>Melbourne Asian Australian Meetup – 5 July 2008 – Pelican, St Kilda

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Note to self: when choosing a place for a meetup, it’s best to find one that actually has its name ostentatiously on display. Pelican, being so St Kildan, doesn’t. I only know where it is because I look for the big circle cut-outs on the facade…oh, and because I’ve scoffed my fair share of Eggs Benedict there before (no prizes for guessing what I ate on meetup day). Luckily, the lack of naming didn’t stop fourteen of us meeting up last Saturday morning. When I got there, Hoa, Gay and Suman had already staked out a great table at the back and were wallowing in the sunshine. Suman, a friend of Gay’s, was only in town for a short time and, coincidentally, had just been at the ACSANZ (Assoc for Canadian Studies in Australia and New Zealand) conference that I was meant to have attended, being on the executive committee as I am. Despite being on the same campus just about every day, Gay and I haven’t caught up for a long time. It was good to see her again and I just wish we’d had more of a chance to chat. Ditto with Hoa, even though I’ve seen her in other modes more recently (e.g. Aust.Lit conference, Peril)!

As hellos and catch-ups were in progress over the next couple of hours, a number of folks came and went (and don’t trust this to be in any order): Owen, Caitlin, David, Indi, Yvonne, Marilyne, Ray, Emma, Dom, and Rey. It was great to see everyone there, especially as we haven’t had a meetup in a rather long time. The people who turned up were a mix of Asian Australian discussion group and AASRN (Asian Australian Studies Research Network) folk. I’m going to dot-point the stuff I remember because my segues would be non-existent anyway:

  • Indi, our banana-bending interloper, had conveniently lost her voice the night before, and Owen was pressed into service as her PA that morning. Gotta say, he’s good. If that art thing ever lets him down, we know he’s got places he can go… The meetup had spawned because Indi and I had decided in the first instance to get together and catch up; we didn’t get a chance to talk much after all because of the hordes that descended around that poor table. Never fear, we’ve moved to Plan B (Three Monkeys in Brisbane, later in the month – Jen will be there, too, and maybe other aa_discussers who are free/around). Emma and Dom skived off with Indi near the end, to take shots of Luna Park and the windswept St Kilda beaches (though I’m not sure if she made it because the farewells became rather drawn out!). Indi and Emma took a few shots so, with luck, they may end up floating around cyberspace later.
  • I’d seen Marilyne recently, in Wollongong for the Aust.Lit conference, but hadn’t met her partner Ray before. Ray was quickly bundled into Owen’s new photography project, which sounds like it’s going really well. I thought it was a funny and fascinating thing, the way one would be in ‘face-hunting’ mode for the project.
  • It was the first time I met Rey and, unfortunately, he was someone who almost didn’t make it because of Pelican’s lack of ostentation. It was good to chat as I’d read his work before (from an earlier Chinese Australian history conference). He suggested the AASRN could offer focused Asian Australian seminars/talks, and this is something we can think about doing in the longer term. We’d moved onto this topic after discussing Mae Ngai’s talk (that was being held the following Saturday at the Chinese Museum), which Rey, Yvonne and Marilyne would also be attending. It’d be good to have a regular presence in this way as we’ve been, to date, organising to have panels at certain conferences. This would be a stand-alone initiative. Over-committed Tseen thinks the idea needs working through; Masochistic Tseen thinks it’d be a great thing to do and is already (mentally) lining up speakers.
  • It was excellent to meet Caitlin and David properly for the first time, and to be regaled with David’s community events stories. Of course, this just means I’m going to have to pick his brains for one of my projects. Brain-picking aside, I hope to see them again at another meetup!

We haven’t decided on when the next meetup will be, but I had a short chat with Owen about it before he left. We’re thinking second week of August, just before Owen jets off to be stellar and creative in Paris! Stay tuned; we’ll be posting notices about it on the usual lists.

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