— CNP

Melbourne

“Sing to me O Muse …” That’s right people, your wandering Odysseus is back with another postcard from the edge of the world. Well, that’s a tad over-dramatic but I’ve never been frightened of injecting a hint of hyperbole or a dash of fantasy when it comes to keeping my near and dear up-to-date on travelling matters.

The setting: one wannabe actor and his hairy father drive 800km from Adelaide to Melbourne with a carload of clothes, unread books, 200 grams of garam masala and a song in their hearts (to which they don’t know the words).

Old Queen Adelaide gave me up with some reluctance. First it was a mysteriously cracked radiator hose in the car that kept us from leaving. Then, just to tug at the heart-strings, my “random” iPod playlist for the car trip started with Jeff Buckley’s “Last Goodbye”. Before we even got out of South Australia, the looming clouds of smoke and ash from a bushfire near Keith had John momentarily concerned that we’d either get enveloped in a fireball, have to turn back or, worst of all, have to spend a night at Les and Doreen’s Roadside Motel and Diner (“where even the bagels are blessed by Jesus”). Then, having narrowly missed the purgatorial fires, we entered Victoria to the sight of a meteorologist’s wet dream … cumulus, cirrus, stratus, nimbus and the combinations thereof all in the sky at the same time. Soon enough, those fluffy white things we call clouds had developed sinister weight and we were treated to some spectacular and scary lightning. I hear you call: “Fire and then lightning, it must be symbolic”. Oh, the apocalyptic imagery had only just begun and I should know because I’ve studied “King Lear” three times now so i know a symbolic tempest when i see one. Well, as the lightning continued to light up the fields and mountains that wrapped themselves around our little red Corolla, the rain began to beat down as though Someone was trying to tell Noah to get back on his ark and head back home to Adelaide instead of making haste for Melbourne, the Mecca of iniquity. 100km later and the torrential downpour was just petering out when we went through a plague-like swarm of moths (or was it locusts?) that left the windscreen rather unhappy with itself. Looking through the newly acquired veneer of insect-matter, John suggested it looked like Jackson Pollock had just vomited on our car (after a typically hard night on the booze, presumably).

The word on the street is that Brunswick, where I’m living, has recently become a trendy locale. So far, I haven’t seen too much sign of that down my end (bar the fact that I’m here!). A trip to my local supermarket for lentils, rice and toilet paper (the three pillars on which the Nilsson-Polias lineage will stand) brought back memories of Rodos and Symi. There was a short, old, chubby Greek man pushing along a packet trolley loaded with halved watermelons. As he waddled by, I expected him to call out “Karpouzi! Karpouzi! Fresco karpouzi!”. It makes for a good cathartic expletive, doesn’t it? “Vre karpouzi!” Say that next time a Kappa-boy cuts you off in his Monaro and you’ll get some quizzical looks for sure. Oh, and it’s comforting to know that most of the legumes available at my local IGA are all supplied by Gaganis Bros. … that mainstay of Greek-Australian cuisine in Adelaide. So, next time you drive out to Hindmarsh to stock up on semolina, nostimini, vine leaves and garishly coloured religious icons, just remember to think of me. OK? … No? Well, sod ya, you big karpouzi!

Oi vey! I really need to work on my Greek … and my Yiddish.