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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!