No Win in Wynyard, Day 1 (Sydney 4)

This Sunday past on the way to eat Vietnamese food in Bankstown, we saw a woman looking forlorn through a fence into a rubbish heap. She told us she could hear a cat trapped in there, so Andrew and I went around the back to see if it needed help. The little kitten trapped itself in a small hole of a metal plate and meowed loudly and pitifully at us until Andrew started talking to it. We tried to move the rubbish and things off her but were stymied by one particularly heavy slab of metal. Tugging as hard as we could in concert we couldn’t even budge it. So we called the fire department in. We stayed for a while waiting for them and were rather amused that it took five big guys to rescue one little cat. They employed various tools and the called in pet shelter guy retrieved the little thing squirming away. It was a bit sick, so he rushed it to the shelter. Not every day one aids in saving a kitten.

Bankstown, where we ate our lunch, feels like some part of Asia. We saw maybe seven or so non-Asian people the entire time we sat inside the restaurant on the well trafficked streets. Pretty phenomenal. I thought Michelle might enjoy living in Sydney because of it. That night I started to feel rather unwell and then Monday I felt positively ill and so stayed in, napping and drinking/eating traditional Chinese medicine as provided by my aunt and uncle. By Tuesday I didn’t feel much better but I’m a stubborn kid, so I insisted on heading in to the city – I haven’t been able to write letters for months as paper’s been beyond my budget/hard to find and I was absolutely determined to find some. But oh how expensive things go for here! The same Japanese style paper I’d buy at home for maybe ten cents a sheet necessitates $1.80 per here! So, unfortunately, my next letter will be on inferior quality paper.

The specifics of my ailment run as follows – mild chills/maybe-fever, dizziness/weakness, minute aches, and most saliently a rather uncomfortable throat. Despite that last I brought out my guitar and go figure I ended up playing a pitch. Though the Wynyard Station sits comfortably in the center of Sydney, I couldn’t resist the pun. I played first on the ramp amidst some stores leading up from the station to George Street, having asked the station manager where I might play and the nearby shop owners for permission. After a song and a half a very sadly apologetic looking Egyptian security guard told me I had to stop. Already feeling down via sickness this made me rather despondent. Luckily, a lady passing just then, stopped and said, “At least let him finish such a beautiful song!” (Mad World) and tipped me her coins in a “Oh, how sad the world is now” sort of way. Or that’s how I read it at least.

So I wandered to the other end of the station, where a harmonica player sat at the bottom of a stairwell, playing Auld Lang Syne ad nauseum very simply with raggedy clothing and unwashed hair and clothes. He’d positioned himself in such a way that his small sound drifted every which way and I’d be unable to busk anywhere and be entirely out of his soundspace. I asked him when he might finish and he told me half an hour or so, so I wandered about and returned thirty minutes later to the top of the stairwell to wait for him to finish. Fifteen more minutes later I heard him collecting the coins and making as if to leave, so I walked down and thanked him, inquiring about the pitch. He didn’t really pay much attention to me, counted his coins, apparently decided it was an insufficient take and sat right back down, ignoring me, taking up that same godawful tune with his head bent over and most of the coins vanished into his coat.

So I had to find my own pitch. I decided to play as far away as possible from his sound but close enough to the centre of the Kent streetward tunnel to use the acoustics. I started off well with a few tips for my first few songs, but these soon petered out, coincidentally or not as I started to feel rather out of sorts – a bit hot and unfocused and unbalanced. Sort of almost out of body/almost delirious. I remember through the wooziness that most everyone smiled at me on their rushing ways past. That’s the main difference between Sydney and New York. Financially insignificant but emotionally so – in New York they frown at you and not tip, in Sydney they smile and not tip. Towards the middle I decided to play everything on my as yet unsold on the street CD as a theme. Then I tried removing the CDs, business cards, bookmarks, and song list from my case along with half the money as an additional experiment, to which I was rewarded with a couple tips after a long drought. Perhaps looking more professional doesn’t help after all.


I think every city has a Hyde Park

Earnings: 6.55 AUD, 1.2 hours
Song of the Day: Mad World – Tears for Fears

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