Sunday, June 30, 2013

Project 52: Tuesday Afternoon

In an effort to keep my focus on savings for my next big trip, I have taken once again to the old habit of bread and cheese for lunches at work. A toastie a day will allow me to keep up a social life in the evenings, and also bank a large portion of my locum earnings as well. So far, so good!

This post is part of Project 52 with Jess from FuShMuSh.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


On Saturday night I took Chrystal and her mate Karl along to see a gig here in Melbourne, at The Corner. After many drinks upstairs we joined the growing crowd in the bandroom downstairs, catching the support of Toot Toot Toots.

The headliners were Wagons, for a pre-recorded album preview. And they were awesome. Such fun.

Lots of new tracks, mingled in with songs from their many albums. Some of the standouts included their version and tribute to Kenny Rogers, in the Gambler. Complete with picking numbers for a roulette wheel verse from the crowd.

The Elvis cover, Never Been To Spain was introduced as one that they may not be able to play soo, they are headed there for a show soon. More laughs with Keep Your Eyes Off My Sister, Henry Wagons chat with the filled room, and Love Me Like I Love You. The biggest song was Willie Nelson – which set off the whole bandroom singing along about Willie - Willie! Willie! WILLIE! Hilarious.

A funny, witty country folk rock twang, channelling Johnny Cash/Nick Cave, Henry Wagons is an amazing front man. Maybe one of the best beards in music right now! This band has such a cult-like following, and this album is bound to gain more and more listeners...once it's recorded and released later this year.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hyderabadi Street Art

Just along from the entrance to our hotel in Hyderabad I had spotted a series of wall art. A splash of colour in an area of dirt, grit, traffic and concrete.

These pieces are signed off, and dated from 2010. They have been attributed to the C.V. College of Fine Arts. It's amazing to me that they remain so vibrant, and intact, almost 3 years later.

Such intricate details, some of them. And then such patriot messages. Makes me wonder what these artists are up to now...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Weekend brunch is a my favourite meal, and finding somewhere good to go is always a preoccupation of mine. Fandango in North Melbourne is a find, that ticks the boxes!

An all day breakfast is a must! I hate being tied down to someone else's schedule, even more so on a weekend!

It has kitch-ey decor, with plates and cups from the 70s, and a whole host of knicknacks all around the walls and on the tables from that time. So cute!

Housesitting lets me explore new food places, in new neighbourhoods, although to be honest I had been here before because one of my sister's lives in the area.

Fandango is a couple of doors down from the other one in the strip for which people line up for for hours. When I was at Fandango, they managed to seat each party that wandered in...whilst there was a line up at the other place.

The time I went was also just after completing my Live Below The Line challenge, and so I was craving all sorts of foods, but was also wary of going too crazy after the week of deprivation.

I had scrambled eggs, avocado, tomato and mushrooms, on sourdough toast. With a latte before and after. It was an awesome breakfast, savoured and enjoyed.

The service was great, friendly and fast, and ranks as a very good brunch spot in my book!

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Love And Hate Experience Of Travelling to India

No matter how many photos, and how many stories, I share about my time in India, there is just no way to capture the experience of it all. No way to give anyone who has not been a full idea of the experience. A full taste of the assault on your senses, the pull at your heart, a glimpse into the oscillating feelings you will have about being there. Many people have described India as somewhere that travellers love and hate, all at the same time. I had not really understood how that could be – but I certainly do now after travelling for 5 weeks there. This is exactly what traveling in India is like – good and bad experiences, love and hate of processes, and the sights and smells.

Nothing makes sense, the level of frustration is often so high, and everything seems to take so long – it took me an hour to send a parcel home from a Kolkata post office, 90 minutes to get a taxi arranged by my guesthouse in Mumbai to go to the places I wanted to go, which seemed pretty straight forward to me. It seemed when I went back to my room to get my bags upon agreeing on the taxi arrangement, my request was completely forgotten, and then I had to start the discussion all over again, With the same people who had understood just 5 minutes before. Or said they had understood. Then, having understood the second time and agreeing that my request was possible and that it would be 5 minutes, they then spent 30 minutes calling around to get a driver, it seemed. I would have hailed one by then, however they kept insisting that they had a driver who was on his way. Grrr! Asking why for anything is really a waste of your time! Patience and a sense of humour have never been more needed than here in India.

Talking to a local about the frustrations, we were met a couple of times with the notion of “that’s why we call it Incredible India!” Indeed.

When there is an issue, with anything, just be insistent is my advice. This seems to work 90% of the time, as it seems that in India it is easier for the locals to give in than continue with the hassle. I am not talking about unreasonable things, but when you could do something one day and then suddenly the next day it is “not allowed” (this is from our infuriating cricket security experiences), a firm stance will normally resolve such a discrepancy for you. I think also, many men will not argue too strongly with a female tourist – and so standing strong with a price for your ride in a taxi or auto rickshaw, once you are confident on the right price for the distance you are going.

The food is spectacular. I don’t think I have ever eaten this much cottage cheese (paneer) or vegetarian meals – not just out of concern about the cleanliness of the meat, but mainly because the veg dishes are worth writing home about. The spice and flavour combinations are to die for! A street vendor selling samosas was my favourite sight on most days!

Everywhere is strewn with rubbish, you see people throwing bags of waste into lakes and rivers everyday. The roadsides are lined with litter, and you see people throw things out of rickshaws and as they are walking along – we witnessed a woman who had clearly just brought herself a new handbag at a bazaar, empty the newspaper padding inside it as she walked away from her
seller, into the busy street. Amazing. There are actually signs everywhere about not littering, and about preserving India’s beauty by carefully discarding waste. It will take some serious efforts to enforce and make such change here, though.

Although most of Chandighar has managed to figure out effective rubbish disposal, or maybe they just have teams cleaning up the streets, cos that is a clean Indian city. Just shows that it can be done!

And let’s not even get started about the spitting in the street and the public urination! This is not a place for the weak-stomached, or the easily repulsed.

India is all about colours! The saris on the women are breathtaking, sparkly and gorgeous. The beauty in India is abundant, the connections with a look and a smile is so precious. The women working in the fields, lush green crops, are still wearing bright and vivacious saris that stand out – so beautiful. Such pride taken. Watching a woman emerge from a slum, all decked out and colourful, and perfectly groomed, is a sight to be seen!

The misogyny, on the other hand, is heartbreaking and demoralising. Spirit crushing, and so pervasive.

The ever-present sound that is everywhere in India is the beeping of a auto rickshaw and taxi horn. Beep! Beep! Beep! Rather than a warning, or used in frustration and rage as it is done in Australia, the horn in India seems to be a “look out, I am here”, or “I’m about to pass you” , and often just “I just like beeping my horn all the way along here!” It's a constant, regardless of which city or State you are in. A constant drilling into your ears and consciousness.

India is a place of opposites – such beauty, such ill treatment of women. Such amazing food, such stomach turning sights and smells at so many corners. Such amazing places to see, so much frustration negotiating a fare, and directions, and safety with a tuk tuk or auto rickshaw driver, or taxi. A place rich with technology, and yet so many antiquated ideas and ways of doing things. Such riches on display, and such poverty within plain view everyday. Incessant noise everywhere, and then the peace of the Taj Mahal.

A place to travel that does indeed elicit feelings of love and hate, all at the same time.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Project 52: Tuesday Lunchtime

On this Tuesday I was desperate to get out at lunchtime and soak in some sunshine, in case we don't see it again for awhile. Here in Melbourne the weather has turned to COLD! But when the sun joins the crisp days, it's still a treat. Stepping out from the office of my locum job, I can go for a walk and get some much needed Vitamin D.

This post is part of Project 52 with Jess from FuShMuSh.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

SFK's Star Crossed Cities

Having seen Something For Kate just in October I was not sure about seeing them again so soon, but I do love this new album, and had my arm twisted! It really wasn’t that hard, in the end.  Carl and I headed out to Richmond on Saturday night for a couple of pre-gig drinks across the road at The Post Office, before taking our spot in the bandroom at The Corner.

SFK opened with Captain (Million Miles An Hour), much to the delight of my gig buddy Carlos who is a massive fan, and was experiencing a gig at The Corner for the first time – what a way to open his account there! Ha!

Weighted with tracks from the mound of past albums, it was five songs into the almost 2 hour set before we heard the beautiful Sooner Or Later You’re Gonna Have To Do Something About Me, from the new album.

Survival Expert, The Fireball At The End Of Everything, and Star-Crossed Citizens was in there too, along with California, and The Astronaut.

One of the most spine-tingling aspects of seeing Something For Kate live, or even just following them on Facebook, is the sprinkling of covers Paul Dempsey smashes with that vocal range and emotive delivery. Truly, which is heart-stopping with Dempsey’s delivery, is an obscure cover from them, but so amazing. A favourite of mine, not too many seemed to know it. But then they filled the room with voices with the massive Hunters and Collectors’ When The River Runs Dry.

But then the encore started with Sweet Nothing, the latest Triple J Like A Version from the band, and surely a candidate for high honours in this year’s Hottest 100 already.

Finishing with Deja Vu and Pinstripe, it was another amazing show, a seriously good live band.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Charminar And The Bazaar

The city of Hyderabad's iconic sight is Charminar, the four columned gateway right in the busiest part of town. It's four minarets are 56 metres tall, and there on the second floor is an active mosque, the oldest in the city. The city hub, there seemed to be a traffic jam at the foot of this 30 metre squared archway, each time we got a glimpse of it.

To the west of this impressive arch is the Laad Bazaar, a labyrinth of laneways, little streets, stalls, food and wares. Hats and walking sticks, herbs and clothing of every persuasion. Saris and jewels, pearls and plastic bracelets.

Fi and I spent some quality time wondering in and out of the laneways, checking out the stalls, and chatting to the locals. A local samosa stand was all aflutter when we took out seats inside for a lunch stop, two white women in a sea of Indian faces.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Keeping Your Most Important Things Safe When Travelling

I hear and read lots of fears from travellers, or want-to-be travellers, about safety, and the worry about having things stolen whilst on the road. I remember landing in Cambodia this last trip and thinking that I had not really even given it much thought – I had just managed to throw things in my pack, and make my flight. All the other considerations about what to pack, and what things I needed to have arranged for the trip, and taken care of at home, had taken precedent.

I did start to give my personal safety, and the safety of the important things I needed to keep traveling, like my passport, my credit and debit cards, a little more thought once I got closer to my India leg.

In all of my travels, I have only been robbed once. (Touching every wooden thing in the room right now, to keep that luck in tact!) And I blame myself for that one – I was on a sleeper train in Vietnam travelling up to Sapa, and slept with my bag at my feet – my handbag! Talk about stupid, I was asking to be robbed. The person who took it snatched and ran – which woke me up, and I gave chase down the train carriage. Not sure what I thought I would have done if I had caught the person! Amazingly, my invisible robber dumped out my passport from my bag, before taking off with it. Which was awesome, because that would have been a mess to sort out! And then, after taking some cash, the robber later returned to bag to the outside of my train carriage! Seriously!

I guess one of our group on the Trans-Mongolian railway getting his passport and other bits and pieces taken, was also a near miss for me. Trains! I need to be careful on trains!

So when I was approached by The Clever Travel Companion to check out their range of pickpocket and loss proof travel gear, with hidden, zippered pockets to keep things like credit cards and your passport hidden and on your person, I was very interested. Having these items tucked away out of sight, but also somewhere where you can feel their presence, is reassuring. I have tested out a tank top with the pocket in the front, which fit reassuringly snug due to the type of material, and also lets you be free with the knowledge that your most important things are close to your body. The zip means that you know they are not going anywhere!

I certainly could have done with this at times on my trip. Whilst sleeping in the open room of the Monastery in Nyaungshwe in Burma, I had initially thought that having my bag with all my important things and my laptop lying next to me would be fine. I would hear someone coming that close to me, if they were going to take it! Turns out that would not have been the case, as when I awoke my travel mates had let me sleep on, and packed all their things next to me, without disturbing me at all. Luckily, I couldn’t sleep until I had tucked the bag in underneath me – but that was not the most comfortable! I was very tired after that surprise overnight bus!

I managed to avoid any overnight train travel in India, but personal safety and the safety of my things would have been my highest concerns. Checking out the range available with t-shirts, tank tops, underwear shorts, and longjohns, I could also opt for the little shorts, which would also be a reassuring placement of these crucial items for travel under longer pants or a skirt. Plus an additional place for a stash of cash, which I like to have in several different places across my luggage. And discretely hidden. Such a great idea!

The Clever Travel Companion comes in soft cotton or modal, a full size range, and are so reasonably priced. Shipping is free for any purchase over $US75, and to other places like Australia is between $US5 and $US20, depending on the weight and distance. The range can be found on their website, but also through Amazon.

As I start dreaming about my next big trip, a couple of pairs of these are already on my preparation list! I am bound to run out of luck with my important things one of these days, and these will be a nothing level of safety and theft prevention, to allow peace of mind for the kind of carefree travel I want!

*I was sent a sample to test out, in return for this post. Thoughts and silly travel stories are my own!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Mumbai Wall

Just along from the station closest to one of the entrances to Dharavi, is a wall of street art, which the Lonely Planet had referred to as India's version of Berlin's East Side Gallery. Although, without the historical political subdivision...

The Wall Project started by a group of former arts and graphics students, painting their neighbours walls. It has now spread to this open-air stretch of contemporary murals, numbering up to 600.

It starts at Mahim Station, runs along the train line, and is nicknamed the 'Great Wall of Mumbai'. I drove along a couple of sections in my taxi after my Slum tour, and jumped out to take a couple of photos.

The Project invites artist to add their piece, provided it's not explicit, political or religious. Although in the stretch I saw, there was not a lot of room let!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Melbourne For A Visitor

Chrystal from Chrystal-Clear is coming to Melbourne town this week, for 10 days, and I am keen to show off one of my favourite cities in the world, and the place I call home, whilst she was here. Having meet her in Toronto at a Travel Massive over there, it will be exciting to catch up with her, and have her fall in love with Melbourne as much as I love it!

I just hope she is prepared for the weather here, given that she has been in Queensland for a uni semester. Brrrr, it's cold down here at the moment!

She'll need to grab the Skybus from the airport, which will bring her into the city, and is the only affordable way to get in. Then it would be best if she buys a myki card and puts top up money on as she goes across the 10 days, whenever she will need the trams and trains around town.

The city sights she definitely needs to spot as she floats around our great city include Federation Square, the Shot Tower in Melbourne Central, Flinders Street Station, Queen Victoria Market, and the Yarra River. Given that the central portion of the city is a grid, the free Circle Tram is a great way to get started, and get her bearings.

The Eureka Tower may be another way to get her bearings, for a birds eye view of the city layout, although I suspect she is on a budget as a traveller and a student, so the Best Free View of the city may just be the ticket.

One of her criteria for the perfect city includes historical sites, so I direct her to check out the Old Melbourne Gaol, and Cook's Cottage in Fitzroy Gardens.

Adding to the gardens list, the Exhibition and the Carlton Gardens are more of my favourites, and also home to the Melbourne Museum, if that is of interest to her.

Heading further afield, with the neighbourhoods of Melbourne being another amazing feature of our great city, I recommend she plots out a couple of days to head in different directions out of the city centre. I direct her South down to St Kilda to soak in the cafes, the promenade along the bay, the St Kilda pier, maybe even Luna Park.

Then she could duck back through Chapel Street, for some shopping (or window shopping). Easily reached by tram, and are both suburbs that are connected with a cross tram.

Checking out the Brighton Beach Houses further down the bay (with perhaps a train ride), and the view back to the city would also be out in this direction.

The other direction would be North to Brunswick and Smith and Brunswick Streets, which run parallel and can be reached by tram. More cafes, bars, and hipster and quirky shops.

I will be at work for some of the days she is here, but after work I would be keen to show her some of the great laneway treats we have, such as Chinatown for dumplings, and then the tucked away bars, like the Croft Institute and Section 8. This of course will also be a good chance to spot some of the street art that makes our city so vibrant!

The footy at the MCG, is a must (in my book). Checking the draw, there is a match on Saturday afternoon between St Kilda and Melbourne, which won't be hard to just walk up and get tickets on the day, so seems like the perfect option. There is nothing like being at the massive stadium, among some passionate fans, experiencing an almost tribal aspect of Aussie culture.

Meeting before the match at Riverland would be a great option, to have a drink along the Yarra, taking in a city, and then this would mean that we could walk to the MCG along Birrarung Marr, which I think is one of the best areas of town. The bridge system here not only has an Indigenous theme, it affords amazing views looking back towards to city.

Then, a gig somewhere in Melbourne would be my next must - such an music scene here. Again, checking what's on, I have suggested we see a band at one of my favourite venues, The Corner, in Richmond. It also happens to be the album preview for Wagons, which promises to be awesome.

I was going to suggest a Neighbours tour if she had been watching it whilst she has been in the country, but thankfully she hasn’t, so there is no need for the trek out to Vermont South and the real Ramsey Street. If she was British, this would surely be on the list of must dos!

Further afield and as day trips (or longer) I would suggest she head down to drive along the Great Ocean Road, and then duck back to the city via Ballarat for some proper goldrush history!

All that should give Chrystal a great taste off all that out city and beyond has to offer! Do you have any other suggestions? Must dos? Tips?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Golconda Fort And The 7 Tombs

Another day of wonder when doing some tourist-ing in Hyderabad had us discovering two more of it's impressive treasures.

First, was the sprawling Golconda Fort, high above the city. Standing at the bottom, after walking through the stone archways, it seemed to go on forever up the hill!

The sprawl of the mud fort of the Qutb Shah kings is like a maze, but luckily we had a guide who may not have been good and telling us anything too helpful about the place, but certainly took us through the parts best to see. He was surprised that we wanted to climb the granite hill to see the top, the view and the mosque in the midday heat, but he trudged along with us in the end.

Our guide did demonstrate the amazing acoustic system of the Fort though, where a clap right down the bottom is carried across and up to the highest point of the complex - supposedly used a security, but surely gossip as well!

He showed us the room in the royal palace where a whisper into the corner of the walls could be heard perfectly in the other corner - this was to catch people scheming against the kings.

Just down the road from the Fort are the Qutb Shahi Tombs, where seven of the nine Qutb Shahi rulers are buried.

These huge dome-shaped mausoleums are scattered within these gardens - where we found groups of kids playing cricket.

I actually think we spent more time here than we would have, and perhaps loved it a little more, because these backyard matches were going on. So cute!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Return Of Shane Warne The Musical

Just as the buzz about the upcoming Ashes series is really starting to gather momentum, with under a month until the first ball, and after we have just wistfully marked the 20 year anniversary of The Ball Of The Century, Shane Warne The Musical returns to Melbourne this week. A new ending, new songs, and of course, covering the drama that is Warnie's world since his retirement from International cricket.

I went along to one of the first runs of Shane Warne The Musical back in 2008, and was pleasantly surprised at the wit, the humour, some of the heart-felt stories, the tongue-in-cheek, and frank look at one of our favourite sportsmen. The show told his story from his footy days at St Kilda, to his hard work to get into the national cricket team, all of the scandals, and the undeniable legend of the Great Man.

That stage show ended with Warnie calling an end of his cricket career. But boy, has he ever added to the story since 2008!

This time, thanks to the new and "improved" Warne, Eddie Perfect can remain his trim Mick-in-Offspring self. Lisa McCune plays Simone Warne, and Christie Whelan-Brown is taking on the part of Liz Hurley. She has a cracking number in the show, I have read - it will be so interesting to see Perfect's take on this twist on the story of our greatest spin bowler and his recent weird and highly stylised version of himself. And also on this very public relationship of theirs, played out on Twitter and on every newspaper in Australia and the UK. Warne's cricket mentor Terry Jenner will be played by Shane Jacobson.

There is a 24-piece orchestra on stage this time. Until reading about and talking to a couple of mates about this new upcoming version, I had forgotten about songs like What An SMS I'm In. There is bound to be many stand outs this time, with Perfect having developed into a musical presence on our TVs since then.

I wonder if the cricket fans in the crowd will cheer when Warne is presented with his Baggy Green again - hope so! Loved that moment last time.

It is only playing for two nights here in Melbourne, at Hamer Hall at the Arts Centre, after shows in Adelaide earlier this month. Grab your tickets here for June 20 and 21st.

*I have been provided tickets to go along to the show, in exchange for some social media promotion.

(Image credits - Shane Warne The Musical FB page and The Age)

Friday, June 14, 2013

It's Snowing In Hyderabad!

There is snowfall every hour in Hyderabad, every day. Which is hard to believe when you have been battling the humidity for 5 days, but it does! Snow World is a theme park just near the lake, and our hotel, and was a bizarre, funny respite break from the heat outside.

Once you have paid your entry, and the cost of taking a camera in too, you are scanned through security (of course!) and then provided with a ski jacket, puffy gloves, socks, and gumboots. Four of us went after a day of seeing some sights in the city, and started laughing right from gowning up.

Once you are ready and suited up, you are led through the double doors - into a room with snow on the ground! After the first two slips in the crunchy white stuff under your feet, and the obligatory snowball throws at each other, bemusement is really the only way to describe your experience.

From where you stand a few metres in from the door you just entered, you can see a lot of Indian locals relishing in the joy of playing in snow. We basked in the very low temperature inside, as a welcome relief after a little over two weeks in India to date.

A set of ice block table and chairs are over near the refreshment stand, and there is a kid's play area. There are basketball hoops, because when there is snow you want to shoot hoops, apparently!

The toboggan run is at the back of the huge room, and surely something that has to be done!

You are released into the "Cryozone" in hour sessions, and after you have spent some time checking out the weird and wonderful features - it snows!

Enough powdery icy snow is projected out over the crowd, to give you all a good coating of white snow. It's surreal!

And then, once the snowfall has finished and you think things could not be any more unbelievable, it's Snow Disco time! There are disco lights and pop music, and all the young people in the room rush over to the dance area, and let loose!

I couldn't make this up if I tried! I think we pulled stomach muscles from laughing all the way through our almost hour in the room, as we took our leave as the dancing intensified. The perfect antidote to the challenges of travel in India, a very frosty cool down, and some serious silliness! A must for a Hyderabadi visit!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cloud Control

A sold out album preview gig - that's how much people are looking forward to the sophomore offering from Cloud Control. They did not disappoint!

Nicole and I met at Fonda for dinner on this dreary Melbourne night, before heading down the street to The Corner to listen to the support acts.

I enjoyed the solo tunes of Ali Barter, a Melbourne singer-songwriter I would be keen to hear more from. The Bloods were not my kind of music, pegged as garage-punk-pop by Triple J UnEarthed!

The room swelled to capacity, the velvet curtain opened, and the band from the Blue Mountains got started. Mingling the new tracks in with the songs from their debut album and EP before that. Some pretty different sounding tracks to start with, before letting out the first sounds of This Is What I Said, which got the crowd involved.

Ghost Story raised a full-house sing-a-long. Promises was the new song that I caught the name of, that felt very Could Control, and loved on first listen.

A slice of Butthole Surfers was a surprise verse in Gold Canary, which totally worked. Awesome.

The harmonies of Meditation Song #2 were dreamy, and of course the massive hit There's Nothing In The Water We Can't Fight was in there.

Buffalo Country ended the night, with that burst of joy that indie-pop is all about, sending us out into the night all warm and fuzzy!

Walking out of the bandroom, I could not help but remember that this band sounded amazing in the open-air ampitheatre at Splendour In The Grass a couple of years ago - I think this is a band born for the energy of a festival. Indoors just stifles that a little bit. They need space to fill with these sounds!

Stand by for the Dream Cave release in August, and then this four piece is due to grace The Forum stage in September. It's going to be another big album from this band, which is pretty exciting!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Beautiful Indigenous Face On Gertrude

This face, with it's tribal paint and gorgeous brown eye, overlooks Gertrude Street in Fitzroy in Melbourne, just after Nicholson Street. Keeping watch as the trams go by in either direction, traffic crawls along, and people walk to cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs in the area. So captivating!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Snail And Others, Roaming Toorak Village

Riding on the tram south of the river in Melbourne, I spotted a flyer about the Sculpture Exhibition being displayed in Toorak Village at the moment, until the 16th. The photos, and the price tags, had me intrigued, so I popped out there on the weekend to have a look.

The snail above was not the only animal roaming this section of Toorak Road, with an Echidna, a "Manrabbit" - and the Mermaids In A Can! Humanly clubbed to death before canning, it reads.

Some of the sculptures are out on the street, and easy to spot. Many are in the participating shop windows, which means you really need to be looking to catch them. Some are in the shop windows in the arcade shopping alcoves off Toorak Road, too.

Ranging from $150, to a whopping $40,000, you take one of these creations home. Some of them have in fact been sold in previous years, and are on loan for the exhibition (the snail, for example), so be careful which you set your heart on!

You can see some more of the ones that caught my eye here. A little sprinkle of art in a suburban shopping strip!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Chowmahalla Palace

After the cricket we were skeptical about whether we would warm to Hyderabad the city. But on our surprise day off, we were blown away by Chowmahalla Palace - it is stunning!

The Palace, or actually four palaces on the site according to the name, was the home of the Nizams of Hyderabad - essentially the monarchy, with the London-based last in line deciding to open it to the public fairly recently, in 2005.

The Palaces are set on beautifully groomed gardens, with water features, ducks and fountains.
The Drawing Room is the most impressive room, located in the centre building. It's hanging chandeliers, and the balcony level all the way around three sides of the room, is so beautiful.

Walking into this building there are two rooms which start the journey of history of the region, and the Nizams. Once you find the staircase, you can wander upstairs to the level overlooking the Drawing Room, and explore the personal items of the families that lived here.

Rooms of clothes and furniture, jewels and weaponry, kitchen bits and pieces, as well as dinner sets of all colours, shapes and patterns.

Back out into the Hyderabadi heat, there is another grassy courtyard to walk through, and another gorgeous archway, to the back garden and buildings out here.

One of the standout items to look out for out here is the canary yellow Rolls Royce, in it's glass-casing. The sign says it's only clocked 356 miles, despite being delivered to the family in 1912, it was only used for ceremonial occasions.

The last gem visit for a further glimpse into the world of the Nizams is just a little further in a tuk tuk - to HEH Nizams' Museum, where you can walk through more of the history of the city, but you also get to walk into the "Biggest Wardrobe In The World".

Belonging to the sixth Nizam, a man who cleared loved his grand outfits - in fact, the story goes that he never wore an outfit more then once, and they all then had a special place within this 50 metre, double-sided Burmese teak wardrobe. Today you can see an array of outfits from the time, but none of this fashion-conscious Nizam, because he eventually gave all these outfits away!

The Palace is open everyday except Fridays, and was my favourite spot in Hyderabad - don't miss it!

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Project 52: Tuesday Morning

This Tuesday morning has me catching a tram to my locum job, from my housesitting gig at the time. This assignment was closer to the office in terms of travel time. Still loving the transient life I have built for myself in my city that I call home!

(Eeeeee! Loving those piggy curls!)

This post is part of Project 52 with Jess from FuShMuSh.

Friday, June 07, 2013

HyderaBAD - 2nd Test In India

There were doubts that the Second Test in India for the Australians would go ahead, after the news of 2 bombings in the city of Hyderabad during the week before, when we were in Chennai. Talk that the match may be moved to another city was around, and word that security would be amped up for the team, circulated.

All this talk seemed to disappear, and we all made our way to the city as planned. Checking into the 5-star Waving The Flag base for the week, we were all delighted with the non-Flagger-like upgrades and flowing beers. Luke did very well with this one!

Getting to the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Day 1, we all took a tour bus, unsure of what traffic and the effects of the week before in the city would be like. We anticipated heightened security due to the bombs - but certainly not the inane measures that we actually encountered!

Getting through security was ridiculous! The physical search involved a pat-down for everyone. And then the battle to carry anything in with us began. Sunscreen was confiscated. Toilet paper and newspapers were banned. A fight erupted to bring in a bag. Camera and mobile phones, definitely not allowed. Although these rules were different depending on the day, and the security officer you encountered.

We were also stunned at the state of the stadium, and experienced rubble and concrete dust for the whole three and a bit days of play. Hardly International standards! If the thinking was that a tube of sunscreen was a potential weapon, they really should have removed the concrete lumps readily available at the back of the main stand.

Once play commenced the Australians chose to bat first up, and whilst there was a top order crumble, Captain Clarke showed his every reliable class, and peeled out a solid half century. Watching he and Wade fill the middle session was some of the cricket highlights for our tour, before Wade was dismissed for 62, and Clarke ran out of partners, falling at 91.

Declaring the first innings before the close of play to enable our bowlers to make use of the time and their efforts, was all good in our book.

The next 2 days we watched as India's top quality batsmen piled on the runs - Day 2 saw solid scores by Vijay and Pujara, who were only just getting started. Day 3 saw more of the same, being some long, hot days in the stands as Aussie fans.

We felt for Vijay as he left the field after posting an impressive 167 - as the crowd forgot all about his efforts because Sachin was coming to the crease!

Pujara managed a double century, with the only glimmer of joy for the Aussies a 4-for from debutante Maxwell.

Day 4 is one I would rather forget as an Aussie fan. We arrived in the morning expecting a day of runs - but it was an incredible day of wickets falling, and we were all back at the hotel, pool side, for Lunch. A whopping innings and 135 runs defeat. Ouch.
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