On Sunday I took the tram to go over to ALDI to do some grocery shopping. Why ALDI? A kilo of Basa Fillets (a type of fish from Vietnam) costs around Aud$12 at Coles or any other Supermarkets. At ALDI it costs around Aud$6…no contest lah….but it is some distance away and I need to get the tram to get there – and I go on Sundays because as a Senior I get to travel free on public transport on Weekends.
Once there I do get carried away and start buying frozen veggies, walnuts, almonds, pies…..all in all spending about Aud$60 which by my calculations was easily a saving of about 40% if that same stuff were bought anywhere else. Anyway once done I headed for the tram stop loaded down with two bags of groceries.
Sunday is a busy day for trams and there was a crowd waiting for the tram, which the electronic signboard said, was ten minutes away. I was in a suburb where everywhere you look you will see Asian grocery shops and Asian restaurants. No Australians just Asians. Vietnamese to be exact and these numbers were reflected by the people you see around you. I got myself a spot by the wall and leaned back waiting for the tram to arrive.
The first person that caught my eye was a Vietnamese lady just past her teens walking on the footpath towards our tram stop. She was dressed exactly like the good time Vietnamese girls who kept the Americans soldiers entertained when they were not fighting Charlie…drawing on a cigarette while she made her way to wherever she was going. The only thing missing was an off duty American soldier by her side. This at 3.30 p.m on a hot Sunday afternoon on a street somewhere in Melbourne! For the few minutes that it took for her to walk past us she was a sight to behold…truly a vision from the past, living in the past and probably doing what she did in the past in Melbourne. Good luck to her!
Once she was gone from sight another female came into view. Middle age with a low cut dress and her bosom desperately trying to liberate themselves from the too tight top that she had on. For the few seconds that your eyes lingered where they should not you start to smile in appreciation of what chance and circumstance have brought you…but only for a few seconds because as your eyes move upwards to seek a face to compliment the breast you are immediately disappointed. The face is vacant and belonged to one who is an addict. The face of one high on something…marijuana if the Gods are kind, cocaine if they are not.
She stumbles as she walks but stumbling without falling because she is so used to that gait where she does not sway from side to side as a drunkard would but more always moving forward heading for her next hit.
I tell myself that addiction is an illness and she is to be pitied more that to be scorned….and left her to her world.
Without my noticing a young tall thin girl was standing on my left – her bed and all her possessions on her person. She had a knapsack full to the brim with bits and pieces hanging out and carried with her, her bed – a sleeping bag! She must have been in her late teens but her face was years older. Drugs and a life on the streets must have been her lot.
On my right stood what must have been a Mafia hit man or something that looked like a Mafia hit man because he had that rough classical Sicilian unshaved look with rough sinewy arms and unshaved. He was rolling a cigarette and self-absorbed with what I presume will be his next “job”. I dare not look anymore and occupied myself with arranging the groceries in my shopping bag.
By now the tram was in sight and soon we were making our way on board. It was crowded and I was preoccupied with finding a spot where I had enough space for my groceries beside my legs….and as I straighten up from doing just that I was hit by an aroma that instantly stopped me from breathing in any more of the air/aroma around me because it was not only unpleasant but certainly one that I would rather not inhale.
To my left was that middle age lady with the big bobbies and to my right the young thin girl carrying her bed to wherever that she was going to…and both I now know had not had a bath, a shower or clean themselves in any way for a very long, long time!
I had seven stops to get to where I was going. Have you tried holding your breath for ten minutes? Impossible to do and yet I must if I am to last the distance. I could see other passengers moving away and some alighting at every stop on the way to move quickly to the next carriage to be anywhere else but near these two! Suffice to say that these two knew each other and made my life more miserable by carrying on a conversation across my face for the duration of the journey! It never rains but it pours.