edited by Shirindokht Nourmanesh, Rachel Edwards and Sean Preston
‘And can you guess which country I come from?’
I was on the 109, heading down to go on a-wandering around Port Melbourne. I was excited – the romance of a new tram-line experience. What would I discover? Little did I know that, as I embarked that tram, I was soon to sit next to the best experience of the day. I didn’t notice her initially when a seat became free as our crammed conveyance clanked its way up Collins towards Southern Cross. It wasn’t until she whispered quietly to me, ‘Can you you let me know where to get off for the Melbourne Convention Centre?’
I turned to face her – and what a beautifully stunning woman it was returning my look. Olive skinned, richly rouged red lips, shining brown eyes and gleaming hair – quite breathtaking. Clearly, judging from her exotic appearance and accent, she was from a faraway origin.
I explained to her that I was not a local – that I was from Tasmania in fact, but I knew for certain she was on the right tram, even if I was unsure of exactly which stop she required. Then an ever helpful local interrupted and gave her that information. It was then I asked her for her provenance and she asked for my take on it.
I had bought the ‘Third Script’ along with me that day. I had only a few stories left to read and I expected to do so in a coffee stop at my destination. – and as it turned out I found a most delightful one, the Urban Garden Espresso on Bay Street. The Transportation Press publication had been rewarding reading. There were only a couple of contributions I hadn’t completed as they were, in my view, too try-hard at being edgy that they lost this particular reader. For me the pick was ‘The Punchline’ by Londoner Lisa Fontaine. It was a take on an old chestnut, but a strikingly original one. You know the one, where lovers part but agree to meet some time in the future to see how they were travelling; how their lives had turned out. Fontaine’s tale was decidedly real world, devoid of Hollywood gloss; grittier and much the better for that. Robbie Arnott’s ‘The Tiger Quoll’ (be warned, the end is gruesome) threw light on a blight on our society in the way we lose so many of our young people – men in particular. You know where this is going almost from the get-go, but it doesn’t make it any less powerful. Zane Pinner’s ‘Sing kunanyi’ did, in contrast, have a big surprise in store. I suppose it could be considered a comment on the current cable car dispute – a no-brainer in my mind. I am pro, to the disgust of many of my associates. Pinner’s alternative suggestion is far-fetched, but with David Walsh in our midst, who knows? I enjoyed the result very much. Nottingham’s Matt G Turpin gave us ‘Tom’s Eyes’, taking a salutary look at the underbelly of all those Med resorts the Brits flock to due to their appalling weather. It’s the saga of a friendship turning to dust over that other blight, drugs – but in doing so delivered a rattlin’ good yarn. And lastly, picking the eyes out of the tome, was ‘In the Afternoon, the Goat has All the Answers’ (Ramin Zahid) from the Iranian selection. It told of an ex-pat superstar from that country, residing in the US. Today’s Iran is a far cry from when she was in her zenith during the days of the Shah and that is bought home to her when she gets up close and personal with a human right’s issue emanating from her homeland.
And that, dear reader, should give you the answer to the question posed to me on the 109 that Friday morning in Yarra City. I really had no idea of this gorgeous person’s origin. For me the beauty chatting away to me could have hailed from anywhere around the Mediterranean shore across to the sub-continent. But then she proffered up the answer herself, ‘I know. You’ll never guess. I am from Iran.’
Yep, a coincidence. I explained to her I was reading a publication containing stories from her country of origin and withdrew it from my bag to show her. She was plainly excited at this and examined it intently, exclaiming her recognition of some of the authors. She snapped away at the book with her mobile, saying she’d definitely try and get hold of it for herself.
I had little time left with her as we had turned the corner into Spencer with her departure point being just up ahead. She related to me that she’d been in Australia for just six years and was proud to say she was now a citizen. She loved the freedom afforded to her by her residence here, particularly by the city I was visiting. I expressed my abhorrence at the behaviour of many of our politicians and how appallingly such as her were treated by the cold-hearts who drone away behind desks in government departments, given the often grotesque conditions in the countries from which they flee.
All too soon the tram was lurching to a stop and she gifted me a radiant smile as she said her thank yous and farewells. Then those shining eyes were lost to mine. I watched out the window as she became lost in the Southbank masses, but for a moment in time we had bonded over ‘The Third Script’ and I am thankful for that. It made a fleeting connection with a ravishingly beautiful and intelligent woman who will no doubt grace our land of democracy, making a worthwhile contribution; as do the vast majority of her ilk, despite the small mindedness and prejudices in some pockets of our community. I didn’t even get her name, but she’d left an indelible impression – I only wished we had more time for the stories she could tell.
Transportation Press website = https://transportationbook.com/