What does it say about a culture when the national pastime is making fun of the capital?
Dedicated readers will know that I recently moved to Canberra. One of the first things I noticed about this city is that it is incredibly self-conscious and defensive. Everyone — outsiders and even some residents — hates Canberra for no discernible reason. When pressed, the most commonly given reason is, “It’s cold”. So is New York City, and for that matter, Melbourne.
Hence the defensiveness. I walked past a restaurant that had a poster titled: “100 reasons why Canberra is great” or words to that effect. You would never find such a poster in Melbourne. It’s kind of like how there is this apparent rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney, but mostly in the minds of Sydneysiders. Melbourne’s too busy being awesome to think about Sydney.
Anyway, so I’m going to join the ranks and make a list of reasons why I like Canberra and my new lifestyle specifically. Except I’m too self-conscious to use a form-title, or to pick a number.
- Bike-riding. Bike paths everywhere! Riding on the footpath, because it’s probably a shared path, right? And when I ride around I don’t get that feeling of simmering resentment emanating from everyone not on a bike.
- Sunniness. It might be zero degrees outside, but it’s sunny! You can sit outside and pretend the rays have some warmth in them.
- Perfect clothes-washing weather in winter. My experience of washing clothes in winter has always been: clothes taking at least two days to dry and junking up the living room on clothes horses while they do so. The sunniness (see above) and also windiness, which I am not otherwise fond of, means clothes dry on the line in one day. Brilliant!
- Winter clothes. I have a few items of clothing that languish in my wardrobe because the temperature has to be below ten degrees outside to wear them. I can’t throw them out because they are too precious. Living in Canberra means these items get to see the great outdoors! One is a beautiful brown woollen coat I bought in America seven years ago. The other is a full-length woollen dress with a high neck and a crazy pattern. I just can’t wear them at the same time, that would be extreme.
- My house has a woodfire heater. This means I get to indulge my primal desire to make fire. It also reminds me of Arnhem Land, and camping.
- My housemates are both awesome.
- Lots of bushland everywhere.
- Academics at ANU are very friendly, and I can hold my own among the linguists.
- Great coffee. Actually, I’ve had to stop ordering lattes, because the baristas around here are fastidious and serve lattes at their correct temperature, and it makes me drink them too quickly.
- Not too far from my family. At least, not as far away as Arnhem Land.