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A Smokey Melbourne

Slumped on the back seat of a smoke filled Uber, a faint smell of a car freshener tries to fight its way through the odour of cigarettes; unsuccessfully. After 3 weeks in Israel, Jordan and a day in Palestine, the smell of smoke is no bother to me; or maybe I am just overwhelmed with relief to be back in Melbourne… The city I often criticised for its pretentiousness, lack of diversity and culture compared to ancient greats like London and the likes of Madrid. Melbourne now has a new view. For the first time in 7 years I see it with tired fresh eyes. The lights of the tunnel impress me as I imagine what a tourist might think for the first time visiting. Rising up over the Bolte bridge, I can’t help but glance to the left to see the colours light up the night sky, even through the smear of smoke that lays still across the city where it has laid claim for the past few days. A scenario that could have been avoided if we had politicians that weren’t climate deniers. Many scenarios could have been avoided, if only, we had better politicians.

Melbourne, “Most liveable city in the world” they forgot to mention if you are a man.

Normally I dread returning to the city I deemed as pretentious, but this time it was different. I couldn’t wait to get back to the familiar lights and sounds of the city, the friendly faces in a coffee shop or restaurant, that greet you with a smile or some light banter. The clean streets with rubbish bins that people consciously use. And most of all, the small communities spread out across the suburbs, that sometimes cross paths; and the choice of diverse food available everywhere. The small and large markets that bring these communities together to share in the history of what makes them unique, mostly through the joy of food. I finally realised what kept me here the past 7 years and why I was so happy to be where I finally called home. There was comfort in familiarity and knowing I had access to so much choice. It was relief to feel relief in being here and not some place else.

Now you may be wondering why Melbourne has been interpreted as pretentious, well that would require stepping back in time a little. Back to when I first returned to Melbourne to live after 16 years of leave. Travelling the world changes you in more ways than you expect, and upon return, things are different; or are they? Maybe they have always been this way and it is only you that has changed. It is hard to tell sometimes with the progression of technology, which without argument, changes society and how we interact regularly.


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