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Introducing a new regular Back in a Bit author, an Aussie expat living in Hanoi… 

Tabitha Carvan writes: This, my first post for Crikey comes at a particularly significant time for me in my two-year stint in Hanoi, being as it is only months away from my wedding.

My partner Nathan and I are both Australian and are getting married in Sydney, but since we’ve actually spent more time as a couple here in Vietnam than we have in Australia, we wanted to have some kind of celebration in Hanoi as well.

Not only would this allow our Vietnamese friends to be involved in the wedding shenanigans, it would also honour the fact that Vietnam is kind of the third member in our relationship, and possibly the only thing keeping us together (let’s hope not, eh?).

Continue reading “I cock-a-doodle-do”

New York

Nov 28, 2011

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During my first Thanksgiving in the US, I set aside my usual cynicism about retailers using the holidays to boost revenue.

A wise man once said: If you’re not a socialist at twenty, you have no heart. If you’re not a capitalist by the time you’re thirty, you have no brain.

Well into my thirties, I embraced my inner capitalist and kicked off the holiday by hotfooting it to West 77th Street in Manhattan, where inflation night was underway. No, this is not when the Reserve announces key economic data, which would hardly be a cause for celebration. It’s a New York tradition to witness the spectacular balloons take shape the night before the Thanksgiving parade. What fun!

Continue reading “A very capitalist thanksgiving”

The Sunday boast

Nov 27, 2011

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Freelancer Julia Gardiner writes: On one particularly long afternoon at work about a year ago, my friend Fiona swung around and said to me “Let’s just do it, let’s do a road trip in the US.” For the next 12 months we set about roping in two more travel buddies, Fiona’s boyfriend Marty and my friend Kelly; making a month’s worth of travel mixes; scouring the Internet for weird and wonderful places to visit, and finding the perfect picture of a half-naked Bruce Springsteen to hang from the rear-view mirror in whatever giant road-hogging SUV we were given to travel the West Coast.

Here we finally are, struggling with meals larger than our heads, over-tipping bar staff the more $4 gin and tonics we drink and yelling “Sorry, we’re English!” every time we accidentally break a road rule.

Continue reading “Walking through Death Valley, no shadows in sight”

Caroline Regidor writes: “I’m packing lead in here,” the elderly woman said to the younger one, her face set in a snarl. Gangsta grandma rummaged through her handbag as if she were looking for a gun. She had plopped down next to me. I couldn’t help myself. Curiouser and curiouser, I peered down. All I could see were tissues stuffed into a side pocket. She didn’t unzip the main section of her bag all the way. She may have been bluffing. But then again …

The younger woman was unperturbed. “I’m gonna respect you ‘cos you old,” she said from across the aisle. “But next time you better watch where you’re going. And you’d better watch where I’m going too.”

 

Continue reading “Gangsta grandma on the subway, loco at the White House”

USA

Nov 17, 2011

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Freelance journalist Laura Burgoine writes:  Like many before me, when I finished high school I was eager to escape the rigid conventions of academia and really see the world. Of course at 19 years of age I was hardly Jack Kerouac and instead opted for the very cliché choice of working at a summer camp in the US.

Never having camped before and possessing zero outdoor skills, I decided I was as suitable a candidate as any and so my adventure began.

Continue reading “Tales of summer from an American Girl Scout camp”

Europe

Nov 9, 2011

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The post-modern bogan: not so poor after all

Chasing cheap beer and loose women around the European continent has a long and noble tradition stretching back to the 17th century, when young, aristocratic, mostly British men set off in search of refinement, classic antiquity and plenty of drunken sex. Not much has changed in 350 years.

Chasing cheap beer and loose women around the European continent has a long and noble tradition stretching back to the 17th century, when young, aristocratic, mostly British men set off in search of refinement, classic antiquity and plenty of drunken sex.

For many Grand Tourists, cultural enlightenment was just a cover. The Grand Tourists were mostly grand shaggers, drinking to excess and treating the trip like a hedonistic gap year. Men arriving in Rome would spend most of their time loitering around the Colosseum — once a popular hangout for prostitutes — before hurriedly hiring a horse and cart and seeing the Eternal City’s major sites in a rush on their final day.

Not much has changed in 350 years.

Continue reading “The post-modern bogan: not so poor after all”

Freelance writer Grant Doyle writes: The modern day meaning of ‘mongrel’ is somewhat misplaced: etymologically, ‘mong’ means ‘mixture’ while the Old English ‘gemong’ means to ‘mingle’. The contemporary pejorative association comes with the suffix ‘rel’, and shifts the connotative meaning to ‘mixed race’ or ‘person not of pure blood’.

Can there be a ‘mongrel’ city? Perhaps you could say Australia is a ‘mongrel’ country, but in a nice way, given the multicultural mingling of our peoples.

But as for a mongrel city, Trieste might lay reasonable claim.

Continue reading “A visit to Joyce’s beloved Trieste, the ‘mongrel city’ of Italy”

New York

Nov 3, 2011

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Caroline Regidor writes: Living in diverse Brooklyn is like traversing through different worlds and the whole colour spectrum.

On a chilly autumn day in New York, the steamy laundry I go to is almost like a tropical haven. I like Island Bubbles on Rogers Avenue, mainly because the friendly storekeeper greets me with a sunny smile and a “yes, Mami”. Her accent and cheery disposition make me want to hum a Bob Marley tune.

West Indians and African Americans are the dominant ethnic groups in my patch of Brooklyn, Crown Heights. Go just six blocks west to Prospect Heights/Park Slope and the demographics change startlingly, as illustrated in this handy racial and ethnic distribution map created by the New York Times. Enter 11216 in the zip code box.

Continue reading “Colour me Brooklyn”