Daily Prompt: West End Girls

Every city and town contains people of different classes: rich, poor, and somewhere in between. What’s it like where you live? If it’s difficult for you to discern and describe the different types of classes in your locale, describe what it was like where you grew up — was it swimming pools and movie stars, industrial and working class, somewhere in between or something completely different?

I live in the Western Suburbs. Generally speaking, the West is usually where different ethnicities migrate to. Lots of low-socioeconomic status; high unemployment; regular social disturbances with authority because it’s a breeding ground for all types of violence, bashings, stabbings, robberies etc. Some of the people there are nice, but at the same time, far too many tend to depict a generalisation / stereotype of those who live in the west, which makes it unappealing to the rest of society.

Prior to living here, I used to live just south of the city, it was still considered inner-city because it was so close, but where we were was in a really interesting part of town, so we had a vast mix of different people, ranging from homeless people all the way up to the upper-class. But because housing is so dense now, even just one apartment building can have quite a broad range of people living within it.

Moving to the west, for me, was a bit of a shock. As somebody who has only ever lived south of the city, and primarily in one particular area, moving out to an area where I’d never even ventured before, let alone even remotely considered living, was quite the struggle. All the things I was used to about being south side, was gone. Everything was literally on my doorstep, or was, at most, a 15 minute walk away, and that’s only if the trams were delayed or not running. Now, I find that that I have to get a bus, a train and a tram just to get to work. That in itself can be quite frustrating and exhausting, because if one of the train lines goes down, we get no trains at all and everybody ends up stranded, or scrambling to try and get on the one bus that goes into the city.

That’s the one thing I miss the most about living south-side – the transport. If I missed a tram, it was maybe 5 mins before the next one. Now, if I miss a bus, I can be waiting up to 40mins before the next bus, so I try not to miss the bus if I can help it.

Even catching the bus is an experience in itself. It’s a great representation of the different walks of life out that way. There’s the obligatory crazy person on their way to Centrelink to sort out their welfare payments; there’s all the Asian students from the university accommodation down the road from where I live; there’s the Indian people in their suits heading off to work; there’s the old people with their walkers and market trolleys blocking the aisles; there’s usually some kind of African / Somali / Senegalese woman pushing around some babies in a stroller… it’s a really interesting area. I think for me the biggest culture shock was seeing so many black Africans (truth be told, I’m not sure which nationality they are, whether they are from Somalia, Senegal etc, so I just refer to them as African). But even amongst just that particular group of people, there’s such a variety. I see the older ladies all dressed up in their finery like they’re going to church; I’ve seen the younger girls poppin’ gum doing all kinds of weird shit to their hair – reminiscent of their African-American counterparts in the U.S.; I’ve seen the young males (who are ridiculously tall) all walking around in groups. There’s usually at least one of them holding a basketball. It’s actually quite intimidating to see them all in a group at a train station, moreso at night, especially if they’re watching you. You can never tell if they are friend or foe, but I’d err on the side of caution and say I’d rather not stick around long enough to find out.

Yes, I know that that’s me being prejudiced, but it’s hard not to be when you read about fellow members of the community being bashed, stabbed and / or killed in the area, or actually at the train station. It’s hard not to be prejudiced when the police announce they’re looking for black guy who’s tall and thin and about 6’4″. It only takes one person to create a generalisation. It’s even harder when shit like this is being featured on the news a little too regularly for my liking.

I was also quite surprised to discover that even within a suburb, there are particular pockets of different nationalities. For example, in one of the suburbs near me, there’s a couple of blocks at the back of the train station which are primarily where the Africans reside; then in the centre of the suburb, is all the Asians; further west is where you find a small pocket of Egyptians, and just next to them there’s a pocket of Indians… who are also quite a majority of taxi drivers out west. and of course there’s the council flats which are full of those from the lowest socioeconomic bracket – generally speaking, the junkies, the thieves, the drug dealers, the scammers and the scumbags.

It’s been interesting for me being able to get a bit more of an insight into those who live in the west. For a period of 2 – 3 months there was extensive rail works out west, which meant either no trains at all, or extremely delayed trains, and so more often than not, I’d catch a cab home. Perfect opportunity to have a chat to the driver and find out about them and their life. I would say that the majority of the taxi drivers I encountered were Indian. And a majority of them were all here studying or working two jobs. Those who were studying all said they were studying I.T., and those who worked, worked in call centres. They all lived out west, some even further west than I do, and it was an interesting to discover that most of them lived with 3 or 4 other people in a house. Again, another generalisation I’d previously heard about.

I think it’s good for people to be out amongst the cultural melting pot of the western suburbs, rather than just living their lives surround by the caucasian middle and upper classes. It just opens itself up to prejudice, negativity and misconceptions.


Feb 18: Life Influences

What has had more influence on your life perspective: your upbringing or your experiences?

Without actually thinking about it, I would have said that they’re both as important as each other. However, upon further reflection, I realised that I’ve grown and matured a lot more from my experiences in life, than I would have based merely on my upbringing. Don’t get me wrong, I think by comparison, I had a great upbringing – my parents, (well, my mother at least) was always very open and supportive. Both my parents instilled a great sense of manners, which nowadays seems to almost be non-existent because everybody is more aboutme, me, me!!

But my upbringing, as much as it molded and shaped me, simply couldn’t prepare me for the life I’ve had since I moved out of home. I’ve experienced things that have been great; things that have been not so great; things that I am ashamed to admit and will take to the grave; things that have given me great life lessons.

I kind of compare them to academics. Take law for example – you can spend years and years at university studying the legal system, but all that knowledge is not going to really help much when you’re thrown into a court room and have to lead a large trial. The knowledge (upbringing) becomes secondary to the experience. I also think that being pushed out of your comfort zone and finding yourself in ‘the deep end’.

Having to find your feet by yourself, without anybody else to fall back on is one of the fastest ways you will ever learn about yourself. It will allow you to discover what your limits are, how resilient you are, and what you’re truly capable of when times are tough. I think that it’s something that everybody should go through, rather than thinking that life is going to hand you everything on a silver platter – IM LOOKING AT YOU, MILLENNIAL’S!!

Daily Prompt: Beyond the Pale

When was the last time you did something completely new and out of your element? How was it? Will you do it again?

I usually don’t have the time or the opportunity to do something new and out of my element, because I work two jobs and work six days a week. As much as I would love to be able to be out trying new things, I simply don’t have that luxury. The closest I would get is more along the lines of trying a brand new type of processed food, like a new flavour of chocolate, or packet of chips, or smoothie combination… Pointless and insignificant crap.

I’m one of those people who has foolishly subscribed to those coupon newsletters, the ones that usually advertise a 90min massage for $30 at some dodgy massage place in somewhere obscure that nobody has heard of…

There’s a reason that nobody has heard of these places… And there’s a reason why these coupon deals are so cheap.

In saying that though I have actually been fortunate enough to bag a bargain with a couple of coupons, but I’ve also had more than my fair share of disappointment. But other times, I see certain offers come across my inbox from time to time that make me think ‘oh, if only I could take x-amount of time off work to do such-and-such a course, then I’d do something different’ but then I do a bit of research into the course and the provider and the location and it all ends up in the ‘too hard basket’.

I’d love to go and do a cake decorating course. I’d love to do a massage course. I’d love to go and do a creative writing short course. All creative stuff that will allow me to switch off from everything else and allow me to focus purely on myself for a little bit.

But like I said, it ends up in the ‘too hard basket’. I just don’t have the luxury to be able to do something like that.

The last time I truly stepped out of my comfort zone was July / August 2013 when I was in New Zealand. I went to a freestyle house-dance class. I had recognised a few faces who were also in NZ for the same week that I was there but for years I’d always talked about how much I would love to go and do a freestyle class, rather than the dance classes I do at the gym, and this was a moment that I truly saw as a perfect opportunity to take advantage of.

I remember walking down Queen Street in Auckland city to this address and realised that I had walked past this dance studio almost every single day and had never actually noticed where it was. I climbed the twisting wooden staircase up to this narrow set of hallways and was shuffled into a tiny room to pay for a casual class, then ushered to another even smaller corridor and followed some others into a studio, is was small and narrow and full of people. I remember walking in and instantly sweating profusely – a combination of my brisk walk there from the gym in the cold Auckland night air, and the lack of air conditioning in the studio. My top was half drenched before the class had even started.

The class started off with a warmup and then straight into the beginnings of an intricate and complex house dance routine. Having an extensive dance background, I managed to pick up the choreography a lot quicker than some of the others, but at the same time, there were a number of others, ‘the regulars’ who already knew the routine from previous classes. It was so challenging and frustrating and exhausting and complicated, and as annoyed as I was getting, I was loving every single moment and didn’t want the class to end. I had missed this feeling so very much.

One time we’d run through the routine, and I’d totally nail all the choreography, but then we’d do it again, and I’d make so many mistakes because I’d get distracted.

I miss being able to do that. I wish I could do it on a more regular basis.