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Sunday, 5 November 2017

My first Australia Day after becoming an Aussie

National celebrations are one of the important days for all countries. It’s the day when patriotism is at an all-time high and a great opportunity for people to show their love towards their home nation. I got to experience my first Australia Day this year after becoming an adopted citizen and boy! Was I waiting for this day, or what? I had read up on Australia’s rich &diverse culture and experienced bits and pieces of it, but to experience it as an Australian citizen gave me a whole new sense of pride.

In my home country India, National day celebrations are on a smaller scale with most of the programs ending before noon. But Australia Day celebrations are on a larger scale with an event-packed day, from morning till night. It’s a day steeped in many traditions and events that have a history of more than a hundred years.

Australia Day celebrations in Sydney are concentrated mainly around the harbour. There are many events like the Ferrython, Wugulora Indigenous Morning ceremony, Tall Ship race, RAAF aerial display to name a few. There is also the 21 Gun Salute, Tug and Yacht ballet, Australia Day Regatta and Harbour parade. The curtains to the Australia Day celebrations in Sydney are dropped with the Darling Harbour fireworks. A spectacular visual display of pyrotechnics, it’s definitely a fitting end to the Australia Day celebrations in Sydney.

Since most of these events happen in and around the harbour, I decided to spend my first Australia Day as an Aussie national around Sydney Harbour. There were many Australia Day cruises covering most of the events happening on the harbour. They had complete packages, offering great views of the harbour events and gourmet lunches. Since there were limited seats to prevent overcrowding of the vessels, I decided to go for it before the seats ran out!

Boarding was at 10:15am, so to be on the safe side we reached the wharf by about 9:45am. Our vessel for the day was a paddlewheeler and looked very much like a vessel that would take us back in time. When boat races began in 1837, spectators stood on the decks of ships to get the best views of the races. It’s nice to see the tradition still kept going with Australia Day cruises now doing their part.

The viewing deck on top offered great views all round and we were able to see all the events,taking in every little detail. Combined with the delicious buffet meal, we had a great time, to say the least. The convenience is what appealed to me the most, as you get to see a large chunk of the celebrations with an Australia Day cruise on Sydney Harbour.

At 2pm after the cruise returned to the wharf, we alighted and went home to rest briefly before heading down to Darling Harbour to see the grand finale to the Australia Day celebrations! We were treated to a musical extravaganza with indigenous songs and more harbour events like the dragon boat races. The final event was the fireworks display that and provided a fitting end to the grand day.

My only disappointment was not being able to go on an Australia Day dinner cruise as it would have given a fine view of the fireworks display. Well there is always the next Australia Day and I will definitely be back for more!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Ticking Off Our Bucket List of Things To Do

We all have wish lists, things we really want to do and see in our life. The inclusions will vary from ‘I want a puppy’ to ‘biking through Vietnam’ to ‘spending time and making memories with my grandchildren’. As we grow older, our wishes change or rather evolve, depending on our priorities. Chances are the first and last part of the wish list will be almost done with. It’sthe middle portion that will mostly be left un-ticked.

The reason for the incomplete middle part is that you are busy, plain and simple. While juggling a career, starting a family and taking care of a home, most people seldom find time to live life to its fullest. Dropping the kids off at school, taking them to soccer practice, family functions & trips, job deadlines, business trips – you will have a packed schedule, to say the least.

So the ‘biking through Vietnam’ ends up as a screen saver on your workstation, always there in the back of your mind, but never really executed. You see yourself one day enjoying the silence ofHạ Long Bay, as the sun sets and fishing boats bob up and down on the gentle waves. But we’re invariably caught up in the vicious circle of life and just can’t find the time to enjoy this view for real.
There is always something preventing us from ticking off our wish lists. When we were young, we had all the time and energy, but no money. When we are older, we have the money and energy but no time. After calling it a day and finally retiring, we have the time and money but a lack of energy. If life is about ironies, this is the biggest one!

My husband and I are proud Sydneysiders and can be pleased with ourselves for having excelled in our respective fields of employment while raising three children into successful adults. But in theustle and bustle of everyday life we forgot to make time to see the world. Gazing through issues of Lonely Planets while in waiting rooms opens a window to a distant fantasy world that is shut as soon as the magazine is closed. Well we haven’t even seen Sydney properly, explored the harbour or even gone on a sightseeing cruise, when it was always there for the taking!

We decided to dip our toes in exploration by first getting to know our home town. With the expansive harbour frontage, a Sydney Harbour cruise was our first step to getting to know more about our city. The harbour cruise offered up, close and personal views of Sydney’s most famous icons like the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Then we headed to the Rocks and got to see what we’ve actually heard in terms of history about this beautiful harbour city. We had a great learning experience and being on home turf made it easier for us. We have decided to go out and explore more of Australia’s finest cities and experiences; but first we need to get our water wings off before moving to the deeper end of the pool and exploring new countries.

Age is just a number and should never be an obstacle in your path. Well, things get easier when you get older as people give you more consideration and care. You get concessions and attention wherever you go, making it perfect to travel. So go out there and put your flag on every continent!

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Make Time for those ‘Thank God It’s Friday’ Moments!

Whether you’re in Sydney or anywhere else in the world, the adage ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ holds true for everybody! Who doesn’t need a break from the demands of work and the hectic routine of daily life? A little ‘me-time’ every now and then can work wonders on you, making you a more pleasant and productive person to be around!

I speak from experience when I say, “If you find yourself losing focus, snapping at people, craving junk food and taking forever to get things done, you’ve definitely wound yourself into a tight spool that is just waiting to snap at the slightest trigger!”

So why work yourself up into a frenzy that will eventually lead to a giant melt down at home or at work? If you can’t nip it in the bud, you have to do something about it before it’s too late.

Planning a holiday may not always be practical; what you need is a quick-fix at timely intervals that helps you unwind and bring back a little magic to your life!

And, in a city like Sydney, you definitely can’t complain about the lack of things to do to rejuvenate yourself. A day at the spa, a hot air balloon ride, a picnic at the park, relaxing at the beach or a Sydney Harbour dinner cruise… these are simple, doable quick-fixes that can be worked into any schedule.

I’ve done it all and more because I strongly believe that ‘food for the soul’ is something that should not be taken lightly. Though, I’d have to say that the dinner cruise in Sydney is the one experience that lifted my spirits in more ways than one.

In one of those ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ mornings, my wife and I decided to spend the evening at Sydney Harbour; that’s when we hit upon the idea of doing a dinner cruise. It’s not like we were strangers to the harbour, but we decided to indulge ourselves a little with a luxury cruise. In no time, we organised a babysitter for the night, checked the availability of the cruise online, reserved our seats… and just like that, we were good to go! All we had to do was get through the rest of the working day... and with the Sydney Harbour dinner cruise to look forward to, our motivation levels were at an all-time high!

As I dressed up in sheer anticipation of a carefree evening, I could feel the weight of the week slowly lift off my shoulders. I just couldn’t wait to keep my date with Sydney Harbour! The dinner cruise aboard the luxury boat was simply exhilarating! It gave us a whole new perspective to dining on Sydney Harbour. The ambience simply took our breath away, dinner was delicious and service was outstanding.

We’d seen the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House before, but never this beautiful, as it glowed in the luminescence of the harbour lights. We strolled the expansive decks of the cruiser, leisurely sipping on our drinks and enjoying the cool caress of the harbour breeze. Work was forgotten, we were at ease, and all was well with the world! Isn’t that something that could work for you? Isn’t that something you could get used to?

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

The Evolution of a Vivid Revolution in Sydney

Opera House in the Vivid Lights - Viewed from a Sydney harbour cruise

What began as a smart light festival for energy efficiency in Sydney has turned into one of the most instagrammed events in the world today. Winter in Sydney was so bleak that it was said that you could streak naked through Circular Quay and there wouldn’t be a soul out there to gawk!

But Vivid Sydney, a tourism NSW initiative, completely changed the face of May and June in Sydney. Forget streaking naked, today, you’d be battling crowds just to get hundred feet ahead.
As summer faded into winter in 2009, the inaugural Vivid Lights Festival was launched in the hope of attracting creative minds to come up with greener ways to maximize energy efficiency and to bump up winter visitor numbers. It was originally meant to incorporate four festivals in one – a harbour side light festival, a music festival, a creative talk-fest and a fire & water show that recreated the explosion of a convict ship.
What was finally executed took the shape of present-day Vivid Lights, Vivid Live and Vivid Ideas. And once the seed was sown, there was no stopping its growth. Every year since 2009, the Vivid Festival has grown in scale and audience, and its evolution has been crucial to its success.
Vivid 2012 saw an influx of over 500,000 visitors and generated an income of over $10 million for the state, while 2013 attracted over 800,000 visitors generating a whopping $20 million for the NSW economy!
With the luminous brilliance that makes Vivid what it is, Sydney’s urban spaces are adorned with outdoor lighting sculptures and installations making these common, everyday places unrecognizable to local passersby. Vivid precincts such as the Opera House, Walsh Bay, Circular Quay, The Rocks, North Sydney, Darling Harbour turn into a melting pot of music, colour, art and creativity.
Cutting-edge music events and performances by local and international artists heighten the festive atmosphere in the streets, making every Vivid night an exciting, eventful one.
Vivid Sydney is all of seven years old, but in the shortest span of time has managed to become as much a part of Sydney’s charm and persona as the world-renowned New Year’s Eve Fireworks.
Today, Vivid Sydney has catapulted itself into a global phenomenon earning the reputation of being the ultimate creative forum for free thinkers, artists and musicians of the world to showcase their brilliance through mesmerising public exhibitions. It’s a raging success, to say the least!
And, whether you’re on a Vivid Sydney Harbour Cruise or you’re exploring the delights of the Vivid Festival on foot, you are guaranteed a Sydney experience unlike any other!