I wrote this post on the 29th of March while flying back from Sydney. With a trip to Gurgaon sandwiched in after I returned. I stayed back with my lil bro & my lil sis in law made a fantastic biriyani. I returned from their huge Doll House (can’t think of them as grown ups) yesterday but was too fagged to open my comp. But here I am again with my friend Sassy Fork egging me on asking me to write.
Once again I am writing a post on a flight. This time as I head to Singapore from Sydney on my way back to Mumbai.
My neighbour is George. A doctor from Sydney. He is off to London for a conference. He loves to travel and loves conferences for that. He loves food and cooks at home. He experiments with different cuisines and often makes Indian when he entertains. His family is of British origin. To him Mid Eastern cuisine is what Far Eastern is to me. Loves to eat cheese. He doesn’t like watching horror films. He is very interested in society and culture. And took charge of my supper when the steward came to take our order and was suggesting what I should eat. He has high cholesterol and beats it with a pill. And loves his meat.
Have I met my alter ego? Were we separated at the Kumbh Mela as kids? Or at the Scarborough Fair?
Well what a fantastic last day it was at Sydney. A lot of Aussies had suggested that I should ‘climb the bridge’ when they heard that I was going to Sydney. Now that’s not the sort of thing that a respectable Bengali gentleman does on a holiday. But I did walk across the Harbour Bridge today. Armed with a water bottle. I had checked with the folks at Vibe, the hotel I was staying with on the time it would take. The Caucasians knew how long it took while the Asians had to look up the net. Not a very active race are we?
Well the walk tall about half an hour as they had told me. The weather was perfect. Not too sunny. Not wet. The views of the Harbour, the Opera House and the sea were amazing. It was almost as if the Opera House had dressed up to pose for me. I was not alone. There were tourists, school students and serious joggers going past me while the other side of the road was for the cyclists.
|Crossing the Harbour bridge|
|The other end|
Well my walk wasn’t entirely without an ulterior motive. I was in search of a Sydney icon called ‘Pancake on the Rocks’ strongly recommended to me by my friend Ranjit. His earlier recommendations of Mamasita at Melbourne AND Meat and Wine Co at Sydney turned out to be very good bets.
I was armed with a page from Google Maps that the enthusiastic boys at the Vibe gave me the previous day. I walked down the cobbled paths of Rocks which I fell in love with the day I landed at Sydney. Lonely Planet refers to the Rocks as faux, sanitised ‘Olde Worlde’ as it has been restored but give me this over steel and chrome any day. That’s the thing about Australia. They know how to harmonise the past with the present. Unlike a Shanghai which bludgeons away its history. Or Mumbai which doesn’t really know what to do with places like Fort and leaves it uncomfortably at a corner like an aged parent and a busy child.
|Bought a Woody Allen bio for K from here|
I finally found the object of my search thanks to David who was making candy for a wedding that evening. David’s candy store at Rock’s is ten years old and he has branched out now. He has been to Mumbai a few times too. His assistant gave me a piece of fresh strawberry candy to taste and boy was it fresh.
I was helped in the last leg by the genial, elderly owner of a sleepy Irish Pub. After all they don’t make it easy for you at the Pancakes on the Rocks. If you want pancakes you have to seek them out. For Pancakes on the Rocks wasn’t on the roads. It was INSIDE a building called Metcalfe.
|David the kind candy man|
|on the way to pancakes|
|Open 24 hours and yet so busy|
|Go in for Pancakes on the Rocks|
|Pancakes on my mind|
The folks at Vibe warned me about the crowds at Pancakes. I was lucky to beat this by a whisker. I saw a queue forming soon after I sat down. I opted for the ‘Aussie Sunrise’ as suggested by David’s assistant and a cappuccino to go with it. And what a breakfast it was. The best bacon I have had in a long time. Fried eggs. Fried bananas and pineapple. And three pancakes stacked on each other. A little pot of Maple syrup to pour on them. Take a bite and you will forget every pancake you have ever had in your life. And the shop was set up a year after I was born. Waiting for me to come over one day. The consistency, the warmth, the sweetness of the pancakes. The zest and chirpiness of the syrup .... this was Australia in sum. Couldn’t think of a better taste experience to leave Australia with.
|Almost as if they set shop for me|
|Last cappuccino at Sydney|
|Aussie Sunrise...while the sun sets on the British empire|
|the best ever|
And the cheerful send off from the boys and girls at The Vibe, ‘come again’ they said. The smiling Turk cabbie, Zakir , who drove me to the airport. I couldn’t have left in a happier mood. As I looked out of the tarmac through the window of the plane, the words of Pauline from the reception of the Vibe, echoed around me, “You must come and stay with us again”.
I loved Australia but felt its warmth the most within the energy of the grey yet sunny Sydney.
|Zakir from Cappadoccia. A proud Aussie|
|Milson's Point opposite Vibe. So lively|
|Some of the folks at The vibe. The warmest of the hotels I stayed in at Oz|