There are some really bad drivers here. Of course, there were lots more in Afghanistan, but you expect that there. Here, everyone has at least passed a test haven’t they?
There are some really slow drivers. In Afghanistan, everyone drives as fast as they can, given the traffic, the military dominance on the roads, the crap roads, the bodgy cars. Here, I would expect people to zoom, because they can. But no. Some people obviously just like the soft feel of the tarmac under the wheels and never want it to end.
There are lots of parks and libraries and good free things. This is good for our kids. I can also ride my bike. This is good for me. I hadn’t realised how much I missed exercise. I can ride here, and no one will try to kidnap me, shoot me, run me off the road, or laugh at me. In fact, I am not even remotely interesting.
I am not interesting here. No one is much interested in me at all. I like that. I go to the shop and buy a toothbrush and no one asks me what country I am from. No one asks me for medical advice. They just ask me to pay.
We have had plenty of people ask, ‘So how was Afghanistan?’ I think that is a bit like asking, ‘ So how was cancer?’ or ‘So how was it watching your father die of mesothelioma?’ Not that Afghanistan is like a cancer, but that a long, chronic, difficult, draining, all consuming experience cannot adequately be asked about in such a question. Perhaps no question works. The best encounters have been where people ask a few, targetted, intelligent questions. And listen to our painful, awkward answers.
‘So how was Afghanistan’ is a lazy question.
We are both unsure about what is next. The baby is next, but then? We are not sure.
The book I wrote in 2004 ended with this question, ‘Asylum seekers will come [via boat] again, and when they do, what response will they receive?’ It is grievous to see that the Rudd Government is nearly as unregenerated as was the Howard Govt in its management of those seeking asylum in Australia.
More reflections as I get my head in order.