Travel is a lifeline. A broken heart and travel becomes my only lifeline. A Pakistani passport, with a couple of visas thrown in, becomes a lifeline.
So, thats where this tale begins. I looked up, and it seemed I ended up in Sydney. Having lived there as a local for 2 years, back in the yore, Sydney is where I am temporarily based, in some half hearted attempted to figure out “The True meaning of life,” one which so far has eluded me. So I am in the unenviable position of no mans land, not really a tourist, but well, not really a local either. Here goes nothing.
When they call it Down Under, they do not jest. Baring New Zealand, this is about as far away from the proverbial “maddening crowd” you can get. Pakistan is either 5 hours or 6 hours behind, which honestly is a nightmare and a half to deal with on a normal day. It’s winter here, which is actually a beautiful time to be in Australia. It is mild, not particularly freezing cold, and night time is beautiful.
The last few days have been all about settling in and sorting things down. On the inevitable questions off things to do, Sydney does become somewhat quieter in winter. Locals take this time to go on breaks, the city does wear a deserted look. That is more the case this year, as Sydney Central Business District (CBD) is having a total revamp, with the light rail being built on George Street, essentially the main thoroughfare of CBD. While madly uncomfortable right now (imagine a huge spammer, smack in the middle of the main road, for a couple of kms) it bodes well for the future of Sydney.
Day 1 and 2 passed in a blur of just getting hit by cold and well settling in. Ironically enough, I seemed to have chosen to live in the suburbs, a stones throw away from Lakmeba, which is basically desi central. More on that later.
The plus side of Sydney CBD being so compact is that you can walk from point A to point B, and unlike New York, the wind will not be having a party at your brutal expense.
What do you do when you are a mixture of heartbroken and homesick? You turn up at the Sydney Opera House of course! Designed by Danish Architect Jorn Utzon, it was opened by Queen Elizabeth on 20th October 1973. It has captured the collective imagination of billions of people and well it looks haunting as a backdrop in night, along with the Sydney Bridge.
Letting out all the memories I had of running up the stairs, forever late to a performance, I figured life still carries on and bought tickets for Sydney Opera Talks that have started and get some pretty kick ass speakers. It was Jackie Chan, and well who doesn’t know Jackie Chan? The Hong Kong Martial arts actor, film director, producer and stuntmen, the expectations were high. Sydney has a massive South East Asian population. No surprise, he was greeted to thunderous applause, catcalls and enough mandarin and cantonese catcalls to fill a novel. He didn’t disappoint. From his life story, to his belief in his dreams, his animation, his never standing still. It made for an animated audience. In every single way.
After the show got over, hundreds off us streamed outside. The Opera House makes for a stunning backdrop, especially on a misty night. In this generation of snapchats, instant messaging, whatsapp and instagram, it was no surprise that everyone and their mother twice removed was busy taking pictures in every imaginable pose infront of these two icons. My personal favorite? Pikachu being pictured by a Japanese tourist, once at the Opera House Background, then a quick shuffling and the Sydney Bridge background. Having never played the game (Pokemon), but hear volumes about it, the hilarity of the situation was unmitigated.
Walking in Circular Quay on any day is magic. The ferries dock here, all the tourists make a beeline for here. Circular Quay is to Sydney what Leicester Square is to London; albeit slightly more classy and easy on the eyes. During night time, things get silent and all you can really hear are people walking, muttering, pictures being taken, the last ferries docking and some great food. That is when Circular Quay is at its best. The Opera Bar, people milling around, tourists walking around, locals just sitting, drinking in the sights. It’s actually ethereal.
It was a great end to a pretty awesome night. Catching the training back to the “burbs” was a different experience, but one that I seem to be getting more familiar with as the days pass. The quietness is still unsettling as ever.