It went on this way for some time and, I said, finally, "Look, I am neither a military man, past or present, nor do I work for the federal government. I trust you are the same." Andrew concurred. I also said that neither he or I, as citizens of our respective countries, control either George W. Bush or, the recently ousted Australian Prime Minister, John Howard. Not to mention the new guys on the proverbial block did we control, that being current Prime Minister, Kevin Ruud, or President-elect, Barack Obama. And that, at the end of the day, we were just a couple of regular Joes trying to get by and, paying our taxes. That's all. We left it at that.
The young woman who introduced Andrew and I sat silent during this exchange, until another friend of hers joined their table. Andrew, a work-at-home scientist, was off to volunteer for a local social service centre a few blocks away. He was, as they say, "tanked." Those three pint sized beers he had consumed were taking a toll.
Which leaves me with this thought.... As I said in an earlier post, Australians of all hues and ethnic backgrounds are neither British, Caribbean, Canadian, and, especially not, American. They are themselves and, yet, there are a lot of similarities between the USA and, this neck-of-the-woods. I feel, oddly enough, at home here. Melbourne has a distinct New York-feel to it, with its grid system of organized streets, low-rise apartment dwellings, public spaces and parks. The trolleys, or trams, as they call them here, is like stepping back into time, when the city of my birth had them, as well. I do recall older relatives telling me about the time when the Big Apple had trolleys and, what fun they were to ride. Of course, and like New York, a city is more than the sum of its buildings and boulevards. There are the people who make it work and, what it is.