You can stand under my umbrella..

Melbourne, Australia


I was eager to make my way over to Melbourne, but I bided my time. The reason for this? The World Federation of Deaf convention would be taking place on the weekend of the 18th. For those who have never heard of it, let me explain. The World Federation of Deaf is a non-governmental organisation that focuses on promoting equality for deaf people, amongst deaf people and promoted by deaf people. This conference brings people together to recognise their contributions to global prosperity, to secure the human rights of all deaf people, and to prepare the deaf communities for challenges in the future.

This conference would celebrate the linguistic, artistic, social, political and cultural contributions and accomplishments of deaf people. It would also strengthen deaf communities to work towards the recognition of sign languages and the rights of deaf people around the world. It would prepare us to look towards the future with a clear vision and renewed capacity for positive change in local communities – draw us together in renewed appreciation of our common heritage, common challenges and common aspirations.. over a thousand deaf people from all over the world would attend.

But really.. just a good excuse for a good **** up. I was looking forward to the weekend because it would be a perfect opportunity to meet old and new friends all in one go.

So, how did it go? Well, I only have 7 photos of the weekend and they’re all of me downing shots, so I guess you could say it was a good weekend. What I loved most about the weekend were the boys from Melbourne – crazy, down to earth and a great laugh. I instantly knew that I would fall in love with Melbourne if the people were anything like the boys.

So.. the day came and I woke up, all ready to go to Melbourne. Well, I wasn’t, but I knew I had plenty of time to pack. Or so I thought.

Kieran, my housemate told me 1 hour 30 minutes before he was due to drop me off at the train station that we had to leave in 25 minutes instead cuz he had to go to work earlier than expected. He has obviously never told a woman currently packing that she has no time left – I shrieked like a banshee and scared the **** out of him. I ran upstairs and threw everything in my backpack and my heart sank when I saw that the zip for my 25l backpack had gone. There would be no way I could attach it to the larger backpack, and I couldn’t take it on the plane with me because I already had a handbag. ***** sake. At that moment, I was already drafting up a strongly worded email in my head to Ospreys – strong, and durable? My ****.

Plan B – I took all the straps from the larger backpack and tied it around the smaller one. I was really paranoid that it would fall out somewhere between the check in counter and loading bay. After 10 mins of sweating profusely, tying up every single strap into any hole I could find, it was secure.

Then I found the zip, nicely tucked up underneath. I felt like it was mocking me.

“Ha. You ****. That’ll teach you.. lugging and throwing me all over the country. Treat me with some respect, *****.”

I have never been so angry with an inanimate object in my life. But, whatever.. another 5 minutes was wasted untying the straps, and I was ready to go.

I boarded the train and headed to Sydney Domestic airport. On the way, I saw two guys asking a passenger for some information. It was clear that they weren’t Australian – their accents were different. I don’t know why but I felt compelled to carry on watching them, and I realised that they were deaf! I have no gaydar – there’s no way I would be able to tell if someone was a lesbian until they stick their tongue down my throat.. or tell me. No.. instead, I have deafdar – I seem to be finding them here, there, everywhere. So, I approached them and found out that they were going to the airport too. Matthias from Germany and Jan from Switzerland were on a tourist holiday visa, and were in their way to the Gold Coast. We made our way to the airport and they went through security and I went to drop my bags off. Apparently I was too early because Kieran decided he had to leave earlier. Meh.. so I wandered around the airport, looking for food when I saw the boys come back. They had forgotten to drop their bags off! *****. I realised I could check myself in and save myself some time later. So I went to the self check in machine and proceeded to check in.

‘Passenger not found.’

What do you mean, passenger not found? I’m right here. Hi. I found myself. Lets carry on? I then realised I tried to check myself in on the wrong flight. ********. I typed in the correct flight number and it said, ‘Please check itinerary or see staff.’… **** off. I’ve had enough of this kind of ****. Why can’t I have a day in my life where everything goes smoothly? Is that too much to ask for? So.. I went to see the staff and asked her to help me.

“Oh. You’re at the wrong airport.”

Great. Just ******* great. (WARNING: there will be quite a lot of swearing in this post, and I apologise profusely for that.. but when I’m angry – I swear. I know it’s not very ladylike, but.. if you have a problem with it – you can **** off.)

“You have to go to the International airport. You still have time, if you hurry.”

I ran to the bus terminal quicker than Usain Bolt would’ve had if he had IBS.

“Terminal 1! Now! Please??” I pleadingly barked at the driver.

“We just have to wait for everyone to board the bus, miss.”

5 minutes later, and nobody boarded the ******* bus. Finally, he made his move and 10 minutes later, we arrived at the airport. If I had realised it would be that quick, I would’ve been a lot calmer, but this is me we’re talking about – mountains out of mole hills and all that jazz.

Finally, I checked in and casually strolled through to security gates. The queue was loooooooooong, I had to fill out forms and I would be going through Customs and Borders..? I instantly started to panic, I always do when I see Customs and Borders – every single time. I’m convinced that they’ll ask me questions, I’ll panic and give them the deaf nod – they’ll raise their eyebrows, quietly confer and then immediately drag me off to a quiet room where Big Bertha will be waiting for me.. snapping her rubber gloves, and winking at me..

“Well.. who’s been a naughty girl? Strip.”

*shudders*

I then realised I was in the International queue, not the Domestic queue.. just typical. I made my way to the correct queue and happily strolled through to the screening area, where I was greeted by a man who clearly looked like he was NOT having a good day.

“You. That way.”

He pointed to the body scanner queue. As I walked to the queue, I must have had a face like thunder because as soon as I looked at the guy who was manning the machine, he quickly said I could just go through the normal machine. Hmpf.

I found a sushi bar and tried to get my zen back. I got a text from Janelle, the girl who I would be staying with in Melbourne for a while, that said Matthew, a friend of ours, was looking for a housemate. I figured that if I got a house, it would stop me from zig-zagging all over Australia and force me to settle down for a bit. Screw it. I said yes.

I boarded the plane and things were starting to look up. I would spend the week having fun with Janelle, and then I would move in with Matthew, Bizo, Daniel and Miranda. Life was good. I sipped my tea, took my hearing aid off and put my earplugs in, closed my and listened to some Etta James.

I woke up and my hearing aid was gone. What the ****, Carol?! I looked in my handbag, no luck. I looked under my seat, no luck. I looked in my seat, no luck. It can’t just have disappeared. Bear in mind that this is my LAST remaining working hearing aid, so you can imagine how distraught I was. I grabbed the male flight attendant and asked him if he had taken my hearing aids when he collected my cup of tea. He said no, but he would go in the back and c
heck. He came back with headphones. I already had my ******* earphones plugged in my ears, why the hell would I want headphones?

“No… heeeeearing aids. Me.. deaf. Hearing aid.. help.. me.. hear. No hearings aids, me nothing hear. Important. Please.. you.. go.. check. Brown. Ear moulds. Go.”

I honestly do not know why whenever I’m without my hearing aids, I instantly revert back caveman talk – my vocabulary usually consists of two words sentences. That’s how much I rely on them.

2 long agonising minutes later, he came back with my hearing aid.

“I’m SO sorry.”

Thank God. If he couldn’t find it, he would’ve been sorry. I would have climbed into the cockpit and commandeered the plane all the way back to London.

I landed and met Janelle – the weather was absolute *****, but I was in high spirits. We went to collect Penny, her housemate, and made our way to Victoria Deaf College for an art exhibition. The work by the students were lovely, and the food was amazing, I think I was a little bit more interested in the food than the art, to be honest.

The next day, Janelle, Penny and El, the other housemate, went out and left me to my own devices. I decided that I would go shopping and then meet Janelle later on for basketball training. I got changed to go out, and as soon as I opened the door, the weather changed. I got changed again, and guess what..? So did the weather. ***** sake, 4 seasons in a day. It was raining like hell, but my spirits couldn’t be dampened. I boarded the tram and asked the tram driver how much the fare would be.

“No, you have to pay by card.”

Oh. Ok. I got my bank card out and tried to pay with it.

“No, no.. you have to use a tram card.”

***** sake. It was pouring cats and dogs outside, and I had 30 people staring at me.

“Ok.. where can I get a tram card from?”

The seconds that passed felt like hours and I could feel 60 eyes burning into my soul, I could feel my face getting redder and hotter.

“You’re not from Melbourne, are you?”

“No! I’ve just moved here! It’s my first day.”

“I’ll tell you what.. here you go.”

He reached into his wallet and took out his own tram card, and gave it to me.

“You keep it. Shh.. go on. Off you go.”

I went to sit down, and I was on the top of the world. It was a simple gesture, but for me it instantly reassured me that I had made the right decision – Melbourne is a place of diversity, culture, open-mindedness and love. Melbourne is the kind of place where people would let you stand under their umbrellas. As I got off the tram and began to walk through the rain, I started singing in my head..

#When the sun shines, we’ll shine together, told you I’d be here forever, said I’d always be a friend. Took an oath, I’ma stick it out ’til the end. Now it’s raining more than ever, know that we’ll still have each other. You can stand under my umbrella, ella ella eh eh eh.. under my umbrella, ella ella eh eh eh.. under my umbrella, ella ella eh eh eh..#

Nobody did actually offer me their umbrella, and I got soaking wet, but.. yeah. I love Melbourne.

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