.

Until next time, Ciao friends.

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