Returning to Winter

The cool 10 degrees Celsius air kissed my face lovingly the moment I stepped out of Perth International Airport at 2111hrs with Jen nowhere in sight. I couldn't say for sure that was a feeling of coming home but I felt so, so good that I stopped in my tracks and took a few deep breaths with my eyes closed. The air was crispy light, ordourless and dry like a piece of tissue prata as compared to Singapore's heavier, dampier pre-baked bread dough.

Before long the cold air hugged me from head to toe. Since it was a calm, windless night, I could stand in the open without thick clothing.  Coming back from Singapore at mid year, 10 degrees Celsius never felt that good.

A Winter moment at the airport brought back the memories of that morning when I jumped in the air after my naked butt clapped against the icy surface of the toilet bowl. It was my first Winter morning ever of my life as a tourist to Perth in the mid year of 2007. I must have told this little tale multiple times by now. People who heard that before must have had a hard time forcing a weak smile to help ease the tension of a .. er.. cold joke. Nonetheless, it was a personal moment which i found amusing and unforgettable. 

I should have known. Less than 24 hours of the toilet leap, I arrived in Perth on a sunny afternoon with only a haversack. It was my first visit to Australia. I remembered how the immigration officer turned out every single item in my bag like a stand-by-bed inspection in the SAF. He even flipped my underwear and looked through the name cards in my card case. I was told that immigration was strict in Australia but I didn't expect it to be that bad. You know, it was so easy to just put everything down as racism. I could, then turn my nose away from Australia forever so. Most of the time we don't look at ourselves to reflect why we were being treated in a certain way. No, it isn't about who is or isn't at fault, or finding excuses for the inexcusable. Like the old saying goes, it is no use crying over spilled milk. What is important is to find out what caused the incident and make sure it will never ever happen again.

Prior to that visit, I hardly talk to a Caucasian in my entire life. All of a sudden, I had to talk to 2-3 of them at different stations of custom checks. Aussies being Aussies, spoke English that sounded very, well, Aussie. I asked for repeats multiple times, speaking strange sounding English myself. To make it look even worse, I had a full length umbrella hanging (someone requested for one - long story this) on my haversack. To me fair, I looked like someone from a 3rd world country who was well prepared to enter Australia on a tourist visa and overstay. My second visit to Perth was a different experience at the customs. Again, I was hauled up
for a luggage check. This time round, the officer didn't even remove a single object from my bags. I looked at him and asked, "That's it?" He replied, "I think you're good." Tonight I walked past the custom without being checked, just like the previous 3 times prior to this. The progress at the custom was a reflection of migrant life here in general. It gets easier as time goes by in most aspects of life.

Lame as it was, the naked butt jumping moment was anything but funny at that point when it happened. I was left wondering how I could live another day that cold, much less a few weeks of my remaining holiday. Migration was out of the mind. That was until I touched down at Changi Airport at the end of the trip.

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