What was I up to in September 2000?

This time I don’t have to resort to the Internet Archive as some time ago I created a page on Ninglun’s Specials: Blogging Sydney’s Olympic Year 2000 — Entries complete, unabridged, and sometimes embarrassing! There were five YouTube embeds on that page, of which only two still work. One of the problems of incorporating YouTube in a blog post is their habit of disappearing! So in this selection I use still images only.


The torch lighting that almost didn’t happen!

Sunday, September 3 2000: 12 days to the Olympics

They say Moore Park will be finished before the Olympics, but they are finding it difficult as there are not enough graders available to do the job. Meantime Belmore Park, near Central Station, is now carpeted–not with bright flowers, or fresh green grass, but with daggy green carpet! Very tasteful. There was a bomb scare at Kirrawee Railway Station south of the city last week; apparently emergency personnel were misdirected to Canterbury Station (some distance away and on quite another line) due to a “pronunciation problem”! However, Central Station refurbishment has been completed–well almost.

Extra police on the streets and quite a few foreign visitors are already apparent in the city. The athletes, of course, have started moving into the Olympic Village.

Today was Yum Cha again–for the uninitiated this is Cantonese for “drink tea” and is essentially an endless supply of delicacies (steamed buns, dumplings, chicken feet, etc) washed down by tea. One can if one chooses have a 24 course breakfast–or more. There were ten people today–PK, Ian Smith, J***s, Sirdan, ABC Andrew, Clive, a guy from Houston Texas, a lesbian Olympic volunteer official from NZ (a friend of Sirdan), Bruce from the Albury, and me. Rabbit sent his hugs to all but was otherwise engaged today. Sad news is that John Wilkinson, who was there last time, an old friend of M, is critically ill in hospital: M has just gone to visit him…

Tuesday, September 5

Irony: a student who speaks the purest Beijing Mandarin (having come from China only 2.5 years ago) reports that he was penalised in an oral Mandarin assessment because he had a “Cantonese accent”. He cannot speak Cantonese! It is a bit like telling Queen Elizabeth II that she sounds too much like someone from North Carolina (no offence meant to the good folks of NC)!

Irony 2: a student came to see me this afternoon distressed because a friend had just told him he (the friend) was gay. Feeling that two revelations would be too many for one day I conducted myself impartially, but did ask if his friend was the same person as he was last week. Nonetheless I could see the dilemma: was there an agenda in the confession? I advised the student to stay cool, to stay a friend, wait and see, and deal with anything embarrassing [should it arise–I am not punning ;-)] with tact. There was no homophobia involved I am pleased to report.

Delightful day really. 🙂 …

Saturday 9 September

Down in Chinatown where I do some tuition each Saturday, quite close to the Darling Harbour Olympic venues: the buzz is definitely in the air now, and team members visible on the streets. Chinese Moon Festival is coming up too; I am looking forward to our mid-month Yum Cha at the Golden Harbour 10am Sunday September 17. Why not join us? See Ninglun and his friends live and more or less in the flesh. 🙂 The Dowager Empress of Hong Kong will be there to give out titles and maybe mooncake…

Tuesday, September 12 — 3 days to go!

The Torch is in Sydney and has been spotted by The Rabbit (see his webpage); in fact it passes through his area again today. It passes by here on Thursday at about 9.30 am. Just as well it wasn’t today! Around 9 am a police car (on a high speed pursuit?) crashed into a power pole on the corner of Elizabeth and Cleveland Streets, just where the Torch turns. Pretty spectacular; the pole somehow must have broken the water mains, so there was a fountain about four storeys tall as well. Police cars everywhere, disrupted traffic, Channel 7 crew!

Moore Park is almost finished! Quite amazingly, all the mountains of earth have gone, the turf almost covers the park, trees have appeared, and the footbridge across the Eastern Distributor seems almost ready for business!..

Friday, September 15

… Oh yes–the Olympics start today. Grey in Sydney at the moment, whereas yesterday was perfect.

4.30 pm: Juan Antonio has influence: the weather now appears ideal for the Opening!

8.45 pm: The Parade of Nations is on now. I would love to have been cynical about the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games, but (after an iffy start) it was MAGNIFICENT! The image of the small girl and the songman is a powerful symbol of reconciliation, and I am proud to see it sent around the world…

Saturday, September 16

GO THORPIE!!!! Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi OI!!!!! That 4X100 relay was sheer magic.

More on the Opening Ceremony–yes that torch thing did get stuck apparently! However, wasn’t that “underwater” lighting spectacular! And the waterfall! Yes–they did lay the politics of reconciliation on a bit thick, but it needs to be addressed and the Olympics was a powerful symbolic time: so too for the two Koreas and East Timor–moving moments both. However, I think the image of the girl and the songman remains the most powerful image for me.

I was tutoring in Chinatown today. One student, an 18-year-old from Mainland China, came in clutching tickets to the Olympic Table Tennis where his team will undoubtedly do well! He too admired the message of reconciliation in the Opening Ceremony, and was touched not only by that and the two Koreas being united, but also felt the fact China and Taiwan could play together in the Olympics sent a good message to the world and to the people and the politicians.

And my site passed the 2000 today! A minor matter but pleasing….


Monday, September 18

Today began with the scent of bushfires in the air; there have been some in the lower Blue Mountains. It has continued summery, and now (4.30 pm) must be pushing near 30C. Even I have been shirtless some of the day, but not outside as my skin has suffered from too long in the sun, as is true of many older Australians. Nor would I call myself a cutie: in fact the sight of me shirtless could frighten overseas visitors, so out of sheer patriotism I spare them the experience…

Saturday. September 23.

Again as usual I was tutoring in Chinatown today. On the way back at 4.30 pm I never saw such crowds in that part of Sydney: the whole precint from Darling Harbour, through Paddy’s Market, Chinatown, Belmore Park and Central Station was packed. I saw members of the Japanese track and field team, the Radio Beijing Cheering Squad (!), and people, people, people. The carpet in Belmore Park was virtually invisible, as a capacity crowd (some shirtless ;-P) cheered on the Australian Men’s Medley Relay Team to Silver (USA gold, Germany bronze) on the big screen set up in the park. Swimmers look good on a giant screen. I shouldn’t be surprised if the crowds passing through Central were record-setting themselves today…

Sunday, September 24: Ninglun goes to an Olympic Event

11.00 am: Just back from shopping and then watching the Women’s Marathon from Anzac Parade near Sydney High School. At that point an Australian was in the front bunch, about tenth; the Japanese were doing well and were well supported. As one might expect Kenya and Ethiopia were well in evidence. Eleven helicopters buzzing overhead made it easy to see when the race was approaching. They are so tiny, these Marathon runners!…

Monday, September 25

What a pain the new tax system is; I have spent the morning doing fiddly little invoices for bits of money that I get from tuition and renting my garage.

Been relaxing mostly, except for my tuition, but work looms and I must get down to some more this week: updating my school records, tutoring the Little Buddha tomorrow, the two Chinese on Wednesday, and Saturday two more Chinese–then school next week. For certain friends the HSC looms even more threateningly. Stay cool guys/girls, but you should all be doing some systematic revision or practice, as I know some of you are. Oh dear, the teacher in me is taking over…

What a night in Track and Field! Cathy Freeman’s race was as heart-stopping as Ian Thorpe’s great performances earlier in the games…

It’s ironic, and sad, that when I went downstairs a few minutes after the Women’s 5000 Metres the first thing I saw was one of our local petty thieves going from parked car to parked car with a torch, looking in to see what might be stolen. She, for it was a she, and her boyfriend were about 15 maybe–they come as young as 10–and seem to be part of a regular business; you often see them at it. And I’m afraid to say–they are inevitably Aboriginal. Here in Surry Hills anyway.

So there was a bit of a contrast. Anyone who knows me (or even knows this site) knows I’m 100% for reconciliation, and furthest from my mind is to say that Aboriginal people are more likely to be thieves than any other people under circumstances I can only guess about. At the same time it’s fair to say that right here in Surry Hills (and nearby areas) there are services for and run by Aboriginal people, heaps of them: it is tragic to see the crime (and drunkenness/drugs) cycle still sucking young ones in. And it is a feature of life for us inner-city residents, and a hazard for shop-owners.

I (part-Aboriginal myself remember) don’t have a panacea for this; but the Cathy Freemans of this world can’t but do good. And my delightful friend Kristina, and others I’ve met. And the phenomenon probably has more with being an underclass, rather than Aboriginality as such.

Wednesday, September 27

You may notice I have not mentioned the weather lately: today is cool and very wet, not the best for the Olympics but very good for the garden and for the hastily planted grass in Moore Park!…

Sunday October 1

Well, what a Yum Cha! Frankly, I was not feeling well this morning, but Yum Cha soon changed that. A record attendance on this last day of the Olympic Games. Seventeen people–so I won’t list them all…

And the Olympics Closing Ceremony is in progress as I write. Soon the sound of fireworks will fill the night here and I will go out to look. What a time to be young, Mitch and Hilbert, and all my younger friends. What memories to keep! I have such a mixture of feelings, I who was a bit of an Olympics cynic. But it has gone so well. If you are overseas reading this, you just would not believe how good it has been to be in Sydney in the Year 2000–despite, well, the Australian dollar…etc. But bugger all that, as we say in Australia, without the rudeness that might seem to suggest. This has been a good time for the human spirit. I hear now in the background the sounds of indigenous Australia; I scan the list of volunteers and see in that multicultural Australia in action–the Zhangs, the Xus, the Smiths, the Xuerebs…all one! I am a proud Australian at this moment, totally unashamed of this emotion. Wishing my father were here, my mother…my cousin who won gold at Munich and now gone from this life…No more words…


The best Games ever? Yes, maybe it really is so.

Never thought Ninglun would say all that!

Yes I know there will be a hangover in the morning, but….

I’m on a high–why not? See you all later.