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MCG - SCG Yatra, Day 43

Christmas Day - Moss Vale

Before I begin to share our activities of the day, I would like to wish everyone of you a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year. I sincerely hope that you had a great Christmas with your family and loved ones. Shekhar and I celebrated the world’s most famous festival in our own way at the Moss Vale Showgrounds. There was no walk planned for the day. Christmas Day was pencilled in as a Rest Day from the beginning of the planning. I did however contemplate walking a couple of hours to reduce the next day’s distance. But the odds were stacked against me. It was simply too hot to walk. The temperature did not drop below 30 degrees until after 7:30 PM. By then it would have been too late to start the walk. Thus, we were forced to abandon our contemplation.

We used the whole day to rest and relax. I had a shower early morning as usual but didn’t go anywhere. I used the time to catch up with blogs. At one stage, I was 5-6 days behind in writing the blogs and as a result, I was struggling to remember every detail. The Christmas Day provided the perfect opportunity for me to catch up with the blogs. Thank you very much Santa!

We had too much food (cooked and dry) leftover, which I thought should be reduced over the next few days. Among other things, we had three cans of beans and chickpeas. We also had red rice intentionally left behind by Satyajit and Rohan. Thank you very much Satyajit and Rohan for your kindness. There would be no point in taking everything back to Melbourne. I asked Shekhar to peel the ginger and wash the green chillies. We boiled the rice and prepared the beans curry. Those, who know me well, would be well aware, that for me, cooking isn’t just a hobby but a passion. And I love it. The only problem I have is that I can not cook small quantities. I grew up in a family of eight plus my parents and my grandmother. Thus, eleven people had to have breakfast, lunch and dinner day after day after day. Over the school holidays in summer months, we also had aunties, uncles and their kids stay with us for a month or two. The daily ration had to be increased and so was the amount of cooking. These circumstances taught me bulk cooking only.

Shekhar and I enjoyed the freshly cooked lunch in the van for the first time since Shekhar arrived to drive the van. A couple of hours later, we had a couple of fresh mangoes, and these were really yummy. In the evening, we had a mix of various nuts and dates with a cup of tea and biscuits. This is how we spent the Christmas Day after walking more than 850 Kms over the last six weeks.

Now back to yesterday’s blog. Some people have reacted to my comments on how you could help Australia as a country without walking 1100 Kms. Regarding my tip to removing nails, screws and broken objects from the roadside, some people suggested that I join the Clean Up Australia initiative. This marathon walk has given me the opportunity to see first-hand the mess on our highways, country -, and back roads. It is a disgrace to see so much junk on roadsides from plastic and cardboard packaging, drink cans and bottles to USB cables and broken metal objects. The closer to a town, the higher the level of litter on the road. It is totally unacceptable.

Clean Up Australia is a great initiative and I fully support it. However, I would like to take it a step further. In addition to cleaning up the mess left behind by tossers, let’s move to Keep Australia Clean and Beautiful. I would like to use the following as an example. As a parent, you always do the best for your child. You give him/her the best food you can afford. You wash him/her, put some baby oil and dress up your child and comb his/her hair to make your baby look absolutely beautiful. You send your child to the best school you can afford. You take care of his/her health. At the first sign of anything wrong, your rush the baby to the doctor. YOU leave no stone unturned in taking care of your child because it is your baby.

Similarly, please consider Australia your baby. Australia is also my baby. Australia is our baby. Let us all take care of it and make it beautiful. Like washing daily, applying baby oil and dressing up your baby, let us do the same for this country. Would you allow anyone to make your baby filthy and ugly? No, you wouldn’t. It makes me so angry when I see people leave rubbish in public toilets for example. How difficult is it to take your rubbish home or at least take it to the nearest service station? Imposing penalties and fines works to a certain extent. However, it doesn’t solve the problem. Taking short-cuts has become of part of daily life for a significant proportion of the population. It is perhaps because they do not fully comprehend the implications of their anti-social behaviour. The need of the day would be to change their mindset to transform them to make them better citizens, to make them more patriotic, and to make them more responsible. Australia and Australian interests have to be the first and foremost of everyone’s decision-making.

Please do not consider Australia just a piece of land. It is a living nation and like every living entity, its existence is subject to a number of variants. For example, its health is subject to the level of care the government and the society provide. Its beauty is subject to the carer’s level of interest and funds provided. Its progress and growth are subject to the level of nutrition given; direction of frameworks and resources allocated. It is in everyone’s interest for Australia to be healthy and beautiful with a high potential for progress and growth.

Another point raised to yesterday’s comments was what it would achieve and how it would help Australia if we removed or pushed away nails, screws, and other broken objects from the road. I would like to explain the reasons behind my thinking. When you remove an obstacle, a potential danger from the road, you don’t know who you might have helped by doing that. It could be a family member or a friend or someone you don’t like or someone you don’t know. The logic is that your deed as a good Samaritan doesn’t discriminate if the person benefiting from it is good or bad, known or unknown. Your action facilitates a risk free, smooth ride for everyone. Please understand that when you remove an obstacle to help others reach their destination, God (Mother Nature or whatever you may like to call Him or Her) removes all obstacles to help you reach your destination. As per the English saying, “What you sow, so shall you reap.” Another saying goes, “What goes around, comes around.”

Finally, there was a question on what would we achieve by doing all that? If I may put more bluntly, the short-sighted and often-raised question is, “What is in it for me?” My answer to that is that we are enjoying the fruit of the hard work done by our forefathers. People who came before us built roads, rail, bridges, power lines, telecom - and other infrastructure. Imagine your life without all this. Whether you were born in Australia or migrated from overseas, we all are equally enjoying all these facilities. Besides, it would be absurd if a person or a company began to reinvent the wheel in the 21st century. Like we have greatly benefited from the contribution of those who came before us, for the sake of our future generations, we ought to leave this world a better place than the one we inherited when came into this world. I hope my explanations would satisfy those, who questioned my practical tips to build this nation in a cohesive way.

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