It’s the 26th of January. It’s hot. It’s a public holiday. In Australia, this usually means heading down to the beach. I’m Indian. My soul shrivels up at the thought of venturing out into the 40C sun. My countrymen back home are probably watching the Republic Day parade on television. This is the only public holiday barring Christmas and New Year that we share with Australia. I may be in Perth, but I’m doing the 26th the Indian way.
So here I am, at half past ten in the morning, watching the ABC’s coverage of the Australia Day ceremonies in Canberra. It’s intriguing that both the Governor-General and the Prime Minister are women. I’m reminded that it’s a woman taking the Presidential salute at the ceremonies in New Delhi too. Australians do it differently though. There are no state floats bobbing past or dancing school children. There is however a breaking of flags – Australian, Aboriginal, and Torres Strait Islander. Three flags but one country? We just have one tricolour. Does that mean the same thing?
I listen to Adam Gilchrist’s welcome speech. Geoffrey Rush has been named Australian of the Year. I’m not sure who’s on the awards list in India. The Indian cricket team is putting on a dismal effort in Adelaide, and Melbourne is enjoying ideal weather for the tennis. It’s all happening Down Under, but I’m not sure what’s going on on the other side of the Indian Ocean.
At least a few of my Aussie friends seem to have forsaken the beach for Facebook. One of them wishes me “Happy India Day”, something Indians never do. Another thinks of us as “sibling nations”. Hmm. Perhaps our Republic Day needs the Australian touch. We certainly should be more in touch with our Australian siblings.
Later tonight, there will be Skyworks in the city. This is Australian for a thirty-minute firework display along the Swan River, best viewed from the southern shore at South Perth. I managed to catch the last five-minutes of the show two years ago – a poorly planned attempt to do the 26th Australia style. This year, my half-hearted plans to do it right and catch the whole show fall through. Perhaps next year then. I’m going to do this the Indian way after all. I’ll turn on the TV, stay next to the fan, and watch the fun.
So, to my fellow Indians – Jai Hind. To my Australian neighbours – Advance Australia fair.