December 3, 2008

Missing a town named Hamilton

'..So, tell me about the life in Hamilton', asked a friend. I replied, 'Hamilton is boring'. I knew it is a lame statement. I thought if I had the right to say it that way. When I landed on one of the coldest, dark winter night at Hamilton, I never thought I would last a month here. No one will be seen at the streets after 5pm. The temperature would reach below 3 degrees and you will see nothing but fog. But, 18 months later, when my visa ended prematurely, and when I had to go back, I felt very sad to leave the town of Hamilton. I never worried about leaving Adelaide or never gave a damn about leaving Australia without see some of my dream destinations. Leaving Hamilton, and thinking I may not come back here was really hurting.

The town of Hamilton is like a poem written in a foreign language. The foreign language that you hardly have seen or heard before. For any outsiders and newcomers, it will look like an ordinary (postcard) country town. For that matter, every country town has some hidden secrets. Secrets that you can't read them off straight away. You have to spend some time (days, months or years) to really understand them.

As a person who has come from a city, I found it hard to slow down, let alone liking it. I used to wonder how many customers visited the corner shop (8am-5pm daily; Saturday half day; Sunday closed) that was down the street. Seriously, I wanted to sit and count one day. Everything was small - shops (they close everything at 5pm), theatre (4 weekend shows), library (what no wireless..damn) and your next door's neighbour's (so, how big is your hometown in India?) ambitions. Have you seen 'The Village' movie by M Night Shyamalan. I thought I was in such a village.

There are more sheeps in Hamilton than the number of people (200 sheeps for a person; I may be overly under-estimating). Such a huge number of sheeps help Hamilton to make it the 'Wool Capital of the World'. I know you are going Google that.

Half of the population are currently unemployed, because they are retired. On every thursday, the town gets busy because that is the day when the pension is paid.

On the month of December, people sincerely decorate their homes for Christmas and this year, I have planned (will try) to photograph them and make a photo-montage. May be I need to a photo project to capture the life of Hamilton .

There is a friend (among many others) in Hamilton, when I tell her about India, she listens to it as if I am retelling the 'Lord of the Rings' mythology and the life on Middle-Earth.

Running a shop in Hamilton is challenging than doing the same in Melbourne/Sydney.That is if you don't know how to run a shop where people come. With limited people (customers) and very few shops, customer care is the only way to survive.Imagine this. You walk into a sandwich bar and a man pops up and introduces, 'Hey, I am Albert. Whats yr name?' and chats to you while he makes a $3.50 sandwich (Adding extra bread slices if you are hungry, with plenty of veggies and meat), which is just great. You will treated like a VIP every time you walk in, from next time.

While going to Melbourne, the bus go across plenty of such smaller (or shall I say smallest) towns. I wonder how people live there, what do they do for a living. On one day, I want to break my journey and stay one or two days and talk to the locals to understand the life in such towns. Some day.

So, what's the point of the blabbering post? You just need to slow down, spend some time to understand and appreciate country living. Not many people have that gift.

I have to move on from here, one day. I will be missing Hamilton for the rest of my life.

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