Tag Archives: Sydney

Musings from a wooden bench in Bali…

1 Jul

And so it is that I leave Bali, this stunning land that has somehow wrapped its fingers round my heart! I don’t remember feeling this sad about leaving anywhere since I left New York. I wasn’t expecting to love Bali so much, especially Ubud. But isn’t it funny how a place can win you over?

I’ve been trying to put my finger on why exactly I feel so connected to this place. Was I Balinese in my last life? Did I carry mangoes on my head, practice healing, cook with galangal and jackfruit and offer taxi rides to the relatively few tourists who poked their heads, wide-eyed and blinking into this magical kingdom? I know I’m not the first to feel this way about Bali. In fact, I’m possibly a bit of a cliché, falling in love with the hues of greens and knowing smiles and the peace that emanates from every tiny village and temple – the sort of stuff we only dream about as we squeeze and stress through day-to-day existence in a city.

I’m living in a screensaver here, a desktop wallpaper scene of amber butterflies and bicycles leaning up against bamboo scaffolding. I’m walking through holiday brochures, trekking from page to page across rice fields, waving at women in pointed straw hats, getting my hair wrapped in banana leaves, stopping to chat with men carrying machetes at the end of their shift in the sunshine. Maybe it is just magic – the hold that Bali has on me. A magic spell that invokes a sort of innocence that would be dangerous and frowned upon in a city.

I feel like nature reaches out to you here. We are at its mercy and never is that more obvious than when you’re standing small in the middle of a giant grassy staircase, trickling with water down a mountainside. Is that the magic, perhaps?  The possibilities offered by all those fascinating things I can’t see, hidden in the cracks? The world holds promise. My days are sprinkled with purpose and peppered with mystery… not like in a city. The little things get lost; at times the life we should be breathing in gets sucked straight out, don’t you think? We lose the blue of the sky through a tinted window, to an office partition. We lose the sound of rain on a roof made from leaves and straw, suffocate it with bricks and insulation. We lose human connections. Glued to our phones we type instead of talk, we forget the utter joy that comes with sitting on a street corner, talking to a stranger and hearing a story. Two souls connected for the briefest moment in time. A new friend with no notion of Facebook.

It’s hard to know what’s convenient and what is inconvenient anymore.

A thousand eyes are watching you from everywhere in Bali. A thousand voices are whispering, drawing you closer to the person you forgot, waking you up… there are voices in the treetops, the cracks in the temple stones, the frangipani offerings on doorsteps and walls and piles of sand. Skyscraper bars and fancy cars are the nightmare, instead of the dream. You’re never alone, and yet you are, because the world has finally stopped to let you think. The world has finally given you some time to step inside your own mind.

The more I think about going back to Sydney, the more a little voice in my head starts panicking and shouting, resisting. I was pretty happy there, wasn’t I? But maybe I wasn’t. Maybe I was just telling myself I was. Hmmm. It’s hard to tell. I’m worried I’m sounding like a hippy again. You know, one of those silly people who goes on holiday somewhere and comes back thinking she’s changed? But the more I think about it, the more I think, what if I did come back here, to Ubud more specifically, and stay longer? What would happen? Would the world end? Would anyone care except me? Probably not. Life is short, after all.

I want to live in a villa and spend three dollars a day on food and not drink wine for three months. I feel better, not having drunk it for three and a half weeks! My head feels clearer. In Ubud, I met people who are clear about what they want and where they’re going. And by that I mean they’re clear about the day-to-day stuff, and they’re happy just to see where they end up. You can’t be like that in a city, really, can you? Everyone expects you to have a plan, and people don’t understand you when you tell them you don’t really have one. You end up feeling like you don’t fit in, and then you feel like shit because everyone wants to belong. But maybe you just don’t belong there, where you are. It’s the reason you can’t concentrate at a desk, working under someone’s thumb. It’s the reason you cloud your brain with expensive alcohol and food-fuelled opportunities… to stop the thinking. What if you discover something you’re not ready for?

The optimist, and possibly the child in me is romanced by freedom. I am charmed and re-charged by the notion of flying through life on the wind, like a bird against a rainbow. And now I know I’m not alone.

In the writing group I’ve been a part of for the last few weeks, we practiced writing from the heart, just letting the words flow without stopping, which is kind of what I’m doing now. I think maybe I’ve always done this, but I’ve always edited myself too. Maybe it’s time to stop editing so much. Our whole lives are edited versions of what we really want, anyway. Whatever happens, first I must go to Thailand, and Cambodia and Vietnam, and Malaysia and Borneo. And then I must decide whether chasing a job in a city, just to belong there according to the system, is really for me. I thought it was, but maybe that’s because I didn’t know any differently.

Maybe I really am just a hippy, floating through Bali on a cloud of self-discovery, little realising she’ll be lost to the land of mobile-phone connections and city wine bars as soon as she leaves.

Or maybe, just maybe, something really did just change.

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The Great Speed Dating Experiment: Part 2

12 May

“Do you bank with us?”

“I’m sorry?”

The half-Chinese, half-Australian bloke opposite me, who had just sat down and informed me he worked for Commonwealth Bank, was asking if I banked with them. On a speed date. I shook my head, told him no, at which point he shook his own head and said that was a shame because he could really help me out. I think it was his way of getting me to tick ‘yes’ by his name on my card – the key to him getting my contact details at the end of the night.

“I can help you; offer all sorts of discounts,”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yes, overdraft. Home loan.”

“How about erasing all my credit card debt?”

“No…”

“How about, if I spend $100, you make sure I’m only charged $1?”

“Errr, no,”

This continued for four minutes, until the bell rang. My sarcasm washed right over his sweet little banker’s head and even though I was clearly being a bit of cow I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for him. He obviously signed up to Fast Impressions – the second organisation in my speed dating investigation – because he works too hard to find a girlfriend. And yet, all he knows how to talk about is his work.

I have to say, I didn’t enjoy last night as much as I enjoyed Saturday night, with Blink Dating. Although The Argyle in the Rocks is a nicer venue with candles and exposed brick walls and comfy couches, the conference room in the shitty hotel was more fun. I think because there weren’t as many people on Saturday; it was friendlier somehow. I was part of a little club, whereas there were loads of people there last night. And with three different speed dating rounds going on at the same time in different areas of the bar, it was confusing. I saw a few guys I wouldn’t have minded talking to, but they never sat down opposite me because they were involved in a different round of dating, elsewhere. Maybe they were older, or younger, who knows, but they were in different categories and I never got to meet them, which was a shame.

Instead I got the banker, and a guy from Venezuela who informed me five seconds after sitting down that he’d been shot at. He was so proud of it too. Apparently it happened when he was growing up and the bullet missed his arm by millimetres. “Have you ever been shot at?” he asked me.

“Strangely, no” I replied. “Not by anything I can talk to you about anyway.”

I have one more event on Friday, in a wine bar in Manly. It involves a lot of effort, getting to Circular Quay, getting the ferry… ugh.  I’m starting to think I might skip it. Hmmm. Nah, I can’t give up. I won’t give up. I mustn’t, not now. For the sake of my article at least, I must continue on my mission!

Maybe my man is in Manly?

Zara: does anyone really give a shit?

19 Apr

People in Sydney seem to be VERY excited about the opening of Zara today, which is, for those who couldn’t care less, a clothing store. It originated in Spain. It’s not a very exciting clothing store if I’m honest. Spain has produced some much better things in its time, like… well… paella. But still, the twitterati’s going crazy over the launch, happening tonight for those who are invited.

Apparently I’m on the list, but to be perfectly blunt, I’d rather go home and iron the clothes I’ve already got than trek all the way over there and fight the clones in order to buy even more. Is this a sign that I’m getting old, do you think? Or is it just that shopping in Sydney bores the shit out of me?

In England there’s a Zara on pretty much every high street. I don’t remember it being as fashionable as TopShop, as cheap as Primark or as quick to sell out of stock as New Look, but I do recall it having a very nice range of t-shirts. I bought a hoodie from Zara once, with little dogs and bones all over it. I can’t wear it now, because I made the mistake of wearing it on a rather unfortunate trip to Jaipur and my friends and I had a horrible time wading through pig-shit in Jaipur, feeling very cold and sorry for ourselves. I can’t wear it without remembering the misery associated with pulling it around me tightly, watching semi-naked Indians pissing in the middle of roundabouts, and wishing myself away from the nasty train conductor who halted our trip to the Taj Mahal by attempting to scam hundreds of rupees out of us.

Anyway, it seems like everyone else is itching to race down there tonight and blow a wad of cash on looking like everyone else. I just don’t understand it!

I used to love shopping more than life itself. It used to be the perfect route to total escapism, especially in Dubai. Here however, trawling through the shops is a royal pain in the arse. Everything I’d deem as worthy of a place on my wish-list is either cheap shit disguised as something expensive, or something nice that’s still ridiculously overpriced. Shoes are the worst. I see shoes here all the time, priced at $80 – $100 that I’m sure would cost less than 20 quid on the London high street.

Allegedly, in this new 1400 square metre Zara, there’s a specially designed range of clothes for the southern hemisphere, which depresses me even more, really. Maybe if I knew I could expect a taste of home… something akin to what the rest of the world are enjoying in the name of fashion, I’d be more inclined to get involved. As it is, I can’t help but think it’s exciting the people of Sydney because there’s not much else in the way of clothing to give a toss about. Or maybe some people need to get out more.

I actually rather like my friend’s tweet on the topic. Behold: “It’s only a Spanish frock shop, not the second coming of Jesus Christ.”

Here here!

Funk It Up About Nothing…

18 Mar

“Hey Nonny Nonny, I’m feeling like some… honey…” Hmmm, nope, that doesn’t work. Dammit. If I was trying to write a hip hop version of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ I’d have got stuck right there. Not that I’d have attempted it in the first place. It takes a brave, brave soul to mess with the Bard. But the challenge didn’t scare the brothers JQ and GQ (Jeffrey and Gregory Qaiyum), who’ve developed the most amazing piece of theatre I’ve seen in ages – ‘Funk It Up About Nothin’’

I met the cast after the show last night at Carriageworks, where it’s running for the next week as part of the Platform Hip Hop Festival. It was one of those times when you know you’re supposed to be cool, but all you can do is gush something silly, like “OH MY GOD, YOU WERE AMAAAAAAZING!” Which they were. Funny, ‘cause yesterday I was reminiscing about my school music lessons and how awesome they were, and how I got kicked off the stage for showing off with a microphone (I was singing into it, nothing else, you filth-wizards). Maybe I should have stuck my ground, eh? They were so inspiring that I hung out with them all night, trying to soak up some talent.

Anyway, if you’re in Sydney this week you HAVE to see Funk It Up About Nothin’. That’s all there is to it, people. See it. Oh, it’s working its way round Australia and will even be in the UK really soon too. Keep your eye on the website and book those tickets in. Why? Well, not only do I have exquisite taste in theatre (oh shut up, Wicked is awesome) the show is 70 minutes of pure adrenaline, hideous outfits and some of the most incredible hip hop you’ll ever hear. Girls, you can take your boyfriends and know they won’t fall asleep like they did in the Lion King. Trust me

It’s even funnier when you know the original story and how much they’ve changed it. I was made to study Much Ado About Nothing at school and it’s always been one of my faves, but I think this one surpasses it… if that’s not too insulting to old William. Ah, nah, you know what? If he was still around, he’d have loved it too. He’d have peed his tights in excitement.

The cast of seven play all the roles here, as a DJ provides the beat in the background. The show revolves around Don Pedro (Postell Pringle), only this time, he’s a rap star. And instead of coming back from a bloody battle, Claudio (the truly awesome Jackson Doran) and Benedick (JQ) are members of his “crew,” who’ve just come just home from a tour. Hilarious! Hero (the cute and crazy Jillian Burfete) is a jaded lover who turns mean to get her man, and MC Lady B is her homegirl with some serious attitude. Dingleberry, Leonato and Don John are all played by the insanely talented GQ. This guy has too many outfit changes to mention and each character’s voice is different, obviously, so I can’t imagine how he doesn’t forget who he’s playing! Everything moves so fast. At one point I think he was channelling Mr Burns from The Simpsons. Brilliant stuff.

I’m hungover today, so I’m perhaps not getting my words out very well, but I’ll end by saying just go and see this show! Oh and if my raving isn’t convincing you of its awesomeness – check out this video!

The official invite to my book launch (yay!)

24 Jan

Come one, come all! Although I’ll be sending an email invite out around Sydney very shortly, consider this your official invitation to my book launch, for Burqalicious – The Dubai Diaries on Feb 3rd at 7.30pm, at Ariel Books on Oxford Street. SYDNEY! Don’t forget to RSVP to beckywicks@me.com if you want to come, so I know how many packets of crisps to buy.

No seriously, I’m meeting with the lovely Steven at Ariel Books tonight to discuss things like catering, so no one will have the misery of experiencing my cooking/soggy defrosted scotch eggs and supermarket-own-brand biscuits. I’m hoping to get some lovely Middle Eastern nibbles and some even lovelier bubbles for everyone. Hopefully, you’ll all get so tipsy you’ll buy my book – HURRAH!!! (sssh)

Tell your friends and bring them too. It’s gonna be a fabulous night… and oh… are you a guy who’s thinking this really isn’t your cup of Arabic tea? Well, think again. You might just meet your soul mate here if you’re single, as I have lots of hot friends. I do like bringing people together.

Speaking of hot friends, the awesome Michelle is going to be doing a little speech on the night, (thanks Michelle!). She’s really funny… way funnier than me. So there’s really no excuse. Book it in your diaries!

COME COME COME!!! xxx

Taking the book to town…

7 Jan

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Last night I picked up a very shiny advance copy of Burqalicious – The Dubai Diaries, and it’s now looking slightly crumpled. I didn’t spill any champagne on it… but I did spill some cheap, sparkling ‘Yellow’ wine on it, which was all I could afford. Check out the pics of its first outing! We took it to a lovely teppanyaki restaurant called I Chi Ban in Chinatown, which is fast becoming my fave place to take mates. Then we took it to a bar, and then the cabbie gave it the thumbs up on the way home. He doesn’t know the book’s not entirely favourable towards taxi drivers, clearly, but that’s OK, he’ll never read it anyway.

I was lucky enough to be out on the town with my fabulous friend Hannah, who has supported my writing for the last nine years; ever since we met in New York, in fact. I feel very fortunate that such a great mate could be here for the occasion, which I didn’t even know would be happening till yesterday. Apparently a big box containing 10 equally shiny copies is on its way to me, so I won’t have to dig around in any bargain bins buying books I can’t afford, which is nice. Means I can buy more Yellow wine.

It’s really weird seeing my words in print! It’s different to seeing your work in a magazine, or on a website. It feels kind of scary, like suddenly everyone can judge me! But I suppose we’ll just have to see how it goes. What do you think of the cover? It’s very GOLD isn’t it. But then, I guess Dubai was a bit like that too.

Thanks for all your support, everyone who’s encouraged my writing in the past. I couldn’t and wouldn’t have done it without you! No matter what happens with the book once it hits Aussie shelves in February, today I am very happy.  🙂

xx

 

A millionaire’s launch party…

6 Jan

Just as I expected, planning a book launch is not going to be easy. I thought I found an awesome place yesterday, right in the funky depths of Sydney’s Surry Hills, called Souk In The City. How fitting! But I just got an email back:

“Thank you for taking interest in Souk in the City, and for the opportunity of hosting your upcoming Book Launch function on Thursday 3rd February 2011 for approx 50 -60 guests.

The Price per person including all the food, champagne cocktail, wine and beer on arrival is: per person for 3 Hours $115.00. For your Event we can provide that to you for 3 Hours $110.00 per person or 4 Hours $120.00 per person.”

So yeah, they’ve offered me a bit of a discount, but still, I can’t afford that can I?! If 60 people actually do turn up, that’s $6900 out of my own pocket, just to keep them all supplied with booze and canapes. That’s the price of a 7 day cruise round the Caribbean. And if I had that much spare money in the bank I’d be ON a cruise round the Caribbean. Hmmm….

I don’t think I’m expected to pay a price per head for this thing, as much as I’d love to. That would be one helluva party and everyone would DEFINITELY buy my book! Maybe even two copies each if I got them pissed enough. But seriously, I have to find another way. Surely there’s a funky bar space out there that will let me hire it without forking out so much cash?!

ANYWAY, I’m off to get my book now, wahey! I’ll worry about the launch later I guess…

 

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