Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cabramatta




This past Monday I had the opportunity to explore a bit of western Sydney with members of the Redlands Book Club. We had just finished Anh Do's The Happiest Refugee and headed for Cabramatta. Home to Sydney's Vietnemese district, we stopped for a tasty (and very affordable) bite at Ban Trang. I'd never experienced authentic Vietnemese cuisine, and I'd classify it as similar to Thai, maybe with more soup. The ingredients were fresh and served with a variety of sauces to make it spicier. The server was polite and hard working, going out of her way to make sure Nolan remained entertained. Afterwards I took a stroll through the city center and down the main shopping drag, John St.

The city center of Cabramatta was neat and clean. The shops bustling and crammed from head to toe with as much merchandise as possible. Petite elderly Vietnamese women proudly walked their tiny dogs and chatted happily in the middle of walkways.  Immediately outside of the main streets painted a very different picture. Litter lined our walkway back to the car, and there were many signs of neglect from stores to residential properties. The Woolies we stopped at to pick up groceries was a good $50 cheaper than my usual in Balgowlah, and showed every bit of it from older carts to broken flooring. A quick search on crime in Cabramatta confirmed my suspicion that there is indeed recent cases of trafficking in the area. I felt very conflicted as I was ecstatic to explore a more cultural side of Sydney and stretch my comfort zone, yet you will always hear that tiny voice in your head saying, "whew, NIMBY." A women recently made headlines by openly (and legally) selling herself for $12k as a means to "ease financial burdens." How do you differentiate between someone who is oppressed into that situation, and someone who agrees to it? The topic makes me all the more excited to hear first hand opinions on the matter in my next book, Half the Sky.  I wouldn't paint Cabramatta as the leading area for crime in Sydney, but the experience definitely stands as a reminder of what a bubble I am raising my children in. I suppose the truth of the world will be revealed all in good time.

Cabramatta fabric store

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