Sunday, 26 January 2014

Aussie spotting

This Australia Day I won't be firing up the barbecue or playing a game of cricket in the park.

Apart from the fact that I've never done either of these things, this year I'm spending the national holiday out of the nation.

That doesn't mean Australia is too far away from my mind though.   It seems you can't move on this planet without tripping over a fellow Australian.

You could be riding on a camel in the middle of the Sahara and still hear the nasal tones of an Australian saying "Gee it's hot".

Like a rash the doctor has prescribed both a cream and tablet for, there's an Australian in every nook and cranny.

Here's seven light-hearted ways to tell if there's an Aussie nearby.  Look around, there's probably one right behind you!

1.  You can hear us before you see us
It's the double whammy of the distinct accent, combined with the louder volume that signals the approach of an Aussie.  I'm not sure what it is, but outside of our own country and in contrast to other languages and accents, we suddenly all sound like Alf and Ailsa from Home and Away.  And we seem to speak louder than other folk, like we're either a little deaf or grew up on a vast sheep property that required us to continually project our voice.

Keeping an eye and ear out for Australians

2.  We make a fashion statement
Even if we've been strangely mute, you can still tell that we're Australian by our attire.  Here are some tell-tale signs: we're the ones wearing stubbies (small shorts for those not in the know), a tshirt and thongs on that 20-hour flight to a northern hemisphere winter; we're wearing an Akubra hat (a form of cowboy hat) even though we work in an office; one of our best items of clothing is a tshirt with an alcohol brand on it (like Jack Daniels or XXXX); or we're wearing a rugby league or AFL football jersey (but don't be fooled, we're not one of the professional players).

3.  We're probably talking about beer, alcohol, getting drunk or having been drunk recently
If you're an alcoholic, I suggest hitching your wagon to a group of travelling Australians.  They're best informed to tell you where the nearest bars are, the beers on offer and the prices.  When you hear us talk about other countries, the availability of alcohol figures highly.  For example, "Thailand was nice with its sunshine and beaches, but you could buy a beer in the 7Eleven!".

We take pictures of alcohol too

4.  We're probably talking about how much something cost
Continuing the last point, we tend to focus on price a bit.  In Asia we're constantly talking in giddy amazement about how little something costs, but in Europe we're talking about how expensive something is.  You'd think we were a nation of currency traders with this keen eye for international monetary movements.  We're not.  We're just cheap.

5.  We're probably telling someone who doesn't care all the other countries we've been to
Just recently I heard a fellow Aussie regaling someone working at the United Nations in Geneva with a list of countries she'd been to.  I'm sure the UN representative was fascinated, having not been in the company of such a well-travelled globe trotter since she stepped out of the UN cafeteria a few minutes earlier.  Just humour us, it takes us a long time to get outside of our own country so we like to tell people... a lot.

This is how many Australians he has seen today

6.  We're probably joking or being sarcastic
While the Brits are known for their whinging, Aussies can also air their fair share of grievances, but tend to do so in a sarcastic, ironic or joking tone so as not to be seen as Debbie Downer.  We are "larrikins" after all so just sit back and ride the giggle train with us.

7.  We're the ones running for duty free
No one sprints off a plane towards a duty free shop quite like Aussies. We look puzzled at other nationalities strolling causally past the discounted alcohol and cigarettes.  We're also confused when other countries don't have massive duty free stores in airports before customs and immigration.  It just doesn't seem right.  It's un-Australian.

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