Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Sydney Experience - Part II

For those of you who still aren't bored with all this talk, let me continue from where I left earlier....

Read Part I


So, hmmm, yes, I learned about the differences between Indian cities and Sydney. The next day was a day that left me gasping for breath and pining for rest. The legs felt like they were being pulled by iron ropes.The day started pretty early and the folks at my friend's home were fortunately relaxed and not hurrying away to office because it was a Sunday. My friend - Blessy - became my guide and made me first take a walk in her neighbourhood. It was amazing. I put my camera to work right away. Click. Click. The roads, a few lovely houses including my friend's, the lake, and traces of a new bridge over the lake...

Off we went to the railway station from there. The automatic ticketing system was an interesting thing to study. Blessy did something special in the railway station. She decided to show me 2 trains, one an old one and another the most modern. The old one was called Tingara...or was it Tongara? it T----ara. Something unexpected happened. While she was showing me an old train that was parked, the train's driver saw us snooping around and came up to us and invited us into the engine-room! We clicked a few snaps and saw the train move and got off at the next station. We then went straight to the you know where place in Sydney - the Harbour Bridge & the Opera House junction - The Circular Quay! It was awesome. I loved the bridge more than the opera house, to be frank. The water was lovely. Then we went off to the botanical garden, spent a few hurried minutes and left for the next spot. The next spot was the underwater world. That was a cool experience. Then it was the skytrain ride and something to eat. We went and got some vegetarian burgers at Hungry Jacks. BTW, I survived the trip because of the Indian food that I got at Blessy's place! Not because I would never try Australian food, but because I was a vegetarian and there was nothing other than fruits and veg. burgers to satisfy my hunger out there! Okay, so....we then went to a shopping complex - Woolworths - and I was amused to see the variety of fruits and vegetables lined up! It was then a walk around the city (some of the roads - Pitts Street, Brad Street, et al). It was evening and I was for one dead tired. We decided to call it a day after a ferry ride to the beach on the other side of Circular Quay. It was getting dark and the last ferry back was at 7.30 PM. When we landed on the other side it was almost 7 PM. And well, the ferry ride was simply great. I loved the view both the bridge and the opera house from the other side! :) But when we landed I was too tired to be ready to walk down to the beach and be back in 30 minutes to catch the last ferry back to town. :( So we settled for a coffee at one of those famous coffee shops there (i forget the name). and went back on the next ferry. From there it was back home by train. That was the gist of my first day at Sydney! :)

The second day was hectic and not really worth a story. My whole body was aching and I needed to rest badly. So, I was off to the hotel. My friend dropped me at the hotel and was off to her office. I had to anyways prepare for the presentation on Tuesday. I managed to walk up to Circular Quay once again from the hotel and spent a few minutes admiring the bridge and the opera house...and the still water between the two marvels.

The next two days were all about the conference. And well, I did have a diffculty in understanding the accent. So, maybe I did not pick up as much 'knowledge' as I could have...

The conference was frankly not as exciting as the city (maybe because I was tired, new to the culture, new to the city, and new to the accent) but I got the feeling that I was at last seeing the world and getting exposed to different cultures. Some of the folks at the conference were extremely friendly... :) .... I made my share of friends from other parts of Australia, Singapore, HK, and Britian. The dinner at the end of day one of the conference was cool...having been a part of the discussion board on KM in Asia earlier in the day, it was easy for me to build a rapport with some of the others in the audience. BTW, for those of you who know Sydney, the venue of the conference was the Taronga Zoo. So, I got to see a few Kangaroos, an Emu, and a few Kaolas during the lunch break! :) Coming back to the dinner experience, I got to sit next to none else but one of the founding fathers of KM - Karl Erik Sveiby - and he had a word of advice for me. "You ought to know politics to promote KM!" was what it was. On the other side was a KM expert from UK - Neil - and he too had a few tips for me!

The view from the dinner balcony was breath-taking! The bridge and the opera house shone in the darkness and the water was glistening. The distance from the other shore was just right for some one to be overawed by the view. It was getting beyond 8.30 PM and I was trying to figure out how I would get to the hotel, when destiny introduced me to a lady in the conference that was from the same hotel! She was more than willing to accompany me on my way fact, she was the one who escorted me (no, I wasn't drunk... :)) because I knew the place as much as I did the moon. ;)

My presentation was comin' up the next day and I had to prepare for it at least a little before hitting the bed. I did prepare but not to my complete satisfaction. The next day, the presentation was happening in 2 rooms simultaneously and I had to decide which one I would be attending at the beginning of each slot. So, I went up and down between the 2 venues till it was my chance to talk. The presentation went off pretty well and I managed to throw in a bit of humour here and there. There were 3 Ks associated with my presentation and I decided to ask the audience to guess what they were and one man got it right - Bingo - Knowledge (as in KM), Kangaroos and Kaolas! ;)

After the presentation, it was a little disappointing to leave the place because I had had a good time talking to such friendly people from across the world. There was this particular friend, Kersti, who made me feel at home by talking to me and making me laugh with her sense of humour. There was this other polite lady from HK, Patrick from Singapore, Stuart from Sydney, and many more other folks that I enjoyed talking to...

It was still bright when we all left the conference venue and took a ferry back to Circular Quay. I drank the view in and never blinked my eyes knowing that I might never get to see the place again in my life. Kersti was with me on the ferry and continued to make me laugh while chattering away. We got off, bid goodbye to each other and I also shook hands with some of the other friends who had come along on the ferry. I stood a while near the opera house, called Blessy from there and told her that I would await her in the hotel. I walked up to the hotel and brought a few gifts for my friend and a few others on the way. Blessy arrived at the hotel around 7 PM, helped me pack and both of us left for her place by taxi. I then had a sumptuous dinner at Blessy's place and chatted with her a while and went off to sleep knowing that the next day would see me step out of Sydney. The next day was another routine day for Blessy and her family. Blessy accompanied me on my train ride to the Airport and bid goodbye from inside the train (she continued to travel to her office). I pushed the trolley of luggage into the airport and went up and got my tickets and looked around the airport to spend the rest of time I had till the flight. And then, I was off to Singapore...And well, the Singapore Story deserves another Blog..not this one! :D

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