Here Kitty Kitty Kitty (How I Got My Cat Mojo Back)

I’m not a cat person. And here are the sure-fire symptoms.  I’m not the one walking down the street like the pied piper having cats follow me.

When I walk up to cats and say hello they don’t say hello back. Quite the opposite. Tiger yawning

So it was with some reluctance that I let myself be talked into going to the Cat Cafe Melbourne. At that time, I thought it would be nice for my son to see something different about Melbourne. I didn’t think it would turn out for me at all.

The Cat Cafe. The name says it all : a place for coffee and a place where cats roam free.

We called ahead and booked for the late evening just for an hour.

We appeared at the appointed time.

Downstairs the Cat Cafe looks like a combined pet shop and cafe.

We went down the back and announced ourselves. I paid the money. Then we had to read the rules. Having had cats as pets before there were almost no surprises. Except for the ban on flash photography. I knew that. Having had cats I knew that no cat put up its paw when you went searching for them with a torch.

At the appointed hour a group of us were ushered upstairs to meet the cats. As it was late evening it was almost closing time for the resident cats. Surprisingly for a bunch of sleepy felines, there were no prima donna antics from them at all. They were serenity itself.

I didn’t go near them. Remember I’m not a cat person. My son showed no hesitation at all. Straight away he went over to the first cat. he introduced himself. He patted her head.

Only much later I realised we both had the same gap in cat years. When I moved and then  he and the rest of the family moved out one cat was let behind. There’s been no cat since.

Watching him with these cats brings to mind my recent cat encounter. There’s a cat who lives round the corner. A friendly one. When I walk past he goes out of his way to say hello. He would jump up on the fence and say hello. A quick pat and I was on my way.

When I remembered him, it all came flooding back. He's just around the corner

I still didn’t think I was a cat person.But as was said to me, it depends on the cat.

And the ones at the Cat Cafe reminded me of my favourites.

First was Benny who was a little kitten when we got him. I would pick him up and he would literally twirl himself around my arm like silk. Not long after that he would start purring. He was friendly and affectionate and quite personable. His favourite party trick was letting himself in to the house by opening the screen door. He would climb the door, jump onto the handle and pull it down. The door would swing out and open. He jumped to the ground and sidled in as if it was perfectly normal. Sadly one day he disappeared.  He was either catnapped being too friendly or worse.

But the original family cat was Whisky. She was a beautiful tortoiseshell cat. She who was born under the house we were living at the time. She was the only one of the litter who was kept. I don’t know what happened. As a child I came home and we went from four cats to one.

In time, she became the family cat and lived a long and affectionate life. She also was the only animal that seemed to like me. She would sleep on my bed of a night. She would come into my room and soften up my blankets by pushing her paws down. Sometimes she would get her claws out push down too hard and wake me up.

Remembering all that. I reached out to the cats. Nearly all were sleepy or fast asleep. A gentle touch was all that was required. To see a cat stir slightly before falling asleep after relaxing at your touch was quite therapeutic.

I wandered around the different rooms. Most of the cats were asleep and one had curled up in the top of a cat tree and couldn’t be easily found. I peeked in on him, smiled and marvelled to myself at his cleverness. Then I left him undisturbed.

I went into the last room. A cat was in a basket half deciding whether to go to sleep or to watch the fish on the TV screen. I sat with him and watched him peacefully drift off to sleep.

An hour had passed seeming like a few minutes. I think I might just be a cat person after all. But as said to me, I think it still depends on the cats.

 

 

 

Just Stick to the Stereotype And Everything Will Be Fine (Sorry Heidi Victoria)

Recently here was a twitstorm over Heidi Victoria (the Victorian Minister for Women’s Affairs (Yes that is her real name!)) who made some comments  assuming that only women were nurturers.

As a man I took some offence and added my two cent’s worth to the discussion with the following:

Capture

Now it looks like I‘m a feminist. Or a nurturer. Or that I’m not sexist or racist, etc.

Nope! Not even close! That doesn’t even begin to describe my problem.

I just don’t fit the stereotype. Any stereotype! And stereotypes don’t work for me. At all. Never have. Here’s why!

I studied a subject that dealt with diversity in training. One of the topics was the characteristics of different nationalities and cultures.

My research led me to the Globe Project and the work of Hofstede  which categorised certain cultures as having certain characteristics. An example is that in general Australians are mostly individualistic.

I didn’t like that too much. It seemed to categorise people into little matchboxes…

 

Stereotype of a Stereotype

Stereotype of a Stereotype (Photo credit: El Negro Magnifico)

And then something happened that challenged what I had learned.

At that time I was working with a woman from China who was studying to be a counsellor. 

She knew I had some public speaking experience and asked for help with a presentation. And by the way, she didn’t need much help! And her presentation rocked!

But while helping her, I told her what I  was studying.

Then she let slip what she loved most about Australia. She could speak up and ask questions and express opinions!

Which completely went against the expected cultural stereotype!. But she then told me she was brought up to be compliant (much like the stereotype).

But I looked at myself. I was brought up to be compliant (in the Australian individualistic culture!).

I now had a paradox.

I turned to a book called Cultural Intelligence and I got it! Check out the culture and then listen to the individual. Or as the book stated as a philosophy: Be mindful around people of other cultures!

Or in other words stereotypes don’t really work. At best they’re a guide. 

So now I can relax!

And finally, it means that men can be nurturers too! Sorry Heidi!

This Prerecorded Message is Having Mood Swings

Microphones

I live in Melbourne and use public transport. Which means I am exposed to a female voice (I think it’s the same voice) announcing the next stop or train/bus route.

I’m sure most people take no notice. Or they find it annoying and ignore it. Not me. I become emotionally involved.

My mind tells me the announcements are words that were pre-recorded and then spliced together. But I cannot help but really try to listen to the person behind the voice.

And I step off the bus or train feeling quite confused. It sounds like multiple mood swings all spoken in the same sentence.

There’s first a sense of relief and then its another day in the office when she tells me that the train is terminating at Glen Waverley. There’s an initial sense of authority and then despondency when I’m told that this is a Watergardens train. And I want to tell her that it will be alright. Don’t worry. It will be fine. Just hang in there for the rest of the day.

But one day it all came together. This time all through the bus trip, each cross street is being announced. This time the tone is much the same. And then at the end the final destination. This bus terminates at Blackburn Station.

It was the last trip and last destination recorded before she goes on holidays! And she had packed and her flights were ready to go! I really felt happy for her!

Dining With Strangers (Eat With Me Melbourne)

It’s not speed dating! And it’s not dinner for five! It’s Eat With Me’s Dining With Strangers! Eat With Me

For a small cost, I received one drink, two meal courses and way more than three introductions. All at The Sharing House South Wharf Melbourne.

As it turned out, I almost turned up sopping wet. But I made it. Upon entering the restaurant I was ushered to   the Eat With Me group. A drink was handed to me. Then I was welcomed by Bethany and Liisa (the organisers of Eat With Me) who to their eternal credit remembered me from the July 2011 event! Dining with strangers indeed!!

Lego took the original lego brick and magnifie...

To find our place at the table, we were all given a present. The present unwrapped turned out to be a piece of Lego which matched our seat at the table. After almost mixing lime green and dark green I found my place (amongst the writers’ section).

First course was chickpea chips and tomato sauce which was unique and tasty! The conversation continued. On my leftwas a public relations consultant who worked in tourism, television and film. From her I received some sage advice about my love life! Opposite her a magician and comedian. Next to me was Chelsea who also was a writer, blogger and involved in Eat With Me. When she said she was from British Columbia I said Victoria instead of Vancouver!! And got it right!!

What I forgot to mention was the centrepiece or conversation starter in the middle of the table! Two Duplo and one normal Lego bricks, photo ta...

Duplo shapes with words stuck on them to encourage the writers in us. Funnily enough the writers corner stuck with the words and tried to create something rather than dismantling the shape and creating something completely new!

The next course was Beef Wellington and a beautiful beetroot and walnut salad. No one to the left or right or opposite me had had it before except me (and it was a bucks’ night so my memory wasn’t sound). Beautiful!

As the conversation continued, I met a fabric designer and an intern.

Then came the negotiation part of the evening! Dessert! Strawberries, meringue, cream or chocolate mousse, ice cream, salted caramel. It was all divided equally and there was much left over. And now I know I will eat through chocolate to reach salted caramel!!

And the conversation continued! It was relaxed just like a laid back dinner party with friends and friends of friends! Thoroughly recommended and commended!!

First Gig

It was a quick stop on the way from Melbourne to Sydney. We pulled off the highway near a small country pub.
We parked and left the car then entered the pub. Of course, after the long trip most of the party had things to do. Except me. I was transfixed.
At the back was a girl, her guitar and her song. And she was singing her heart out. Maybe it was her first gig. Who knows? But that didn’t matter. Then she finished. The whole pub clapped and cheered. And we all caught our breath and held it. Then very slowly the original singer/guitarist returned and started tuning up again. For some reason he couldn’t get started. He knew : what we knew.