Dining ‘al fresco’ in Oakleigh.

It’s noisy. There’s a general cacophony of people talking and laughing and the clatter of cups, plates and cutlery. Numerous cafes and restaurants, small shops, and several bakeries selling traditional Greek cakes and pastries line the street. The luscious aromas of coffee and souvlaki meats waft in the open air, interrupted from time to time by an acrid whiff of cigarette smoke from a diner at an open-air table. Smoking anywhere in public seems so out of place these days.

A well-dressed woman walks by, her expensive perfume lingering in the air after her. I wonder how much fragrance one needs to apply in order to have that effect.

The service is not terribly quick here, but I think that is related to how Greeks view eating and mealtimes: it’s about enjoying food, sharing conversation and spending time together.

In time, our meals arrive. Freshly prepared, beautifully presented and absolutely delicious. I enjoy every mouthful, but I am glad I didn’t order anything more.

Sated, I walk away enjoying the light breeze and the sunshine on my shoulders.

Waiting Room.

The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne does some fabulous work in healing and restoring sick and broken bodies. It’s been here since 1871 and still has some beautiful Victorian staircases and hallways.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the waiting area of the ICU this weekend with family.

It’s one of those places where everyone is truly equal. Grief is impartial: it doesn’t care if you’re rich, or beautiful, or not. None of that matters when you’re on your knees and you’re contemplating a future that is significantly different than you had thought it would be.

There are so many stories here of sadness and brokenness, of fear and loss and sorrow. So many tears.
It’s where people gather for waiting, crying and decision making. The prayers said here are probably more heartfelt and genuine than many of those said in churches on any given Sunday.

I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Not ever.

Posh.

High-walled gardens and tree-lined paths. Private mansions. Beautifully presented low-rise apartment blocks. Smartly dressed people walking briskly in the soft rain when they alight from the tram. Maseratis and Alfa Romeos parked by the kerb.

“I think there’s some money here,” says my brother-in-law from the back seat.
“You think?” I reply.

We drive on.