Monthly Archives: August 2012

A Special Guest From Above

A Black Kite…….The King

It was a Monday morning and I was about to set out on my work,after having breakfast and the second coffee of the morning.Suddently my wife shouted standing on the wide balcony of our house;Look at this,a Kite!

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It seemed thirsty….

Well,spotting a black kite may not be a big deal in our part of the world as one can see them flying above our heads quite often.But getting to see one black kite at close quarters was something very unique,at least for me.I havn’t seen a kite so close.But here was my chance.

Within touching distance

I immediately jumped to the front and saw a beautiful looking bird;the black kite;standing nonchalantly near a flower pot maintained by my wife.We always keep a water filled pot for the occational sunbird or for even the omnipresent crow.But now it has come handy for a special guest,the high flying kite.

Black Kite or Milvus Migrans is a medium sized bird of prey of the family Accipitridae.They are opportunistic hunters and scavengers.There most favourite pass time is to hover and glide in the open sky.This bird can be widely seen throughout India.Blcak Kites are slightly smaller than red kites.

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Inquisitive Black Kite

After observing it for a few minutes I ran for my camera(Canonn 400D with a 55-250 zoom lens).The bird was so close that I could take quite a number of pictures.My wife tried to touch it but I told her not to do that.It is better to observe such birds from a distance and touching may cause a few problems for them;after all it was not a captive bird.

It was fun watching the bird gulp;a young one at that; a few mouthfuls of water from the mud pot.Neighbours also gathered to see this unusual spectacle taking place at my house.It stood there for colse to 10 mintes and flew off,disappointing me and my wife.But I thought the winged denizens of this world are happy flying.

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Perth Perfect

Anyone in the world would like to visit Australia at least once in their life time.To choose one city in Atustralia may be difficult as the country has quite a number of cities of world standard and beyond.The Australian city of Perth may come 3rd or 4th in the list of probables for such a trip.Here goes my imaginary visit to Perth…….

Perth is the largest city in Western Australia and I landed at the Perth International airport on a Qantas airplane in right earnest.Perth CBD(Central Business District) is about 17 kms from the International Terminal.The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission rated Perth as the worst in Australia as judged by airlines! I wondered if Perth is the worst;which for me was not;how the other airports in Austrlaia would be?!

I boarded a bus bound for Perth CBD and it raced via the Tonkin Highway.The journey was smooth and I thought Perth is a beautiful city.I checked into the hotel and straight headed to Kings Park on Mount Eliza.This park is situated on the western edges of Perth.Kings Park combines grassland,botanical gardens and natural bushland.One can see the Darling hills and the Swan River.Kings Park is the largest inner city park in the world and the most popular destination in Perth.There is a reservoir inside the park and a war memorial as well;the State War Memorial.During September of every year Kings Park celebrates the Kings Park festival of wild flowers.

Then it was time to visit the Perth zoo.We straight went to the jetty at Barracks Square and we were greeted by the world’s biggest musical instrument;Swan Bells Bell Tower.It houses the 12 bells of St.Martin.

We then headed to the zoo and it turned out to be world class.They have housed all those animals that matter in the world.Elephants,tigers,lions,giraffes the list is endless.We first headed to the Autralian animals section.I wanted to see a Dingo and I was offered more.The most famous Australian animal.the Kangaroo was most agile and attractive.It took several hours for us to complete the zoo visit.

Then we retturned to our hotel and thought about what can be done for the night.We were tired alright but every minute at Perth must be utilised to the full as this is a life time opportunity.We decided to go to the North Bridge Plazza which houses a big screen and runs movies and oher shows 24 housrs a day.They have restaraunts and other attractions and a whole night can be spend there.We stayed ther till midnight and then got back to our hotel and dived into the bed for a deep slumber.

The next day after breakfast we headed to the Burswood Entertainment Complex.It will be known as Crown Perth with immedaitae effect.The 2 hour casino is the biggest attraction here and we decided against any sort of gambling.We were feeling unlucky!

A round of Golf at the Burswood park surrounding the casino was a good experience.After about an hour of Golf we headed to the Burswood Dome.We watched some entrtainmennt programmes and decided to get out of there.

It was time for us to get to the aiport and get back home.We boarded a Qantas aircraft to Singapore and then another one to Mumbai.Perth as they say is perfect!

Adelaide Always

Somebody recently asked me to write an imaginary tour diary to the Australian city of Adelaide and here it goes……

Sydney and Melbourne may be more popular than Adelaide but a visit to this fifth largest city in Austrlia is an experience in itelf.I boarded a Qantas aircraft bound for Adelaide’s International airport.It is located 6kms frrom the city centre and is quite close to civilization compared to the other cities of Australia.The airport is very close to the West Beach as well.

I boarded a “Jetbus” and headed straght to the hotel for check-in.Colonel William Light planned the city of Adelaide.The “Light vison” was intially unpopular but the colonel persisted and had his way.The first place I wanted to visit was the Adelaide Oval.This cricket ground has witnessed quite a no.of nail biting matches over the years.Since no match was taking place we were allowed to get into the middle of the ground.What a feeling it was! I envied all those fortunate cricketers who had the opportunity to play here.

Then I moved straight to the tallest building in Adelaide,the Westpac House located in Currie street.This 137m tall structure was the headquarters of the State Bank till recently.I proceeded to King William street and rushed into a small restaurant.Melbourne is famous for its coffee but the one I got here in Adelaide was equally good.

I had already decided to spend the evening on top of Mount Lofty,15 kms from the city.But there was enough time to spend before that.So I headed to the South Australian Museum on North Terrace.There I visited the Art Gallery first which offered quite magnificient paintings and other artifacts.Then I went inside the Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallerry.One cant come back from a visit to Australia without learining something about the original inhabitnats of the country.

Then it was time for me to climb the Lofty mountain standing at around 750 m above sea level.I jumped into a cab and it headed to the Lofty hills via the South Eastern Freeway.I thought of trekking from Waterfall Gully but decided against it to save time.Once at the top the view of Adelaide was breathtaking.It was only getting darker and I spend watching the city from atop the mountain for quite sometime.Then I stepped into a restaurant(A fire destroyed the old hotels a few years ago)which was new and spend the rest of the evening there.

The next day I went staight to the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.After spending half a day there I got into a tram and purchased my ticket to Glenelg.This is a beach resort and I thought of spending the rest of the day there.

Then it was time for me to head to the airport to catch my flight back home.It was an unforgettabe experience visiting Adelaide for me..

A Survey on How one Consumes news

I recently took part in a research conducted by “Insites” for BBC World.The research was about how one consumes news.They wanted to know what media we use,pc,tv,mobile etc and which are the news providers you normally rely on to get to the news.

Around 100 people from around the world was chosn for the survey and it lasted a fortnight.Every day we were supposed to tell them how we read or heared or watched the news and how we felt.

For me the most favourite medium is the mobile for getting to the news.I travel a lot and there is no better pass time than reading when you are doing that.I take the train to get to my destinations and the cell phone is quite handy not only for getting connected with freinds and colleagues but for reading news as well.

bbc.co.uk is my favourite source of news and current affairs.When Iam at home,I watch Tv;no big deal as most of us do that.But I dont tune into all those soap operas,but again the bbc world is my favourite.Sports is paramount whether live or rcorded.

The whole research was a unique experience and I felt good going thru the whole process.At the end they rewarded us with a gift cheque worth $60!I havn’t redeemed it yet.

Sydney Syntillates

It was a long hard day’s work for me on a Saturday and I dived into my bed around 1am!I don’t have any good reasons to tell you,but I got up early in the morning at 6AM,that too being a Sunday.My wife got up with mee and fed me her famous filter coffee.The Sunday edition of “The Hindu” had quite a few interesting articles to my taste.Iam not sure when I went on a deep slumber rading the news paper………

I got up from my nap inside a Qantas aircraft which was about to land at the Sydney,Kingsford Smith airport.I took off from Singapore after getting there from Mumbai.Iam on a 3 day visit to Sydney all on my own with a tourist visa.

The Kingsford is situated near the Botany Bay and is the busiest in Australia.After alighting from the A380 flight,I immediately proceeded(retrieved my baggage.of course)to the International railway station underneath the International terminal.I love travelling by train and even if Iam in Sydney,I couldn’t be diffeerent.

I checked into a hotel at Darling Bay and it was wondeful.The balcony was overlooking the beautiful Darling Beach.I could see numerous tourists enjoying their day out in the hot sun.But my mind was on another landmark in Sydney and I quickly boarded a cab to get there.

That famous landmark is the Sydney Opera House.My first impression was one of exhilerating excitement.One need not feel that much for a cultural edifice,even if its world famous.But his one is different and it has become so famouts people associate Sydeny with the opera house.

My next destination was the Sydney Cricket ground.A local match was going on there and the entry was free.That particular match didnt matter to me much,but once inside the stadium I thought of the innumerable Test and one-day Intrnational matches played out on that stadium.A truly magnificient arena for playinng cricket.The seats were very confortable and one gets a neat view of the ground wherever you are seated.I spend about 2 housrs watching the local match and came out of the ground thinking about the excitement in store for me for the reamaining of the first day in Sydney.

The Syudney region has been inhabited by indiginous Australians for at least 30,000 years,carbon dating data shows.They are known as the Cadigal people.Sydney is bordered by the Pacific ocean and the Blue Mountains.The name resembles the famous Indian Nilgiri hills,in Tamill Nadu.

The famus Bondi beach is among the 70 odd beaches offered by Sydney.There is a magnificient sculpture welcoming you at Bondi beach.My next destination at Sydney was the Harbour Bridge.This colsosal structure is used by one and all at Sydney.There are trains,buses and cars,cyclists and pedestrians.

The Sydney Conservatorium of music is an old music school.A very big structure encompassing various sections and theatres.I dint spend much time threre and quickly moved on to the next destination within Sydney.

The Sydney Tower is the tallest structure in the city.The Sydney Tower skywalk was very exciting and adventurous.The Australian National Maritime Museum was the next point for me to see.It took almost 3 hours to observe all that was on offer there.

It was time to call it a day for the day and I  dived into my bed thinking about the next day’s activities.

Aftr brakfast it was time to go Parramatta,a historic city in itself.I stepped into the Old Government House and the aticfacts presented there was tuly breathtaking.This place was built in 1799.The Lake Parramatta and the Parramatta parks were wonderful.One can spend quite some time just doing nothing here.

Picton is a small country town near Sydney and the place boasts of heritage architecture.At George 4th Inn you get traditionally brewed beer and thats a wonderful news for those beer drinkers.

If you are a Sydneysider(a person living in Sydney) you would be a regular visiter to the Sydney harbour.One can swim,sail,dive or simply walk around.I spend the rest of the evening at Sydney harbour.

The next day(final day for me)I set out to the Circular Quay and went on a walk for about 2 hours.This is the best place to aquire some souvenirs if you are intrested.One can get some good photographs with the Opera house and Harbour bridge in the back ground.

I spend the entire day there and it was time for me to head to the airport.It has been a good 3 days at Sydney and you would never have it enough here.I got a window seat and quickly slipped into a deep slumber.

Do you want another coffee?I heared my wife shouting and I stood up with The Hindu falling from my lap.Quickly I realised that the whole thing was a dream!Well this is the sort of dream one wouldn’t mind slipping into…….

Melbourne Moorings…..

Melbourne CBD…..Dream City-From Wikipedia

When I dream about Melbourne the first structure which comes to my mind, of course is the MCG,the Melborune Cricket Ground.Being an Indian you can forgive me for being so passionate about cricket!What a beautiful space for playing cricket.The lovely outfield and the magnificient turf have witnessed quite a phenomenal amount of breathtaking cricket over the years.Certainly Iam not going into all those runs and wickets in this particular blog.

Once Iam at the ground the one thing I want to do is to invite Mr.Ricky Ponting,a wonderful Australian batsman, who is for the time being,trying to get that ball on to the bat.I would like to fire(Remember that Iam not a bad bowler at all!)a red cherry at 150km/hour,or less,and prepare him for the 2013 ashes series.But I realise that the most difficult thing in Melbourne is to get Rickey Ponting to the MCG from Tasmania!

A very happy news to begin with.Melbourne has been declared as the most liveable city for the second year running by the Economist Intelligents Units Global Liveability Survey.Well thats not bad, considering that there are several other cities in the world which would compete for that coveted prize.As I imagine, landing at the Tullamarine  airport;which came into operation in 1970(replacing the erstwhile Essendon airport),on board a Qantas airplane. I could see the colorful skyline of Melbourne Metropolitan city.The bird’s eye view of this most famous Victorian city was brethtaking.

An ideal spot to watch sunrise;Hot air balloon-From Wikipedia

Melbourne airport is accessible from the city centre(23 kms)by raod,the Tullemarine Freeway and Citylink can be used(The Skybus Super shutttle service is Govt.operated).I would have preferred a train journey to the city.But the proposed rail track to the airport under the “Linking Victoria” programme was shelved after market research proved that most passengers preferred a car to come to the airport.

Approximately 4.1 million Melbournians live in the city.Melbourne is located on the Port Philip Bay and the Yarra river adds beauty to the buzzling modern city centre.Melbourne was founded in 1835 and is known as the cultural capital of Australia.

La Trobe Reading room at the State Library-From Wikipedia

After checking into the hotel,the first thing I want to do was to visit the State Library of Victoria.Sitting in the sprawling La Trobe reading room,I was transported into another world.I quickly scrolled thru the pages of the “Herald Sun” and “The Age”.The sports pages in both news papers were testament to the highest levels of sports enthusiasm in the country.

Then I got into a tram,the backbone of Melbourne, and a big tourist attraction,and arrived at St.Pauls Anglican Cathedral,a colossal and iconic structure which has a special eerie charm.Melbourne has about 59% Christian believers and all other religions of the world are represented here.It has also the highest number of holocaust survivors for any Australian city.

Amicable and admired….the Koala-From Wikipedia

Melbourne has a moderate oceanic climate and at times is unpredictable.Melbourne is situated at the confluence of the hot inland areas and the cold southern ocean.Melbourne experiences heavy rains and extreme colds because of this peculiar geographic locaion.

After seeing the St.Anglican cathedral it was time for me to get to Melborne CBD’s(Central Business District) other attractions.Melbourne is known for its lanes and arcades,from time immemorial,and the Block Place and the Royal Arcades epitomises this histotical aristocracy.The Central Place is a good avenue with magnificient shops and eateries and one can spend some good dollars here!

 

The MCG,Splendid-From Wikipedia

I Stepped into the “Eclipse” a very popular coffee drinking place and fortunately got a good vantage point to sit and have a sip of the famous coffee of Melbourne,that too without spending much time standing in the queue.I ordered a “ristretto” which was spicy but to my liking.The coffee break itself was an amazing experience.

Then I decided to visit the National Gallery of Victoria or popularily NGV,located at Southbank.The collections at this art gallery,which was started in 1861, was amazing to say the least.The stained glass ceiling of the Great Hall was simply outstanding.

The Eureka builiding(a residential property) is the tallest structure in Melbourne and after getting a glimpse of it from a distance, I headed straight to Vermont South and to Pink Oaks,a typical suburban Melbourne area.This place featured as the fictional “Ramsay street” in the soap opera;Neighbours.

Melbourne Tram….Ubiquitous-From Wikipedia

Melbourne is culturally very vibrant and it was time for me to go to the Princess Theatre.The sprawling precincts of the theatre complex takes quite sometime to see around.But it was worth the effort.But no show was going on;fortunately or unfortunately!

The city of Melborune offers best of transport facilities in the world but if you ask me the quickest way of getting from one end to the other, then the vehicle to look forward may be the bicycle!The Government encourages people to use more of the bicycle,to get to work or for recreation,there by reducing the already overrflowing motor vehicle traffic.More over you get more fitter and energetic!At “Bike Park” one can lock up their cycles,get a shower,and head straight to their offices for the day’s work.For registered members its open 24×7.

Aboriginal Heritage;Rock Carvings-From Wikipedia

Autralians love their sports and Melbournites are no different.Cricket is definitely popular,if not a passion like in India,the “Australians rules football” is another version of football which is played with frenzy here.This footabll game is also known as footy or simply “Aussie rules”.This is a 18 member, full body contact ,outdoor game.During the 1956 Melbourne summer Olympics the sport was showcased as a demonstration event.

Then it was time to take a cruise on the Yarra river.The Melba Star is one boat which gives you luxury par excellence.The liner cruised past Docklands,several parks and magnificient buildings and the port of Melbourne.Then excitement was in store,if not started already,as I was looking forward to the night life in Melbourne.In other words I wanted to go underground!

The Bolte Bridge at dusk-From Wikipedia

Melbourne offers innumerable restaurants and bars where one can spend an entire night.There are many underground get aways as well.I chose to step into the Element Lounge at Queen Street.I was not disappointed with the place I chose to spend the night(Not all of the night,of course).There are five separate sections,water,wood,fire,metal and earth.All of them,I was pretty sure,would offer best of luxury and entertainment.But I had to make a choice  and I chose “Water”.Iam not a keen dancer but doesn’t mind watching others do it.So I sat in a corner and enjoyed some sips of some efferevescent liquid and tried to figure out what an exciting first day I had at Melbourne!

I kept the alarm at 8am and wanted to start my exploration of Melbourne in right earnest the next day.The view from my room at the hotel offered a good view of Melbourne.The tall buildings and lanes and roads looked wondefully modern and clean.Being a vegetarian is not a big deal in Australia and of course in Melbourne  most of the restaurants offer veg stuff.After a breakfast consisting of orange juice,breads,cakes and the aromatic Melbourne coffee I set out for the day out.

Immediately after that I set out to the University of Melbourne,Ormond College in Parkville.One might think whats there to see in a University.But this more than 100 years old estemend institution have produced a plethora of high standing students.There is a beautiful Cricket ground and a Hockey ground within the prcincts of the college.

Then I visited an unusual place,at least for a tourist like me,the Elvis Presley Memorial at the General Cemetery near the University.It was built by the Elvis Presley fan club immediately after his death at considerable expenses.

I love wildlife and prefer to observe them in their own natural habitat.But that doesn’t mean I totally disregard the wonderful zoos around the world.One such zoo exists in Melbourrne and I boarded a tram and got down at the zoo entrance.After getting my tickets I entered the animal kingdom expecting to get some wild acventure.

Water supply to Melbourne;Sugarloaf reservoir-From Wikipedia

I was not disappointed as the Melbourne zoo has much to offer.The animals I wanted to see was the Platypus,Koala,Kangaroo and the Wombat.I straight went to the enclosure where they have kept the platypusses.It was my first experience standing face to face with a platypus.Then moved over to see the most famous animal in Australia,the red Kangaroo.The snow leopard was something which I was not expecting to see,and that experience was wonderful.It was time for me to get out of the zoo and I walked my way to the Royal Park railway station

I boarded a train and got down at Federation Square.This place is a city in itself and offers all that you want when you are in Melbourne.I first entered the Australian Centre for Moving Image(ACMI).I had alrady visited the NGV,yesterday.At ACMI one can see the moving image in all its splendour whether it is television,movie or digital culture.

Then it was time to get into the “Time out” restaurant at Flinders street.They offer the best of Mediterranean stuff.It seemed the restaurant is always crowded.But the menu was exciting and it was a nice experience at the end.

I decided to be in Federation Square for the rest of the evening and night as it offeres all the excitement needed when you are in Melbourne.I had already decided on what to do on the 3rd day at Melbourne and that required a before dawn start!

Which is the best place to see sun rise in Melbourne?Don’t stress your mind too much,as obviously it would be best viewed a few meters aboove the ground.A hot air balloon sounds exciting and adventurous.I had booked “ChauffeurDrive” to pick me up early in the morning and drop me at the take-off point.It was an exhilerating experience,as the balloon flew over Melbourne CBD,nearby hills and the Port Philip Bay.The photographs I took from above Melbourne are the best among the lot.

Melbourne Docklands-From Wikipedia

After getting down fron the balloon,I moved straight for an Aboriginal rendevous.I visited the Koorie Heritage Trust with an Aboriginal person as guide.When you visit Australia one should not miss out to meet the original inhabitants of the continent.

My short stay at Melbourne was coming to an end I had time till midnight,when the flight to Mumbai would take off.I decided to spend some quite time getting to South Melbourne’s famous place,the Albert Park.You would witness the old world charm of Austrlaia here.The heritage buildings are wonderul even after standing tall all these decades.A short sailing trip on the Albert Lake was wonderful.

I was coming pretty close to my stay at Melbourne.I thought one might need weeks if not months to fully enjoy and grasp the variety offered by Melbourne.But I was not disappointed as this short trip made me understand and experience this Victorian city,in a satisfying manner.

Melbourne airport-From Wikipedia

I got into a taxi and proceeded to the Tullamarine Airport to catch my flight back home.I enjoyed Melbourne one last time sitting in the cab.The beautiful buildings and roads are something which would always linger in your mind.The Bolte Bridge looked bautiful at night.It seemed Melbourne would never disappoint you till the very end.I boarded my flight and sat on a window seat and looked out thru the glass pane.

The man in my neighbouring seat was busy browsing using his laptop.I could read

‘…it’s your time to visit Melbourne NOW!

www.visitmelbourne.com/in.

As I reminisced my encouter with one of the most beautiful cities of the world,I heared the flight attendant announcing the departure of the flight.I slowly closed my eyes and dived into a deep slumber.Suddently I heard the flight attendant’s voice again…..”Welcome to Chatrapathi Shivaji International Airport,Mumbai”………