Ocker blokes and sheilas out west that is written
A charm they possess with which tourists are smitten
A complete load of bullshit that is I will sing
These are a few of true blue Aussie things

From mullets and rat tails and all great things bogan
Souped up Fords and Holdens and fucking Paul Hogan
So tanked on VB that they think they have wings
These are a few of true blue Aussie things

Warm smiles and kind gestures which brighten your morning
That infect you and send your faith in humanity soaring
Strangers treating strangers with respect fit for kings
These are a few of true blue Aussie things

Can I just say, I love being back here?

This trip has really allowed me to absorb and appreciate some of the wonderful differences that separate us culturally from many of our Asian neighbours. On previous short trips to Singapore, I always return to Australia complaining about the rather notable absence of basic human respect that people seem to have each other. Where the Asian “me first screw you” ethos seemed to emanate from almost every visible interaction between two strangers.

It always made me feel as if I was on some sort of alien planet. Where coming first, or well, ensuring that the person next to you doesn’t come first anyway, scores you points that you can redeem for handjobs or vouchers or something at the end of the day. Where everyone seems so focused that they have no time nor care for frivolous bullshit like simple courtesies.

On return to Australia on those previous occasions I always felt so glad to finally be home. To have my faith in humanity restored by my fellow countrymen down under. Well, that used to be the case anyway.

On this trip, it’s different. Very different. Australians… are the weird ones. Bizarre crazy lunatics that smile for no reason. Random strangers holding doors open for me? Thanking me for holding the lift open for them? What the hell gives? Do they like owe me money or something? It’s like they’ve all been infected with some degenerative brain disease. What type of sales staff chat with you like they’re your friend, or ask you about your day and actually sound like they’re genuinely interested? Geez people, get a life!!!

Oh and don’t get me started on those lousy drivers on the road! I mean, here I am trying to change lanes, indicating my intentions, and these terrible drivers in the next lane just sit there waiting!! Some even slow down!! What the hell?? Speed up so I can bloody get in behind you! I mean, what are you trying to do, let me in? That would be like… completely insane, who would do such a silly thing?!

But to be serious, this is sadly the case. Being in Singapore for now almost two years continuous, I’ve come to think of their local culture as the norm. So much so that I’m actually dealing with a case of culture shock during my time here now. Just about every interaction I’ve had with a stranger since my return has left me flabbergasted (does anyone actually still use that word).

I’m sure any guy who’s ever dated a girl has at some point heard this old chestnut, *mope* “It’s not what you said it’s how you said it.” *mope*. Well that is exactly the truth in just about every facet of human relations.

Many of the lines delivered between sales staff in Asian countries and Australia are bang on identical. But yet, they are different. Now why is that? What difference could these little snippets or fragments of verbal interaction have? Words are still words, and the intentions of both the consumer and the seller remain identical.

Like the jokes of which separates the stand up comic wheat from the chaff, it’s all in the delivery. Service staff here have a genuine sense of warmth about them that realise it or not, is infectious to people whom themselves are warm. This warmth is like a frequency that causes all objects within the same wavelength to resonate in harmony.

The resonance of human emotion plays such a huge role in our culture that sometimes, actually much of the time, I think that we take it for granted. For me these few days, I’ve taken the time to cherish and relish every one of these engagements. Sometimes it may be as it happened, and other times it was in hindsight. But either way, pausing to mull over every of those interactions had brought a smile to my face. A driver letting me in when I need to change lanes, a person whom gives me a genuine smile and apology when I bump into them by mistake, a stranger that passes me by on the street and smiles, a sales person who makes me feel like he simply wants the best for me…

It’s just in our nature to take things for granted, to never truly appreciate the things that we have until one they they are simply no longer. Our mothers, teachers, preachers, and mentors, have over years repeated to us ad neuseum to appreciate the all the blessings that we have in life. Our wealth, our health, our family, our friends. To stop and smell the roses. To live today like it was our last.

These few days have really taught me to appreciate those things of which I have, but that I don’t have. The things that are given to me, but that I cannot hold in my hand. The things that to me have such a high value, but yet they have no price.

Those things… are your smiles. Your laughs. Your warmth. Your mirth. Your time. Your sincerity. For treating me, a stranger, like a friend… a neighbour. For telling me that you’re thankful to me for sharing my company with you on this planet, so that you won’t be alone, without even saying a word.

Our nations leaders and teachers have always asked its children over the years what exactly it means to be Australian. Of who we are and why we are. To quote a line from the Qantas’s iconic song, “We are one, but we are many”. To me, this is what it means. To stand together from love, and not obligation. From want, and not need. To ask not what you can do for yourself, or even your country, but what you can do for the stranger next to you. What do I think it is to be an Aussie? This. This is what it is. This is Australian.