A Second Sydney Trip – desi style

Airport, waiting lounge, luggage had been such a frequent part of my past – that six years ago when I landed in Adelaide, I was happy to know, there would be no more flights for a while. However, that Saturday afternoon, when I boarded the airbus for a short trip to Sydney, to attend Temptations Reloaded – the feeling was strange. Because for once, I was boarding the plane for a Holiday!

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There is a stark difference between Sydney and Adelaide – the Adelaide airport feels warm and fuzzy to me. At Sydney Airport, we lost our “Way out” and ended up at the Departure.  Yes, we’re idiots! After a few questions to passers by and a lady standing behind the cafe counter (who looked desi and had a tired smile) we waited at T2 for our cousin n her hubby to pick us up.

It was a strange reunion with my cousin ; to see her after 12 years with a very adorable kid sitting next to her. My brother-in-law seemed to be a wanderlust person, who couldn’t wait to take us (brand new saali’s) to places. We were happy for his offer to take us to Leperouse, no sooner than we landed – our time was short!
Our next stop was home to a desi neighbourhood – I’ve heard about this place a lot from other desi people. From where I come from, Adelaide, there are three mosques in the entire City, a few Indian shops here and there and a handful of “Indian” restaurants with a menu to match Australian tastebuds. Lakemba was , as my cousin pointed out, as good as Dhaka.

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Lakemba alone had three mosques within the neighbourhood. A morning walk around the area amused me: shops with shutters-on, desi shop-keepers setting up their windows displaying fruits, vegetables and various fresh cooked extremely cost-effective (cheap!) products like sweets(mishti) and boxes of biriyani, tehari. As I waited to pick up a couple of lebanese pizza’s, I overheard a couple of Bengali friends deciding on their pizza flavours. This to me was a shocker! Yes, back in “country” Adelaide overhearing a desi language is rare. Slowly, my ears, which are not accustomed to hearing Bengali except at home, started picking up more Bengali words: my god! Bengali Bengali everywhere!
Being desi’s at heart, I and my sister made sure we make a tour of some desi shops, buy lots of sweets and eat fresh desi food to our hearts content as back in Adelaide, we’d have to either cook the food to match our tastebuds or be happy with the available menu.
Our food marathon began for a lunch at Banoful, where we ate Fuchka, Boti Kebab paratha and Lassi. And of course a few sips of Shezan Juice brought back childhood memories!

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We spent a Sunday afternoon with my extremely energetic cousin, striding the streets pushing her baby stroller like a boss! She supplied us non-stop with dal-puri and samosas! We took a train from Lakemba to the Central station and my god!!! It was as if the whole of Sydney decided to have a day out. We made our way to the Ferry which took us to Taronga Zoo for a cable car ride – over a picturesque Sydney above us and the Zoo set on the hills.

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That evening my brother-in-law, took us to a drive far away from the city to Royal National Park and then to the beautiful view of Sea-Cliff – a wild open remote cliff top with forest so dense – mobile signals fade out.
Here, in the midst of remoteness, I was amazed to think about the human traffic at Circular Quay only that afternoon! Sydney hosted Australian Fleet Review displaying various fleet at Sydney Harbour and celebrating the end of day with fireworks. Superstars like Rihanna and One Direction were having concerts over the long weekend. And last but not least – many people travelled like myself,  states to attend Temptations Reloaded: the first concert to have Bollywood legends Shahrukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit perform for Australia. No wonder the Sydney City was bubbling with people that weekend.

As we returned from the beautiful Sea-Cliff, my brother-in-law shared ghost-stories on the ride back home.

And finally the day came for me: the day I’d watch Shahrukh Khan live! A friend of mine picked me up from another very hospitable family we stayed with at Lakemba. They were my neighbours in Adelaide and instead of sleeping after a long day-trip round Sydney, I ended up chitchatting all night with my wonderful old neighbour who lived in this big city now!

My friend took me to another area Auburn near Bankstown – known for the heavy Lebanese population and middle eastern food. We savoured a turkish meal and made our way to the venue I have been keeping my fingers crossed for – The Allphone Arena.

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The concert was 3 hours long with stunning performances of popular numbers by Jacqueline Fernandez, Rani Mukerji, Madhuri Dixit Nene and constant entertainment by Chang and Honey Singh – I must admit, Im wasn’t a fan of Honey Singh till this concert, his music made me jump off my seat and do a bit of boogie to the bhangra beats. And I could hardly accept, the person prancing around stage was in actual Shahrukh Khan – he appeared a small figure from so far away and I wished I was sitting nearer.

The show ended late after midnight and we went for Mckers – the only available dinner close to Paramatta. Returning home late, we sat and chitchatted till 3 in the morning until it was time for us to hit the Airport route. That’s right, another night to stay up!

By the time I was at the airport…wait..how did I get to the airport at 3:00 am? A kind friend I met only that day drove us to the airport in the early hours through Sydney. Now that I turn back and think – its quite a luck to have met so many warm people within a span of three days in a city that is a total stranger to me!

Once I reached Adelaide Airport – my eye-lids felt like rock. And all I could think of was the comfort of my warm cozy bed and familiar surroundings.

This short trip to Sydney, second in the last two years made me realise – it would take me many more visits to learn more about the city and who knows perhaps I bump into a star someday!

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