Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Land Down Under

The beach at St. Kilda, Melbourne, Australia:
OK, no worries, I haven't keeled over and died of dysentery or anything--I'm alive, and much healthier than I was a few weeks ago. :) And that is all because... I went to Australia!
After Delhi, I hopped on a plane (OK, not so much hopped as dragged my seriously dirty, sick, tired, and increasingly emaciated self) and flew to lovely Melbourne. I had a brief stopover in Singapore, during which I wandered around the airport with my hand over my mouth because I couldn't stop giggling--I couldn't BELIEVE how nice the airport was! I went into the bathroom, and there was toilet paper AND soap.... It was culture shock at its absolute best.
But once I got to Melbourne, it became quite obvious that my tummy troubles were far from over. I'd dropped to a mere 50 kilos, and though my charming and thoughtful host was determined to cure me with unpasteurized yogurt, I eventually had to go to the doctor, who fixed me right up with some antibiotics. For a few days my appetite was still lagging, but once it came back, it was back with a vengeance, and it was all I could do to keep a steady supply of fabulously decadent, Western food coming into my mouth.
Besides the trip to the doctor's and the few days of violent illness, Melbourne was fantastic. I shopped, drank a million lattes, got my nails done (and oh, did they need to be done!). I visited my friend Michael, who is a spectacularly talented musician: as well as a very generous host. He provided me with a computer full of every episode of the TV shows I'd missed while in India and plenty of junk food treats to fuel me through my television marathons. When I wasn't vegetating in front of Grey's Anatomy, I went with him to his gigs, like this one with his friend Matt:and of course, went out bar-hopping a little:And I got to hang out with my friend Yanti, who I hadn't seen since college in New Orleans!
I have to tell you, I have nothing but the best things to say about Australia and Australians. They are, hands down, the friendliest, coolest, and most welcoming people I have ever encountered. I showed up there knowing 2 people, and left in tears, getting embarrassingly choked up every time I had to say goodbye to someone. Fortunately, I invited every single one of them to come and visit me in New York, and I have a feeling that a good percentage will take me up on it. I hope they do, because seriously, friends this nice are worth keeping, no matter how short a time you've known them.

And that, my friends, is it! My travels, for now, have come to a close. It has been just over 3 months since I left New York, and it has never looked better. I had so many incredible experiences, moments that will be burned into my memory forever, and met so many people who have become as important to me as lifelong friends. I would not trade a second, not one tiny instant of it for anything.
But you know, stepping out of that cab and seeing my beautiful brownstone-lined street, with all of the trees in summer lushness, and feeling that early June nighttime chill in the air, I think to myself:
"There's no place like home."