Back to August 2001 — yum cha ruled!

Yes, I am trawling my archives again, courtesy of the Wayback Machine.  I note many a reference to yum cha, presided over by the Dowager Empress of Hong Kong, aka Ian Smith. We went to a variety of venues, including this one.

OK, prepare to board the Tardis!

Diary for August 2001

04 Aug 2001

Reasons I resent Asians 😉

1. They have better skin.

2. They look ten years younger than they are.

3. They look too damned good.

4. They are far too intelligent.

5. They are good with money.

6. They are far too sensible far too often.

All in all, Australia was better off in the Good Old Days when we had a National Policy on Maintaining European (Northern) Self-Delusion–better known as the White Australia Act.

There should be more people who look like and think like John Howard, or even Phil Ruddock. Now there’s my idea of a man! Mind you, Phil was a bit hard on poor Pauline a few years back…but he’s made up for it lately.

05 Aug 2001

Warm winter day

It has been much warmer today. Cute people are beginning to shed their winter coverings 🙂

Morning brought the August Yum Cha at the Emperor’s Garden. The Empress was in good form as usual, and others there were Kiwi Nick, Sirdan, Malcolm, James/Lucy and myself. Clive unfortunately had a minor stroke in the last day or two and is in Royal North Shore Hospital. PK has not been to Yum Cha for some time, and I can think of two reasons–but it is a shame he’s not coming.

Almost immediately after my old reverend friend J came over to my place, and as M was asleep we went out and shared a wine, and then went to the Cafe Niki. J has recently returned from Egypt and Jordan, so some of the conversation concerned Egyptology, some Christian and Islamic theology. J has a lot of time for Islam, having spent much of his life in Islamic countries….

09 Aug 2001

Poetry and such

I picked up my copy of Voicing the Difference: Stories and Poems by South Australian Writers of Diverse Cultural Backgrounds edited by Peter Moss (Adelaide, Wakefield Press 1994) to read in the toilet–yes, I do that. Some people I know read in the bath, but that strikes me as potentially messy, though being naked before the text may be commendable…

There is a favorite (not necessarily great) poem in there, part of which I used as an epigraph to my own (out of print) From Yellow Earth to Eucalypt. I would like to share it with my friends now because it is rather sweet:


Lara Damiani

Tell me something,
a small secret perhaps?
or maybe a thought?
Give me an opinion
on war, religion, communism or fame.
Share with me a desire,
something you’ve longed to do,
or some place you’ve wanted to go.
Let me know something new
for I care not for things I already know.
Explain something I do not understand,
translate some poetry,
or speak some French.
Tell me a story I haven’t heard.
Find me a new colour and let me know.
Then teach me the way of the world.
Help me understand humanity.
Aid my discovery of a God,
and my exploration of our being
beyond our physical existence.
Give me knowledge and understanding
and understanding of knowledge.
And let me not rationalise,
but question and probe and dream.
Don’t let me fall into life’s monotony
and help me rise above all things
trivial and unnecessary.

Find me a rainbow with eight colours
and bring it to me.

Having lately attempted poetry, rising to a challenge to write an Italian sonnet, I am jealous. My effort strained somewhat, and though it is OK up to a point will not appear here…

Not every thought, but the spirit of Lara’s poem I hope may imbue my friendships. Such is my ideal at any rate; practice occasionally follows 🙂 I should add Voicing the Difference has a rather interesting story by Barbara Phillips, an Anglo-Indian, reflecting on a Calcutta childhood experience (“Heartache”). If you see Voicing the Difference in a library, have a browse.

Not sure, speaking of friends, about that bit about going to the Museum as an antique (see yesterday’s diary) though I look forward to the experience.

(And isn’t it frustrating when you mislay your keys?)

14 Aug 2001

Lord, I’m weary…

Feeling rather exhausted, having had an annoying migraine earlier today that led to me coming home from work. Fortunately, I don’t go the whole trip with migraine…just weird visuals whereby a greater or lesser part of my field of vision is blotted out by sometimes amazing jagged lights and swirls. The first time it happened, many years ago, I was driving a car down a mountain road (Mount Ousley) late at night. This is difficult when half the road goes missing. I have been checked, in case you are wondering, several times, and nothing major is wrong with the brain–well, not in that sense 😉 My mother, and her father, suffered from it too. Fortunately most of the time it leaves me alone. [I still get these!]

I rallied enough to share a herbal tea at Cafe Max and helped another cure a headache with acupressure!

In my continued relaxation reading (crime fiction) I read a real oddity lately, The Trial by Robert Whitlow (Nashville, Word Publishers, 2001). Yes, that publisher does give the game away: you have your “police procedural”, your “hardboiled”, and your English village/stately home detective fiction–and now your “born-again believer detective fiction”. It is actually not all that bad, but a curious concept and (to my agnostic Australian eyes) a cultural oddity of the first order. It is amazing how a Presbyterian ladies’ prayer group can affect the workings of the somewhat suicidal (but eventually saved) investigator, who eventually scores the born-again cute woman. The falsely accused murderer finds not only his case sorted out by these two, but also finds the Lord and converts half the penitentiary (except for those who run the system–but this is Georgia after all). He also donates a kidney to the victim’s wealthy father (whose name may be, but isn’t, Packer) who is then brought to the Lord in turn.

A passionate interest in American Football also seems to be a necessary ingredient in salvation.

In my Presbyterian days one of the sainted figures was the rather amazing young Calvinist David Brainerd (1718-1747) whose work was further publicised by the great (and last of the Puritan divines) Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) whose belief in the depravity of man and the sovereignty of God was so strong–doctrines he found “exceeding pleasant, bright and sweet”–that it seemed to escape his notice that the God he describes is a serial killer and a psychopath: just read the great sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” to see what I mean.

Is it, then, unconscious irony that makes Whitlow write thus of Brainerd?

Anna Wilkes lived in an older area of Chattanooga named after David Brainerd, the New England missionary of the early 1700s who spent his short life preaching the gospel to native Americans in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Hundreds and hundreds of Cherokees were educated and converted to Christianity through the efforts of the missionaries inspired by Brainerd’s efforts, and many forced to relocate to Oklahoma along the infamous “Trail of Tears” sang hymns as they walked and died along the route west. All that remained of the original 1800s mission was a small cemetery at the edge of a shopping mall parking lot.

Now that actually does tell you a lot about American history. Seriously!

Oh–and with reference to last week’s diaries (esp. “is this a pizza?”) I must thank Sirdan for this which arrived on Sunday:

Good morning N—, a lovely morning to you, I do like the new page, colours are OK, and the roast tasted good [ref to a conversation we had], and what comment did the museum have on the “ANTIQUE”? — Danny…..

16 Aug 2001

Troublesome day…but an oasis at Cafe Max

I managed to get all my numbers (NESB students–see yesterday) to add up 🙂 And I should mention that ICQ came back, and lunch was duly arranged. The proprietor greeted us like guests in her home, and the lobster ravioli was apparently filling. The chicken club sandwich certainly was. Obviously the place is sound from a diet viewpoint, as my doctor (who worries about my cholesterol) was also dining there.

The company could not have been bettered.

And I got to meet someone who had hitherto been just a website. Not entirely what I expected, but my impressions are favourable.

Thanks for your comments on my Angelfire site, Lisa; you clearly also visited this diary. Another teacher too. I wondered briefly if your last name begins with P, but maybe not…

27 Aug 2001

.Snow near Sydney…and Ninglun videoed + questionnaire

It has been so cold in Sydney today–that means 12C maximum, but a cold wind blowing off very heavy snow up the Great Dividing Range and as far north as Tamworth. It is quite moving to see the Falun Gong demonstrators all rugged up continuing their 133 hour sit outside the Chinese Consulate. Whatever the actual merits of their practices, one can’t help but be impressed with their dignity, and some of them are quite old.

The UTS Research project began today and I was subjected to an hour interview which was videotaped, the interviewer being Dr Jenny Hammond from UTS. It took place in “The Cave” (my office, in a manner of speaking) which looks rather different from last year 🙂 It didn’t help that the Library mislaid the Cave key this morning; fortunately the General Assistant found a copy in a mysterious bunch of keys he held.

Yesterday’s entry, I should add, is more tentative than it may have looked; it is really part of a process of getting my own head around the contradictions and tensions that current Australian society presents. Much is good, it should be recalled. Every Saturday in Chinatown I see regularly couples or friendship groups that transcend all kinds of divisions, practical marriages of unity and diversity. That is the way I hope it goes.

Dare I mention I am giving up smoking again? Keep on at me! Wait and see….

29 Aug 2001

Very wet but …warm in Nepalese restaurants

Sadly, I see now in 2020 The Nepalese Kitchen in Surry Hills is no longer there!

Had goat curry and chaya afterwards, and a lovely dessert just like someone’s aunt might make. Never cry over spilt beer 🙂

I have had a lovely day. I feel very privileged.

And I ended the month with this song — just the lyrics. Now of course in 2020 we can do better than that.