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Tuesday, 15 April 2014


South East Asia travel writer and academic, Pam Scott, muses on a life change and the trials of being a quirky Aquarian and lunar Monkey. Take it away, Pam:

I was born on the 22nd January. Now, if I’d come into the world just hours earlier, I’d have been a steadfast, sensible Capricorn instead of a quirky Aquarian who marches to the beat of a different drum according to Western astrologers.

On the other hand, according to the Chinese lunar calendar, had I been born just hours later, I’d have been a Rooster pecking at the ground in the chicken coop instead of a mischievous Monkey swinging up in the trees. How about that? Two cusps, east and west.

Then there is the issue of the year of my birth – 1945.  Technically I’m not a Baby Boomer since World War II was still in progress in January 1945. But I can usually sneak into that group. Again, I’m on the cusp.

It was much the same with the Swinging Sixties and the early Feminist Movement.  Those revolutions came along just a fraction too late to make a difference at the critical time and so I found myself married and heading for a life modelled on my mother’s era before I had a chance to absorb the new role models and follow a different path. Luckily, after a decade of marriage, no-fault divorce reforms came along, giving me another chance for a new way of being.

Although more women were studying at university in the early 1960s, it was still unusual.  I was the first female in my large extended family to attend university and I remember hearing my mother volleying comments such as, ‘Why would you want to educate a girl? She’ll just go off and get married!’  

However, the courses women studied in those days tended to cluster in the ‘caring’ professions traditionally allocated to women. I was encouraged to study pharmacy when I showed an interest in science – ‘A nice place for a girl to work,’ opined the neighbours –‘all those cosmetics and perfumes!’ 

When I floated the idea that I might like to study veterinary science the horrified response was swift and firm: ‘What if you had to look after a sick horse,’ the neighbours asked.  ‘Did they think I’d have to lift a horse onto an operating table,’ I laughed with my friends. But it sowed enough doubt to send me back to the prescriptions and perfumes.

Despite this false start with my career, a decade later I was ready to take advantage of the Whitlam Government education reforms. For once I wasn’t too late or too early and I managed to fit in three degrees between 1975 and 1986 while being a sole parent to my two sons at the same time. Thanks Gough, you changed my life! 

I became an academic at Wollongong University for a number of years which then led to an opportunity to live in Vietnam at the moment in history when that country was on the cusp of its amazing economic takeoff and social change. Living in Hanoi and HoChiMinh City for more than a decade meant I had a front row seat to witness the remarkable changes that were taking place.

Now I’m retired.  But as I head into older, old age, I’m working hard to stay fit and healthy. You see, I think I’m on another cusp and I want to hang on until all those ‘real’ Baby Boomers charge into their 60s and 70s and make the next revolution that will allow us the opportunities to enjoy the old age we want - more flexible accommodation and care options, medical advances, more life choices, greater visibility and attention.

Yes, this old Monkey still hears a different drum beat off in the distance and wants to join that parade.

©Pam Scott 2014

Several of Pam's fine travel books are available in the Buzzword Travel Section.

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