It’s amazing how Geographical Displacement can birth mysterious inspiration to string words together in new ways. Trips mundane and exciting leave you with a new taste, a different scent, a unique facet of life you’ve never seen.

This trip left me with secret treasures.

Remember Platform Nine & Three Quarters, the one that leads to Hogwarts? Well, it actually darts around to forsaken places, from London…to all around the world. So much that I embarrassingly mistook it for Ten & Three Quarters until Li Enn corrected me.

It was in Melbourne’s Centre Place, a little alley full of strange and wonderful things, at 1pm on 29th June 2010. It was already gone when I came back at five.

At five, Centre Place looked just like any other laneway, sprayed with graffitti, save for the Soup Place that broke wizarding law, and was still working its magic on stray muggles.

My first five days in Melbourne were spent being pampered like a princess, and fed like a queen. I caught glimpes of my family through their lives: stories retold, familiar sights, a faded picture of my teenage mother framed up on my aunt’s wall. I marveled at the spaciousness of time when it was given complete freedom to run it’s own course.

By day six, I was ready for adventure. For map reading, biting winds, and aching feet; and finding Melbourne’s hidden treasure! The troves were concealed in the most unlikely places: laneways full of coloured bins, dark alleys between elegant buildings, odd shops behind unwelcoming exteriors that belied the charm within! I even (warily) chatted up some street artists doing their thing on an abandoned laneway.

I’m back in Adelaide, where the winds are kinder, the house is noisier and dirtier, and sleep is much more disruptive. Strangely, my cracked mirror smiles back at me a different person, one that’s been accosted and displaced by the overwhelming Asianness of Melbourne. And come away refreshed.

Definitely not the disgruntled tourist on 24th June 2010, trudging after her eager friends in the busy CBD; eyes full of sleep after barely making the morning flight (and idiotically leaving the all-important phone behind).

After the end-of-semester week of painful insomnia in mismatched clothes, the mirror now shows a girl in her pajamas with happy pink bears. 🙂 Magic took place in the dainty shops on Centre Place.

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