Lately when I passed by this place, I couldn't resist taking a picture for remembrance. I might have tell this story before. I've been jotting down these crap for the past 5 years. There are over a thousand posts by now. There is no way I can keep track of what I said before.
Well, this tale is important to me. Utmost. So important that it is symbolic for me, as it represented the awakening of the eye.
The tale goes back to as far as 2007. It is a tad shocking to realise it has been 10 years since. Perhaps a fitting moment to honour the event. That year I arrived in Perth for the first time in my life as a tourist. I was already in mid 20s by then, yet I rarely traveled. For me, the world seemed to revolve around Singapore, the paradise on Earth. I was one of those who believed Singapore was the best place in the world, where everyone outside wanted to get in and those who wanted to get out were criminals and losers. Thus I know very well how many, many Singaporeans back there look at people like me. I was there, I was one of them. I know.
I came to Perth to look for Jen, who was staying with her sister then. I was put up at her university friend's place in an unknown suburb, which I found out only much later. One morning, I woke early and was bored. So I decided to have a morning walk towards where I thought Jen lived. Little did I know she was a few suburbs away. The only bearings I had was a faint memory of the route she took to send me back to my accommodation. I had no maps on me, no GPS, nothing. I had no money on me and did not even know how or where to take a bus. I didn't even know where was my starting point. Yet I walked, and walked, and walked.
I was soaking in everything I saw on the streets. Coming from Singapore and having worked in an urban planning department in a stat board, the streets of Perth looked disorganised to me. Inconsistent building setback lines, inadequate planting verge, non-existing road reserve on certain roads. In midst of my constant fault finding, I couldn't help but like the place. The weather was simply amazing and the cloudless blue sky that morning was framing the flawed urban diamond perfectly. I walked past hedges of lavenders and rosemary, growing in glowing abundance. I couldn't help but stop to take in their unmistakable scents.
Soon enough, things turned sour. The bladder started to feel heavy and I chose to walk on with confidence. "There should be a shopping centre, a fast food restaurant, a coffee shop or petrol kiosk to settle the problem," I thought.
So I walked on, with hope in my heart. However, as the bladder got fuller, it was increasingly difficult to keep the flames of hope high. Before long, I was desperate and ready to perform the call of nature in nature. I was exploding but I couldn't find a suitable spot. I just couldn't do it in front of somebody's house. It was one of those situation you wish you are just a dog. Over a few kilometres, I couldn't find a single dustbin along the road. "W.T.F," I cursed. "Where do these people throw thrash?" I couldn't even find a plastic bottle or bag in a bin to pee into.
I staggered on towards a busier road on the horizon. That had to be a major road. I bet the last glimmer of hope on it. Imagine my relief when I saw the green signage of the fuel station at the end. I ran towards it with cherry blossoms floating the air. The toilet was huge as compared to those in Singapore. It was also dry and clean. I was grateful. I continued to walk on and actually ended up in Jen's suburb but I couldn't find the correct road. She turned up to my rescue after a phone call. On hindsight, I was fortunate she was awake at that hour.
The incident highlighted how naive I was, to think the rest of the world should have been constructed in a Singapore blue print. I was so used to bumping into a shop, eatery, public building or petrol kiosk every few hundred metres in Singapore. That didn't bother me more than the non-existence of public dustbins. How did the streets still appear relatively clean, no dirtier than any street in Singapore then?
That question was the awakening.