In light of the weather being so cold this week (rain), our host mum has gone out and bought us all hot water bottles. The kind my grandma used to use. Yes, the rubber things that you thought had died out along with 8 track tape players. But they are alive and well in Sydney. These are the kind of things that come about when indoor heating is overlooked in an entire nation. What’s more, one of the female students at Wesley actually walks around with one during the day, just holding onto it for warmth. The brand of water bottles that is the most popular (these things sell like hotcakes, apparently) is called “Hottie”. How clever. Subsequently, you can make all kinds of “hottie” jokes. To the tune of : Hey look I found myself an Australian hottie. hardy har har, i know, i know.
Today I made a pal. She was a woman in her 70’s named Heather who was waiting at the bus stop with me today. What started off as simple small talk “Gee do you know why the bus is 15 minutes late?” -“No I haven’t the slightest idea” turned into a full-fledged heart-to-heart as our bus decided to arrive an hour later than the scheduled time. Heather had been to her first movie in 30 years the night before and was very excited to tell me all about it. Of all movies, she picked Mamma Mia as her re-entry. She said it was lovely and I assured her that I would see it after her high recommendation. She was a bit of a sad woman, with no family in Sydney and her children grown and far away. From what I gathered they are uninterested in her, unfortunately. She spends all day on Wednesday just getting her weekly groceries. She relies on public transportation, which accounts for about half of the day lost, and she must make two trips because the cauliflower is too heavy for her to bring in the first bag and home delivery would cost her $9 extra, $8.75 more than it used to cost her and $8.75 beyond a reasonable price for a service to the elderly if you asked me. She had the funniest way of speaking in that she was always looking grim and shaking her head, even when she was very excited and happy about something. I also couldn’t help but noticing that she applied blue eyeshadow quite liberally. She was quite the character. I have been learning that sometimes I have the choice to leave my ipod earbuds in and disengage, sealed into my own little world behind my familiar music, and at other times I have the opportunity to meet someone I’ll probably never speak to a second time and get one more glimpse at this culture that continues to surprise me every day. Heather was proud to be Australian but like so many others, seemed a bit amiss somehow. I wish I would have been brave enough to bring to the surface more questions about faith than I did. But nevertheless it was a good conversation and a reminder to seize the present.