Cricket might rule the hearts of its fans in India, but it often goes beyond that. It often becomes a reason for people to travel across the globe, especially to where the game is being played. And if India is facing off against Pakistan, the urge to travel becomes even stronger. Like many other cricket lovers, Ritwik and Kanikai planned a trip to Australia just for the 2015 ICC World Cup match between India and Pakistan.
Australia and New Zealand, who are currently hosting the biggest cricketing carnival for the second time in their collective histories, held the highly anticipated game between India and Pakistan at Adelaide Oval. The narrative for the match was fairly simple: the reigning world champions were looking to keep their unbeaten run against their arch-rivals in a World Cup match, while the other guys were looking to break their jinx.
Ritwik and Kanikai landed in Sydney a few days before the match. Once in Adelaide, they were joined by a few friends, with Keshav and Ankita joining them as they travelled further during their 15-day vacation. That time was also when Australia celebrates Adelaide Fringe, one of the largest annual arts festivals in the Southern Hemisphere: 24 days and 4,000 artists from across the globe. Some 900 events are staged at pop-up venues in parks, warehouses, lanes and abandoned buildings, theatres, hotels, art galleries and cafés.
“We were at the opening ceremony for the Fringe, and it was magnificent. Only once a year do you get to see the entire road blocked for the carnival, parks became venues for different activities, and restaurants are bustling with people! It was a major attraction,” said Ritwik.
Interestingly enough, there were a lot of Indians and Pakistanis about during the festival, which commenced the night before the match. “At one stage, it felt like a Wagah border ceremony with either team’s supporters on the sidewalks, divided by the Adelaide police trying to control them. It was crazy!”
The craziness went a notch higher the next morning. The day of the big match had arrived, and Ritwik and his friends were decked up for the game. Merchandise, flags and face paint were the order of the day, and while blue dominated the stadium, green didn’t get left behind. The atmosphere was simply electrifying. “We got goose bumps when the entire stadium reverberated with the national anthem. The noise was deafening,” said Ritwik.
“The first few overs we were in the India support stand, but we later moved to a support box above Pakistan’s. Though we had a sense of hostility during the match, we all became good friends at the end.” The win was like a celebration on New Year’s Day. People took to the parks around the stadium and turned them into makeshift party venues. Flags flew high, a huge rally was organised, and nightclubs played Bollywood music until dawn.
After an eventful day, Ritwik and his friends took a road trip to Melbourne. They travelled the Great Ocean Road, one of Australia’s most famous touring routes. “It usually takes two days to get to Melbourne from Adelaide by road, and the path we took was like a window to the scenery and open space of Australia. It takes you through pockets of forest, calm seaside towns, and spacious dairy farms,” said Ritwik.
Travelling along the coast and passing places like Victor Harbour and Coorong National Park, they reached a small town and fishing port down south. Robe is a distinctive combination of historical buildings, ocean views, fishing fleets, lakes and dense bush. “We stayed at one of these beautiful cottages by the beach, like a heritage property maintained very well by the owners,” Ritwik said.
The second day of their journey took them to Port Fairy, Twelve Apostles, and Great Otway National Park before retiring at Anglesea, a town in the Victoria. “We spent seven hours just sitting beside Mother Nature. The scenery changes every five minutes, and the entire place is dominated by shades of blue and green, as well as the clearest skies one could imagine,” Ritwik revealed.
In Melbourne, they took the city tour and visited nearby Philip Island, famous for its penguin parade. Each night at sunset, penguins return to their burrows after a day of fishing. According to Ritwik, “Seeing these little penguins return home at sunset was magical.” The trip ended back in Sydney, where they enjoyed some creature comforts before heading back to India. ..... Rahul