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Two worlds collide on the 58 tram

The tram I catch from my place into the city, which has always read ‘Domain Interchange’ now says ‘Toorak’ and it’s doing my head in.

At one level it makes perfect sense. The number 55 tram from West Coburg trundled its way through Royal Park, past the hospitals and the Victoria Market, down William St and ended up near the Shrine, at the aforementioned Domain Interchange. The Toorak tram, number 8, used to start there and finish up at Glenferrie Road, Toorak. So they might as well join the two up.

It freaks me out though, as it is joining two of my worlds that I thought would never meet, Toorak and West Brunswick. I spent the last few of my teenage years living in Toorak, until, aged 21 years and six weeks, I married and escaped to the northern suburbs, where I’ve remained ever since, apart from overseas stays and ten years in the country.

I didn’t really belong on the Southside, and only lived there on account of my dad being a minister in one of the big churches in Toorak Road. Needless to say, there are many wonderful people who live in Toorak, and I was lucky enough to meet some of them, but I was never happy there. I have lived in a lot of places all around the world; I think that Toorak was the only place I felt completely ill at ease.

It was the money: the huge blocks of land, the private gardens like small parks, the high gates and walls and security systems that guarded these parks and the mansions hidden deep within them, the lonely, uninhabited streets, the fancy, overpriced shops. Moving there from the colour, chaos and crowds of India was like flying to another planet. I barely ever have reason to visit that side of town; when I do, I feel a residual discomfort.

But maybe it’s time I got over myself. Toorak is not a place I was happy, but it’s just a place. The people who live there belong in a variety of socio-economic categories, and, more than that, they’re just people. Maybe it’s time I got over my intense uncomfortableness with the very rich. Maybe it’s time I acknowledged that for most of the world’s inhabitants, very rich is precisely what I am. Maybe it’s time I took a ride on that new tram line – number 58 – from end to end, bringing my two worlds together and becoming a more integrated person in the process.

This was published in The Melbourne Age on 16 May 2017



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Reader Comments (1)

Hi Clare,
I can understand your discombobulation. I find Toorak such a weird mix. One friend lived in a spartan and affordable apartment, and another slept rough under a bridge. And I walked out of a shop utterly shell-shocked at the price, $500, of a hand-knitted cardigan! That price was about 30 yrs ago and I still haven't got over it.
... Kerry
PS Of course you and Alistair are in my prayers. Thank you for keeping us up-to-date.

May 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKerry

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