When The Reality Sinks In

We have been living in Perth for almost 6 months now. Aberdeen feels like a dream, far away from here, and I realise I say “back in UK…” less often than before.

I actually think I’ve been settling in here better than in Aberdeen. Perth is so easy. The weather, the people, the food, the accent, all are so easy to handle, compares to Scotland. Before long, I’ve made tens of friends, enrolled in French course, watched an opera, watched a ballet performance, and am about to do ten other different things. I think the weather makes it easier to do stuff here. Even the autumn feels like Aberdeen’s summer breeze.

But honeymoon period is over, and I start to see the bad and the ugly side of the city. This is the period when the reality sinks in and I am forced to make peace with it.

It was the night when we went to see a WA ballet performance. I’m a ballet neophyte. The only ballet I’ve ever seen – apart from the children (and by children I mean my school) performances – was the modern ballet in Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London. Mr.mck’s aunt dragged me there, and despite having no knowledge at all about the steps, heard the term pas de deux for the first time in my life that very night, suffered from the so-called modern orchestra (seriously, it’s worse than jazz. I’m not sure if Chopin or Mozart would like to hear it!), sat down in restricted viewing seat, and forgot to buy the programme and had no clue what it was all about, I actually quite enjoyed it. It’s so clear that the dancers were strong, muscular, beautiful, and very skillful. I expected at least a similar performance from WA ballet, but I was slightly disappointed. The story was confusing, even with the programme as our guideline. The dancers trotted around the stage more than danced, lots of them actually just stood there doing nothing, and only showed what they were capable of in very few opportunities. It was the moment when I realised that what I’ve seen in Covent Garden was actually a great show, ten times better than WA.

After the performance which was held in the heart of the city centre, we went for a quick beer at Belgian Beer Cafe then to Wolf Lane. Seriously, I never see a place so dull like Wolf Lane bar. We went there once when it was much quieter, and I remember the place was beautifully lit and decorated with designer chairs all over the place. But now the entire place, except the bar, was just dark. It seems like the place is designed by some amateur who knows how to design a shopfront and doesn’t know how to design a lighting system for a bar. And the people…. oh the young, gorgeous people there! Even thought it’s midnight, no one was dancing (perhaps because the music was so low it’s difficult to hear?), no one was drinking. They only stood there chatting with their friends. Some of them actually wore suits, complete with ties. This wasn’t the first time I thought bar in Perth was weird. My friend took me to 1907 the weekend before, and I also wonder why they lit the bar table but switched the light off on the drink shelves in the middle so we could hardly see the bartenders. My vodka tonic cost $19.00 but the place is so insufficient to be called posh. That was the moment when I suddenly miss Jakarta. Even cheap places in Jakarta at least attempt to make themselves look nice and presentable, and the posh places are definitely up to the high standards.

Yesterday the tomtom took me to East Perth, and because I was ready to turn right at anytime soon, I was staying at the right lane for a couple of minutes. The young chap in the car behind me probably was bursting to pee because he swore at me when he passed me over from the left, even though I drove right up to the speed limit. It’s the first time I had someone sworn at me in Perth, and I guess it won’t be the last time. That day my luck was clearly running out because I was accused for not paying my groceries in Woolworths! I was at the self-serve counter, doing everything correctly, and paid my stuff with a debit card. But somehow the till didn’t spit my receipt, and after waiting for a couple of seconds more, I shrugged it off and decided to leave. I was only few steps away from the door when the ‘old nasty rude ugly lady’ who guided the self-serve counter yelled “Excuse me!” from the top of her lung, indicated with her index finger for me to come back. She asked loudly in front of other customers if she could see my shopping receipt, to which I replied that I didn’t have one since the machine didn’t give it to me. She then had the nerve to say “that’s because you haven’t paid!”. I was so shocked. I never stole anything in my life, not even someone’s boyfriend (ha!), and now I was accused for stealing onions and pastrami? Shaken, I said that I’ve paid with a debit card, I’ve entered my pin, and the machine showed that the transaction was approved. I just didn’t have the receipt. The old nasty rude ugly lady was half-listening to my explanation, she was busy typing some codes into the machine where I was doing my transaction before. Then after a couple of seconds of agony, she turned to me and said, “That’s alright.”

That’s alright???

She has had embarrassed me in front of other customers, and didn’t apologise?

I was so angry I just stormed out of the supermarket. I should have demanded her to apologise, but probably she would pretend that she’s deaf. I actually wonder if she would have treated me differently if I’m white and mature like the other old ladies who were queuing behind me and seemed to get a nice greet from this ‘old nasty rude ugly lady’.

This has never happened in UK before, all the self-serve tills I had used before seem to work wonderfully. On that right second I swear in my cat’s name that I would never use the self-serve till again Perth. No matter how little my basket is, no matter how busy the supermarket is, no matter how tired the cashiers look like, I would march to them and let them do their job.

I guess the honeymoon period is really over, eh…


  1. WOW that experience at the store was rough! I’m so sorry and I can feel how upset that would make me too. Just an ‘alright!’ no apology? Pfft…how rude! But hey at least it’s cooler there now than in Jakarta hahaha.
    .-= Maureen´s last blog ..Jakarta Riot, 12 Years Ago =-.

  2. Is Perth the place not to be?

    But hey, taking the start of the dominion into account it’s little wonder some original sins of the forefathers occasionally show. Though progress obviously has been made since; no theft or murder, but bad taste, insult and rudeness only.

  3. woelank says:

    about that store experience…. is it because you’re “different” ?
    just some eperience when people ask if i could really buy things because of my appearance….

  4. JMaxwell says:

    I’ve always been disappointed with the level of service and value in Perth. Even the warung down the road from me here in Jogjakarta makes me feel more welcome and appears to appreciate my business more than that joint in Wolfe Lane (which happens to charge $30 for a basic cocktail)!

    Also, I don’t think it comes down to appearance either as suggested by woelank, coming from a young white male I think the sort of attitude experienced in Woolworths is universal as I too experience it. Perhaps age could explain something though…?

  5. Maureen: yes! Had I not been that mad, I could’ve gone to the management to file a formal complaint about the behaviour of its staff. Maybe next time :)

    Colson: now, now… :)

    Woelank: I don’t know, to be honest. I’ve had some discrimination treatment when I was in Sydney back then, but I don’t get it here, apart from that lady. But again, perhaps she’s just damn grumpy!

    JMaxwell: you mean they’re only polite to old people and not to “us”? That’s weird!

  6. my family has been offered a posting in perth. based on your honesty after the honeymoon pd., i think “not” now. We’ve been offered KL as well. i think i prefer that. we are in mumbai right now and it seemed that we are lucky to be here rather than the ” civilized” part of that world. anymore insight?

  7. Lorna: I think it depends on your expectations. I wouldn’t want to be posted in Mumbai, for example. And I would definitely say no to KL, but again it depends on your perception and expectations from such city. At least I know I can drink straight from the tap in Perth, not like in Mumbai. And food selection is much better, compares to KL. Shopping probably is a bit dull, but thank god for online shopping & strong Oz dollar, geography isn’t a challenge.

  8. I am sorry about what happens to you. That brings my memory about Australia… Now I am living in UK. I love it here more than Australia. People generally nicer here. More choices in terms of supermarket. Pub is nicer – cant stand the poker machines around. NHS is better than Medicare. Even it can get damn cold, but I prefer cold rather than stinking hot summer in Australia. Your story is what I try to explain to people over here when they ask why I moved. Australia is nice for holiday but when reality sinks in, it is a different story


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