Monday, July 14, 2008

"Pilgrims" in Sydney

What a strange feeling it is to say that Sydney, this not particularly religious city, is currently attracting "pilgrims". I'm still putting the word in inverted commas while I get used to the idea.

I passed some of them wearing World Youth Day passes, talking in a language that I think was French, as I was walking to work today. My workplace isn't exactly dead centre of Sydney either. They ignored me, which pretty much sums up the entire WYD experience for those of us who actually live here - we're completely irrelevant to the proceedings.

The insularity appears to be bad news economically: an article in the Sydney Morning Herald claims that the pilgrims (there, I'm getting used to it) are causing a downturn in business in the city, as regular patrons flee from the proceedings and the pilgrims are simply not interested in anything not specifically WYD-related.

And I can't resist posting this bit from the article above, which is quite revealing about the mindset of all these pilgrims here who claim to follow a Saviour whose teachings placed so much emphasis on helping the poor:
A local Big Issue vendor said he was also having one of his worst days in memory.

Trevor sells the magazine, which benefits the homeless and long-term unemployed, on the corner of Elizabeth and Market street every day, but said today was barely worth the trouble.

"It was dead this morning," he said.

"On a good day I'd make between $100 and $150 ... today I reckon I'll take about $25."

The young vendor said all the office workers seemed to have disappeared from the CBD, and that the pilgrims were not interested in buying the magazine.

"They only stop and ask for directions to the church," he said.

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