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MCG - SCG Yatra, Day 40

Towrang - Brayton - Canyonleigh - (Moss Vale)

After spending the night at the Shri Hari Temple, Shekhar and I got ready for the day. Rajeev ji was very kind to make us an Indian tea while Lajja ji got ready to open the temple and wake Shri Hari up ceremoniously. We had the early morning darshan with aarti and then we took permission to leave. Waving good bye was difficult because Rajeev ji’s knowledge of physics and spiritual science was highly impressive and we had a good session yesterday afternoon as well as after dinner last night. However, all good things come to an end sooner or later. And we hope to meet again soon.

We drove back to the Towrang town. I got off at the corner of Mills Road and Towrang Road. I started the walk and went over the railway crossing. We knew these link roads would not be sealed. So, we were prepared to walk on the gravel and unsealed surface. We were perhaps only a kilometre or so when Shekhar, who was ahead of me, called over the walkie talkie to tell me that the road ahead was flooded as the low bridge had water over it and we couldn't proceed any further. Somehow, Shekhar managed to make a U-turn and drive back. I jumped into the van and we drove back on Towrang road towards the temple. I got off and started walking the longer way. The distance to Brayton via Mills Road would have been six kilometre shorter. Nevertheless, it wasn’t meant to be and we had to follow our contingency plan. The NSW Police in their letter had warned us about the flooding and its impact on travelling and therefore had asked us to have Plan – B ready.

We had been walking good three hours and I was getting tired. In a dense forest, on a lonely gravel road, we took a break and had something to eat. I went to have a power nap. Normally, Shekhar lets me sleep as long as I want to. He doesn’t wake me up but today, he did and said, “Wake up Dad, Ruchi is here with her family.” I was still half asleep when she pulled up in her black Volkswagen Passat. What a pleasant surprise in the middle of nowhere! This was absolutely unthinkable and most incredible that Ruchi Sharma, along with her daughter, and her uncle and auntie who were visiting from Canada, driving from Canberra to Sydney, would take a diversion and surprise us with their visit. Wow! This would have to be the most surprising moment of this walk. We took some photos with Ruchi and her family. Ruchi’s uncle and auntie were kind enough to pay us a visit with blessings and give a donation. The whole family wished us well and a successful walk. They left shortly after. Thank you so much Ruchi for going out of your way to find us where nobody else would. Ruchi, you are simply amazing. Hats off to you and your driving skills because I know what kind of roads I have been walking on. A big thank you Ruchi and family.

After Ruchi and family left, I started walking towards Brayton. Unfortunately, even this road had a low bridge ahead. Shekhar and I had noted that three cars had gone in the direction of this bridge and none came back. This indicated that the cars were able to get through to other side. The bridge was two Kms away. After covering a substantial portion of that distance, I asked Shekhar to wait before driving any further. I walked to the bridge and called Shekhar over the walkie talkie to go ahead. The water level was high and the bridge was low but it was clear of water. We made it to the other side safely and we both felt vey happy about it.

This windy road was as rough as it could get and it was full of ups and downs. We finally made to Brayton. However, there was no sign of a town as such. Just a couple of farmhouses with horses and other animals. And that was Brayton. We knew that this wasn’t the place where you could stay over. We would have to continue walking to the next destination Canyonleigh.

At the start of the road leaving Brayton suggested that the next 16 Kms were subject to flooding over low bridges. Gravel roads are particularly tough on your feet and they wear out your shoes very quickly. This back road to Canyonleigh was going to test my physical strength and mental health. We walked past Arthursleigh where, the University of Sydney has some sort of research farm that is subject to biosecurity laws. A short distance from this high profile place, the road we were walking on was closed by a gate. A sign on the gate suggested it was a private property but a public road. A camera surveillance on the gate ensured that those opened the gate, also closed it so that the cattle could not escape the owner’s property. This was a new learning for me. A public road running through a private property. I had never seen or heard of such an arrangement. Obviously, it worked.

The next 10-12 kms had several such gates where this road was running through private properties. I wonder if such an arrangement could work so successfully in India. There are a number of areas where stark difference exists between the rural living here in Australia and the villages in India especially in the northern states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and so on. In Australia, all rural properties are fenced, have an entrance and a clearly identified property number. All these parameters are missing in the case of rural India. The rural population in Australia no matter how small the village or town, they have a community hall, a fire station or a country or rural fire fighting facility, a police station or a direct line to call police. It looks like India could learn a lot more from Australia and not just in the field of cricket. It is perhaps because the local governing bodies in rural Australia work for the development of the village and rise above the party politics to take care of their local interests. This kind of thinking could be highly challenging in an Indian setting.

After walking for about 24-25 kms, I called Shekhar and enquired how much more to go to reach Canyonleigh. He told me it was still about 4 Kms away. I was very tired, so I called it a day. We used the marking spray to mark the gravel road to identify the point to which I had walked. Shekhar and I drove to the town of Canyonleigh. Apart from the few homes or farmhouses, there was nothing at all. We had to drive to Moss Vale to find a place to stay. We secured a site at the Moss Vale Showgrounds. I had a hot shower and then we went out for dinner.

Having a hot shower reminds me of another difference between the Indian mindset and what we take for granted here in Australia. Some 20 years ago, I travelled to Coimbatore, the second largest city in the State of Tamilnadu. I had booked a room at the Sohan Regency, the only 4 or 5-Star hotel in town. The most expensive hotel in the city. At that time, I used to get up as early as 2:00/2:30 AM. I got up, and I went straight to shower. I was opening the hot water tap, only cold water was coming out. I tried calling the reception, but no response. Somehow, I managed to wash myself and sat up for the prayer’s session. A few hours later, when I went for breakfast, I went to the reception to complain. This guy wasn’t apologetic at all. He said, “Sir, if you wanted to have a hot shower that early, you should have told us last night before going to bed and we would have switched on the hot water system that usually operates on a fixed timer.” What kind of 5-star hotel would do that? How much money would they save by switching it off and on? No one would expect that kind of money saving silly measure at a five star.

Now compare that with the make-shift facilities around caravan parks, showgrounds and council parks in Australia, where they provide access to 24 – hour hot water. You could have a 10, 20 or 30 minute shower, no one would bother you. It is a question of having a different mindset.

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