Fight Night Fright in Melbourne

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To me, the best thing about Melbourne is the multi-cultural mix of people that live in the city. Boasting a population of over 4 million, of which approximately a quarter have been born overseas, the city is home to residents from over 223 countries. As a consequence the choice of different types of cuisine is mind boggling.

The first time I stayed in Melbourne I was taken out to one of the latest culinary delights that the ‘in’ crowd were raving about. It was an Ethiopian restaurant in the suburb of Footscray. As I was looking for a place to live at the time it seemed a like a good idea to go over and check out the area as well. We ordered an injera, a sourdough flat bread on which a variety of spicy thick vegetable and meat dishes are placed, and some beers to drink. The beers arrived in the bottle and we settled down for a chat and a spot of people watching through the restaurant’s large glass plated windows.

The tranquillity was broken as a commotion just out of view erupted. A couple of bottles landed and smashed in front of the restaurant, followed by two drunk teenage boys shouting at each other and making threatening ‘I’m going to beat the shit out of you’ gestures.  In the tradition of all good male sparring displays in the animal kingdom they puffed themselves up, made false charges at each other whilst shouting insults all the while. However, unlike the wild where the weakest retreats to lick his injured wounds and pride in order to survive for a return match, neither boy backed down.  The fight moved out of sight, but not hearing, and suddenly a girl rushed into the restaurant screaming and crying.  After a brief conversation in Somalian roughly translated as “help me he’s going to kill me” she was shepherded towards the back of the restaurant.  One of the protagonists thundered through the restaurant door and ran straight into the owner who strategically placed himself between the girl and her pursuer. Restraining him in a friendly “we are all pals here” bear hug the owner very calmly proceeded to talk him down.

Meanwhile, knowing that flight was not an option due to the other angry young man still outside, I was looking for something to hide under and was dubiously eyeing up the glass table at which we were sitting. I visualised bodies crashing down on top of it, sharp cutting shards flying everywhere and gave the idea away. By now things had calmed down a little and the owner was firmly steering the boy towards the door. As he pushed him out, the girl popped her head up from behind the bar and screeched something at which the boy turned around and gave her a ‘you’re a slag’ gesture as he exited. The girl was by this time standing next to us and made a grab for the beer bottles on our table to presumably hit him with.  

Now in all the time we had sat through the drama, which had the potential to turn violent, not once had we made a move to get to safety. But when it came to the drinks, all four of us moved with the speed of a striking snake to save them. As the screecher made a lunge for the nearest bottle, now clutched tightly in the hands of my friend, the owner grabbed her and escorted her off the premises. At that moment our food and the cops arrived at the same time and peace descended inside and outside the restaurant.

Later that evening I got food poisoning.  I decided that Footscary was definitely not a place I wanted to live.

5 thoughts on “Fight Night Fright in Melbourne

  1. Footscray may not have been your pick, but unfortunately the mix of alcohol and youth is extremely volatile in many areas of the world. Hope you found a nice place to live, despite this ordeal. Love the humour filled, tongue-in-cheek account. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Unfortunately – these things can happen in many different areas. It’s up to the individuals, not necessarily the suburb. I spent the first 20 years of my life in West Footscray and never had an incident. I suppose you can just be unlucky. Disappointing to hear this account, though.

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