14 July 2014

Grilled Cheese and Belonging

Today was the first clear, sunny day since my first few days in Dunedin - and how nice it was! I love blue skies!

The other highlight of my day was helping Samantha, my flatmate who is from China, make her first grilled cheese sandwich. She was going to microwave the cheese with the bread, but I said, "No, no, no. We're going to do this the proper way."

So we got out the frying pan and a stick of butter. We buttered up that white bread and let it sizzle, then melted some brie on top. It was a beautiful grilled cheese, if I do say so myself. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside. 

I also demonstrated for her how to properly eat an American grilled cheese: cut in half and then eaten using hands (not with a knife and fork). Unfortunately, we didn't have any tomato soup to go with it... But it was a fun afternoon. Samantha said she would teach me how to make Chinese dumplings, vegetarian style. Yum!! 

Some other highlights from this past week....

Seeing my first New Zealand beach, St. Claire Beach, which is just five kilometres from the city centre in Dunedin. There were some cute cafés and restaurants looking out on the water. By "some," I mean just three or four.

Beaches here, especially on the South Island, are practically clear of people - at least compared to the southern California beaches I've become accustomed to. Yes, it is winter, but still...

New Zealand only has 4.43 million people. California has 38.04.

Last Friday I took some time to stroll along George Street and the city centre. Just by myself, to observe and listen. Dunedin is one of New Zealand's oldest cities, settled by the Scottish sometime in the 1800s (hence the architectural influences). I have been told by some of the locals that Dunedin isn't representative of any other NZ town or city.

Here's a musician on George Street... I've seen tap dancers, too! Some of them children.

Ah, yes, the seagulls. I love them almost as much as the ducks and pigeons, although I admit they are sometimes just as rude as the ones I knew in California. But maybe they're just cranky on some days.... I reckon if I show them enough love, they can change!

But then again...this seagull in the back of the photo, with the glaring red eyes and frizzled hairdo, doesn't seem to share my enthusiasm...

I love how the crazy things just watch each other. In my head, I think of the seagulls squawking, "Hey, mate! Hey, mate!" in a Kiwi accent.

Starbucks is taking over the world. Help!

Then on Saturday night I had the privilege of watching an Okareka Dance Company performance: Mana Wahine. It was an all-female work.

Beautiful, powerful, empowering.

In the dance, there were many references to traditional Maori culture. I didn't understand the references, which reinforced the fact that I am a foreigner here. There is, at least right now, a cultural rift. I may speak the same language, but I didn't hear the stories about Papatūānuku as a child. I didn't grow up with a love for the native birds, associating their chirps, calls, and songs with home. 

Which begs the question, what is home? What is belonging? At what point, and under what conditions, does a traveller or immigrant become a Kiwi? Or become a part of any culture, for that matter?

......I don't know how my blog post just went from grilled cheese to the meaning of belonging....But, on that note, I'm going to make some dinner.

Cheers! :)


  1. Ok. The female dance company I would have been there. There are so many talented, smart, gifted, capable, wonderful women in this world and we all need to put ourselves out there more in this world to change it for the better. There needs to be a balance of men and women in positions of power, the arts, etc... Just ask our Dani, she will tell you so!
    So, yes on the grilled cheese. You got it down! On belonging. I have been on that journey and it continues and will until I am here no more and go on to my next destiny. I believe that before you can belong you have to know you. Who you are, why are you here, what are your gifts and talents, seeking your purposes. You have to be comfortable in your own skin and not change to please others. To thine own self be true! Next, for me, it was seeking a personal relationship with my Lord. On my own. Through reading different bibles, studying different religions, etc... Observing nature was my way of being in His presence. Nature is my church.'I am his temple and I must care for it so He can dwell with me and use me for his purposes.

  2. Ok, did not finish my belonging. Once you know who you truly are, know, trust and surrender to your higher power, seek your purposes and know without a doubt your soul is saved you will know where you belong. Some places will be for you to rest. Some to help. Some to observe so you can learn and use that information some where else. You also have to love yourself enough to know you deserve happiness, laughter, peace and joy. Not all times will be good but it is through those times that you grow and learn the most. Painful at times for me but I am better for them. Just so you know, you always belong with is!
    Enjoy tour slice of heaven! Beware of the flocks of pigeons and their poop! Raining here now and it is so cool and peaceful.