It’s rare that I’m so early, really. What more, I am now sitting outside waiting for the museum of Sydney to open. I have the joy of time since I’m half an hour early.
It is 9.33am and for the first time since I came to this city I saw it in a new light. I have never been out exploring in the city on a Monday morning, by myself, this early before. Monday has it’s different rush. Men and women dressed in suits rushing by in frenzy, with a cup of coffee in hand ready to tackle the day. They strode purposefully, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a workaholic side of Sydney before. The city always presented itself as perfect work-life balance, and aside from having jobs, people actually had a life.
On the way to the museum, though, I passed by some homeless people. There were a lot of them at St James station and in the city. I don’t know what to feel. Prior coming here, I never really seen a homeless person before. I know it America there are a lot, my friend who saw them felt pity, but afterwards, it is such a common sight till she doesn’t feel anything anymore.
I stayed over at Samantha’s last night and woke up this morning at 6am, left the house at 8am only to be greeted by her Singaporean tenant’s Mother. She talked to me for such a long time, and I couldn’t help feeling that she was judging me based on my educational level and the schools I attend, and even worse, by my looks.
“You’re so skinny!” Was the first thing she exclaimed to me. I laughed nervously. My skinny physique is something I was insecure about for a long time. This morning was not an exception. Furthermore, a great book by Portia de Rossi (on body image and her personal eating disorder experience) I’ve been reading recently has got me thinking about my own weight.
Her remark definitely did not sound like a compliment. I didn’t know what to say or do except laugh nervously. Society, from the beginning, has deemed it acceptable to body shame someone as “skinny” but not someone as “fat”, and because “fat” has a negative connotation to it, it makes the name-caller a mean person, a bully. But calling someone “skinny” does not. The worse part about being shamed as “skinny” is not being able to claim the stance of a victim, not being able to accuse the other person as being mean, because it can be always taken as a compliment. But it isn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my body. Reading Portia’s book recently had even taught me to be comfortable in my own skin. Just then, as I was leaving and walking back to the station, it struck me. Why don’t I respond with “thank you!” the next time someone calls me skinny? If they don’t mean it as a compliment, then that’s their problem. I’ll just take it as a compliment then. I promised myself to say it with gratitude from the heart if this happens in future. I have to smile and be comfortable in my own skin.
I grinned. This has probably got to be the best way to tackle insults and a good way to love my body.
“You’re from PLMGS right?” she asked as I was leaving. “Yes,” I said awkwardly. “How do you know?”
“Oh Samantha told me.”
Well this says a lot. For someone I barely knew to ask my Friend Samantha about something as irrelevant as my school in Singapore, I’m just taken aback. Either she was really curious or she wants to judge me based on my alma mater. Without a doubt though, she told me her sons are from ACS and Raffles, both top, prestigious schools in Singapore.
I’m so glad I told Samantha about PLMGS and not Xinmin. It’s not that I feel ashamed about Xinmin, but I’d rather someone know me as from PLMGS because I’m more proud of that school. My memories in PLMGS are more fun, better, more vibrant; rather than feeling like an outcast in my first two years in Xinmin. She looked impressed I was from PLMGS. It was a well known all-girls school, after all. What I was amazed was that PL really succeeded in building a brand name for themselves even though in actual reality, Xinmin’s cut off point was better than them.
Anyway, she was judgy but even so, I think I passed the test because she talked to me passionately about Japan afterwards. HAHAHHAA.
Museum was such an enriching experience!
Who knew the architect for sydney opera house was such a genius? Talk about geometry in design and architecture!
Harbour bridge work in progress. This is so interesting hahah.
I would say the most fruitful thing about the whole museum visit was learning about the aboriginal people. They were the original inhabitants of this land called Australia, and has been here about 40000 years!
I first came to know about them when I saw the Aboriginal flag in my uni and then my friend Douglas spoke about them. Since then I knew the Aboriginal people were unfairly treated and they were angered but I didn’t have a good enough understanding to grasp why were they so angry. I only knew it must be because of the land that was taken away from them or something, but I was interested to uncover the series of events that happened that led to their anger (actually, you can still feel the anger today).
Anyway, I learnt that the aboriginal people were here from the beginning and they had their own customs, culture and tradition. They survived on resources and know how to sustain themselves by catching fish, etc. However, when The first fleet—the transportation of convicts to foreign shores—occurred, British convicts were transported to Australia. The British colony came to this land, and the aboriginals weren’t happy. Not only crimes happened and trees were chopped down, but it was more like this land was taken away from the aboriginal people unexpectedly.
I mean, think about it from the aboriginals’ perspective. They had a great sense of owndership to this land. Yet the British came in, invaded their land, and not to mention an outbreak of smallpox manifested around that time that killed about 50 to 90 percent of the aboriginals?! Who wouldn’t be angry?
All the aboriginals wanted was to maintain their culture (they don’t wear clothes lol) and sense of belonging to this land, and even that was stripped away. There were 29 aboriginal tribes. Arthur Phillip at that time wanted to be friendly with the people and learn more about local resources, but time was getting urgent so he even kidnapped two of the aboriginals, and was speared in the shoulder by the aboriginal people later on. However, they made peace after that. This painting below depicts the story very well.
ps/ Is it me or black people/aboriginal people just like to study law…is it because they were harshly discriminated and the thought of justice appealed to them so much?