Friday, April 20, 2007


Saying goodbye

Well, my sister left. We got up early and went down to South Bank, where I had a lovely chai latte at Lagoonas Cafe. The sacred ibises prowling the city's open air cafes are pretty feral - a small boy was teasing one, waving bread at it then snatching it away again. They feared the cafe proprietor as he chased them, flapping a tea towel, but not me when I attempted to run at them. My shouts diminished to embarrassed whispers of "Shoo!" and my aggressive movements slowed to embarrassed flapping. I suppose they've been there since long before the construction of the lagoons and cafes, but it's still disconcerting to have them prowling across the table next to you, their beady eyes unreadable.

It's weird, when we came through here in 1998 the council had just constructed the wavy white metal sculptural walkway - now it's shaded by glorious bright purple bougainvillea. My lovely aunt accompanied us to the train station, and was good enough to be a shoulder to cry on after Hil's train pulled away to take her to the airport. I was all right today but felt emotional again when she texted from Sydney to say how much she'd enjoyed the journey.

Anyway. It was a sunny day. I watched some school sports team training by running up and down the sand on the artificial beach, sat with my feet in the water reading a book, bought a swimsuit (thanks again, Hil, for pointing out where my previous one went see-through when wet. In all fairness, how often does one look at one's own behind though?) and went to the Gallery of Modern Art. They have some interesting exhibits: a room dedicated to the films of Jackie Chan and how his fight sequences are choreographed; a peaceful yet eye-popping infinity room installation, "Soul Under the Moon" by Yayoi Kusama; the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art; and some exhibits, like Anish Kapoor's holes filled with dark powdery paint, or William Yang's brutally honest yet compassionate "About My Mother," which I can't assess dispassionately but I know I had an intense response to.

I'm glad to have this chance to see Brisbane again: I feel as if I'm seeing it more dispassionately and leaving behind the painful memories I have of the place. I can also admire the relentless modernity of the city now - last time, it all seemed so overwhelming, improbable and roaring with traffic. I still wouldn't choose to live here, but this second visit's made me appreciate its good points.

I'm off to book a flight to Cairns.

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