Posts Tagged ‘Mecca’

A perfect place, Amsterdam?

January 29, 2015


Is there a place that is perfect? A place that meets all one’s wishes, expectations and needs? A community of men and friendly beast, that lifts spirit and soul, offers shelter and fulfils the most. A Mecca of sun and sated dreams! A final garden seat in which to rest, repose, restore, revitalise life’s joys, offer an escape from the hovels of hurts. Rivulet of small stones and flowing waters, frogs a croaking and barking dogs with vision of fleeting ducks. Is there such a place and can it be found?

We lived for very long periods in few places, countable on the fingers of one hand. Our main departure from having permanently lived in Australia, were the three years spent in Holland. It was between 1973 and 1976. We have very fond memories of that period. A lovely very old farm-house, a thatched roof and giant oak beams spanning the walls of a very large living room. We had a couple of sheep, an obstinate Shetland Pony and brown chickens all on about two and a half acres. In many ways it was idyllic. But, we did go back!

The obstinate Shetlander and foal

The obstinate Shetlander and foal

On the farm in Holland

On the farm in Holland

Now in final years still left to live, we again dream on for possible places to explore. The kids have gone and grandkids getting ready to tackle life. We love and wish them all the best. Retirement was meant for us. The time is ours and we can afford to be somewhat selfish. May the devil take the hindmost is an expression that seems to occur with greater frequency. A final plunge in unknown pools, a journey to ‘the perfect place’. Of course, deep down we know that it does not exists but in dreams alone. The frangipani flowers but only in warm enough climes where tulips and daffodils will not.

Yesterday I took the luxury of dreaming what it would be like to once again pack up and try a dip into the unknown. The unknown being explored in real estate of Amsterdam, specifically its beautiful centre. You know, something around the Westertoren or indeed in the Jordaan.
This is what I found.

Or this one;

Dream on! Alas, it often involves climbing many stairs and at our age? But just imagine.

Life is but a Trinket

February 14, 2013


Life is but a Trinket.

She was sitting next to me in one of those leather seats that those large Westfield shopping centers have sprinkled around their cavernous Meccas of consumption for the masses… Oddly enough, very often no one sits on them. Perhaps, sitting down is not in the spirit of what those temples are about; spending money and consume, consume.

The girl had a dark somewhat Gauguinish Polynesian look about her and was dressed in a multi coloured tropical fashion. I did not want to be seen as curious but decided to occasionally take a side-long glance at her. She seemed to be busy fiddling with something around her ample brown neck. I had noticed her earlier opposite from where I was sitting at a shop where they were selling lots of low-cost jewelry. You know, there are always lots of those shops about, selling indefinable trinkets, together with gold looking necklaces, also hairclips and mobile phone covers, Valentine love tags with ‘for Sandy, Macy, Lorraine or Shane, Bob, Wayne or a Ron’ together with shoulder strapped handbags. Those shops also have salesgirls who are permanently yawning or on urgent texting missions behind the counter, refusing to give service or make eye contact with the customer.

Those shopping centers have a noise unique in the world of public sounds. There are traffic noises, airplanes, street noises, barking dogs, tolling church bells and so many others. However, those large shopping centers have a noise that is different. It is the noise of the people swept up and totally concentrated on and busy with consuming. Like a tidal wave it sweeps up everything in front of them towards the cash register with the consumables clutched in both hands, the card ready at the fore, often held between teeth and the pram pushed by determined women with child bearing thighs or a brutish looking but compliant husband… You can actually hear the swiping of thousands of cards with the familiar high pitched timbre of the electronic print out receipts coming from dozens if not hundreds of shops and their purchases.

That is the noise of a shopping center.

Yet, unbelievably as it seems, there are sometimes scenes of serenity and calm in those raging seas of frenzied shopping. There was a barefooted blond woman sitting opposite me and the Gauguin girl. She was peacefully reading a book with her legs comfortably tucked under her hips. Her slippers were on the polished floor beneath the leather settee together with a small bag. I don’t think she had bought anything. She was reading a book titled ‘Snow White the Huntsman’ and seemed to devour the pages rather quickly. She was obviously reading a good story. I noticed that on her toe (next to the big one) of her left foot, there was a small silver looking ring. She wriggled her toes every now and then. A few times she looked up with a quick glance around her before returning once more to her book.


In the meantime I had found out that the Polynesian Gauguin looking girl next to me had bought a small necklace with a kind of silver wood nail as a pendant. She had managed to put it around her neck. She looked a normal girl with a friendly face, not too pretty but with a soft and feminine demeanor about her. After her success with this silver fence- nail necklace she took out her mobile phone and held it at arm’s length and started taking pictures of her adorned face with neck. This was followed by a rapid swiping and moving about of her fingers on her mobile. I suppose she was sending the pictures to a friend, possibly a nice boyfriend. A kind and caring boy, I hoped. Was the ‘nail’ a kind of promise of a more permanent thing to be fixed for the future? I am probably running ahead here, but; who knows?

Life is a Trinket.

Weaning us away from Shopping Malls.

February 12, 2012

Is there anything more demeaning than doing our shopping at those temples of consumerism, the Shopping Mall?  It involves so much more than just shopping; is it just a lack of time or the convenience of it all, or are there more sinister issues at play?

Let’s sit down and discuss, shall we?  We have to get to the bottom of why we insist and justify, strolling around those cathedrals of despair, whereby we furtively eye each other in some hope of recognition by another soul seeking salvation from the terrors of life and of shopping till we’re dropping.

After all, why do we drive and go through the horrors of finding a parking spot at those acreages of echoing concrete jungles hidden below ground and lit by ghoulish blue neon-lights?  The lost trolleys totally  abandoned but sunning themselves in suburb’s grassy kerbs and knolls, lost hope for retrieval a long time ago, no matter how high the rewards. Why haven’t we followed their example? How on earth could we ever have been seduced away from our beloved corner shop and how can we possibly find our way back, make amends.

The friendly corner shop with their owners peering so amicably over their rimmed spectacles, wiping hands on flowery printed aprons have disappeared by the thousands. Do you all still remember the joviality of: “who is next, please?” Also, “I haven’t seen you lately, Mrs. Murphy, where have you been?”

What did they do wrong to deserve their total annihilation by those giants of Westfield- Centro- Merchants and so many other Mecca’s for detergents, away from those well known and much loved suburban shopping strip?  Those strips are still there and students of eras long bygone can study its history by deciphering faded sign-writing on their rusting awnings. A chemist here, a butcher there (with lamb cutlets on special at $3.50 a kilo,) the hardware store with his barrows out at the crack of dawn, remember, it’s all gone…So many now up for rental.  Thai massage parlours with large lettering and arrows pointing to discrete entries from the back lane are now mushrooming, displacing the plethora of those much loved Galanopoulos & Spiros’ milk bars. At least they might give some welcome relief to the ennui suffering lonely Mall shopper, steeped in clear-sighted despair.

Even hardware stores have been hi-jacked by big terminal capitalism. There is now just Bunnings. One here in Mittagong so big it has its own internal climate. The ‘Highland News’ reported a small lightning strike only last Thursday above the caulking compounds division. Pigeons fly around merrily, a stray dog cocking leg against elderly gentleman immersed in studying tap washers. Bunnings don’t have a food-court but does provide barbequed sausages on sliced white Tip-Top bread. They sell those sausages on a crispy roll to raise funds for the Rural Fire Service or sometimes the Lions Club. Last time I was there for a silicone tube, I noticed a woman with FUK- U silk- screen printed on her T-shirt. I avoided eye contact. She was buying a large fiery red painted plumber’s pipe- wrench and seemed in a hurry.

The convenience of doing all our shopping in the one place we had at our communal suburban shopping strip. You walked from shop to shop and with you own vinyl covered shopping trolley. It was very convenient. Often we walked to those shops from our homes and this kept us slim. An extra bonus was the social intercourse with both shoppers and shop owners. Dogs used to cozily saunter in and out of shops, looking for their owners. Kids were given treats and there were mother’s galore admiring each other’s bonnie babies.

Now we get the two fingers up your arse greeting, trying to find a parking spot at the Westfield Mall bunker, after having driven for hours.  By the time we have liberated a cold and heartless stainless steel trolley away from its tightly packed brothers we find the wheels are jammed or it has a will of its own and wants to go into a different direction, wanting to escape to a grassy knoll. I have often seen shoppers taking the tissues out having a little sob and cry behind the margarine division, heaving with bitter regret. Ambulances respond to security having  found yet another elderly, totally confused and de-hydrated pensioner shopper, lost between the corridors of “Travel-Smart” and  “Bra’s for the busty, 16+” She had spent the entire night there, all huddled in fetal position. What a pitiless way to shop and how demeaning.  Shopping till we are dropping? How could our shopping habits have gone so wrong?  Why were we so easily seduced by this farce?

Go back… come back…. Come again to the friendly corner shop. Revive and come alive!