No, but I do get 'shrimp on the barbie'. We don't call them shrimp, we call them prawns. Little tiny pink nasties are shrimp. Big crustaceans that you can hold in two hands (as protrayed in those dumb ads) are prawns. And no one - EVER - would think about sticking a prawn on a BBQ. Half a cow, yes. Drowned in half a stubbie of beer? Certainly. But a prawn? I think not.
In each country there's always things that uniquely define the culture. While growing up you go through these things when you're young and don't really understand their significance. Moving to a new country gives you the chance to go through all this with wiser, and sometimes more fearful, eyes.
Some of the things I've done since moving here:
Had my first frostbite scare
Seen my first frozen lake
Driven on the wrong side of the road
Watched a Hockey game and understood it.
Walked around outside in a light pullover and basked in the warm sun. It was -8C.
Used a broom to uncover my first car after an overnight dump of snow
Had a lump of ice down the back of my neck that had dropped from the top of a building many hundreds of feet up.
Used my credit card to scrape the ice of the inside of a car.
Canadian Tire money.
Stepped in a soaker - a puddle of water camouflaged by a thin layer of ice and snow.
Experienced first hand what 'no credit rating' means. It's the little things about moving to a new country that really get ya!
Shovelled a driveway after a snowstorm
Left the beer outside to quickly chill it, because outside is colder than the freezer.
Done some circle work in a carpark that was covered in a foot of snow.
Had a Sloppy Joe.
I'll add more baby-steps as I make them.
May the Wombat of Happiness bless your shorts - Roger Wright
You should come to Vancouver Chris, It is totally different than other parts of Canada. You can go outside in winter, under the sunshine at 12 degree celsius and enjoy the sun. Let's not forget its freaking rain also!
By the way when did you have your first, 'Eh?';) experience or have you drank Molson beer? when did you see your first, Molson's 'I am Canadian' ads? LOL
When I first moved to Canada everything looked topsy turvy to me, but I have grown to love it ALOT!!
I love Vancouver. Well - I love it in the summer or when I heading through it briefly up to the snow
My first 'eh' experience was probably on my first trip here back in June '99. My most recent and most memorable was just last week on the bus. This guy with the most annoyingly high pitched nasally voice, and with one of those deer hunter caps on was speaking in the most rural Canadian accent I've ever heard. EVERY sentence ended with 'eh'. To the point where I just wanted to slap the guy.
I have never, ever drunk Molson. At least not when I've been aware of it. I've fallen in love with Sleemans though. Mmmmm...Sleemans...
Everywhere has it's ups and downs I guess. It snowed here in Cambridge yesterday, and continuing with the university tradition of intellectual prowesss yada yada yada, last night we sneaked out and killed two snowmen with tomato ketchup and took incrimintating photos, and then today had a snowball fight after the most boring physics lecture in the world .
Yeah, when in Montreal one of the hotel clerks explained that to us. And they seemed to have that same meaning in most of the rest of Canada. However, when I went to Vancouver, they did NOT seem to have the meaning of a green arrow. I still can't figure that one out...
You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose.
Damn, when I read down this list I'm impressed to realise I attended a good number of these and didn't appreciate their significance. Cool
You forgot at least one though: Freezing your tongue to a slide or an aluminum door. (and before you say why the hell would you lick either of those, now that I've mentioned it you'll be uncontrollably compelled to try it)
Begs the question though, what would you list as the experiences a newcomer to Oz would have (and don't embellish).
Don't worry - you are pretty much to thank/blame for most of these anyway, and I'm pretty sure there are a whole bunch more you can enjoy seeing me go through (at a suitably safe distance of course). Those black flies sound especially appealing.
OK - so I went and licked an aluminium door. I couldn't help it. It was salty. (am I doing something wrong here? :P)
David Cunningham wrote: what would you list as the experiences a newcomer to Oz would have
Off the top of my head here are some things I know would make you grin and/or curse.
Our money. You'd be wondering what the plastic see-through stuff is all about and the significance of the massive 12-sided 50 cent piece was
Mono-lingual signage and product labels
Being the only passenger in a taxi and sitting in the front seat.
Being able to buy some amazing wines down at a supermarket at midnight on a Sunday night. Also - walking into a bottle-o (alcohol vending house of happiness) and having it wall to wall Aussie wines. Not a foreign drop of plonk in site
Paying exactly the amount written on the price tag. No tax added.
no 1 cent pieces
(obvious one) driving on the left hand side and bumping into people as you walk down a corridor
The sun being overhead, not somewhere vaguely above the horizon. I hope I'm down there the first time you go there because I'm going to call all directions by the compass. Instead of saying "turn right" I'm gonna say "head west". Then I'm going say "See? SEE????" each time you have to pause and perform that extra mental step.
(if you're lucky) 45C. And no, that's not including the humidex. Only really happens a couple of times a year in Sydney or Melbourne.
Galahs. Again, if I'm there when you are then I will take you to watch 50 galahs try and balance on power lines without falling off. It's more fun during winter when the lines are frosty
Real yoghurt and thickened cream.
A hamburger with beetroot. Maybe not something you'd partake in but you'd have to at least see one in the flesh.
Walking into a spiders web and doing the 'ohmygoddidyouseewhereitwent' dance. Mwahaha. Similarly,the first time you leave your shoes outside at night over summer then go to pick them up the next morning. Did something crawl in? Maybe I better check...
Walking into a typical back yard and looking underneath a paver, brick or lock that's been sitting for more than 2 weeks.
Seeing your first mob of kangaroos bounding along.
Turning on your first bedside lamp. You'll wonder just what the hell those strange twisty things you've been using all these years are all about.
Your first trip to a butcher's to see what meat is meant to look like.
Turning on a TV and wondering where the other 60 channels went. Most of my home town doesn't have cable.
Watching a one-day cricket test. Admit it - you wanna do it.
Watching the games the kids play in the streets.
Watching a news report about Australia winning gold in hockey and getting confused.
Being near a tree full of cockatoos when they go nuts. The noise is something to behold.
In the middle of summer, looking up at a sky so clear it's almost purple, or, not being able to see the sky at all and being able to smell the bushfires hundreds of kilometres away.
Being in a restaurant and wondering why all the entrees appear to be appetisers.
Sticking out like a sore thumb because you have an accent. And, unfortunately for you, Dave, being asked whereabouts in America you are from.
One experience that shouldn't be missed is a B&S ball (Bachelor and Spinsters). Typically held in rural settings. Bring your own ute (pickup).
The thousands of kilometres of amazing beaches. Manly and Bondi in Sydney, Brighton in Melbourne and anywhere north of Sydney up to Cairns.
If you get out of the cities then the interior. It's another world.
Seeing tiled roofs instead of shingles, and no basements.
I really shouldn't read these Chris. You're making me so damn nostalgic for Australia!
I have two to add
Going into an electronics shop and not only paying the ticket price but also NOT having those damn rebate coupons to send back to get the marked price. I've learned to read the ticket very closely indeed to be sure I understand what the in-store price is going to be (and then have to juggle figures to estimate what the tax is going to be). Who picks such strange figures as 7.85% anyway?
Real Australian Tomato Sauce! I brought two 600 ml bottles of Rosella with me from my recent trip back to Australia.
A couple of my friends back home have been out of contact for a while which is frustrating. Knowing that they aren't a fatality is one thing, but not knowing if they are in hospital with burns, smoke inhalation or a broken leg after falling off a roof is another (last I heard about 30 people were in hospital after falling off roofs while trying to protect property)
So today I got a flurry of emails from friends who have email access again from work after being cut off due to phones and electricty being out in their area.
The main onslaught of the fires was in the south/central west of Canberra. 10 km north is the area of town I used to live in and in which most of my friends still live. A friends mother's house is roughly half a kilometre away from any grassland, separated by street after street of suburban housing and roads. Even so, her backyard is covered in spot fire burns and her next door neighbour has lost half her yard to flames. Imagine coming home one sunny day to find that half the lawn, trees and shrubs in your backyard have caught fire from embers that have been blown a kilometre away.
There was a newspaper report that summed up the ferocity: "the mountains behind Colquhoun Street [were] blazing, but the real attack arrived without warning, tearing trees from the ground and ultimately destroying his home, on the corner of the street and Beilby Place, of nearly 30 years.
'At first it looked like a little grass fire, and then the whole mountain erupted in a ball of flame,' he said.
'I slithered off the roof as quickly as I could and got my wife and the animals in to the car. I thought we were going to be okay, but within 15 seconds the whole house was gone.'"
Another friend lives just one suburb north of the suburbs most affected and rang my folks in Melbourne to let them know he was OK. He said that a fire ball came over his house and a house two houses down was burnt to the ground. The sound, he said, was like three low flying jumbo jets passing over. The noise was so loud that the ground seemed to tremble.
Another friend who is usually kinda sensible but on the weekend kinda wasn't emailed me to let me know he was OK. He spent Saturday afternoon at Duffy (one of the worst affected suburbs), protecting a friend's house from the fires. He wrote:
"Many of the houses surrounding them were ablaze - flames rose 20-30m high and the frames of houses could be seen glowing like earie skeletons as the homes were razed.
"The winds were very strong, made worse I think by the flames. This is one of the major reasons for the firestorm - the fires moved too quickly to anticipate or contain. Standing on top of my friend's roof, I was blown off my feet a number of times.
"Southside was certainly the worst affected, with the fires coming in from Namadgi [bushland close to Canberra's south]. I do not exaggerate at all when I report that at 2pm the smoke was so thick (even in areas not immediately close to the flames) that it was as if night had surrounded us - there was no light glowing through the soup of smoke, from above. Streetlights and car lights were turned on and having little effect.
"When I returned from Duffy my face and clothes had been blackened by the smoke and even now the interior of my car smells like a camp-fire (no joke - it's as if I'd been cooking a damper in there). The interior of many houses is the same, and until this morning it was almost impossible to remove the smell of smoke from your hair.
"Coming back from Duffy I turned on to the Parkway, which I later discovered had been closed, but the on-ramp I took had been left unattended. Both sides of the road were covered with fire, and every time I drove past those spots I could feel the heat physically hit the car. The winds from the fire at these points was so strong that it actually buffetted my car as I drove - gives you some idea of house fast the fire was moving.
"Fires currently surround Canberra to the South, West and East, although the general feeling is that significant danger has past. Queanbeyan [a neighbouring city] at least is still on evacuation alert. I don't know about elsewhere. Evacuation centres have been established, although the one at Phillip [near affected suburbs] was itself evacuated - ironic, huh."
20% of Canberra was (is?) without electricity and the sewerage treatment plant has been fire affected, meaning raw sewerage may be entering the river the flows through and out of Canberra. Water pressure difficulties are continuing so people have been urged not to use washing machines or flush their toilets. Yikes.
On top of all this whole swathes of the power grid have been knocked out because of burned power poles. Some traffic lights are being operated by portable generators but an even further risk on the roads - apart from the spot fires, blowing embers and high winds - are the wildlife who have been forced into Canberra and are wandering across roads. Hit a kangaroo at 80km/h and you know about it.
Fire-fighters have been brought in from New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland. The NSW ski resorts of Thredbo, Guthega, Smiggins are under evacuation alert andsnowmaking machines have been used to provide some protection. My favourite resort, Mt Hotham in Victoria has suffered considerable damage.
[update: Just read that the suburbs surrounding mine have been placed on high alert. My house back home is km's away from any grass or bush but it's really weird hearing the names of the suburbs on three sides of your suburb being named.]
All up 530 houses were lost in Canberra on that weekend.
I've just been on the phone to some friends back home who have lost everything when one of the fire fronts ripped through their suburb. One of those friends knew there were fires close to his suburb but usually if houses are affected it's because they are surrounded by trees backing onto bushland. In his case his house was 3 streets back, the suburb was ringed by a road and there's a decent break between the trees on the other side of the road and the road itself.
Canberra is Australia's capital city and after a year without decent rain everything is tinder dry. It's called the 'bush captial' for good reason, being surrounded mostly by grassland and eucalypt forests. Check out this image. The suburbs of Canberra are shaded orange. The red blurry line shows suburbs affected. The blue circle is the suburb where my friends house was.
Yesterday the temps were up around 38C/98F and the wind was so strong that trees were being uprooted. The fire had broken through the containment lines and the first thing my friend knew was when he was in the shower late in the afternoon and the water pressure dropped to nothing. He looked out and the sky was black and full of smoke, but there was no sound of police cars or fire engines. His neighbour had grabbed a garden hose and was trying to wet down his house but without water pressure it was no good. Besides - they were streets away from any bushland so he didn't honestly think there was too much to worry about.
Within a couple of minutes sparks and live embers started raining down on him and the house, carried hundreds of metres by the wind. His neighbour yelled out that he was outta there, so he raced inside to grab his dog and man-handled her into the car. Soon after leaving, the houses across the road from his went up, then jumped across to his house and continued on into the suburb, eventually taking out a petrol station, an animal hospital and a fire station. It's weird - I know that suburb well and the petrol station is deep in the middle of the suburb surrounded by roads and concrete. It's the last place you would expect a bush fire. It's so suburban.
All afternoon and into the night the local radio station had been in emergency warning mode, sounding a siren every 15 minutes and relaying a list of suburbs to be on stand by for evecuation. Everyone was told to get home to their houses, remove dry leaf litter from their roof gutters and property and be ready to put out any spot fires caused by embers.
Police placed roadblocks to stop people getting into the affected areas and people weren't allowed back to their houses for any reason - not even if they wanted to grab precious items or save family pets.
Two other friends of mine stayed up until 3am listening to the reports, bags packed, angry pet cat in arm. They lived on the edge of one of the suburbs named and even though they didn't feel they were in too much danger they'd been told to prepare so there was nothing to do but sit and wait. Two suburbs over, just up the road from another friend another spot fire had sprung up and taken out more homes just up the road from them. The houses are on the other side of a 4 lane highway that backs onto grassland.
The next morning my friend went back to survey the damage and there was nothing left. It was earily quiet and already hot, and as they waited by one of the road blocks a resident came running down and shouted something at the police. They followed him back to one of the raised houses and minutes later an ambulance roared past after them.
All up 388 homes have been lost, most of them in the same are that was devastated last year. So much forest had been lost last year that it seemed that the cycle of fires had done their duty for another few years at least, but a friend told me on the phone that the fires last year - the worst we've ever witnessed - were a weekend barbeque compared to this.
Just before I left Canberra a week ago to come back to Toronto I drove through the parts that had been burned last year and I remember thinking that in one way it was good the fire had happened since it meant the houses near the remaing trees would be safe. Obviously I should not be trusted for fire safety advice.
It's now 11 am back home and the temperature is again expected to soar. The Weather Bureau expect that conditions will remain the same for a few more days, meaning slim chance of getting the fires contained any time soon.