Friday, June 10, 2005

I drink nervously in the Railway hotel

You have to walk through a mall to get
to downtown Cairns. From the elevated
parking lot, there's a vista of the
tropical mountains and the sea. The
escalators take you past Angus
and Roberstons's booksale, which is
four tables of books covered in red
plastic for the night. They look like
a hasty burial of books. The first bar
is the Railway Hotel. It is the hardest
bar I've found in Cairns. There's a tall
blonde man with a dirty unshaven face.
He's dressed in mechanics overalls and
his eyes are clear and blue. At the bar
sit a mix of races, half aboriginal and
half European. If you can say that. I
heard someone say once, do they like to
be called Aborigines or Aboriginals.
And the person being addressed wasnt sure
what the question was. It's like the Jews,
the questioner said. They prefer now to
be called Jewish.
All I know is there's an official tone
of grave respect for Aboriginal peoples.
The tourist signs that might alert you
to a rock in the ocean as being two brothers
who are looking for their father will
say this comes from an early folktale
of a certain aboriginal group. And then
stress that permission to use this story
has been granted by the group. I wonder
if we do that in Canada. The other part is
the postcards. These expensive black and
white photos of Aboriginal children holding
baby kangaroos or posing with a gecko on
their heads. What could be more outrageous?


Post a Comment

<< Home