Letters Home VI. Old & New Adventures.

I’ve never told you about a trial I had a long time ago in a bakery. This was just before I started working at the cafe I used to work for. The bakery is called Croissant by Thomas; it has various locations in the city and they market themselves as a French Patisserie with a Japanese twist (don’t ask me what the Japanese twist is). The actual bakery is located in Prahran, my old lovely hood – I can get nostalgic sometimes, even though I only lived there for about 2 and a half months – and this is the distribution point for the other locations in the cities. I left my CV in one of these cafe slash bakery points which all look quite modern and serve good coffee as well so nothing seemed out of place. Their headquarters in the other hand, are a different story.

After I received a call I headed out to Prahran on my bike (the weather was still lovely so I enjoyed the sun in my face while cruising through the city) and I arrived there for an interview. When entering the bakery itself, which already looked dusty and shabby, I didn’t want to jump to conclusions right away. Thomas came to the front to welcome me and led me through the actual kitchen to the back where his tiny office is located which was filled with paperwork everywhere and I mean everywhere: on the two big shelves towering on the left and right wall, on the table, on the floor. Even the walls were covered in discolored post-its. He had to remove several papers from one of the chairs to give me a seat and we were literally breathing in each others faces – that’s how tiny this office was. Also I had a brief glimpse of the kitchen while passing through: a similar condition to the front of the shop: it’s like entering a whole other universe. All of the sudden, I wasn’t in Melbourne but in a Delhi slum. A microcosmos with about 8 people working in a space that is not much bigger than your average kitchen. During the interview Thomas was very kind and explained the work shifts – only weekdays from 6 to 11 – and my main task – preparing sandwiches which would be distributed in their various locations. He invited me for a trial the week after. I decided not to judge anything by it’s cover and the next week I showed up at 6 am in the bakery. The only Asian girl that works there (all the other staff, almost 12 of them in this small space, is mainly Indian or Pakistani) gets assigned by Thomas to guide me through the first day. Basically I follow and watch her. She bakes chicken (in the bread oven), eggs, bacon. Then she cuts all the veggies, slices the meat. All this while balancing containers and trying to find available workspace. Obviously dust is normal in a bakery, but here things are just pretty gross in general, no hygienic norms seem to be in place. At one point the Asian girl speaks in Japanese (I suppose) to Thomas and he answers: “Please talk in English!” while in the meantime all the Indians talk happily Hindi to each other and the radio blasts out songs in Arabic (early morning prayers?). At one point the Japanese girl – let’s call her Yui – says to Thomas: “I have to go now Thomas, school starts soon.” Another girl also has to leave soon after because of school. I wonder at what time they got up to be there and work, I wonder how old they are and if by “school” they mean high school. I feel like I’m in some Iñarritu movie. What parallel universe in Melbourne is this where girls need to work before going to school? One of the Indian girls – let’s give her a name too, let’s call her Yasminda – takes over to show me the rest of the steps. Cut the chicken into slices, dose all the cut veggies and other elements, put this here, put that there, etc. I notice how Thomas is absolutely adored by his employees. Every time they come and go or have to ask him something you can here how much respect they have for him and his responses are also very kind and loving. “Thank you Thomas”, “What about this Thomas?”, “Should I start on that Thomas?”. Staff changes, the ones there in the early morning are slowly going and new people come in. I notice a tiny man with a sikh that’s enormously strong carrying big trays full of bread ready to be baked. After some hours Thomas says I can go, my trial is over. He calls me into his office and asks how everything was and if I’m interested in the position. Still in a state of shock I tell him I’ll come back to him in a couple of days. Before I leave he even packs a box of fresh pastries. This is the kindest man on the planet. How will I ever tell him I don’t want the job?

Third week as a part timer. It’s definitely not bad having so much time for myself. I’m reading and writing more which was exactly what I wanted. Also my mind is clearer which gives me time to think and plan. Obviously also busy with the moving and I try to stay focused on the job hunt as well, to which I try to dedicate at least 1-2 hours a day. That’s not a lot I know but the moving has (and still does) taken so much time and effort, I’ve been busy packing, cleaning and unpacking for more than a week now. The place starts to look better every day, can’t wait for the summer to enjoy the backyard!

As I told you in the last chapter, time seems to be flying. Luckily I’m prepared for when my visa will expire at the end of September: I’m in contact with Zack, a lovely guy, who is helping me fixing my paperwork for the student visa that I’ll be applying for. I’m going to get a Certificate in Business: the course lasts 26 weeks and it’s the cheapest option I have. It will more or less occupy 2 or 3 days a week (you can also choose to attend in the weekends). The course itself is pretty basic – and probably useless – but it’s the only easy and cheap way to stay for now.

I miss you all terribly and sometimes wonder if that ever will go over.