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Spring in Sydney City

The Kinokinuya bookshop in Sydney CBD's Galleries Victoria is always a pleasure to visit. This time around, on the cusp of spring, there were significant discounts offered. In the age of electronic and online reading, the ambiance of this sizable retail outlet harks back to traditional scenes - people huddled over the magic of print on paper, eyes scanning an organised bookshelf and book covers shouting out for attention - pick me, choose me. The variety of books in this store perhaps epitomises the meeting of both so-called Western and Eastern cultures.

Dymocks at Broadway shopping centre (south of Sydney CBD) is smaller but nevertheless, invites one to a lazy afternoon of imagination, refuge and chilling out. I love the cushioned seats beside windows and its cafe, but am especially taken by the welcome foyer - how it arranges its displays is an achievement of psychology, marketing appeal and building up the passion of its customers in the world of publications and electronic media. Everything has been precisely arranged to catch the eye and heart.

I was delighted to discover the Brooksfield boutique in the recesses of the World Square shopping precinct. Peter, the sole staff member taking care of this unique experience, was very knowledgeable in chatting about the materials, sizes and unique perspectives of the shirts, trousers and other wardrobe items on display. I was reminded of a choice between slim fits and full form fits. The store has been fitted out to provide a pleasant walk around.

I did not know what to expect about a selection of performance extracts staged live by the
Russian Imperial Ballet at the State Theatre in Market Street. I need not have worried. The enactment to the accompaniment of the theme from Bolero was most enchanting. The festive and humorous air of Don Quixote was infectious and lightened the hearts of the audience. The finale with the can can underlined the fact that ballet is meant to entertain and reach out to the masses, and not necessarily an elite preoccupation.

The lead dancers, male and female, changed my perceptions; gently built up my sense of thrill at hard earned dance steps and postures; and made me realise how classical can be transformed to innovative. The elite of the Russian community were perhaps present for this Saturday night's performance. One of the leads, a tall and slim blonde-haired dancer, was hanging around the audio-visual control box area during the second intermission. My group of four were all satisfied with the high standards offered by this performance.

In the rush hour street side before sunset, near the Broadway shopping centre, I came across three puppies in a baby pram, pushed by a slightly embarrassed guy. Earlier, there were two groups of prancing lions parading past shops in Chinatown, accompanied by the all expected din of banging cymbals and fanfare. The Lunar eighth moon had commenced in the East Asian calendar, and this coincided with the arrival of the Australian spring. Beside the cinema complex along the main thoroughfare of George Street, and leading into the Spanish quarter, an unassuming lane revealed a delightful mural of images from the past century, detailing the balls and functions held by the Chinese-Australian community during the second century of this nation. Most interesting were references to volunteering by this community to the war effort during the 1940s.

Chatime at George Street near Broadway offered this passion fruit flavoured tea. It was thirst quenching after a whole day of literally criss-crossing the streets of Sydney City centre. I was surprised by the lack of custom at this outlet at this evening hour. The LCD screens offered had Mandarin language music videos as if you were in downtown Taipei or Nanjing.

I stood a road away from the construction site for the emerging Sydney Central Park, a massive residential development coming up from the grounds of a discontinued abattoir and brewery. Men in hard hats and bright coloured vests were walking around the place, soon to house hundreds of residents in cubicle units rising over the skyline of the southern end of the CBD. This development by Frasers of Singapore is in an ideal location, the epicentre of the lifestyle for city dwellers. It is ten minutes by car each to Newtown, Glebe, the campuses of UTS and Sydney University, Chinatown, Broadway shopping, Darling Harbour and Surry Hills.

As expected, I could not resist the offer to drop by two food outlets - Malacca Straits, where I tried the nasi lemak with Malaysian styled chicken curry and ice kacang, and then Spice I Am, where the homok and tom yum kung stood out well but the egg noodles were not al dente.


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