Three weeks ago, I took off on a vacation to Australia. I realise that’s an unusual destination, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, since Australia lies way down South (or as North Indians call it, ‘Madras’), it is currently the middle of winter there. It’s so cold, Aussie women are dating Indians just for the body hair.
Also, we’ve all heard stories about how hunting Indians is a popular Australian activity, second only to disowning Mel Gibson. So naturally, I was quite apprehensi¬ve about the trip. I had visions of being mugged, stabbed or worse, having to drink Foster’s (Australian for Kangaroo Piss)
About thirty seven drinks later, I landed in Melbourne. Up ahead, there loomed a visa officer who looked like the love-child of Sly Stallone and Razor Ramon. As a brown goateed man travelling alone, I needed this about as much as I need rabies.
However, Australian Rambo just asked me a couple of routine questions and waved me on with a cheerful “Have a good trip, mate!” This politeness, as I soon found out, was a regular feature across the country. Bus drivers, cabbies, shopkeepers, pimps – everybody was friendly, thus leaving me confused and disoriented, like Akshay Kumar at an etiquette class. My head was clouded with questions – Why is everyone so nice? Where are the violent racists that I’d been promised by the media back home? Are they afraid that if they mess with an Indian, Anchorman Arnab will break out from the TV screen and eat their children?
You know you’re in Australia when you step out and see Indonesians, Malaysians, Indians, Koreans, Japanese and maybe three Aussies. The first ‘native’ I met was two days into my stay. It was good to meet him, especially since he owns a beach house at a small seaside town called Sorrento, about 2 hours away from Melbourne. As it turned out, this place was the scenic equivalent of Scarlett Johansson in a bubble bath. With Megan Fox.
The ocean at Sorrento is an expanse of blue Listerine mouthwash being gargled by a rugged coastal mouth, creating reams of froth in a metaphor that I swear wasn’t meant to be disgusting. Let’s just say that Australia has a coastline desktop wallpapers are made of. Also, miles away from the city, in the dead of winter, millions of stars come out to frolic in the night sky, turning it into God’s own Punjabi Wedding Decoration.
However, there’s only so much nature a city boy can take. Soon enough, I sought out some of the city’s most famous sources of liver and coronary damage. This was followed up with my first attempt at ice-skating, an experience wherein you pay to have all of Earth’s gravitational pull focussed on your butt. (I know there’s an ice-skating rink at Esselworld, but since I live in New Bombay, it’s easier for me to travel to Melbourne.)
Due to a lack of space, I have to end this column here. However, the next one will be an account of my trip to Sydney, featuring prostitutes, skydivers and that Sydney landmark famous for its operas, Harbour Bridge. The only downside of my Sydney trip was that I caught a cold there. I think it may have been racially motivated.
(Note: This is my HT column, dated 25th July 2010.)