This is the second of a two-part series about my recent Australian vacation. For those of you who missed the previous instalment on account of having good taste, here’s a brief recap: I learnt that, contrary to popular perception, Aussies aren’t keen on killing Indians. That’s because they have way too much fun trying to kill themselves.
I’m referring, of course, to Australia’s reputation as the adrenaline capital of the world. To visit Australia and not try something life-threatening would be like visiting Agra to check out the sewage system. I simply had to follow the maxim: When in Rome, go skydiving.
The jump site was the picturesque Wollongong beach, an expanse of blue and gold, where the splattered remains of a skydiver would seem completely out of place. We were each assigned a professional skydiver, who would take care of the important stuff, such as not dying, while our job was to focus on not wetting ourselves at 14000 feet.
We got into a plane the size of a suitcase and ascended to drop height at the pace of an Ashutosh Gowariker film. This was it. The moment I’d been waiting for. I had to savour it and brace myself and – Woah what the hell? Is that my plane I see receding in the distance? I’m out??
*INSERT MANIC SCREAM HERE*
5 minutes, one backflip and countless 360-degree spins later, I can honestly say that skydiving is the most fun you can have with a man strapped to your back.
Sydney offers a bunch of terrestrial delights as well, which I discovered when I unwittingly booked my stay at King’s Cross, Sydney’s red-light area. Of course, I wasn’t interested in getting an STD in Australia, when I could do the same in India for much less. However, I was intrigued by “gentlemen’s clubs” with names like Porky’s that promised “customised service” (What does that mean? Once they find out I’m Indian, would they rub two flowers together and sing a song for me?)
This was also the first time I stayed in a youth hostel, where, for a nominal cost, one gets to meet alcoholics from all over the world. One night, I found myself hanging out with a Canadian philosopher, a Swiss IT engineer, a German chef, a Belgian schoolteacher and a couple of Italian students, all high on goon, which, simply put, is Australian desi daaru. (It is a vile concoction, sold in packets and sourced directly from Andrew Symonds’s bloodstream.)
To sum it up, if countries were people, Australia would be the guy at the bachelor party doing shots off the stripper’s belly-button. And now, in no particular order, here are my favourite Oz facts:
Random Fact 1:
The creation of Australia meant that most of England’s petty crime industry was outsourced there, leaving it free to concentrate on more important crimes, such as imperialism and 18th century fashion.
Random Fact 2:
Tim-Tams, indigenous to Australia, are chocolate-coated biscuits that are worth selling your children for. These were created as means of an apology for Foster’s.
Random Fact 3:
Souvenir shops in Australia sell lighter holders made from – and this is absolutely true – kangaroo Scrotum. This is what happens when people drink Foster’s. (That was the last Foster’s joke. For this column)
(Note: This is my HT column dated 8th August, 2010.)