Monday, February 11, 2008

What makes it Wellington

Capturing my experience on film seems so inadequate. True, Wellington is exceedingly beautiful; breathakingly picturesque spots on the harbour, scenes of people enjoying public spaces (an urban developers dream-come-true), weird scruptures designed to showcase the exposed and gale buffeted shores. But all of this is mere backdrop to my remembrance of my hometown.

Do I feel 'at home'? Have I come home? Well, to be honest, no. I'm familiar with Wellington, I know my personal axes of Cuba St, Lambton Quay, City-to-Sea and Oriental Parade. But it is not home for me.

What makes it Wellington are the lack of crowds, the easier pace of life and the omnipresent wind; the tattoos on every second forearm, the grunginess of Cuba St and the disheveled hospitality staff.

Something about New Zealand brings out the best in people. I forgot my contact lenses and tried to buy some without a consultation (a bit of a no-no). I was prepared to pay $75 for one, just to get the free trial pack. As I walked out of the shop the optometrist, a young English girl, ran after me, thrust the free trial pack in my hands and said, "Here, just take these. Forget we said anything." I got five pairs for free, just enough to cover my time away.

I bought a smoothie from a juice bar and the girl making it overestimated the milk and yoghurt. So I got one-and-a-half cups. In Singapore I've seen the staff pour the excess down the drain rather than serve it to the customer.

I think it's being allowed the time to think, to reflect and to consider what's going on around you. The high level of education helps too. Yes, I know you don't need a degree to serve juice, but intelligent people can't help but think about stuff when bored behind a counter; sometimes with good results.

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