It’s always good to start the weekend with a cup of tea. My Aussie friend Robyn – who is also my soul sister when it comes to tea and ANZAC biscuits – had the brilliant idea of kicking off the weekend at The Imp, a little café on Albany Highway. So there we were, perched on stools at a wooden bench that looked out onto the highway, watching the world go by.
To tell the truth, I’m a tea snob. I’ve decided that my cardamom tea is superior to anything any Aussie can sell me. I rarely order tea when I’m out in Perth – partly because the coffee on offer is usually more exotic sounding, and impossible to get at home. Still, I’ll make an exception for The Imp. There’s something very Aussie about getting your Earl Grey in a pot that comes with an orange pom-pom on top.
There’s also something about the stretch of highway running through East Victoria Park that reminded me of Colaba Causeway. Not in terms of people, of course. There are two things that Australians do faster than Indians – walking and driving. I can’t imagine anyone scurrying down Colaba Causeway, or doing more than 20km/hr. There are no colourful pavement-stalls either. I can actually look out the window and see straight into the display windows of the stores across the road. The restaurants, however, are something else, and the variety of shops made me nostalgic.
After tea, Robyn gave me the quick tour of her part of town. There’s a certain charm to the buildings, some dating as far back as the 1920s – this is old, by Perth standards. The restaurants range from friendly Aussie pubs and fast-food joints to the popular Vietnamese Toto and the very English-sounding Cinnamon (that serves Indian food). There are Chinese restaurants too – my flatmate works in one of them. My favourite though was a sign for “The Prophet” that promised belly-dancing. I wonder if the Prophet would approve?
“I can’t believe this is the first time you’ve been here,” said Robyn, as she expertly negotiated the kidneyabout – another unforgettable feature of East Victoria Park. I replied that I couldn’t believe it myself – not a particularly odd symptom, I often find it hard to believe myself.
“The only thing about East Vic Park is that it doesn’t have water,” concluded Robyn. It’s too far from the river or the sea to have a View, or more importantly the surf at your doorstep.
Looking out of my window now, I wonder whether water is an over-rated feature. Yes, the Swan River and the Indian Ocean are beautiful, but that doesn’t stop me from missing the view of Mumbai Harbour and the sight of the Navy sailing in.