Not that long ago there was a knock on the door, at an hour that suggested either an emergency or courier delivery. It was the latter. I wasn't expecting anything. It was weeks, possible months either side of a birthday. And yet here was a package, a large package, from the other side of the world.
I know the world is supposed to feel like a small place these days. Everyone tells us so. But owning to my infrequent travel overseas this does not feel like the case. For me, travelling with the monkeys, Coburg is far enough thanks. Still. Does it mean I have no hankering for the road? No. I've even started to watch BBC spice trail programs on the telly for no other reason than they show me a bit of Trinidad.
The book inside, all the way from Warsaw thanks to my sister-in-law who found it and loved it and wanted to share it, was a cause for real excitement. It's cover promised experiences. Contained in its 107 pages are the maps of the world, drawn by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinsky of Hipopotam Studio. The drawings – a whimsical mash-up of place, architecture, food, industry and people – are magical. Its a style of illustration that is a bit indie and a touch naive but drawn with a sure hand and an observant eye.
We all like poring over the pages at the end of a long day in the emotional spectre of night time. Nothing calms Hazel in the throes of bedtime woes faster than a slow crawl through France or Japan. We lay the book on the carpet, lie flat on our stomachs and with a finger identify the objects: chestnuts, cow, boat, leaf. I am called upon to translate from Polish to English. I speak Polish so rarely the unfamiliar words roll off my tongue and hang in the air like a curiosity. For about five minutes I can pretend I am fluent.
A long way from my homeland it's important for me to feel connected to the place and its peoples. While this might seem straightforward the process is anything but. Flipping through Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinsky's work – most likely conceived and drawn in Warsaw – now in its printed form on a Melbourne floor – brings my inner and outer worlds closer together. Every time we investigate a country, the world gets smaller still.