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Scattershot of Thoughts on Leaving Sydney

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I'm writing this from the Dharmawangsa Hotel in Jakarta, where we arrived last night after a 6-hour Qantas flight from Sydney. Tony will be posting more on this hotel, with pictures, but let me just say that this is by far the nicest place we have stayed on this trip -- without being the most expensive. If you want to party like a rockstar while on a symphony-violinist budget, Indonesia seems to be the place to do it, so long as you're not a rockstar who requires bacon in his Old Fashioned.

  • The Magnum Temptation chocolate ice cream bar heavily promoted in Australia and New Zealand, including a commercial featuring Benecio del Toro, nearly lives up to the hype. They even figured out how to keep the brownie chunks from being too hard despite being in a frozen dessert. Go Unilever!

  • Speaking of Unilever ice cream, the one "foodie" experience we had in Sydney was at the Food & Wine festival, where you buy tickets that entitle you to try some of the offerings from various restaurants and producers. The only free items I spotted were Ben & Jerry's and Yellowtail wine. In the entire time we spent in this region, I never saw a single drinks menu that featured either Yellowtail wine or Forster's beer. I suspect that whole "Australian for beer" slogan is a hoax perpetrated on the rest of the planet.

  • While helping a young woman at a video-rental store decide what to watch my last night in Sydney, I discovered that the TV show Firefly (only $25 for the full series on Blu-ray until Dec. 4!) is unknown to nearly all Australians, and even the knowledgeable store clerk hadn't heard of Kings. Meanwhile, Two and a Half Men is on every day. The woman in question had seen so many English-language films that the clerk was running out of suggestions, so I resorted to the foreign section and she walked out with Let the Right One In.

  • Aside from a late departure, our last Qantas flight of this trip was pleasantly uneventful. Only one thing really irked me, and it can't be blamed on the airline: the glaring legal omission in the British film showed on board, Made in Dagenham. This normally ought to be the sort of entertainment I enjoy: based on the true story of female machinists at a UK Ford plant who went on strike for fair wages, it's got cute '60s fashion, burgeoning inter-class feminist solidarity, and a poke at union bosses who didn't always look after the workers' interests as well as they did their own perquisites. But in a story set in 1968, with the conflict involving a large American corporation, not a single person ever mentions that at the time, the United States already required employers not to discriminate on the basis of sex with regard to wages. The triumphalism with the end-of-film text about how it all ended, with "In 1970 Britain enacted equal pay legislation. Several other developed countries followed with similar laws," especially annoyed me.

  • I'd already seen the other film I watched on board, but it had been a burned DVD with dubious copyright and subtitles, and I enjoyed seeing it again. Three Idiots is set at one of the IITs, the top colleges in India, and propounds the revolutionary -- for India -- idea that people should get an education for itself, not just for the credential, and should find work that they love. It's somewhat Bollywood but not too much so, and indeed occasionally pokes fun at Indian movie conventions. The part at Raju's parents' house, which is "straight out of a 1950s Indian movie," all black-and-white suffering, is especially hilarious. I'm really looking forward to visiting India in a few months, as I haven't been there since 2002 and much has changed (although not enough...). I can't wait to see the famously on-time Delhi subway.

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    2 Comments

    Like Outback is an American chain of American food?

    I am saddened that Australia is not introduced to Firefly. My heavens Mal is drool-worthy and causes bromance amongst even the most burliest of dudes.

    Firefly and Let the Right one In? You have impeccable taste.

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