had come to Brisbane to escape the cement jungles of Dhaka
where things like fresh grass or the new moon are hard to
see. Sitting in the garden of my friend's house at Gordon
Park, my eyes were soothed by the sight of sculpted pine trees
with dripping rain drops like tiny falling stars hanging on
to the Christmas tree branches. Side by side were the swaying
palms and mango trees. Even coconut palms could be spotted
in this land where koala bears and lyre birds were once roasted
by European explorers for breakfast. Here the oleander bushes
vied in beauty with the gold and white blossom bearing frangipani
ones. Wild birds and dark, enormous butterflies flitted over
the gilded Easter lilies, hibiscus and jasmine plants.
Brisbane in the spring, it was pleasant and it rained lightly
in the evenings. Golden cascading clouds scudded over the
china blue sky. Soft breeze entered the netted rooms as the
TV piped in cricket news. What better way to know Brisbane,
which I had last visited over 15 years back! My memories of
the place are mingled with the printed words of "Thornbirds"
and other Australian novels like "All Rivers Run".
There is something romantic and restful about a new country
roads were clean and drizzle washed. The houses were either
on slight cliffs or on feat land, surrounded with nature like
some paintings by the French artists Cezanne or Manet. Only
a few of them had partial sections that were double storied.
The rest had fluted red bricks for roofs or were neatly covered
with painted corrugated sheets. Large blocks of beige and
grey stones formed a part of the architecture of this sleepy
suburb. Comfy cane chairs and potted plants were seen in the
numerous verandahs. Gables and shuttered windows along with
painted glass portion walls decorated many of the homes.
shops and offices were neat, unimposing, homely and inviting.
The women serving here didn't seem to be in a great hurry
as they are in Dhaka. They didn't even mind if you didn't
have the correct change while purchasing at stores -- not
that I was a great shopper on my brief sojourn.
were Chinese, Indian, Thai, Turkish and Lebanese eating places.
But the food I mostly had, apart from afternoon sandwiches,
were "egghoppers" and brain cutlets along with many
assorted meat and fish curries done in the Sri Lankan way.
This is because my host, Norman De la Harpe, is a Burger from
Colombo. The Burgers, incidentally, are Dutch settlers who
migrated to Australia, mainly Melbourne, Sydney, Parth, Adelaide
and Brisbane after Sri Lanka got its independence. The range
of food was endless -- homemade pickles, chutneys and liquors,
that tasted of almond and orange. Occasionally we had roast
chicken, potted pies, custards and other Aussie food, to set
off the exotic oriental dishes from Serendip.
this sleepy township there was no sign of the snakes, crocodiles
or spiders with which we associate Australia, films like Crocodile
Dundee perpetuated this idea. The comfort and cosy living
I enjoyed was a far cry from the hardship of 18th and 19th
century outback existence that one has read of so often in
books. There were no over - crowded sheep shearing farms,
or ancient jungles in the vicinity. Eating samosas
and drinking tequila listening to old time favourites on the
drawing -- room piano, I was full of contentment and comfort.
It was an Arcadia of its own where nothing could ruffle you.
It was steaming hot in nearby Rockhampton and Townsville,
but with the air-conditioner on, when necessary, the fortnight
at Brisbane was pure joy. "Why didn't you go to the Gold
Coast or see the busy cosmopolitan life", people asked
me. But for a break for a metropolis dweller, nothing beat
Brisbane, with its picnic spots, overhanging rocks, and its
assortment of flora.
shop? Being on a tight budget I did more of leisurely window
shopping than anything else. I didn't go beyond getting a
few irresistible souvenirs in the form of key chains in the
shape of tiny kangaroos and koalas. Friends in Dhaka had asked
me for even opals and diamonds -- but my journalist's salary
didn't quite cover their astronomical prices. With my small
knapsack of goodies I was ready to head home.
(R) thedailystar.net 2004