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Saturday, March 08, 2003

Auckland, Devonport, and Ponsonby

Matt, Andy, and Athena picked me up on their way to downtown Auckland. I hopped into the ASB bank to open a savings account while they had coffee next door (and waited for Athena's photos from our trip to be ready at the 1-hour shop). Finished up at the bank just in time for the photos, and figured we'd be getting lunch then and doing other stuff, but it turned out they hadn't intended to do much else in town (despite the half hour drive) so I'd just blown our social time sitting in the bank. Oops. Felt rather stupid and impolite for that one. We did walk through town a block or two; they browsed the CD store.

They headed home and I stayed in Auckland, wandered into a Thai restaurant for lunch, then over to the ferries:

Mine proved not so ellegant:

The view back to Auckland from the hilltop in Devonport:

Black birds in the black rocks:

Aspects of Devonport reminded me of the areas just outside of Boston. Here's Devonport's main street:

When I returned, there was an anti-war protest going on in Auckland. It was pretty small, more onlookers than participants. The guy on the mega-phone spoke in bitter diatribes which seemed contextually naked on this bright day with pedestrians casually strolling about, almost comical in its incongruousness. Even the police (armed only with sticks) seemed a bit whimsical about the whole thing. While I can empathize in some ways with the cause, their marketting and approach just sucked, and the result really was just comical, like a Warner Brothers cartoon ant standing alone at the foot of a giant, spitting out insults and threats at the top of his voice as the giant yawns in relatively innocent indifference. I caught the eye of one of the cops, gave him a crooked smile and raised brow of empathy, and got him to crack a smile which he quickly tried to repress. It all made me wonder: how can we have an effect?

Did you call for a taxi?

I walked a couple miles up to Ponsonby, passed a woman carrying groceries up a long, steep hill, offered to help her but she declined. Standing at the top of the hill, wondering which way to go, she caught up with me and directed me to her favorite Indian restaurant in town (Shahi). I almost came back for dinner there, but decided against it since I was but one and wouldn't be able to mix and match.

I wandered down Ponsonby street itself, reading menus as I went, and happened upon the home street of another recent e-acquaintance, Jeff, who I hadn't been able to reach by phone all day but figured as long as I was here I'd see where he lived. Turned out he was home (having troubles with his phone). This is just half a block away from the main drag with all the great restaurants:

I tried the Turkish cafe for dinner (US$8):

Ponsonby reminded me a bit of Hillcrest.

From there I walked a couple miles back to downtown Auckland, and caught a late night bus to within a few blocks of my homestay in Greenlane, south of the city.

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Simon Funk / simonfunk@gmail.com