As a child, I would look up into my fathers eyes and ask him...Dad when will I get to experience the New Year's Eve of Sydney. This was amongst the many other wishes that as a child I felt should essentially come true, like becoming an astronaut and eating uncle chips on the top of the moon, getting into CBI and solving some complicated murder mysteries or becoming an actress and making some really horrible faces as a vamp. My dad taking all my wishes quite seriously( god knows how ) would say, definitely all your wishes will come true. I am not sure about the others but New year's eve in Sydney definitely came true some 20 years later during my visit to Australia in the much hyped Mayans cataclysmic year 2012.
It was 31st Dec 2012, 2:00 p.m in the afternoon. We were well in time to occupy the best spot on the circular quay wharf no 6 which was one of the listed places to view the Darling harbour bridge on the maps. Darling harbour is the bridge where the grand show happens every year and this year it was exactly 10 hours away. We had occupied a small place and marked out territory with the help of a bed sheet. People were flowing in from every corner and the entry was allowed till 6:00 pm. As time passed a group of 6-7 Chinese girls and guys came in. They placed themselves besides our spot and very smartly kept dragging inch by inch in our LOC. My sister frowned at them to scare them away but all that while we had to protect our space from them as they were constantly on a hunt to snatch it.
So after waiting for 10 hours where each passing hour seemed like a day, we were close to the clock striking 12:00. We had been madly waiting for this one moment of spectacular fireworks and were surviving on a single Nando's burger and lots of caffeine. Now was the moment that I had once wished 20 years back to come true and I could not wait for it any longer.
Suddenly amidst all excitement I heard some fearful noises of people that broke the chord between my eyes and the darling harbour bridge. I turned to see what had happened and saw some flames rising which were bleakly visible with my naked eye. My sister sounded frightened too and I realised within seconds that a fire, a genuine fire that was getting uncontrollable had broken a little farther from where we standing. My jiju zoomed in from his handycam to catch a clear glimpse of it and to our utter shock the fire had already caught hold of a huge tree and was advancing hastily towards the boundaries. My blood froze in my body and my life force got stuck somewhere in my throat. I totally panicked of a stampede like I had heard in stories of crowded places. I realised that I will have to get out of it before its too late.The only thought running in my mind was that I did not want to die in a foreign land and I shall not let the Mayans win. I gathered courage and gave an invitation to my sister and jiju to save their lives. My jiju was too engrossed in capturing the end of the world with his tiny handycam and my sister was not by any chance agreeing to surrender the territory to the blood thirsty Chinese troops. After-all she had been protecting our 2 by 2 square feet of area from the Chinese scavengers from past 10 hours. So without wasting any time I started running alone to save my life whereas people were shooting pictures of the fire and standing unhindered by the flames. My brain started working like shakuntala Devi. I applied all permutations and combinations to save myself and came up with two brilliant ideas for disaster management i.e. either to jump in the water and get hold of the armour in the ship or climb up the terrace of the coffee shop which had earned a lot of dollars from us today.
For implementation of the first idea I had to convince the police who stood guards to the huge closed gates. I ran up to the man and narrated him that I had come from India and that he will have to let me get out of the gate. I was strongly pushing the gate back and forth to open it. The police guard with a blank face told me that the fire brigade was on the way and there was nothing to panic but I did not care to listen. I wanted to make a last minute Call to india and speak to my parents for one last time but the battery of the phone had died down. I quickly ran off to implement my second idea and that was to climb the coffee shop terrace. The climb did not seem to be an easy one but I buckled up my shoes and started to climb by placing my foot over the window. The IPad in my hand was becoming a roadblock but it was too precious to be abandoned even in a pressure situation like that one. All this while whenever I saw some 70,000 odd people, I was surprised to see them standstill. Why were they not running? how come they were clicking pictures? Were they out of their mind?
Anyways fearing the IPads life, my jiju came running to save its life and asked me to return the poor thing. He convinced me hard to come down the window and I came down some seconds later because the flight was getting impossible. After failing in all my attempts to get out of the closed boundaries and nowhere to go, I started running in circles in the closed area where we were locked, in a hope to bring my anxiety to rest.
An English guy who had become our neighbour for the day and was a silent spectator to the whole situation checked with my sister twice if that was some kind of dance Indians like to do before the celebration starts. My sister bewildered herself just nodded her head in agreement as she had not much to say for my behaviour.
A few minutes later, living through a nightmarish near death experience, I heard a fire brigade roaring across the road. The melodious sound of the machine allayed my fear and lightened a hope that this was not the end, I will witness the charismatic new year and share some mind blowing stories with my friends back home. An announcement was made soon after that the fire has been put off.
The phenomenal fireworks started exactly at 12:00 a.m. to welcome the new year 2013 and also put an end to a traumatised yet the most unforgettable New Year's Eve of my life in the vivacious Sydney.
To watch the video of the fire, visit the below link