Nadia’s blog

Spot the difference 2

Portrait 1

Name: Jo Smith
Subject: Eucalyptus
Postcode: 3104
Visit Time: 1/12/2004 8:31 PM

“I hate eucalyptus trees. To see them in the landscape whilst driving thru the countryside they look like sprigs of parsley stuck into the landscape and we all know what parsley is (according to the shortest poem in history by Ogden Nash, ‘parsley/ is ghastly.’)
Eucalyptus trees are messy, dirty, dangerous trees forever dropping their branches, bark and leaves. And yet… and yet, my favourite book is ‘Eucalyptus’ by Murray Bail. It is the classic fairy tale with all the trimmings.
And yet..
I wish you’d asked for my top ten favourite books… or even my top five, or even top three books then I would only have had to justify ‘Eucalyptus’s’ place among the competition and not as an outstanding first pick because really, I do hate eucalyptus trees.”

Jo Smith’s vision for the landscape could become a reality. My portrait shows a world where trees are but a memory. My feeling is that Jo does not really have a sustainable vision for the future, and that her deep hatred for eucalyptus tree, apart from an infatuation with Murray Bail’s book, will not allow her to see past her individual wants. If all the eucalyptus trees were gone, this would make her very happy. It seems a very personal, and perhaps short-sighted vision for the future. Perhaps if all the eucalyptus trees were really gone, she would realise this and actually, after a while, come to miss them.

Portrait 2

Name: Liz Benson
Subject: I bought this book for $40. But since I’ve finished reading it, it’s cost me $30,000!!!!
Postcode: 6122
Visit Time: 13/11/2004 1:30 AM

“I insist that you guys stop doing interviews with such intriguing people!!!
Who would have thought that listening to an ABC radio interview could be so harmful to your bank balance?
One day whilst innocently doing my dishes, I tuned into ABC when Gregory David Roberts, author of “Shantaaram” being interviewed. I was fascinated by his story and quickly purchased his book so that I could find out more about his experiences.
It was the most expensive, and fattest book that I have ever purchased!
But what a story it was! The picture that he painted of India and all it’s contradictions fascinated me. As soon as I had finished reading the book, I decided that I had to go to India to see and experience this gem for myself.
But how could I justify going there and leaving my husband and three daughters behind in WA? I couldn’t, so I decided that they would have to come too! They had no choice in the matter, I had decided on the destination and that was all there was too it!
O’K, so I had a destination, but no plan. Where will we go, how will we get there, what will we do? I began researching in earnest like someone obsessed. Travel brochures, the lonely planet guide, and articles from the weekend newspapers began to clog up my table at home. Before dinner the dining table would have to be cleared of “Mum’s India stuff”! I was a woman on a mission! Obstacle number one. There didn’t seem to be many tour companies that would include families with kids on their group tours. The packages that are designed for families, seem to have limited itineraries. Maybe they think that kids get tired and irritable when travelling? Why would they think that!
Out of frustration, I decided to design our own tour. Thats when I realised that India, like Australia, is a pretty big country. You just cant see it all in two weeks. O’K, so we’ll have to go for four! Every time my husband asked “how much is this trip going to cost”, I just added another couple of thousand $ to the last figure, hoping that he wouldn’t notice! He did, but played along with my crazy idea anyway.
With the tour plan finalised, now all I had to do was get quotes from different companies to see who we would go with. I selected a company and we are now on the countdown dor 21st December departure, 17th January return.
I am beginning to wish that I had never read that damned book.
We recently had our needles and walked out $1100 poorer! I am worried that one of my animal loving daughters will be bitten by a rabid dog! I have bought a medical kit with enough anti biotics to bind up an elephant with diarrhoea, but still wonder if it’s enough! How will we all cope with the confronting experiences that India is likely to poke in our faces at every turn? Maybe we should we have gone with the family tour with the boring itinerary!
I blame you ABC, this is all your fault! If my kids hate me after this holiday, I’ll hold you responsible!
Tell your producers, no more interesting interviews! Just stick with boring old farts like Wally Foreman. At least he’s harmless enough to not inspire anyone to do anything, except turn the tele on to watch sport!
So there you have it, “Shantaram”, the $30,000 book. I thought that listening to the ABC was a pretty harmless occupation, what a big assumption that was!
Who can say how my family will feel after our holiday in India. Will we thank you or curse you? Who knows, but somehow I think that the real journey has only just begun.”

Liz strikes me as the kind of person who develops obsessions. She appears to have the means to fund her latest infatuation. At the moment she was writing this, her obsession was India, however, at a later date it could easily be fundraising for her children’s school or promoting local business – almost anything is on the cards. I feel it is quite likely that she would develop a green obsession, given its ‘coolness’ at the moment. In her piece, she speaks of “Mum’s India stuff” on the family dining table. I see Liz’s dining table as an almost magical place where she lets her imagination run wild, a place where she develops and grows these obsessions. My portrait of Liz shows that whilst she does make a sustainable change, she treats sustainability in the same manner that she might treat any other obsession she may have. It may affect the amount of energy or other resources she consumes, but she will still buy the same amount of ‘stuff’.



Portrait 3

Name: Hermina Schaap
Subject: The book that has changed my life
Postcode: 3315
Visit Time: 14/09/2004 9:32 PM
“The book that has changed my life is none other than the Holy Bible! I especially like to read about the women that serve God and trust Him completely, like Ruth, Naomi, Rahab, Mary and Martha, Eve and many others.
There are many passages in the Bible that show us how to live our lives for the glory of God; like the parables of Jesus, some Psalms and many of the Proverbs of Solomon and all the letters written by Jesus’ desciples.

It strikes me that to Hermina, the most important sustainable issue is sustaining her faith. Like the women she describes from the Bible, she trusts God completely and prays to him to do the right thing. As the situation gets worse in her drought-stricken area (she lives in the Southern Grampians region), she may find herself praying just a little harder, but she keeps her faith and believes that whatever happens, it is God’s choice and it is for the best. I don’t see Hermina making ‘sustainable changes’ to her lifestyle; she is coping with the changes in her own way. For others of us without this faith, we have to cope in different ways – for many this means making changes to allow us to live longer because that is all we have. Hermina believes there is more, and therefore may not need to concern herself only with this life – her sustainable choice is to sustain her soul.




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