G’day, Mate! How are you going?
I always wondered why people believe that the general population at coastal cities tend to have a more relaxed attitude than people in other cities. I was sceptical of this notion for a long time solely based on my personal experiences, as I spent my earlier years in various countries with access to the sea. For some reason, having a coastline did not have the intended impact I was led to believe at anywhere in the region, from where I originally come from!
The year was 2017, and my schedule was already packed on both professional and personal fronts. I was managing several projects, with various business trips to places such as Johannesburg, Maseru, Erbil, and Baghdad. But the most exciting trip was yet to come, and I was introduced to a city that in my opinion represents and defines the ‘easy-going lifestyle’ for all others — of course, I am talking about Sydney, Australia!
I started working with our client on the same day of my arrival with a severe jet lag headache as a direct result of the long flight from Yerevan to Sydney through Doha. The client was an organization named Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF) — a non-profit aid organization based in Sydney Australia, which was founded in 1992 by an eye surgeon Fred Hollows. The client had made a decision and aligned their organizational strategy with the execution through a system called PRISM, developed via the Synergy Indicata Platform. The aim was to achieve a greater impact in preventing avoidable blindness and restoring sight worldwide. In short, the FHF has worked over the past two decades and restored the eyesight to over two and a half million people spread around 25 countries. I was there to help the client better understand the platform as well as assess their further needs by improving the Monitoring and Evaluation component of the system that we had built for them.
After my arrival, I needed some time for the jet lag to pass, organize my day-to-day activities with the client and proceed with understanding my surroundings. In short, I needed a couple of days to understand where I was and feel the vibe of this new place. At the time, the office of the client was located in a suburb called Zetland which is about 5–6 kilometers away from the city center. At the end of my second day, I finally got to Sydney’s main harbor in the center, called “Circular Quay” and from there I hopped on a ferry. All the pressure accumulated up to that point related to work and the long trip was completely gone as soon as I had this majestic view in front of me․
On the next day, the daily discussions with the client continued as usual. Later on, almost the entire office got off work early to go for a drink. It included the team involved with PRISM, people from the management of FHF and myself. It was then that I realized the relaxed attitude of Aussies I had read about before my trip. There was no Mr and no Sir for anyone, even for COO, and everyone called one another ‘Mate’ as soon as people got out of the daily office duties straight to the sacred duties of beer-chugging!
Afterwards, some other people went to play ball on the beach and dance barefoot on the sand. It was July in Australia, mind you, so it’s basically winter in Australia (close to zero Celsius). We’re talking about the South Pole cold wind blowing, with some people in coats drinking to get warm, others still surfing/swimming in the ocean and a third group skating on artificial ice with swimsuits on.
Log entry: Laid-Back Aussie mode is activated — both stress and logic have been disconnected from the server and blocked access until further notice.
The carefree life during the evening hours can be seen everywhere in Sydney, whether you are at The Rocks near the harbour where most of the pubs are or just walking through the Botanic Garden with its exotic species or any other place in the city.
I believe now that a favorable climate actually changes people, most importantly, having access to a seashore or ocean. But in my humble opinion, Australians have an unexplained egalitarian mentality, which is the reason for their positive attitude. It might be an impact of their history, which has seen relatively less complications and bloodshed (except Indigenous Australians) than other regions/continents such as various parts of Europe or the US. It might also be the fact that the region Down Under has been far from the epicenter of major world conflicts. In my opinion, as someone who grew up by the beautiful Mediterranian sea, I was quite taken by surprise when I saw the charming nature and captivating ocean in Sydney, and that is what makes this trip one of the unforgettable ones in my book. And at the end of the day, no matter what the reason is for the zest for life of Australians, their involvement and impact on many international frontiers is very crucial, with the FHF doing an important part with preventing avoidable blindness and restoring sight worldwide for millions.