Trip to Westmead and Sydney Murugan Temple
This was one weekend I was eagerly looking forward to. Why? Well, Mini, who was my colleague at PSI, Bangalore, had ever so kindly invited me over to her place at Westmead, Sydney, for dinner on Saturday evening. I was looking forward to meeting an Indian family (and a Malloo one at that) and having homemade Indian food after five weeks in Sydney. I am perhaps guilty of spoiling their dinner by asking for vegetarian food, but I hope they wouldn’t mind that too much.
One of the great things about the system here is that all the information you would ever need to take a train to travel from Point X to Point Y is available online, and so I was advised by my colleagues here to take a look, ensure I understood which platform the train would come in Central (it is a big station with multiple platforms split across two tiers, and it is difficult to move from one platform to something on the opposite side on a different tier, or so I was told). You can also find out the fare, the travel time and so on and so forth. So, I checked my trip plan to ensure I got the timings and the platform information right.
Westmead is a small and beautiful suburb about 25 km from Sydney Central, and it takes about 40 minutes to reach there from Central. I was to report at the Westmead station by 1830 hrs and so left the room by 1700 hrs (after watching Ishant drop Clarkey who went on to score a ton). My roommate excused himself for the trip (and thereby missed out on a great opportunity of savouring tasty food).
I reached the station, took the ticket, figured out (by watching others) how to insert the ticket at the gate to cross it over to the other side to go to the platform, and reached platform 18 from where I was to take the Western Line to Westmead. There were only a handful of people there, including 3 Indians and so that way it was a bit soothing. The train reached on time, and I got in. The compartment has two tiers (so that it can take approximately double the people that a normal compartment can carry at the cost of extra vertical height per compartment) and so that was also something new for me. There was six member Tamil family sitting behind me, and so spend some time there listening to them.
I got down at Westmead, and Raj, Mini’s husband, came to pick me up in their fabulous Toyota Corolla. After about 5 minutes drive, we reached their beautiful apartments. It was one of the rare apartment complex in a suburb that had lots of beautiful independent houses. Mini’s mother-in-law was visiting them and they were expecting one more family for the evening. We were into a few minutes of our conversation when the topic of a Murugan temple that was nearby came up. I asked them whether they were talking about the Murugan temple in Parametta (that I had heard about from the Indian colleagues here) and was happy to hear that they were talking about the same temple, and that it was just a ten minute’s drive from their place. When Mini asked whether I would like to go there, I jumped at the offer. Raj took me and his mother to the temple.
The Syndey Murugan temple is a medium sized temple with gopuram and praharam (which was more like a hall) with the deities at the end of the hall). They were in the middle of the seven day Skandha Shashti festival and so they had special poojas for the fourth day with more than 200 people attending. The temple housed a Vinayagar, Sivan, Meenakshi and Murugan family, besides the main deity — Sydney Murugan (promise, that is His name as per the board above the sanctum sanctorum. I have seen a Michigan Vinayagar or USA Vinayagar at Chennai and so was not very surprised, but it might be a surprise for anyone who is not used to seeing the place name attached to the name of the God :). This temple is reportedly run by SriLankan Tamils, though I saw lots of Indians (Northies and Southies) there. It really felt good to do be at a temple and do the sashtanga namaskaaram after a few weeks time.
After spending about 10 minutes there, we left the temple. Mr. Srinivas and his wife, Mrs. Rama were awaiting Raj when we reached back. Raj and Srinivas are Chartered Accountants from India, and they became friends when they met at the local University for the Australian Chartered Accountant course (you need to first complete three papers followed by CPA). We settled down in the hall for some light talk. Mini got us hot home made samosa at this point with steaming cups of tea and that got us started at the real conversation. We would have spend more than 90 minutes talking about India, Australia, the job market in Australia and how it works, and how the Indian CA doesn’t have much of a value here (or for that matter any Indian professional degree, and that is a bit sad, really).
Before we realized it, it was 2145 hrs and so we thought we better had dinner at that point. Mini claims she prepared vegetable fried rice, raithaa, beetroot curry, mushroom curry and Australian salad. Of course there was plain rice and curd (specially for me). The food was fabulous and I ate as much as I could (without, I hope, displaying aarthi :). I had barely finished that (and I was already full) when Mini sprank a real tasty surprise — my favourite Semya payasam with fried cashew and kismis (or whatever it is called). It was simply fabulous.
By the time we wound up, it was 2300 hrs and so I thought it was time to make a move. Mini packed the leftovers (she had prepared for at least 10 people and we were just 5 of us there) that acted as the lunch for me and Sridhar today. I thanked them and Raj dropped me off at the station.
I got down at the Central station, and was not sure how to go out (as there were multiple exit points that lead to multiple streets/directions, and I knew about only one inlet through which I came, and I couldn’t find it), and so was happy to see a Sardarji and his girlfriend, who so kindly took me to a spot from where I could take a cab, when I seeked their help. Sydney has a very vibrant nightlife. There were lots of youngsters on the road, enjoying their booze and their evening with their friends, and the traffic at midnight was as good as at peak hours.
Thus ended one of the more memorable days in Sydney. I guess Mini would see me at least once more before I leave :). Of course, she was kind enough to invite me over again.
Here is the link to the pix: