Sri Lanka : Much I Have Learned from You

There’s Anna Martin’s blog on her  time in Sri Lanka on Facebook.
She and I were one of many guests at our friends’ wedding there.After the Wedding
I click on it, read it and share it  commenting, “Great blog. I learnt much from it.”
I thought I wouldn’t get away with that lightly. Then Anna  asked me, “Share what you learnt.”
It just tumbled out like this..
“I always wondered why people are racist (I don’t think I am racist), but I saw that for me it’s just fear of the unknown. Wherever we are we still need to communicate and connect and share the same needs and desires. We’re all different and that’s a richness we all can share in. I’ve never been in such a different culture and environment and I was fearful (at first), but all I had to do was listen and be mindful (still need to do more of that)! Now I have to take that and apply it daily.”
So what I really learnt was  this. When I’m afraid of being in a new environment and culture, my natural reaction is to treat people as stereotypes.  It would have then been easy to play the tourist but in truth I’m a guest in their country. Much like my conversationalist in the Introverted Tourist.

Why I’m UnAustralian

Being unAustralian is an epithet often levelled at people who don’t tow the line or aren’t politically correct.

English: Orthographic map of Australia centere...

English: Orthographic map of Australia centered at 26.75° S, 133.25° E. Official territory. Claimed territories. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In that case I better explain myself.

  • I believe in that Australia is a welcoming country where people of all races, colours and creeds put aside their differences to live as harmoniously as they can. Despite the stories we hear, harmony happens more often than not.
  • I believe that Australia’s strengths lie in the diversity of its people. Only in Australia can a diverse company supply interpreters at short notice!
  • I believe that Australia should help people from other countries as well as our own including the Aboriginals. As an immigrant country it is obvious to support those who emigrate here however they got here as well as those who were here first.
  • I believe too that the fortunate should help the less fortunate. Australia has enough riches and resources (even now when we have a AAA+ Credit Rating) to assist the disabled, children with learning difficulties, etc, etc. We’ve done it in the past!
  • I believe too that we should manage our resources from a long-term view (and sustainably so). After all as colonists and original owners of the land we had to!

Apologies in advance to those who believe that being Australian means being:

  • monocultural.
  • racist.
  • discriminating by religion, race or sexual orientation.
  • favouring the rich over the poor.
  • depleting our resources in the short term unsustainably.
  • being uncharitable to the unfortunate, original land owners and immigrants.

Such things make a small country smaller!

The Introverted Tourist

Empty street, San Marino

Empty street, San Marino (Photo credit: adrian, acediscovery)

Halfway through listening about that last overseas trip I wanted to interrupt. I had heard something new and quite different about travelling overseas.

While talking about meeting people in their own country I began to hear a quiet deference. Someone who wanted to tread lightly as an invited guest.

I’m no traveller. I’ve been to Singapore and New Zealand. I’ve never been out of my comfort zone. Until this conversation I had never even considered the idea of the introverted tourist.

I certainly don’t identify with the tourist that is the centre of attention. The loud one with the expectation that the whole country is waiting for their next request.

No what I heard was this. I am a curious guest. I am visiting your country. I do know something of course, but mostly there is much I don’t know. And I will learn more if I am respectful to all those I meet. That is what I received from my conversation with the introverted tourist.

Business Class and Back Again

Canberra Storms

Canberra Storms (Photo credit: munnerley)

At last I’m on the flight home from Canberra. The flight was late, it was cold and raining and there seemed to be more people and luggage than the plane could hold….

The seat on my right was the last one left. And then two people, a lady and gentleman, came down the aisle. And both caught my eye and both smiled at me.

The lady of the two offered me her business class seat for mine.

I said, “Can you run that past me one more time?”

Pause (let me think about it). ”Of course”.

I double-checked with her, went quickly to the front of the plane, sat down, strapped on my seat belt, sat back and settled in.

At least I tried to settle. I wasn’t quite comfortable.

Right in front of me, all of the crew were conferring. After some discussion, two went down the back of the plane. And returned with my new found now apologetic friend who said we had to swap back.

My response was, “It’s been really lovely meeting you!”