Friday, 26 September 2008

A day without a bus driver

Wednesday the bus drivers went on strike during peak commuter time. Thursday the bus company retaliated by locking them out of their place of work. This basically slammed bus service to a complete halt for the entirety of the 25th of September.

Thursday was lovely. The weather was beautiful, warm, with a cloudless sky. I took the hint (as I had the day off) and went on a cycling expedition. I had it in my head I needed to get to Lyall Bay, which is to say, The Beach. The North wind was making its presence known, but at the moment it was at my back and it felt nice. I stopped half way through at a lovely little park, right next to the colourful boat houses. But my favourite part is the park benches, sculpted to double as lounge chairs.

lounge park benches3

When I got to the back of Evan's bay I took a detour to look at one of our city's many wind sculptures up close:

box wind sculpture2

From there, it was on to new cycling territory. I followed the road signs to Lyall Bay. And coincidentally, my route took me right past the Go Wellington Bus headquarters, and a whole bunch of disgruntled bus drivers with signs:

bus strike 1

Cars were honking their support when they drive by, and I waved as I cycled past. It was exciting. I'd never seen an actual Union protest before.

And finally, my destination.

lyall bay scene

Lyall Bay

It was strange, to have a day without bus service. All the commuters were forced to drive their cars into town, causing massive traffic. The parking situation in town was pretty dire. It became very clear how much Wellingtonians rely on public transport. Which is, to me, a positive sign. Lucky for me, the lock out was over Friday morning, and I was able to take the #3 into Karori Wildlife Sanctuary for my first volunteering day of the season.

Thursday, 18 September 2008


Okay, I've resisted as long as I can. I think I have to do a post about Kiwi words and phrases. Actually, since New Zealand lingo borrows heavily from Great Briton, a place I've never been, I sometimes have no idea whether a word is uniquely Kiwi or not. So this is really going to be about "stuff they say differently here."

Starting with a couple of my favourite phrases:


Doesn't mean: A reference to someone's body type.

Does mean: Used to describe something that's gone badly, such as "that's when things went pear-shaped."

Analogous to: Similar to "went south" or "went to hell."

In popular culture: Used in a couple episodes of Farscape (an Australian-made sci-fi tv series)

"You're a star" or (even better) "You're a legend"

Doesn't mean: that you are literally famous.

Does mean: That you did something really good and the person is praising you for it.

Analogous to: umm, possibly "way to go" though it's not really the same. (actually, I can't think of an American phrase
that isn't used just as frequently as a put-down)

In popular culture: "you're a legend" is used in the Flight of the Concords song "The most beautiful girl in the room."

Well, that's a good start anyway. Now I think I'll get to work on a more exhaustive list.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Conversations Overheard in the Sauna

What's it like having a female Prime Minister?

I'm in the sauna on a 'mixed' day, which means the men outnumber the women roughly four to one. Which means mostly the talk in the sauna is about politics, sport, and business. They're discussing the latest political scandal - something about the foreign affairs minister and some shady campaign contributions. When one guy says, "She (Helen Clark) will burst into tears soon. Playing the sympathy card, that's what they do." To which a lady in the sauna replies "Ay! What do you mean 'they'?" Another guy adds "Well, she did cry over the ... (controversy over a parade of half-naked porn stars on motorcycles) She really didn't want that parade."

It is a simple fact of female physiology: women cry more than men. Have you ever seen a male political leader cry? Does any of this sound reminiscent of Hillary Clinton's recent presidential campaign? The difference is New Zealand elected Prime Minister Clark. Three times in a row.

PS: For those of you going "Wait. A parade of what??"
Yes I did say half-naked porn stars.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

this evening's meal

Today we walked to Newtown - a suburb just out of central Wellington. It only took us about twenty minutes. We were in search of a new place to eat. We saw a Mexican place and a Chilean place that both looked good, but we settled on a Nepalese place as we'd never been to one before.

The Restaurant: Jewel of Nepal

The food: We got two curry-like dishes with saffron rice and veggies. I got lamb, Loren got the fish. Both were very tender and tasty. And the chai had coconut milk in it, which was unique. Also, nearly everything on the menu could be made vegetarian on request.

The atmosphere:
Laid back, lots of bench seats with little pillows, but the lights were too bright (something that perhaps only I would complain about). The best part was the middle-aged Kiwi fellow sitting in the corner playing blues music on a beautiful steel guitar while his wife sat nearby keeping him company. Completely inexplicable, but all the more pleasurable for that.