Friday, 31 January 2014

The Friendly Neighbour

Just a quick one from me. I know some of our readers are expecting a detailed post about how we got into trouble off-road in Central Gippsland (well within hardcore 4WD country. Not AWD, not soft-roader, definitely not Subaru Forester terrain there), or a post about how shitty Seven Seas International freight services are. I will owe you these accounts for now.

Central Gippsland is a beautiful region of Victoria. Then again, everywhere here seems beautiful to us!

I am also planning a post for a reader who asked about the security industry. I don't have the information now, but I know someone in the line. Please be patient, I will do it just for you! ;)

Anyway after I banged up the undercarriage of the Forester really well and got some disturbing low dipstick readings from my manual gearbox, today I decided to crawl underneath the car to hunt for oil leaks. I also knew that some of the plastic retainer clips for my undercarriage covers needed replacement, so it was time to break out my hydraulic jack and jack stands to raise and prop up the car safely.

Not exactly an internationally-recognised symbol of distress, but I didn't want anyone driving by without allowing us to demand assistance... Btw the green things are TRED 4x4 recovery tracks...
Approx 1cm diameter puncture in the sidewall with a tyre jack handle to show the scale. There are two punctures. Sidewall punctures are not repairable (out of desperation, I did try, but the hole was way too big). Now, CK, do you know why changing tyres is such a vital skill?

Cracked blocks on another of the tyres. Still held air, but I'm getting this replaced as well. These are almost brand new Yokohama Geolandar AT/S off road tyres...

A very kind Colin Farrell lookalike drove by in a Mitsubishi Triton 4x4 ute, family in tow, and guided us out safely. We were very apprehensive to drive out on our own because of the sheer ruggedness of the terrain we had traversed, and the fact that our spare tyre was a regular road tyre... But having a local guide us was a huge blessing and comfort.

I didn't manage to find any oil leaks from the transmission, which was reassuring. I removed samples of retaining clips and damaged bolts so that I could buy spares at a nearby auto parts dealer. The auto stores here probably pale in comparison to those in the USA, but any petrolhead from Singapore would have a wet dream inside any of the stores here. Autobacs is nothing!

Since I haven't actually got much experience, I was naturally making a hash of things. I always park my car close to the kerb so as to give as much space as possible to passing traffic. Not that the street is narrow or anything, but I used to live in an estate of terraced houses in SG, and the sensible drivers would park their cars within an inch or so of the kerb. Old habits die hard.

Not wanting to shift my car also meant that I had very little room to work the hydraulic jack. So the jack jammed itself against the kerb as I lowered my car after the checks. No problem whatsoever. Just  jack up the car again, lower it onto the jack stand, re align the jack, and repeat. Thrice.

By this time, I had attracted the attention of my 90+ year old geriatric neighbour (let's call him E) from across the street. He ambled slowly across the road with the aid of a walking stick, and asked:

"How's it going? Do you need help?"

I reassured him that I didn't, and cheerfully confirmed his unspoken suspicions that I was a total noob at this. Then we chatted for a while.

Turns out that he used to be an auto electrician, and that he was caring for his disabled wife (at well over 90!!). He was pretty frail, but looked somewhat younger than his years and still reasonably ambulant.

This is something one would not see in Singapore. The elderly are either scrounging for recyclables (here they will have no business as recycling is a way of life, and recyclables are collected in bins separated from household waste), vegetating in nursing homes, or vegetating at their offsprings' homes, under the care of domestic helpers from poorer Asian countries.

I decided to leave E both our numbers (sorry dear, I didn't tell you beforehand, but I know you don't mind!) and insisted that he call us should he ever need help. After all, there's this Chinese saying about a nearby neighbour being better than distant relatives, or something to that effect.

And maybe, if I have a question on auto electrics that Google can't answer, I'll pop across the street to consult him.

- S

P.S. If anyone is curious about racism in Australia, both E and Colin Farrell-lookalike appeared to be white/Caucasian Australians. 


  1. Yes, yes, vital skill for you bro, but not me. I don't go into 4WD/AWD territories...! :)

    A more vital skill for me is how to unhook bras with my mouth. ;)

  2. I am about to move house soon myself, and the biggest regret we shall have of moving is that we shall leave our elderly Scot neighbour, "S", when we go.

    Ever since we moved in about one and a half years ago, S and us had become the greatest of friends. We would pop into his place to chat or borrow a pot or pan, and we would share with him whenever we made some curries, or fried rice, or curry puffs. When he has problems with his Internet, I'd go over and fix the PC, and whenever I needed some handyman tool, I'd borrow from him. He lives alone, is in his 80s and kicks around a football with my 10year old son in the evenings.

    I have not had such great interaction with any neighbour in Singapore in my decades of living there. I don't know about the racism thing that people talk about... I think it's more prevalent in Singapore rather than in Oz.

    1. Yep agree. Racism is far more apparent in SG. Just look at official SAF policy about certain races in certain vocations.


  3. > there's this Chinese saying about a nearby neighbour being better than distant relatives


    1. WD yeah that's the one! I had a total mental block, otherwise I would have known where to start Googling. Now you know just how bad my Mandarin is.

      Could've asked A but she was at work.