Tag Archives: South Perth

Australia Day vs. Republic Day

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.


Weekend Flavour

No one does weekends like the Australians do – at least, not in my experience. Weekends are a very serious affair here. Lots of people passionately committed to doing nothing. Nothing but ride their bicycles by the river, play golf with their mates, take their boats onto the river, and sit in South Perth cafés, drinking coffee.

I’ve been to South Perth twice. The first time was with a friend who treated me to lunch at Bell’s Café. I chose the chicken with camembert and orange and cranberry sauce. I’ve never thought of putting orange and chicken in the same sentence, let alone the same dish. Most exotically wonderful fare I’ve tasted yet.

As I sat savouring my meal – incredibly slowly, and risking a parking fine into the bargain – my friend told me of earlier years when it was possible to land small aircraft in one of the parks on the north shore. It’s still possible to take a ferry trip across the river though. And if you’re well to do, you can throw a party on the paddle-wheel boat that’s moored by the jetty just outside the café.

Perth has a well-established café culture, I begin to realize, and it seems that my little jaunts around the city are fated to end in cafés. Not surprisingly, my second visit to South Perth was also to a café, not far from the worthy Bells. As the afternoon wafted into evening, we discussed the merits of espressos, cappuccinos and the long black – which is apparently black but not ‘long’, much to my disappointment. I imagined it was an extra-tall glass of coffee.

“It’s getting crowded,” observed the gentleman who was treating us. Sure enough, there seem to be more couples drifting into the café now. As my companions and I enjoyed coffee and waffles, we marvelled at a vacuous Labrador, a smartly dressed poodle, and not-so smartly dressed fellow diners. Australians don’t do formal dressing as a rule – but I’ll discuss Oz fashions another day. Suffice to say, you can’t do an Aussie weekend without a T-shirt and shorts.

“People really like their thongs – even in winter,” observed my elegant African friend. I had to remind myself that ‘thongs’ are slippers (flip-flops) in Australia. Then again, who knows what you might see in a café in Perth on a weekend.