When asked to write about Melbourne, my first thoughts were to make an elaborate fantasy. I am a buff on ancient cultures and mythology. I had read somewhere about Australian aborigine mythology around dreams. I thought I would weave mythology into a trip around the city. But my research on the internet did not yield much on this. So I had to try something different. I considered a bushman coming in the protagonist’s dreams and dropping clues that takes him from one place to another like a treasure hunt. It would make it even more interesting if the clues were given in the form of poetry. But the challenge was to build a credible story around the whole thing. Somehow aborigine Australia and modern Melbourne just did not fit. The idea of English poetry and aborigines also kind of did not go well. So the whole idea had to be abandoned.
Then I tried to give the whole thing a fresh thought. The thing that came to my mind was one of the Father Brown stories of G K Chesterton. A jewel thief called Flambeau is on the loose. A detective called Valentin is on his pursuit. Everywhere along the way he encounters a trail of stupid acts of an eccentric catholic priest. Finally it turns out Father Brown has been trailing Flambeau and has been purposely laying the trail for Valentin. Doing something similar in Melbourne seemed like a good idea. It would have been a good writing exercise for me as well. Usually novel writing requires research and writing a short story based on research would have indeed been a good start. But somehow the whole thing felt so contrived and I could not get sufficient inspiration to get moving on this that too within the limited timeframe. Possibly I have to wait for another opportunity for this.
Right from the beginning, I think this was just not a topic meant for me. I did try to research what Melbourne was famous for. One thing that is mentioned is cafes, wine, books and culture. But somehow mind does not seem to associate these with Australia. Honestly I would rather visit Italy or Austria. It seems more in character with these countries that with Australia. When I think about nature attractions, only Jared Diamond’s Collapse comes to my mind. I remember reading how English settlers destroyed the fragile natural eco system in trying to recreate a mini Britain. Of course I am excited about the idea of seeing the natural fauna of Australia: kangaroos, emus, koalas and dingoes. But somehow I am always haunted by the words of Jared Diamond of an artificially propped up eco system of flora and fauna from Europe not at all suitable for Australian conditions.
In short, unless someone convinces me to the contrary, Australia appears to me a phony country without a soul. When I think Japan, I get excited about Ninjas and Samurais. When I think Europe, I get excited about medieval culture that has inspired tales of elves and dwarves. When I think South America, I get excited about the tales of wonderful Amazonian jungles and the Mayan and Aztec cultures. Even USA has an exciting feel to it as the cradle of modern human civilization. But Australia just does not excite me at all. Only thing that comes to mind when I think Australia is sports and somehow I don’t happen to be a sports enthusiast.
People may wonder about the purpose of this post. Usually when people are experiencing blogger’s block, they write about the blogger’s block itself to get out of it. Similarly for 2 weeks I have been under pressure to write for this topic and getting stuck every time. So I thought I will write about my inhibitions in writing about this topic and ensure I maintain my record of not missing a single contest on Indiblogger this year. With so much negativity built up in my mind based on information from secondary sources, something tells me “…it's your time to visit Melbourne NOW!” so that I can really see things for myself and change my perceptions. If I were to visit, Melbourne, a complete change of heart and positive feelings is what I want to bring back.
Here is the link of the contest sponsors. The picture is licensed under creative commons by user Diliff in Wikipedia.