Random Australians

5 Jun

I remember sitting in a café in my home town waiting to meet up with a friend a couple of days after returning from Cambodia. As I sat and waited for her I couldn’t help but notice how random Australians are. In the 10 minutes I was sitting there I overheard some older ladies who could have easily been the characters Prue and Trude (snobs) from the show Kath and Kim say “Oh just put it on the David Jones account darling”. I looked outside to see a young guy dressed in what I assumed was punk clothes (it could have been Emo or Goth. I still don’t know or care about the difference) pushing a pram, he was followed by what I can only describe as a Bogan wearing stubbies and a wife beater (I’m not really one for the political correctness). The one similarity is that they were all so white. If you knew me you would see the irony in this statement. To put it bluntly if you looked at me on a sunny day at the beach you would need to avert your eyes due to the sun reflecting off my skin. My shock only increased when I went to church with my mother. There’s nothing old white people love more than church you see. Buddhist temples are way more fun than listening to a bunch of old white people sing the same old songs in their tone deaf voices, and repeat the same old words in a monotone. For the next few weeks this theme of the sameness and randomness of Australians kept cropping up as I looked at my home from the outside. In Cambodia people don’t have genre identities to cling too. Most people wear jeans and t-shirts (despite the ridiculous heat) except for some of the older Khmer ladies who like to wear satin pyjamas. Pyjamas during the day? Basically it was my version of a fashion heaven.

Other things struck me about Australians. Why does everyone say we’re so friendly? Maybe compared to other Western Nations but compared to the rest of the world we’re as cold as Europe. One day I was walking to my friend’s house when a little kid getting out of a car with his mother smiled and waved at me. Being a common situation in Cambodia I didn’t think twice about stopping and talking to him. I was interrupted by his mother who said loudly “Come on Thomas. You don’t know that lady!” and she proceeded to drag him away from me whilst giving me an angry glare. When I got to my friend’s house she was greeted with “I hate Australia. I miss Cambodia!”
I began to grow resentment towards my home. To me Australia seemed materialistic, unfriendly, selfish, racist and above all, had completely lost sight of what was important. In developing countries people have nothing but life is always centred around family, friends and community. This resentment eventually faded but stirs up in me sometimes when I look at Australian attitudes towards issues such as refugees, climate change, or indigenous rights. When it comes to these bigger issues Australians ultimately think in terms of their back pocket. But why? After travelling in developing in countries you realise we have no reason to be selfish or to complain. It seems unfortunately that “everything’s amazing, and nobody’s happy”. I still love Australians and when I travel it’s always the people I miss most. I think if more Australians did some volunteer work abroad or even at home we might be more of a compassionate nation. I wonder if I could run a campaign for Cambodian volunteer tourism. “Where the bloody hell are ya?” “Cambodiya!” ….hmmmm…it could work?

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One Response to “Random Australians”

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  1. Getting ready for the last month of the “race” « EthnoSense - June 10, 2011

    […] talked about many of the issues that have been raised in the blog like, for example, the issue of refugees and detention centres. The perception was that it just feels very different to volunteer abroad than […]

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