Friday, March 28, 2014

Hi, how you doing?

The choice of leaving your home to set up business in a new country is always a difficult one. When you go as a professional, there will be bosses and colleagues to help you settle down in a new country. But if you're setting up your own business you have to find your feet. Luckily, for us, it's Queenslaid, the Sunshine State in Australia, where the people are laidback and friendly and love chatting up strangers. Brisbane has four universities, is the entry point to the Great Barrier Reef and has the Gold Coast as a suburb. The locals are used to hordes of people coming in from different parts of the world to enjoy the sun and sand and study. They'll pick up a conversation on weather, gardening, fishing, scuba or the Queen (of England) at the drop of a hat and expect you to join in. It's something we Indians are not accustomed to, for you're told right through your childhood and adolescent years to "not talk to strangers." So you have to overcome your inherent hesitation to respond to their, "Hi, how are you," with more than a "Hi." You are rude, if you leave it there or show less enthusiasm in your greetings. You ask them, "How you doing?" And you wait for the answer. A shopkeeper will most likely respond, "I'm doing well, thank you. It's hot, isn't it?" Another question. "Yes it is," you answer. He expects another question to keep the conversation going. You struggle to come up with one. Finally, you ask, "Had a busy day?" Encouraged, he responds, "Noy. Not as busy as it could get on the weekends..." If you ask him his name and about his family, he'll be delighted to take up the chance to have a polite conversation. It feels strange at first but gradually you start enjoying the process. When someone greets you, "Hi, how are you doing?" You reply, "It's another day in paradise!"

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Facts about Koalas I just did not know

I recently visited the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, the largest and oldest in the world. Feeling the furry teddy-bear-like creatures had been on my wish list for a while and I am glad that I had an opportunity to do so. In Australia, you get to see kangaroos in the wild, but koalas are tricky for they live near the tops of the trees and are extremely shy. Here are the things I learnt during my four-hour excursion:

  1. Koalas are not bears. They are marsupials and more closely related to kangaroos than bears of any kind
  2. Koalas have white spots on their bottoms. They usually feed on eucalyptus leaves and the trunks of those trees are white. It's a good camouflage to avoid a predator attack from the bottom
  3. Koalas are very choosy about their food. They don't eat all species of eucalyptus and prefer only new leaves
  4. Koalas sleep for 18-20 hours a day
  5. They are lazy because their diet of eucalyptus is very low in starch/sugars. It's their way of conserving their energy
  6. Lethargic they may be, but they move quite swiftly
  7. Even in captivity, they hate being touched or petted on their heads
  8. The males have a dark patch on their chest. It's because of the scent glands. They leave their scent on trees by rubbing their chests on the trunks
  9. Northern Koalas live in Queensland and the northern region of New South Wales. Southern Koalas live in Victoria and South Australia. The northerners are a lighter shade of grey than the southerners
  10. Koalas were killed for their fur in the 19th and the early 20th centuries and were very close to extinction

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fortitude Valley and McWhirters

In 1849, Scottish immigrants from the ship SS Fortitude arrived in Brisbane, enticed by Rev Dr John Lang's promise of free land grants. Denied land, the immigrants set up camp in Bowen Hills. A number of the immigrants moved on and settled a suburb, naming it, Fortitude Valley, after the ship on which they arrived. A post office was established in 1887.
In the 1890s, Thomas Beirne opened a business on Brunswick Street. His business thrived and, after extension, he travelled to England in 1896, leaving his manager of two years, James McWhirter, in charge. Soon after his return, McWhirter established a competing drapery business opposite Beirne's in 1898. Beirne and McWhirter became keen rivals and are credited with establishing the Valley as a hub of commerce from the late 1890s.
In the late 19th century, commercial activities in Brisbane were divided along religious lines, with Protestant shopkeepers setting up along Queen and Adelaide Streets in the central business district, and shops operated by Roman Catholics in Stanley Street, South Brisbane. However floods in 1893 and 1897 wiped out many shops, and owners in that area decided to move and set up operations north of the river in an area free of flooding. The area they chose was Fortitude Valley. 
Owing to its proximity to the central business district and the close concentration of public transport in the area, the Valley became the largest non-CBD shopping precinct in Australia through the 1950s and 1960s.
Text Source: Wikipedia
Pic: Eisha Sarkar

Friday, March 21, 2014