Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Rocky, I don't think we are in Kansas anymore

The Onion today has the headline 'Only In New York,' Says Manhattanite Watching Squirrel..

This presumably is meant to indicate that New Yorkers are so insular that they cannot imagine anything can happen ouside New York, even the most common things in the world. Oddly, though, to me it brings back the most peculiar memory. For me. In 1991, I visited New York for the first time. Prior to this, I had only been out of Australia two or three times. I had been to New Zealand, and briefly to Hong Kong and China, but that was it.

However, in 1991 I visited the US on my way to England to start my Ph.D. New York blew me away with its scale (and in various other ways), as it has a tendency to do. I went for lots of long walks around the city. I found myself in Central Park. And there I saw these very cute little animals with big fluffy tails running around looking for food. I had never seen animals like this before, but I guessed they were these things called "squirrels" that I had read about in books. As an Australian, I was quite used to seeing wildlife: kangaroos, possums, echidnas, mean looking giant flightless birds, lots of snakes, even sometimes more exotic things like koalas and platypuses (plus also some non-native species that are common in Australia and other parts of the world: rabbits, foxes and even the odd deer). However, I had never seen a squirrel before, and I spent quite some time watching them playing in the grass in Central Park. I thought they were very cute. And just one of the many exciting and exotic things the city of New York had to offer.

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