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September 15, 2007

Back from Apimondia

In Australia, as it is with the rest of the world, the grass is green and much plantations are exotic... We suffer from a lot of Eucas and they suffer from a lot of pines - reverse syndromes, I believe...

In being there and attending a conference that is the centrepiece of the beekeeping world, I met interesting people who are working on an idea that they believe is great. And I tended to believe them too. For it is the small things that add upto the larger schemes of income generation and sustainalble livelihoods. There was a senses of bonhomie that effectively layered the presence of animosity that may exist between players, this bonhomie was something to be proud of, for in not many occupations - a large number of people will come together and support one another.

The congress started with a bang, I must admit. There was song and dance and a show of the fire making skills of the aboriginals (Yarras???) who had traditionally lived in these parts of Victoria state in Southern Australia. That was spell binding and though it finished fast, it remain etched on my memory as the men had come out releasing sound from the didgerdoos and clicking their boomerangs together. The procedure of making fire amidst a lot of supernaturalism was spell binding. Other performers came too and the ones that stood out were the choir girls and a guy who lives out of whipping the world, that was new and the sound reminded me of the times when India had a lot of whippers and shakers. The lunch at Jasmine that morning was also special for we ate at the main Melbourne boulevard with the yarra flowing past.

Day 2 and we were at the stall, mostly I was at the stall for there were limited options for me to attend lectures which do not fall in the remotest concern of my work, though I tried and attended a number of lectures to ascertain the quality of presnters and innovation in their stage skills.

Day 2 and 3 were therefore spent mostly on readying my presentation for the day 3 which was the 12th of September and trying to eat food that was just not soothing for me - conservative I am, I was told for my eating habits, though I can debate on that forever.

On the day of the presentation, I finally changed my jeans that had begun to give me the studious feelings of the good old days of colllege. Formal and ready to go, we started our presentation in style and really impressed the 64 people who were attending the presentation. Looking back, everybody has his own style of presenting and since everyone is special, it differs from person to person. Pratim spoke about the project as a whole, I spoke about counting nests, Leo about sustainable harvests and Shiny about her work in melliferous flora in the regin where we work. The presentations went on for some time and provoked good questions for the team.

One thing I notice about presentations is the number of people who come to you after you have given your talk and are back to your seat. Usually, anything more than five people coming up to you is a good sign of the impression you have made. And, in this case too, personally five plus people came and offered good insights into the work being done in our project.

Witht the presentations coming to an end, we looked forward to look around a bit. The previous days, I had already seen around the business district and had gone to the Chinatown, taking a long detour that exhausted me beyond words, for the ground is so concrestised that the best shoes won't give you adequate protection on this regard. After the presentations, we all moved out again to bourke street and the parliament house. The previous day, Pratim had treated us to some great Indian food and today we had Chinese that was Chinese in the real sense, infcat the percentages of chineseness was so high that it was very difficult to eat those foods. However, we reached back buying some stuff from a souvenier shop and plonking out in the Kingsgate hotel.

The next day went off fast with free doles of the T shorts and we too getting a lot of free stuff from many stalls. In between the Brazilians came with their samba that was great fun to watch, from so up close to the dancers... in short it was wow..Nicola organised an excellent brunch at the Treasury and alse treated us to Italiano food in the evening.

The days were passing fast and we had still not seen anything about Melbourne, so today was the last day and I planned to move around a bit. However, the full day was scheduled for a trip to Maryborough and Castlemaine with me sitting on a double decker bus and in the front seat with an old beekeeper from Australia. That day was, for me, the best day as I got to speak to a lot Australians in a free wheeling discussions about their nation, the aboriginals, the complex of old, of kangaroos and snakes. And saw a Kangaroo too.... In the end, it was return to the city wherein I rushed to the MCG, saw it, elation over Sir Don Bradmans iconic statue outside the building and finally return to the airport. It passed fast from then on. KL airport saw us waiting for 12 hours but that too passed fast.. possibly because of our state of daze and jet lag... just plonked anywhere and everywhere.

As I reached home, I realised that several observations stayed on with me about the trip, primarily -
- Australia is so clean and the Indian there follow the rules diligently.
- India is eternal but we can do with more cleanliness and less honking.
- Australians emulate the europeans but yet there is a sense of uniqueness to them that makes them aussies.
- Food is cheap but not suiting a person like me and the expensive food is just not palatable... am an old fashioned Indian after all.
- Australians jump the red lights at least as much as the Indians too.. so the shortcut approach to life is prevalent there too.
- Lots of outsiders makes Melbourne a great place to live in.
- I cant stay there long for India shall always call you.

If we can do with a little more sense of ethics, we can do great... for these things are not too difficult to follow.