Monday, October 30, 2006

Saturday at the Botanic Gardens

Jacaranda in bloomOctober 28th was our 11th Saturday in Sydney. We finally went to the Royal Botanic Gardens which is only a short walk from the Opera House. Not only does it have lovely green lawns and beautiful trees, but it has picture postcard views of the Harbour bridge framing the Opera House. Shami was in heaven taking pictures, although he wants to go back on a day with a bluer sky. He acutally put down his camera a few times and let me take some pictures of him.

The Jacaranda trees are in full bloom right now, and are breathtaking with their canopies of purple. There are several outside the condos on our street, but not as grand as this one.

Sydney skyline
Shami took a break from photographing the Opera House long enough for me to snap this picture of him in front of the Sydney skyline.

Opera House, Harbour bridge, Us
A passerby offered to take our picture with the classic Sydney backdrop.

Mrs. Macquarie's Chair
Here is Shami sitting at Mrs. Macquarie's Chair. In the early 1800's the former governor's wife had a seat carved out of stone at Mrs. Macquarie's Point, where she would sit and enjoy the view.

Bat in flight
Did I mention the bats? The gardens have become a permanent home to thousands of large bats, or "grey-headed flying foxes." Wing spans can be over 1 meter. They may be cute, but unfortunately they are damaging the trees. Getting rid of them is not easy, though, especially since they are classified as a "vulnerable species." Walking under the trees was an impressive thing to see, hear, and smell. We will have to be there at dusk one day, to experience them leaving for the evening to feed on all the flowering vegetation of Sydney. Shami took these pictures.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Lazy weekend afternoon

Sitting on the deck, with sunshine on the water, boats in the distance, a good book, cookies and all-homemade lemonade - ahhh, the perfect lazy weekend afternoon. We don't get enough of these.
Sitting on our deck
Cookies and lemonade
Notice the kumquat plant on the deck - it had a few ripe kumquats, one of which went into the lemonade. The mint leaves also came from a plant growing on our deck.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Lot 72

Lot 72, superb quality, solid timber, seven piece dining suite. Going once, going twice, gone! Sold to bidder 433, the lady in the jeans and black sweater. Remember the 11% buyer's premium, including sales tax, and you need to arrange for pickup and delivery by Tuesday. Enjoy your new dining table and chairs...

Our new dining table and chairs
Okay, so that's not quite how it went, and we did have a competing bidder on the table, but we did buy our first piece at auction, and it is quite nice! By the way, every item visible in the photo was on the auction block, including the flower vases and the fake flowers. Quite an experience.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for this short public service announcement:

Photographs from Shami's trip to China in July are finally online. Enjoy!

We now return to our regular program.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Friday the 13th

Infatuation! True love! Faithlessness! Jealousy! A father's curse! Mistaken identity! A tragic sacrifice! A dramatic revival, just long enough to sing the last aria! Friday the 13th was the perfect day for Rigoletto, one of Giuseppe Verdi's masterpieces. Along with great music and an over the top tragic storyline, the opera feautres vintage 19th century cynicism: "La donna รจ mobile" - "Woman is fickle", sings the philandering Duke of Mantua, as he flits from lover to lover, leaving a trail of broken hearts and tragedy behind him.Dressed for the opera

Inside the Opera house
And where better to experience this, than the Sydney Opera House? Opened in 1973 after an epic construction project, it is an iconic building and one of the most famous performance venues in the world.

After the Opera
That was our fantastic wedding gift from Meghan's cousin David and his wife Annette, both Professors in the Music department at Cornell: Rigoletto, on Friday the 13th, at the Sydney Opera house.

So we dressed up and rubbed shoulders with the Sydney glitterati and tremendously enjoyed our evening at the opera. A stunning setting, gorgeous sets, beautiful music, tremendous passion and excitement - what a memorable experience!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Paddy's Market

Sydney is expensive! That was our overwhelming impression in the first few weeks of living here. I mean, bananas at $12 a kilo? Wow! But we've been learning the ropes slowly.

Lesson one: The US enjoys a large range in latitude over a connected land mass, from Chile to Canada, and bananas (or any other fruit, for that matter) are always in season somewhere along that range. But due to all the worry about non-native species running wild, Australia is very careful about imports, and so fruits and vegetables are very seasonal in Australia. Apparently the cyclones last season haven't helped matters either.

Lesson two: You pay a lot more for the convenience of supermarkets here. If you go seek out fruit markets or local farmers' markets instead, prices get better. And if you find your way to a local bazaar like Paddy's Market in Chinatown, prices are even ... reasonable. On the downside, you do have to deal with massive crowds, screaming Chinese vendors, prices that vary based on the buyer's ethnicity or the seller's mood, and a decidedly non-supermarket ambience...
Paddy's MarketIn fact, what Paddy's market really resembles is a combination of New Market and local bazaars in Calcutta, for those of you who are familiar with that: the noise, the crowds, the stalls, the vendors screaming prices, the barely-controlled frenzy...

So here are the results of our first expedition to Paddy's Market:
GroceriesAll this for $19.06 (AUD). That works out to about US $14.20, or INR 648 - a good deal by US prices, but not down to Indian prices, of course.

And yes, still no bananas.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Through the Graffiti Tunnel

The University of Sydney has a sprawling main campus as well as several satellite branches. The buildings are all spick and span, with no unsightly graffiti anywhere... except the Graffiti Tunnel. That's what the tunnel is called, even on the official maps and signposts, and that's where the graffiti goes. Every week, the old layers of paint are covered by new messages and transient works of art.

(As an aside, what sort of anarchist scrawls graffiti in a designated graffiti area? Doesn't that violate the anarchist code of ethics or something?)

Sunrise over the Iron Cove

Iron Cove
Misty morning light filters over the Iron Cove, giving the view from our deck a spooky, ethereal glow. (This is our first experiment posting pictures on the blog through flickr.)