A briefing, a camera, some shopping and baking soda.

Quite a lot of things happened the past few days. First, I would like to announce that my mobile is officially screwed up, so I would be getting a Samsung phone tomorrow.

Second, I bought a camera yesterday, the Sony cyber-shot S Series camera (Model DSCS930B). It was recommended to me by my younger sis (she’s the photographer of the family). I wanted  a Panasonic camera that was going for $199 at this electronic shop called Bing Lee (recommended by Edward). But the Sony camera is going at $159 and has slightly better specs than the Panasonic camera. Here’s a picture of both the Sony and Panasonic cameras:

Sony camera

Website link for the specs of the Sony camera: http://www.sony.com.au/product/dsc-s930/sku/dsc-s930_bc+au2

Panasonic camera

Website link for specs on Panasonic camera: http://panasonic.com.au/products/details.cfm?objectID=4894

Third, I managed to attend the information session at the university yesterday. I woke up at 9am and rushed through breakfast, changing clothes and brisk walked to my school and managed to reached the briefing session at 11am. I could have got there earlier if I didn’t lose my way around the campus (its damn big) and the Biochemistry and Microbiology building. That building itself is almost like a maze and I spend 10 minutes trying to find the room. Luckily, the session started late and so I didn’t miss anything and managed to get the more important information at the end.

It was quite amusing, both getting the camera and the information session. When I was walking around the campus, trying to look for that Microbiology building (of all places the ISSU had to chose that one), I passed by two Asian dudes, whom I guessed correctly, was trying to find the same building. Sure enough, barely after I sat down, they both came in a few minutes later.

That was not what it amused me. I was just pointing out the coincidence. What really amused me was that when I was trying to find the entrance into the Microbiology building (like I said, its a maze), I bumped into this Caucasian man, who I guessed correctly, was trying to find the location of the briefing.

Anyway, we both managed to find the entrance and when we entered the place, I was a bit surprised to find out that not only the exterior of the building was old, the interior was OLD too. Everything inside was probably dated back to the 1960s or 1970s, that was how old it was. The flooring looked old and worn. The stairs and the bannister looked old. The walls looked old. Even the lifts were old.

That was when the amusing event took place. The caucasian man was about a hundred metres ahead of me and so he entered the building before me. Subsequently, he got into one of the lifts just as I entered the place. I was a bit shell-shocked by the oldness of everything (coming from a country where demolitions of the past regularly take place) and so I just stood there like a complete retard, gawping at everything.

I was a bit skeptical too, that I was in the correct building. I mean, this was supposed to be the Biochemistry and Microbiology building. I imagined a modern steel and glass building with the latest technologies installed. Including lifts. I was not expecting a place that looked like it could belonged to the 60s era.

When I came back to my senses, I realized that the caucasian man got into the lift and the doors were about to close. There were still a wide gap between the doors so I made an attempt to run and jump into the lift.

Apparently I miscalculated and almost got my face squashed. The caucasian man noticed what I was trying to do and through that small gap, I saw him jabbing furiously at the buttons. I thought he was opening the doors for me but no, the lift doors closed and went on to its destination.

What the……

I was not really angry, just annoyed. I mean it was partially my fault to make my entry so late. And since these lifts were OLD, maybe it couldn’t react fast and open it time. Or maybe that guy didn’t like sharing lifts. Whatever it was, I got into another lift and as I pressed the floor number button, I took a quick glance and realized why that guy couldn’t open the lift doors.

There was no “Door Open” or “Open” buttons. Okay…. I saw a “Close” button but no “Open” button. And the buttons were really old, those black buttons where you push them into their sockets and they spring back out once you release them.

It took the lift a few, trundling minutes just to bring me from the second to the fourth floor. When I got out, I saw the man reading a map near the lifts. He glanced over and saw me and I saw his eyes widen and his body stiffened. I think it didn’t help that I was wearing my seriously-annoyed-look that made me looked seriously-pissed-off-that-I’m-going-to-kill-someone. I was irritated, not with the guy but with trying to find the damn room.

“I’m sorry, I mean the lifts, I mean the buttons, you know….”

“Oh, its okay,” I assured him. “Its all right.”

Then I gave him a big bright smile that would have done the Cheshire Cat proud.

Later, he headed off first after finding what he wanted on the map. At that time, I did at a feeling that he was also attending the briefing session. But I didn’t follow him and instead proceeded to try to find my room on the map. My room was listed as 417 but there was no 417 on the map. There were 410 to 419 but somehow, 417 wasn’t there at all. Frustrated, I started wandering around, only to realize that it was mostly laboratories around the floor.

I decided to head downstairs to the exit at the third floor, thinking that maybe the room was in another annex of the building. But when I got out and stood at the stairs of the exit, I was only looking at a large park with a pond in the middle. There was no building annex. Damn, I was going to be late for the briefing.

Maybe, I thought, it might be another room on the fourth floor. As I turned around to head back into the building, I saw a small notice pasted on the glass door:

“For the Daily Arrival Information Session, please proceed to Room 471.”



No wonder.

I felt like a total idiot. I knew where room 471 was. I saw it on the map and even worse, I walked past it a few times when I was searching for the non existent room 417. What I was looking for was under my nose all these while.

I scrambled upstairs, found the room and sneaked in while the briefing was going on. I saw the caucasian man from the earlier incident, sitting at the front row in one corner. So I made my way through the desk (eyes on me of course) and sat behind him. The man saw me and raised his eyebrows and made a face that seemed to say “So we’ve finally found the place after a long search”.

I grinned at him in reply.

The briefing was interesting especially the part on taxes, student card, transportation and insurance. Only did I realized that there was still a lot to be done. Sigh, so I’m not really settled down yet. One thing though, there was a lot of exchange students at the briefing. The girl sitting beside me, I suspected she was an American exchange student, judging from her accent. I could be wrong as my hearing for accents sucks. She could be Canadian, she could be European, who knows?

The man from before, he was a full-time student. I think post-graduate since he looks a lot older than me. Sounded American too. Or Canadian. But one thing I noticed about him was that he was quite fidgety. I don’t know whether that was from nervous excitement or mild stress or a habit but he kept moving around in his chair.

During the briefing, I learned that students would not get any concession fees for transportation in Sydney. Only overseas students on Australian scholarships and exchange students would get them. In fact, the ISSU advisor said that getting concession transportation fees was as good as winning the lottery. Why? It slashed transport fees by half. Which is a lot. As for the rest of us (like me), well, we just had to live with the unfairness.

But the advisor did add that there’s a lot of protest going on about this and she hoped that we would join the protest. Heck yeah, I am going to join, even if its my first protest. I mean, I walk around a lot, but I do have to take the metro and bus in the foreseeable future. So protest I would.

After the briefing, I wandered around the Student’s Union buildings for a while before heading back to my room to drop off all the information brochures and booklets. On the trip back, I realized that the Union’s buildings were not that far from my faculty and my lodgings. I also realized that I was walking in circles in the campus earlier in the morning. Really, FML.

Anyway, with a quick stop at home, I hopped onto a bus and headed to George Street. This is the only bus route I know and the only one I dare to take. I got off at the intersection near Goldburn Street and headed towards Sony Centre at World Square. Its camera buying time.

I’ve been to Sony Centre a few times and confirmed that they were selling the Sony camera at $159. So when I strolled into the shop, I knew what I wanted. All I needed was to get a salesperson’s attention.

I saw two salesmen but they were busy serving customers. So just to kill time, I browsed through the camera displays, pretending to look very interested in the range of product while eyeing my camera all the time. I got impatient after a few minutes when it looked like the two salesmen might be taking quite a while. So I headed into the computer and audio sections, only to find just one cashier and no salesperson.

Maybe it was during lunch hour so there were only two salesmen around. Maybe it was because in Singapore, most of the IT shops are usually crawling with salespeople. Whatever it was, I realized that I had to wait for one of the two to finishing serving the prior customers before attending to me. Luckily, the shop was mostly empty, so I didn’t expect a long wait.

True enough, a salesman came over to me a few minutes later after his previous customer failed to find what he wanted. Starting with the usual “how may I help you”, he scooted to me and waited for my reply.

I just pointed at my chosen camera and confirmed the price with him.

“Yes, its $159”, the salesman confirmed.

“Okay, I’ll have it.”

I’ll have to admit, the salesman didn’t look shocked that I made a spilt second decision. It was a long decision for me but from his point of view, it was a split second decision.

He strolled over to the computer terminal to look up on camera’s stocks when he dropped a bombshell.

“I’m sorry, but that camera is the last one. The only stock we have is the pink model.”

I was stunned. What? No more black? That one on display was the last one? Only pink? Of course, with reasonable specs and its reasonable price, the black model was sure to be sold like hot cakes.

Now, I have nothing against pink colour. I wore pink t-shirts and pink dress shirts before. But I draw the line of having to whip out a bright, candy-coloured pink camera every time I want to take a shot.

“Fine, I’ll take the display,” I told the salesman.

“Are you sure?”

“Yep,” I assured him.

As the salesman went towards the display, I started to prepare my very mediocre bargaining skills. Since I’m getting the display, might as well lower the price.

But a while later, the salesman came back empty handed. What, did the salesman change his mind? Was he going to force me to take the pink coloured model?

“Would you like me to get the black model from another store?” The salesman asked.

Oh, I didn’t expect that.

“Uhm, yeah, sure that’ll be great.”

“Ok, if you just write down your name and contact number, I’ll get the other store to transfer the camera here. I’ll call you when it’s ready for you to pick up.”

“Oh, okay, thanks,” I replied. While writing down my details, I was jumping for joy inside. Phew, I didn’t have to get a display camera or a pink coloured one.

I paid up and collected the receipt and was told that the camera might be ready the next day. Today’s the day but my phone ran out of battery this morning and I might have missed the call. So tomorrow I’ll be going down to collect my new Sony camera. Finally, I can take some pictures.

After paying up, I wandered through World Square. I was getting very, very hungry. My measly breakfast of some cornflakes and milk couldn’t sustained me through the day. I decided to go to the open air food court at the upper ground floor and could not have chosen a worse timing.

It was lunch hour and the whole crowd of office people descended upon the food court.

But then it was not as crowded and packed as food courts in Singapore during lunch hour. Maybe it was because the food court was in the open and less people fancy eating out in the cold. But I was cooped up in the my room the past few days and needed some winter air, so I chose to eat in the cold. Beside, the weather was fine and sunny, the temperature was just nice enough to enjoy a hot meal. So that sealed the deal.

I was indecisive about what to eat. I didn’t want to eat Korean food because I had been eating mostly Korean food the one week my parents were here. Furthermore, I didn’t want to eat Japanese food because I didn’t had the appetite for it. So that boiled down to Western or Indian.

But the Western food served mostly sandwiches, burgers or bagels. I had been eating PB & J sandwiches or Marmite sandwiches for dinner the previous week and didn’t want to eat another sandwich again. So Indian it was. I paid $9.90 for a big plate of rice with 3 types vegetarian curries and devour it.

Ah…. rice and curries…. finally after one week.

While eating my Indian cuisine, I realized how much I missed briyani and eating it with my hand. Nasi Briyani……

At the same time, I had some interesting people watching. I realized how majority of the office people wear almost all black. Black jacket, black pants, black shoes, black ties. Same goes for the women, black jacket, shoes, skirt, dress….

I know its winter and they are working people but can’t they just spice up their dress sense a bit? Especially the guys, I would have thought I was in the Matrix with Agent Smith if it were not for the Indians who coloured the place with their pastel shirts and colourful acrylic sweater vests. I’m not a big fan of those acrylic sweater vests but at least these people wore some colours, instead of black, navy-blue or white.

So after lunch, I headed back to my neighbourhood. I decided not to take the bus since it was only a 15 to 20 minutes walk and I need to digest my very carbohydrated lunch.

I went to Harris Farm supermarket at Broadway Shopping Centre, just opposite my hostel to do some grocery shopping. This place is truly the place to buy fresh produce. My second cousin brought me here and told me that Harris Farm had connections with the farmers and so most of the produce here were very cheap. If you’re not those people that eat veggies or fruits, then this is of no relevance to you.

How cheap is cheap? Well, I bought 2kg of big bananas and it cost me only $5.58. These were not those small little bananas. They were big, I think almost twenty inches in lenght.

By the way, stop thinking about phallic thoughts.

I bought 1kg of tomatoes that cost me $1.87. They were not small either. They were big (one of them the size of my fist) and very, very fiery red (which means very ripe and contains a high level of beta-carotene). I also bought two cucumbers that weighted 1kg each. Those two cost me $3.98.

Yep, its that cheap.

The only thing that wasn’t cheap were almonds. I like almonds but it cost almost 9 bucks for just 500 grams. In Singapore, I could have got it for only 4.50. Weird, it seems like almonds its expensive here.

After that bit of grocery shopping, I went back to my room, stocked up my fridge and then went down to do borrow the vacuum machine.

The day before (Sunday), I did some housework and cleaned, dusted and wiped my room. I even scrub the toilet bowl. I was very bored and had too much free time. Anyway, that night, after all the housework was done (it didn’t take me very long, I have very few furniture), I scattered baking soda on my carpeted floor.

No, I’m not insane. Go google up baking soda uses and you’ll know.

One thing I dislike about my room is the carpet floor. I have nothing against carpets, as long as it is confined to my sleeping area and living area.

But my room has carpet floor right up to my small dining table (unused) and the kitchenette. This is where it really irritates me. You know sometimes you prepare your food, there’s a tendency for crumbs to spill, liquids to splash about and other accidents. If it was a normal floor, fine, you just wipe it up. But it it was a carpet floor, that is where the big headache come in.

For crumbs, you can’t really do anything except brush and vacuum the place. For spills, that is a major problem. Thankfully, I haven’t spill anything yet and I am hoping not too. But yes, I hate the carpet floor around my kitchenette.

Anyway, I sprinkled baking soda and left it there overnight. So the next day, which was yesterday, I vacuumed up the place and was left with nice clean carpet. It took me a while because some ass choke up the pipe with carpet fibers, human hair and what nots and could not be bothered to clean it out before returning the vacuum machine.

Yesterday was quite eventful, compared to my usual slothful days. Today, I’m back to my slothful ways since I had nothing on. But in the coming days, there’ll be lots of stuff to keep me occupy. Finally.

I might be going to Blue Mountains to visit a friend and do some sight seeing on Thursday. I’ll be there overnight and will head back to Sydney on Friday evening. But that is not confirmed yet.

Orientations start next week. Looking forward to that after almost two weeks of being in exile. But I’m definitely not looking forward to classes. I have a feeling I am going to fail the first six months after 3 years of not studying. Even the ISSU advisor said the the first six months is usually the toughest period and is common for students to fail. Uh-oh…….

I just got 9 overdue messages from my phone when I was writing this. One was from my second cousin inviting me for lunch last Saturday. It is now Tuesday. WTH.

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