Someone said to me the other day, "It must be strange to feel that your 'home country' now feels foreign". And it's true. Coming back to Australia, a lot of things feel the same but a lot of things feel different. Some of the things have changed, but some just feel different after some distance.
The most obvious thing I noticed when I came back to Australia was the smell. The scent of eucalyptus was almost overpowering, yet, of course, I never noticed it when I lived here. Every day, I really notice the birds and their sing-song, especially the kookaburras, and it's just magic.
Then there were the things that had changed, the NSW RTA had become the DMS. You could no longer just buy Tim Tams or Vita-Weets, they had to be Pina Colada-flavoured Tim Tams or Soy & Linseed Vita-Weets. Everything had to be done online. And after any interaction with any type of customer service, I'm asked "Please rate us".
Like every normal person you always become a bit nostalgic and wistful for what you have left behind. Suddenly I really needed to eat labneh and hommous and not having to give a score out of 10 for the person who delivered your new couch.
There are some things about coming home that I haven't enjoyed. One thing I have noticed, that I never noticed before, was the fact the men seem to talk over the top of women all the bloody time. On TV, on the radio, at the pub, at a friend's house. A woman will be talking and then all of sudden, without thought or seemingly care, a man will just start waffling about his take or thoughts. It's completely maddening. Or a woman will be talking and you can see the man's eyes wandering off somewhere else. It's so rude!
People have said to me, "Oh you must be glad to be back where you can have a bit more value as a woman and not be sexually discriminated against." The thing is that the men I met in Dubai didn't talk over the top of women. They listened politely. They were interested in what I had to say. They thought about what I said and responded accordingly. Arab men, South Asian men, European men. My words and my contribution to a conversation had value. They weren't dismissed before they were even out of my mouth.
The other thing I'm finding maddening is the dumbing down that gets done in this country. I turn on the radio and there are these loud people yelling at me, always yelling, there's no subtlety. There's this awful blokey humour, 'oh don't go there', nudge-nudge stuff. Even the women sound blokey (maybe in attempt not to be spoken over), not like any women I know. The jokes are all a dumb variation of the same thing. It's this whole 'Keeping it Real' vibe, where intellect is dismissed as 'up yourself' and quick wit is to be distrusted.
You turn on the TV and it's all Seven Year Switch, Marriage at First Sight, home bloody renovation shows and talent quests. I don't know, I really believe we're all a bit better than this. We're all a lot smarter than what we're being fed. I'm not suggesting that Four Corners be put on continuous loop, I'm all for a big of escapist entertainment, but does all of it have to be of the lowest common denominator.
Wouldn't it be good to see some real Australian stories? Australian dramas. Australian comedies. Australian docos. Not people willing to sell their soul for their 15 minutes.
The news is all gasps and outrage and people being called on by other people to apologise. If you're not outraged, then your not relevant. All while the important stuff, the stuff that actually matters gets swamped by "the ugly truth of Thermomix", a politician being asked to explain, someone being un-Australian and football players changing jobs.
I just think it would be nice to be spoken to by the media like I have half a brain. I think most Australians have a lot more than half a brain.