I truly hope that my intelligence shows in the writings that I post. I must admit though, that being a fresh-of-the-plane migrant reduced my IQ (who cares about IQ, EG and SQ?) dramatically!
The first three days were bliss as we did not really have to talk to too many people. It was the familiar comfort of my husband and my 2.5 year old son, who spoke a dialect of his own, and I was comfortable in the translation thereof.
But as my integration into the Aussie way of life started, I felt unfamiliarly intellectually impaired.
It all started with the robots. It is not that we are unfamiliar with the things, and to be honest, you should know that it actually a traffic light. But, I have never heard a traffic light make a sound. (Or maybe they always did and I just never noticed?) We were standing at the corner of Adelaide Terrace and some or other street in Perth and waiting for the red light to go green. Peep, peep, peep and suddenly a shot like a gun at an athletics meet. What do you do? Jy skrik jou alie af! And you hold on to your child and your husband as if your dear life depends on it! Until you see that no one is hitting the ground but instead are walking to the other side of the street. And you do as the Romans do when in Rome.
What surprised me the most was how certain common household items suddenly became foreign objects that I just could not identify. As our welcoming committee invited us up to the apartment they were renting the hostess mentioned something about a microwave oven. I looked and I looked and I looked and saw NOTHING that resembled said oven. It was as if my brain was in permanent shut down mode. I saw my husband look at me with confusion, and I blamed the jetlag.
Another common household item that suddenly left me in stupor was the humble ironing board. I do not mind ironing. It is one of the very few household chores that I enjoy doing. I envision my darling as I iron his shirt and I lovingly touch the hot fabric as I finish a shirt sleeve. The unit where we were booked in for the first month had an ironing board that had me standing at an angle. As you know from my previous post, my out of country experience was the country of Shozoloza, and it is only understandable that I thought this is how things are done in the land of Oz. (Truly the magical land of Oz – everything felt strange and almost magical – but not the ironing board, that appeared as if straight from the wicked queen’s cupboard.)
I will NEVER forget the evening when I was ironing one of the five work shirts and a friend came by to hear how things were going and I asked, exasperated by said board, “Is this how all the ironing boards are made? It sure seems very impractical.” The ironing board was skew and the front pointed towards the ceiling.
She looked at me as if I had a serious screw loose and said, “But, Marlize, that thing is broken!” And my husband stood there, dumbfounded by his wife’s regression to a numnut.
Later that night I said to him that I have never felt so stupid as I did that night and he laughingly concurred. “I know that you are a highly intelligent person, my love,” he softened the blow that was coming, “but the past week or so you have been acting anything but!”
Dear Migrant to the Great Southland,
you may experience acute feelings of stupidity when you arrive. People are not asking you whether you want to buy flies when you go to shop at Coles. They want to know if you have flybuys – it is their loyalty program. Ask them for an application form and get a card. You earn points and get some money (not a lot) back after a good few years here.
If you talk about circles, you are going to keep driving in circles! They are called roundabouts.
And do not be afraid when you hear a gunshot type sound at a robot (traffic light), blind people also use crossings and can after all not see the light going green. (Makes sense does it not?)
An ironing board still looks like it does in South-Africa. If you have not ironed anything in the past week or so, go and have a look at one, just to be sure.
Remember – when in Rome…