There are two places in Sydney where I find myself coming back to, time after time. The first one is a little park, a square of grass and a few trees really, in the heart of Saint Peters. At first it had only been a meeting spot with a friend who lived in the building next to the little park. During the day I used to sit on a bench in front of the playground and watch little kids and their mums plays and shout and laugh. If I happened to wait around in the evening, I would climb up an old gumtree and watch the bats fly by, or I would swing in the empty playground.
One day my friend came to join me on the bench and very excited took out “Knots” by R.D. Laing out of his bag. He found the book in a second hand bookstore, however he only had two dollars on him. The old man running the store let him have the book anyway, probably having seen his excitement. Soon we started to read the little absurd dialogues out of the book, out loud, one after another, and the afternoon has passed before we knew it.
Soon I moved into the apartment next to the little park with my friends. In the summer we used to go out into the middle of the park and play freebee until the sky got dark. Sometimes when I used to come back from school I would stop and sit down on my favorite bench and read. And sometimes I would lie down on the cool grass and listen to the birds argue in the trees.
And somehow while sitting in the park I started to notice how many different people live in Saint Peters. When you walk through the industrial suburb, all you see are warehouses, old factories and abandoned houses, covered in graffiti. There is always faint smell of popcorn in the air from the nearby factory and spray paint form the nearby mechanics. It’s a strange and somewhat melancholic urban landscape. However, when you go into the little park you begin the see all the people who live here. Little kids on the swings with their parents, young people having birthday parties, people walking their dogs and iguanas, people paying football or frisbee, running, or on having lunch on picnic blankets. I particularly like this little place because it is so very different from its surroundings, a vibrant spot of greenness and sunlight.
The gumtree and the bench.
Another place that I would say is my favorite in a second hand book store in Newtown. I tend to move around quite a lot so I try to avoid gathering too many books. Instead I try to use a kindle or donate books at the same rate as I buy them and read them. However, the bookshop in Newtown is my Nemesis. Whenever I wait to meet up with someone, the bookshop is right there. Whenever I am cycling back from university the bookstore is right on the way. Whenever I catch the bus to work the bookshop is right in front of the bus stop.
Since the front of the bookshop is open onto the street I can see the staff picks as I pass by. And they are always excellent choices. Thanks to that little table on the edge of the street and the bookshop I have found William Burroughs, Charles Bukowski and Kurt Vonnegut, and fell in love with their stories. The store has limited amount of European literature, the names that I am used to. As a result I was pushed out of my comfort zone into the sea of excellent authors I had not been familiar with.
The bookshop and all my books.
On one hand, once again I have failed to stop myself from buying ridiculous amounts of books and I will have to donate all of them when I leave. And yet the little bookshop remains a treasure box for me.