Though a straight line appears to be the shortest distance between 2 points, life has a way of confounding geography. Often it is the dalliances and the detours that define us. There are no maps to guide our most important searches; we must rely on hope, chance, intuition and a willingness to be surprised.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Spring on the Rooftop

In the past two weeks, the exceptionally calm winter has given way to a rather unsettled Spring. Such is a perfect description of our weather here in Sydney. But I could equally be talking about my own personal circumstances!

The weather has been bizarre even by Australian standards. Last Tuesday, saw the worst dust storms to hit Sydney since 1944. Being unfamiliar with dust storms – except for during my annual flat clean – I was at a complete loss to interpret the scene that greeted me when I woke up at 5am to see my room completely bathed in red.

Imagine waking up in the morning and seeing this view out of your window. This is an undoctored shot of my view at 5am on Tuesday 22nd September. Now I can say that, though I’ve never been to the outback, the outback has come to me!

It’s hard to overstate how odd things looked as I peered out of my window. Nuclear attack, meteor strike, or the Rapture... all seemed like plausible explanations. But by lunchtime the skies had cleared to a familiar blue, and the only puzzling thing was how the global news networks saw fit to drag the story out across the rest of the week. ‘Sydney brought to a standstill’ was one of my favourite headlines. Sydney is always at a standstill at 5am! But the press love to talk up a dust storm in a teacup.

Let's get this barbey started. The Keith Foreman Grill cranks into action.

The high winds were back for my big party on Saturday. This was the much anticipated ‘Spring on the Rooftop’ celebration. Some cold beers and cooked sausages helped the 30 or so punters forget the chill-wind for a while, but eventually we had to beat a hasty retreat to the local pub.

There was a general consensus that the venue was pretty spectacular, and that this was an event to be repeated in a couple of months, when good weather would be guaranteed.

But this might not be possible…

I’m hoping to move apartment soon. Much as I like my studio apartment, living in just one room does get a little tiring. On better days I like to think that a studio is great because ‘every room you are in is a large spacious room’ (!), but that makes Polyanna appear like a pessimist. And since I’ve started looking for somewhere else, I’ve been more unsettled where I am. The grass has started to look greener…

Unsettling too are my travel plans for the next couple of months. I am still no clearer on when I will next be in India. I hope it will be within the next month or so as work is always easier when I can keep strong connections with colleagues abroad. And thoughts of travel aren’t just restricted to India. I would really love to pay a visit home to see the family. I’m hoping to get these trips worked out in the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, a much smaller trip beckons. The next event on the Spring calendar is Ed’s stag weekend. Fifteen of us are going to the Gold Coast for a weekend of wholesome fresh air and exercise. Or something like that. This must be the most anticipated stag weekend of all time. Expect limited reports and blurry photographs.

This is the first day’s holiday I’ve had for six months (oh poor me!) and an interruption to my training routine, which has been going superbly. I’ve never felt fitter. I ran my first half-marathon last weekend and clocked 98 minutes. This was way better than expected and a similar pace to my best run for 10km – half the distance – some 8 years ago!

I wish I could push myself as hard in the pool, but I’m nervous about the injury returning. Still, running has been a great alternative. At the start of the half-marathon, running across the harbour bridge, with thousands of other Sydneysiders, under the giant Australian flags... I started to well-up! And there can’t be many more inspiring locations to finish a road-race either - running round Circular Quay and up to finish under the opera house.

Sydney’s weather is only rivalled in unpredictability by Melbourne. After my last update, I travelled down to Victoria’s capital to attend a two-day conference. I stayed an extra night to catch-up with friends and go to the Dali exhibition at the National Gallery there. My 7pm flight was then delayed as all flight operations were temporarily cancelled due to a storm passing the airport. Not ideal when I had to get up at 5am in Sydney the next morning for the half-marathon! I eventually got five hours sleep, and another reminder of why I prefer Sydney!