Movies, roads and potato chips

December 11th, 2008

I watched two Australian movies –one on the way in to Australia in Qantas QF 124 and one on the way back in QF 123. You see, I wanted to get a glimpse of Aussie history and lifestyle and generally get ready for the Outback. ‘Squatter’s daughter’ had everything the name promised. This epic from 1930’s dealt with the tough life of a er…Squatter’s daughter. Before you draw your conclusions, a squatter was any one who held a patch of land with the help of a gun or two and raised sheep which inevitably got stolen. Now that the squatter was away in England or was dead, the pretty daughter (who had a way with horses and weak men) was in charge of affairs and fending off the everyday challenges raised by sheep thieves and encroachers. It was one of the first ‘talkies’ and it was fun to watch not because of the interesting costume worn throughout by the ‘daughter’. Heck, the movie even gave a glimpse of how the Harbour Bridge at Sydney looked soon after completion – a massive ‘coat hanger’ structure with nothing much h around it. Wonderful.

The second movie titled ‘Newcastle’ was more contemporary. And that meant lots and lots of young boys and semi-naked girls using a lot of F-words and living a carefree life of surf, sex and hmmm..more surf and sex. Every now and then the movie would get caught in reels of surfing footage, which I am sure cost a lot to film, with no connection whatsoever to the plot. Actually the plot was absent till some one dies in a surfing accident. Don’t worry, that was the insignificant part. Oscar material, I am telling you.

And then I saw a documentary on aboriginal art – which told a lot between the lines. Every one, including the new age Australians are now paying tribute to the original masters of the land. History cannot be shaken away from memory since it leaves worry lines on the face of earth for all to see. The clashes between the settlers and locals were fierce and entire communities were wiped off in the process. The legend of modern Australia, and yes the famed spirit, is built on thin crusted victory of gun powder over arrows and guess what, the signs are everywhere. It is really a bad scene in some parts of Australia – in Tasmania for example, there aren’t any full blooded local. You do encounter aboriginal centres, like the one at Wilcannia where we saw locals getting suitably drunk at noon. Most of them were on government support and they wore Chinese made t-shirts. Their smiles showed decayed teeth and almost all of them smoked – something or the other. And they looked beautiful.

But what lures me to Australia is not movies, art or the aboriginal history – not if you are an Indian who is familiar with his share of movies, truck loads of art and documented history of over 5000 years.  It is the open road that charms me…roads that leaves to no where in particular and irrepressibly romantic for someone who loves life from behind the wheel of a car. As the massive SUV (read BSM January’09 edition to find out which car…) floated at 110 kph, stormed the dirt tracks at even greater speeds , I was living a life denied to me in India. A large continent of a nation with brilliant roads and exotic tracks, generally friendly people (imagine the population of Mumbai in a whole continent…they got to be pretty happy, right?) and lots of chips with everything you order. Let me assure you…you cannot go wrong with the Outback.

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Outback and back

December 10th, 2008

A total of 3000 km starting from Sydney and ending in Sydney. And not the usual Gold Coast route. Broken Hill and Mungo National Park are not your average destinations but we at BSM wanted a crackerjack drive for the upcoming anniversary issue and that is what Australia presented with us. And the car in question? Hmmm, you will have to wait for the 10th Anniversary Special of BSM to get the answer.

Across the Blue Mountains and beyond Dubbo lies Broken Hill and beyond Broken Hill lies the Silverton with a total population of 50 people. And right when we thought we have seen enough of the Outback and roos and emus…the next day presents us with unsealed roads. Our massive SUV left a long trail of white, fine dust as we headed to the Walls of China and the long lost lake of Mungo (18000 years is ‘recent’ in history, mind you). 

Two Indian motoring scribes, a very German car (shhhh…), in Australia, heading for Walls of China…interesting, right? Things one got to do to earn a living! By the way, the 10th anniversary issue of BSM hits the new stands towards the end of December…BUY!

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