It was four years ago today that I landed to a very cold Melbourne morning. My flight was supposed to land at 4:00am or so but it only landed at 6:30am due to fog, my brother probably went crazy circling the airport in his car, and that pretty much symbolyzed the way the next year or so went along for me.
A lot has happened since. The 31 years I had before in Israel now seem to be such a faraway experience that it's tempting to feel disbelief about it actually taking place. Not that it was bad, it's just that it was different: on one hand life in Israel pretty much sucks compared to life in Australia, yet on the other hands I had zero responsibilities, I never had to worry about day to day stuff such as cooking or laundry, and I was earning a lot of money.
So you could say it was quite a shock to find myself unemployed for more than five months, doing all sorts of casual work that made army life look glamorous, moving between apartments, while all the while Jo was in Sydney. The sudden move to the bottom of the food chain - where immigrants are in Australia - totally rattled and hummed me.
Eventually things worked out, but as usual I was in debt to others. If it wasn't for my brother I would have probably still been looking for a job now. Jo managed to do so well at work that she was sent to Melbourne. And when I finally got to start working under a short term contract, certain people gave me enough of their trust that I was able to establish myself.
What is the point of all this reminiscing?
Rewind back through those four years, and you will find that the young guy (as in naive guy) who came to Australia was quite a capitalist. By all accounts, was I able to vote back then I would have voted for the Liberals; and if you asked me what I think of the unemployed I would have told you that they are losers who wouldn't bother doing enough to get themselves educated and get themselves a proper job.
And now look what a few months of unemployment can do to one's views.
Back on my 35th birthday at the Fairfield Boat House, I told this story to Yaron (a fellow ex-Israeli ex-Amdocs guy, quite senior, whom I quite admire). He said something that rings very true: Sometimes you have to suffer to appreciate how things look like from the other side.
Not that I am the perfect humanist. I still twist my nose at people that want me to give money to charity (not that I approve of cold calling, but I could be more accommodating than I am). But I am truly bothered with a lot of things I couldn't give a shit about before: poverty, environment, etc etc.
A lot has happened during the last four years.