Greg Barila

Journalist. Editor. Social Media specialist.

Getting back in the old routine, after returning to Adelaide from New York

Start spreading the news... I'm home! Photo: AP

A FEW weeks ago, I got back to Adelaide after a year at News Corp. headquarters in New York City and, naturally, people have been lining up to ask the inevitable; how does it feel to be back?

It hasn't been the simplest question to answer.

If I were prone to sarcasm, I'd say this. "How does it feel to be back?? In Adelaide?? After living in the Big Apple? No, it feels awesome! Thrilled. Couldn't wait to leave the joint, actually. Who needs all that excitement, anyway? Not me. No siree."

Instead, politely, I say this: "Good, thanks".

But the truth is, gearing down from the pace of one of the world's biggest, most exciting cities isn't nearly as difficult as people may think or I might have expected.

I miss New York, of course, but if people have been expecting me to sink into a black funk while sobbing over a picture of an Everything Bagel, I'm sorry to disappoint.

Things like that only happen when you get into the dangerous business of comparing and Adelaide, it will shock you to learn, is not New York. Because no city in the world is.

So how does it feel to be back?

Let's see. There's a new building or three on the skyline (hallelujah!), the Liberal party is still a rabble, football is still the State Religion and South Aussies still regard the weekend trip to Bunnings a national sport.

Everything seems to be in its place.

I did find one thing odd; coming back to a South Australia not helmed by Mike Rann for the first time in the decade I've called this state home.

I followed the changing of the leadership from my apartment in Manhattan and there composed my single funniest tweet (so far): "Just checked the Weatherill forecast for Adelaide for tomorrow. Fine, no chance of Rann".

Being back in Adelaide means pretending fast, efficient and affordable public transport isn't possible in 2012. It means renewing one's membership to that organisation to which we're all forced to belong the Cult of Car Worship.

I'm getting reacquainted with a city that, like most Australian cities, is less social by design.

Where catching up with friends on the other side of town on a week night feels too much like work.

Where, because most of us are lucky enough to have our own backyards, its parks and squares are for merely looking at or passing through and seldom for using regularly in any real way that says community. No outdoor libraries, ping pong, tai chi or swing dancing. No jug bands or games of chess.

Being back in Adelaide means the comfort of a real home and at least the opportunity to be saddled with a mortgage. Most New Yorkers will never have the chance to buy and will bleed rivers of money just for the chance to rent a shoebox.

When I'm sick here I'll make an appointment at my local doctor, same as they do in the Big Apple, only here no one will care much if I have insurance, and it certainly won't be the first question.

The coffee's better here, and while New York is a food Mecca, put me over a bowl of Pho from one of our many great Vietnamese eateries, or a plate of middle eastern grilled meat and flat bread from Lawash on South Rd, or an Ethiopian banquet from the Abyssinian on Henley Beach Rd and I am truly happy.

Happy. And home.

This column was first published in The City Messenger and on advertiser.com.au