Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Melbourne Cup – This Year's Pre-function

Having passed my one year anniversary here in Oz, things are beginning to repeat themselves. No, I’m not feeling part of the whole experience or at home in this great country (yet) but slowly some familiarity is creeping in.

This Sunday for example is the Sydney to Wollongong bicycle ride. This 80km ride is mostly through the National Park to the south of Sydney ending up at one or several of the many Pubs that dot the Illawarra. Last year, I was shocked as I went to a couple different Pubs in my quest to find the right one, and kept running across people dressed in brightly coloured Spandex. (I’ve since found out that here, Pubs are like pizza: there is no bad pizza). I did ask what it was about, afraid that I hadn’t received the memo on proper Aussie dress for the day and while it isn’t the STP, it still is a fun way to get out and exercise in true Aussie fashion. They do like to celebrate fitness down under.

Now, regarding the title of this entry: The Melbourne Cup! This is such a big deal here that the State of Victoria makes it an official holiday giving everyone a day off. Since it falls on a Tuesday, I think most will spend the weekend shopping for their new, spring dresses and hats, probably taking Monday off as well, celebrate all day Tuesday or at least until around 1:00 pm when the race is over, and then most likely recover throughout Wednesday. It is a BIG deal here and the rest of the country partakes in the fun. Last year, when I rode the train into work, it was filled with mostly young people dressed to the nines in what to me looked like an old fashioned Easter Sunday. Again, I thought something about not getting a memo on the day. Last year, I took some pictures to include in my blog entry and will update this entry after the fact.

Every race track in Australia joins in the festivities with their own races leading up to the big one, The Melbourne Cup! One of my coworkers told me that cheap entertainment was to head down to the local race track and park along the road between the track and the train station at the end of the race. Since most people are savvy enough to take public transportation to the celebration, it is fun to watch all these dressed up people trying to navigate across the highway (in a crosswalk) to the station. Quite a few young ladies are carried across the road by their boyfriends who do have trouble walking in a straight line themselves.

Yesterday, we received a memo regarding the event. Basically, we were invited to participate in the Sweeps put on by the engineering firm we’re associated. I’m not sure exactly how it works, but it’s similar to the football pools found in most US offices and bars. Almost immediately upper management responded! The Managing Director said ‘why don’t we have our own Sweeps instead of joining in with the engineers?’ Can you imagine what the response would be in a US company? Most would be so busy stumbling over each other trying to out-PC one another, it would look like the Keystone Cops! They DO have a lot more fun down under and if you think that they’re not serious about business, look at our respective economies!

Pictures to follow (in Part Deux-the Dis-function) if I manage to get some good (and appropriate) ones.

No comments: