instead of talking about the mormon religion and my heathen hide being straight on the highway to hell, we talked about sydney.
i said to them, 'what do you guys think of sydney?'
elder one (i forget his name, and the pair of them did look very similar) had been in sydney for twenty months. he'd started in ryde, then headed up to the coast, and was now back here, hitting the cities western suburbs, from fairfield to blacktown. he admitted that he would rather be on the coast, and i suppose if you've got to pick a place to walk around and talk to folks, the coast has gotta be one of them better locales.
elder two had been here for six months, sitting mainly in the western suburbs.
both of them agreed that the most distinguishing feature about sydney was its ethnic diversity. in salt lake, they said, the ethnic cultures are mainly white, hispanic, and some of the islands. but here, they said, there was this huge melting pot of cultures, and cut up into small ghettos, but all here nonetheless.
elder two had begun his stay out in fairfield, where he could (apparently) not find many people who spoke english. since i work out in fairfield, i have to imagine that he is fudging this slightly, or that the people out there have a common reply to mormons which begins with 'me no speak english'. but, as elder two said, many mormoms speak different languages, so this is no prob. just all about spreading them (the mormons) around in the right areas.
i don't want this to come across as mormon bashing: the two blonde salt lake city boys were unfailingly polite, and talked to me for forty minutes. but any hint of anti religion business is clearly mine, as i am clearly anti religion. all of it.
elder one said, 'i like the look of sydney. when you get up high and look down on it, it looks quite beautiful.'
they talked about how they get lost, and how streets are mapped out in an insanely unfriendly manner. in the states, i am told, streets work in numbers: his 34th down street and then 35th and so on and so forth. in sydney, of course, streets work on names, and these names often double up in different suburbs. george street exists in sydney and in parramatta, and when i worked on the one in parramatta, foreigners would call and ask where about in sydney we were.
sydney is, basically, a poorly planned city. it's a giant sprawl, spreading out like a stain across the land.
elder two said, 'do you know how many streets just end? or turn into a new street right in the middle of it?'
it never really crossed my mind to think that it was odd, but i guess it is. still, they should try melbourne, where they have hook turns. what a disgusting thing. turn from the outside lane.
i asked them if they had seen many of the poor areas around sydney, and they pointed out one in fairfield, and cabramatta, but i got the feeling that ont he whole, poor areas were a place they didn't go often.
mormons pay to come here (or anywhere else that they go). i found it odd. must cost a bundle. i wonder if this is a thing of privilege? probably. i didn't ask them though. my intent was not to really dig into their religion, since they were doing me a favour. but still. 'only the rich could go forth and spread the word,' you know?
according to elder one, each area is mapped out, so nsw is one missionary area, with melbourne the other. so these guys don't get to down to melbourne, or any of the other states, which i think is a bit of a shame. but that's just me. i did find it a bit odd that each area is 'mapped' out, and that each of the visiting mormons can only work within certain states.
one of the final things that elder one said, was that during last years election, he was quite shocked that ads played which, in his words, 'ripped into the prime minister,' and seemed rather shocked when i said they seemed rather tame to me. but apparently this doesn't happen in american politics, which i find a bit hard to believe. but his shock was quite genuine, and was still in his voice when he said, 'everyone hates john howard.'
well, in the western suburbs of sydney you won't find many supporters. but on the other hand, i don't think australia has ever liked their prime minister overly much.