The other week I was in the Auckland CBD and I thought, Aw, it’s early in the day — I should be able to hop on to the motorway and get to where I’m going in a jiffy.
Nah-ah: I quickly found myself in a queue of traffic crawling uphill, doing hill-start after hill-start after hill-start (damn straight I drive a manual).
Sometimes a project goes like that: for days/weeks/months I’m going hard out, warp speed, all engines, etcetera, and then suddenly — but it’s not really suddenly, it’s just the sharp contrast in busy-ness — I have days/weeks/months ahead in which little more can be done, pending external factors.
Last Thursday afternoon, I was in the South Auckland suburb of Mangere. I’d been in the town centre a few times before but never during business hours.
At 4:45pm, there were people about. The mall complex, previously shuttered and locked up tight like an outpost in Apache country, was open for business. Whatever tiredness I’d felt from the drive south was replaced with anxiety at this unexpected and lively environment. I was hungry. I ventured inside.
Largely for bragging rights (and also, possibly, at some deep subconscious level, for safety reasons), I txted my expedition to family and friends.
Message: JESUS H CHRIST theres more to Mangere Town Centre than meets the motherfucking eye.
Message: Oh yeah? How so?
(DJA is a Wellingtonian whose only reference point for Mangere is from how often the media trumpet its crime rate.)
Message: It’s like Otahuhu but all under one 1970s-era mall/roof. Whats telling about my Kiwi middle class values is i can’t bear the thought of eating anything from any of the local eateries. And my hand hasn’t left my wallet since i walked into this alternate universe.
Message: You actin like a white boy.
Message: Oh youre so bourgeois!
Message: LOL! You’re SAMOAN. Pull your head in, boy!
Message: Have found a friendly Indian eatery called Flambe and shall dine in with my comfort food: butter chicken.
A face that smiled behind a counter. An Indian restaurant/takeaway named in the same spirit as an earlier sighted BBQ Rosti. Butter chicken.
This place, swirling with more shades of skin colour, more open-toed footwear, more ethnic diversity than my usual haunts was a reminder that there’s more to this world than what I bother to notice.
A cue to get out a bit more.
Note: Your txt correspondents were – The Goddess, no explanation necessary; Jenni Tha Muss, fellow Banana Boat conspirator; and DJ Ash, friend and newly-minted father.