Adelaide, Australia – where it all began ..
There are certain moments in life that one never forgets – the first day at school, the first kiss, the first day at work, the first time you meet your partner and yes, the first international trip. If there is one word to describe all of them, it would probably be awkward. Two decades ago, I would have never dreamt that travel is something I would do for a living. My memories go back to the time when I was a gawky teenager, when I got my first opportunity to go abroad. I was literally all over the moon. I was in college then, had neither a passport nor a camera and had no idea what to pack for a foreign trip. I remember buying my first pair of jeans and a pair of good walking shoes just a couple of days before the trip .
This was an India before the mobile phone or the internet era. I had not heard of the word “email” then. And the trip was not a short one. It was for 28 days and I was accompanying a coffee delegation to Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia. My late grandfather had organised it and he needed someone to help him around and he asked me if I would like to come. He was taking a group of directors from his company and I was to be his “secretary” . I barely had a month to get my passport and visas and managed to convince the college to give me a month leave. And the trip finally happenned.
My first port of halt was Singapore as we flew into Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney and Canberra. I was lost in a new world. It was January and peak summer. We went to Adelaide, Adelaide Hills and Barossa Valley. I saw kangaroos and koala bears in Adelaide and penguins at Philip Island near Melbourne.. I was so crazy over Steve Waugh and Australian cricket then that I hung around Adelaide Oval, MCC and MCG and SCG to see if we could spot him. For the record, I did not but later interviewed him in Mumbai when I was working in television.
I was in Sydney during Australia Day which happens to be our Republic Day and was rather taken in by the celebration at the harbour. Sadly I do not have too many photographs, except for these scanned memories, but I sent postcards to myself, my parents and my brother from every destination I visited and I still have them. The first trip is indeed special.
So why am I on this nostalgic trip ? Because two decades later, I am on my way to Australia again – to South Australia primarily and then I will be extending my stay by a week in Melbourne and Sydney. And this is going to be my first international trip this year. I was overwhelmed by the flood of memories when I saw the quiz questions in the contest organised by South Australia a few months back and I got every one of them right. I participated just for the lark of it, remembering my grand dad actually and my aunt who were on the trip with me and who are today no more. I had no idea that I would even win the contest and head there this year. But here I am, going back on the same route that I did more than 20 years ago. And this is going to be special, because Australia was where it all began, knowingly or unknowingly this compulsive passion for travel. And I will be sharing with you fresh memories .