Here are a couple of observational exercises I’ve written recently:
BBQ King, Chinatown
“You like Coke? Coca-Cola? Coca-Cola?” three waiters in red polo shirts chime in rounds to a well-dressed Asian lady. She rummages in her (fake?) Louis Vuitton handbag for her phone. She nods. It’s all she orders.
The waiters hover around the utilitarian front counter, and idle round the formica tables and vinyl and metal chairs. Behind the counter, a two-tier fish tank holds crouching lobsters. They are listless, as if resigned to their fate. Do they know? Or is that just what lobsters do?
Two Aussie blokes in the window are getting busy with the Peking duck, gesticulating with chopsticks. Their conversation is punctuated by shouts of laughter. A waiter brings plate of rice with a peg, inexplicably, attached.
On the walls, the obligatory landscape of the Great Wall, a scroll of Chinese characters – what, no commemorative print of Tiananmen Square? An 80s fashion shot shows leggy pan-Asian beauties leaning up against – yes – the fish tank, its occupants long since digested.
The inner west ticket ninja
The light rail ninja conductor stands to attention before each commuter, brandishing his ticket machine.
“Yes, are you ok?” he says in a sub-Continental accent. “Yes, $4.50 please.”
He taps his machine, writes a hieroglyph on the flimsy paper, presents it with a flourish.
Slight, but slightly paunchy, he’s middle-aged, whatever that means these days. He looks like he takes his job seriously. It’s not a very busy tram, this one, only about 12 passengers, and stops go by and no-one get on – nothing to do. But when they do get on, he’s there at their side.
With a brisk but kindly air he asks again, “Yes, are you ok?”
He’s on to every passenger, alert, attentive, polite. He doesn’t even insist on payment when an elderly Asian lady gives him an expired ticket.
Doors open; doors close; no-one gets on. He sits down because why not? You can’t stand your whole shift.
I’ve also written articles on a variety of natural therapies for Natural Therapy Pages, which you can find here.