Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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Busytown: Sons for the Return Home

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  • recordari, in reply to Lilith __,

    And how do you finance a treehouse? Mortgage or hedge fund?

    Like Jolisa, I'm hedging my pets.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    And no, I do not want to derail this thread honest.

    You’d need a train for that, wouldn’t you? Toot toot!

    ETA: Oh the puns, the puns! Avert your eyes.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I thought someone else would say this, but no one has. So …

    Among the more frustrating experiences on return will be estrangement from gossip. When you initially socialize outside close friends and family, you will be engaged in conversations about people you don’t know, which are of negligible interest to you.

    By the same token, you may find that people in the same settings seem irritatingly uninterested in your fancy overseas talk.

    Happily, it passes, and your local cultural connections and cosmopolitan circle of friends will speed the passing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18837 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I love hearing stories from people returned, but I do acknowledge that NZers (are we alone? I don't know) get all funny about that stuff. "Don't tell me about your fabulous life over there. You're over here, now. Get with the programme."

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    I blame Dr Ropata.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8499 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Jackie Clark,

    China's sea turtles (it's a pun on "returned from overseas", it works in Chinese) seem to face similar problems, so no, I don't think those kinds of attitudes are unique to NZers.

    I'm glad somebody likes hearing those stories, because last time - um, no, the only time I tried repatriation I got lots of people's eyes glazing over whenever I tried to talk, because all I had to talk about was China. That, combined with Russell's gossip gap, makes for a peculiar kind of loneliness. Hopefully next time, with a wife and daughter to nurse through culture shock (oh, such fun... fortunately I've built up stacks of experience at that here) I'll be too busy, and with too compelling a reason to stay in NZ (do I want my daughter dragged through the Chinese education system?) to be much bothered by that particular kind of loneliness.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2065 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Reid,

    It's much easier coming back from somewhere you've had a bad time. We returned from Moscow four years ago relieved to get away from the appalling weather, six lane roads choked with cars, crumbling Soviet cityscape, and the dirt. NZ is emptier and therefore less dirty.

    Although it was hard saying goodbye to the people we had become close to, there were few of them - Russians are hard to get to know, maybe all those years of suspicion of each other under a surveillance society. It was nice to return to a place where you can become friends with people because you met them in the park and you both had a kid. That'd never happen in Moscow.

    We came home with a seven-month old baby and lots of winter clothes that I finally got to use agin this NZ winter - snow boots, polar down jackets. Otherwise its now just fading memories of beautiful subways, expensive food, bad vodka and lots and lots of fur.

    South Africa • Since Nov 2006 • 79 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    Make sure you have a few things to hang on the wall in the conversation pit. That way the guests may pick up on it and away you go.

    I have a USA Coat of Arms thingy from the front of a lectern. The one with the eagle and the arrows. Extracted while half pissed from the 4th floor of the US State Dept Building in Washington DC. I used a dime to unscrew it in front of 200 half pissed fellow guests. It looked real impressive while it was on the lectern but....... it was made of polystyrene and varnished!!! But it is a hell of a conversation piece. Imagine trying that trick today!!! Worse than imitating a pilot I bet.

    And Bear stories are good too!! Camping in closed provincial parks is not a good idea when you cook ham steak and pineapple........

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1495 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Matthew Reid,

    beautiful subways

    An ex-colleague extolled their virtues. Underground cathedrals she reckoned, the suppressed iconography seeping through, wooden escalators. Sounded amazing.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16614 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    Mostly I find - as still an expat and happily so but one who spends one or two months annually in the homeland and retains a fairly close personal and business connection - that there are two sorts: those who have travelled reasonably and likely lived elsewhere for a reasonable period (beyond Australia which I don't really regard as elsewhere) tend to be open to stories from offshore; those who haven't are not.

    That's a wild generalisation but I tailor conversion with that rule in mind.

    I was lucky as a kid to have a father who flew the world as a job - to all sorts of exotic places - and came back with stories and incredible 35mm slides to show us. I also found myself living in late 50s Singapore as a kid and had amazing, vivid, memories of it. I think all of that opened me to wanting to see and know more and I was lucky.

    I read Matthew's post above and it's like an intriguing teaser. I can listen to that stuff for hours and am both jealous and keen to hear more detail of the subways and his life in an alien world.

    I don't get 'Don't tell me about your fabulous life over there' or the like and I love the way Asian folk - or at least South East Asians - want to know more about my country and how we live. It can be twenty plus questions fired at you without warning.

    Americans too, often seem genuinely curious beyond mere conversation.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3206 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Matthew Reid,

    Russians are hard to get to know, maybe all those years of suspicion of each other under a surveillance society.

    I dunno, the Chinese (gross generalisation!) seem to have gotten through a lot of that, and are still under a fair bit of surveillance, with their natural curiosity and conversationality intact. Wandering around our neighbourhood with a baby has gotten us into a few random chats and made us quite a few new friends.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2065 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    arbor tree accommodations...

    A Yew Topiarian vision.

    where there's a willow, there's a way...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4863 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Salutes you in arborish awe-

    re: conversation with folk who've spent time overseas:_ I never lived more than 6 weeks overseas, and that was hard (I dont uproot easily, and I really am happiest here in ANZ.) I am interested in other people's experiences but I get really easily uninterested when people use that as a platform to tell me how bad/inefficient/useless/messy/hopeless our islands are, our systems & establishments are - y'know, fuck off back there (where-ever) or as Jackie says-

    or: gently and with practical examples, show your fellow citizens how things can be better arranged, eh?

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Islander,

    Trouble with migrants, whether they're expats or repats or moving one place to another within a country, is that they all go through a stage remembering how well used to life back there they were and how they're struggling with things here, and so everything back there is all rosy. The big trouble is an awful lot of them (particularly here in China) never get over that. I have about as much patience for them as you do, but unfortunately my line of work means I constantly have to deal with them without telling them to fuck off back home. It can get trying. I do, however, fully approve of people in more convenient occupations reminding whingeing migrants they are free to bugger off back to where everything is apparently perfect any time they wish.

    Beijing • Since Jan 2007 • 2065 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    And no, I do not want to derail this thread honest.

    Nah, I love it. Shunting off into discussions like this is what Public Address was invented for. Eh, Russell?

    (As it says at the bottom of Recordari’s fine link: “Is your hedge trimmed in a strange shape? Call newsdesk on 020 7938 6000.”)

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1411 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa,

    This is all reminding me that I had meant to topiarise the yew at the bottom of the garden into a Totoro shape... it may not be too late. One more thing for my list, thank you!

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1411 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    I hadn't thought of that, Simon, and you are so right. My dad, too, travelled widely for weeks at a time, and came back from exotic places. Not so much with tales of adventures, because he spent most of his time on business, but with stories of people he had met, many of whom I later got to meet. I was never curious to go elsewhere, really - like Islander, my roots here are deep and I could never imagine living anywhere else - and then I lived in Europe for 4 years. It was fantastic. I had an interesting time, met lots of interesting people. I was never homesick, never socialised with many Kiwis while over there, but came home having known inexorably always where I belonged. I was single, and jobless, and moneyless, and life took up where it left off. Mind, I had come home in the middle of it all, so there weren't any surprises. And it was the end of 1990, so not many changes had occurred, either architecturally or culturally, in those years, that I remember anyway. Instead I met my now husband, and that was that. (And I'm afraid I was one of those people, who as soon as the plane hit the tarmac at Auckland airport, I was ready to kiss the ground.) I think Chris makes a good point, too, that most migrants home have a resettling period of sorting out the reasons why they are back, why they left, the good things about "over there" and the bad things here.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3123 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    I, for one, welcome our New Haven (?) overlords, and all their stories. Living in Japan for a year, then being lucky enough to return to Asia several times a year for work (promoting education, in case you wondered) you do find yourself feeling a bit socially isolated at times, and there is a degree to which you need to pick your moments. But most people we know have travelled at some point, and can just be the way in which the discussion goes. If you start any conversation showing off about your week in Florence (I have photographs), then things might not go as you hoped.

    I must say on here I just keep thinking about all the conversations I would dearly love to have with people who have shared experiences of foreign lands. Maybe we could have a ‘Sons /daughters for the return home’ party where the theme is the lives we have lead elsewhere. Sounds like a few of us could even do a slide show.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to recordari,

    I still reckon half the problem is that telling a good story is still an artform. Good material helps, but it's not enough, the world is full of stories. I've heard very good stories told by people who have spent most of their lives on their farms, and shockingly boring stories from people who have traveled the world endlessly. And vice versa, of course.

    I think NZers are especially harsh audiences because NZers are prolific travelers. Everyone has been subjected to a lot of travel stories.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8499 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to BenWilson,

    I’ve heard very good stories told by people who have spent most of their lives on their farms, and shockingly boring stories from people who have traveled the world endlessly. And vice versa, of course.

    I don't think this will be a problem for Jolisa, just quietly.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Ross Mason,

    “Is your hedge trimmed in a strange shape? Call newsdesk on 020 7938 6000.”)

    Dunno. The lights are always out. :-)

    Upper Hutt • Since Jun 2007 • 1495 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Jolisa,

    This is all reminding me that I had meant to topiarise the yew at the bottom of the garden into a Totoro shape

    Before you do, you must read this from Nature. It may change your mind about topiary.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3347 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to recordari,

    I hope not, but I haven't met her, and one thing I've learned from PAS is not to form judgments on people from their writings. There is very often an inversion - the most extroverted writers can be deeply introverted people. Similarly with good public speakers (which great introverted writers often are, but obviously not always). It's one of the great curses of the professional writer, that people expect a whole lot from them in person that they often can't give.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8499 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to BenWilson,

    NZers are prolific travelers

    See, I don't think that is completely true.

    Most New Zealanders didn't carry passports until they were required for travel to Australia, and whilst this forum - by nature of its demographic - is widely travelled I'm always astounded by the number of people I assume would have been further, have never gone beyond the South Pacific.

    Hell, I'm always amazed and appalled by the number of adult North Islanders who have never gone south of Cook Strait.

    Americans get a rough time for being globally ill-informed but - increasingly - I don't think we are a hell of a lot better especially when you look at our MSM.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3206 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to recordari,

    promoting education

    How do you reckon NZ's evolving cultural competence affects that?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16614 posts Report Reply

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