Anna Daniels writes: There are certain situations in life that force you to take stock. Sitting at your parents dining room table, alone, on a Friday night at age 30, is one such situation. There are pictures hanging on walls and framed photos atop furniture reminding me of bad hair days and carefree childhood adventures. This house is as old as I am and so incredibly familiar that if there was a blackout, I could still comfortably make some toast, have a shower and put the washing on.
I’m back here, in Rockhampton, after leaving a job as a television producer in Melbourne. The work was fun, with a sparkle of glamour, but the commutes were long and the weather challenging. When you grow up under Queensland’s big, sunny skies, it’s hard to accept that the cold, grey skyline is just the way it is. So, I gave notice, citing the weather as my main reason for leaving, and took off for a month long holiday to India.
It wasn’t an Eat, Pray, Love inspired decision, more “a friend’s going there and the dates work so I might join her” type move.
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India was loud and crowded, dirty and colourful. I met people of unwavering faith and others who were unwavering in their attempts to swindle me. What I found most refreshing though, was witnessing the openness of Indian life in the streets. Men squatted on footpaths or stairs having their hair cut, whilst others thrust clenched fists in the air as their underarms were shaved. I even saw a truck-driver hang his hand out the window and dangle a note in front of a traffic policeman for entry along a restricted road.
Of course being immersed in this openness did have its downside. Once, I found myself wading through waist deep water along a monsoon deluged road with severely inadequate drainage. Stumbling on rocks and potholes, I was considering what murk and sliminess might be in the mix, when I suddenly dropped thirty centimetres into a ditch, lost my footing and fell sideways into the muddy, stagnant water. At that moment, a bus drove past with one young larrikin shoving his head out the window and yelling gleefully, “this is India!” There was nothing to do but join in the laughter of my steady-footed friend Brooke. I smiled at the ridiculousness of it all, and hoped that my grazed legs and cut toes wouldn’t get infected. They didn’t.
Now that I’m back in the sanitised, law-abiding, safe world of regionalQueensland, I can appreciate the craziness and haphazardness more in comparison. I now face a cross-roads. Do I decide to stay, in this town that saw me take my first steps, get braces and drive a tarago? Or do I uproot again for greener pastures and newer faces? And if I do, how much of the decision would lie in fleeing the fear that I’m taking a backward step by coming home?
Writer and producer Anna Daniels recently had a “flee change”, escaping the big smoke of Melbourne for her hometown of Rockhampton. Expect to see more of her around these parts…