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Another week in Sydney - in Sokol's nest

Nik, Aruna, Suriyan and Tarin Sokols, another week in Sydney, first dumspter diving, concert in Sydney Opera House and getting my wheels ready

The whole week from 26-May to 2-Jun I stayed in Sokol’s nest and leisurely explored Sydney.
Staying with Nik and his family – Aruna, Suriyan and Tarin was just amazing. Not only is Nik the real 14th reincarnation of Buddha of Compassion, but his whole family is incredible. Suriyan, whom I met when he was 3 months old (during the road trip across USA when me and Samo stayed at Nik’s place in NYC) is now 5 years old boy, super social and intelligent creature. Aruna hasn’t changed at all since I’ve last time seen her 5 years ago, she actually looks younger than then I would say :-) And this time I met the latest of the Sokols, little Tarin, the most smiling kid on this planet (well, except moments when mummy leaves out of sight). I joined family circle of the Sokols, and went swimming with them on weekend, played with Suriyan and Tarin, eat wonderful food cooked by Aruna and discussed with Nik about all possible things, but especially about Australia. On Saturday 1-Jun Nik took me to Sydney Opera House for a concert,. He got tickets for free, as he’s a big boss there now with being responsible for the tunneling below the Opera House and so we went to see Sounds of South, interesting mix of all genres blooming around New Orleans – Gospel, Blues, Jazz. It was really great concert, almost everybody in the 11 member band was multi-instrumentalist and they played truly from the heart. And it was in Sydney Opera House and I even got there for free! This time I was indeed lucky and I’m very very very very very thankful to Nik for all that he’s done for me while I was in Sydney. It will take me couple of lives to return him all his generosity.
So not only did he accommodate me, he also lend me his old car Subaru Sportswagon 1990 for free and with permission to drive it anywhere in Australia, if I help him to sell it when I return, as he wants to get rid of the car, he and Aruna lend me whole lotta camping equipment, utensils, pots, additional sleeping bags, etc. I saved heaps and heaps of dollars by getting that car for free so I don’t have to rent or buy any other car or pay for bus, and they also gave me a mattress which I put into the car and so it’s now my very own motel on wheels and I can comfortably sleep in it (I will just have to find hidden spots so that the police doesn’t fine me).

During the week I found some company for the first stage of my planned road trip – from Sydney to Byron Bay. On CouchSurfing page I found Nina, who was looking for ride from Sydney to Byron, I briefly met her in Sydney and agreed on the plan.

Apart from wonderful time in Nik’s and Aruna’s place, the highlights of the week were these 6:

1.       CouchSurfing pub crawl. OK, this was not really highlight, but still better than my previous 2 weekends in Sydney. While moving from bar to another, at around midnight suddenly I ran into Lucia (my sister’s best friend whom I met in Melbourne) and her boyfriend. I knew that they were coming to Sydney, but meeting them randomly on street at midnight, in city of 4 million citizens, that was quite a coincidence!

2.       Vivid Festival in Sydney, which means that there were laser shows and art installations in area around the Opera House. The best part was definitely beaming of various graphics onto the Opera House at night, so I’ve got some pretty cool pictures of the Opera House.

3.       Finding bar scene on Oxford Street, where I finally found some bars which I liked. Some people whom I just met in one of the bars took me o Oxford Art Factory, which was the by far the best club I have seen in Sydney. It had a bit of industrial feeling, and felt slightly European. Later I read in Lonely Planet that the club is modeled after Andy Warhol’s Factory in New York. Finally also some bearable music.

4.       Going to concert in Sydney Opera House, but this one I had already mentioned.

5.       Going to Bondi Beach. OK, so I have seen it, the mighty legend on beaches. Well, nice beach, but still only a city beach, nothing mind blowing. I always thought it was larger. Maybe it’s because it’s almost winter now in Australia and so it was not so busy (and it was weekday too), but somehow I missed some atmosphere in Bondi. Sure, surfers, beach volleyball players , beach bums and joggers were all there, but for a certain reason I remembered “Zlate Piesky”, small lake on outskirts of Bratislava, and I suddenly I felt that stupid little dirty god forgotten Zlate Piesky were simply better than Bondi. If for no other reason, then at least because they sell therr langos (think garlic covered thin focaccia). I would give kingdom for langos, my true love! But it was not only lack of langoses (haha, langoses, nice plural…), Zlate Piesky during summer simply breathes LIFE: children running and splashing around, everybody swimming and water-biking, people playing volleyball, badminton or cards, ice cream and so on and so on – the real life. Here in Bondi it seemed so artificial, like a fashion show or something like that. Yep, I had never thought that I would ever say or write a sentence like this, but Zlate Piesky are (for me) better than Bondi.

6.       The last highlight is by far the biggest highlight of them all (well, maybe with exception of the concert) was my meeting with freegans whom I had met earlier. I met them two more times, and since I was interested in learning more about dumpster diving I once joined them for their “shopping”. At around 16:00 we went to garbage area of Coles (think Australian Tesco) and… raided their dumpsters. Because they had already told me before, that there was EVERYTHING you can imagine in the dumpsters I was theoretically ready, but anyway it amazed me to see it with my own eyes: tons of good, fresh food thrown away by the supermarket because they received a new delivery of goods. I always imagined that people who do dumpster diving have to eat half-rotten dirty food, but heck no! There were kilograms of fresh bread in the dumpster, all packed in the original plastic, air-tight packages (and bread is super-expensive here…), 5kg of ham, untouched, wrapped in the original package, with expiry date one week in the future (yes in the future, not in the past!), deluxe juice one day after expiry date, yogurts, milkshakes and lots and lots of other stuff, almost all of it still before expiry date. I helped them to rescue the food and then they cooked dinner, and so I had my first dinner from food collected from the garbage. Let me tell you, that I’m not ashamed at all for eating from the dumpsters, actually I’m proud that I did it. One more prejudice eliminated. Whoever would be there with me, he would see that all that food was hygienic, fresh and high quality. I’m absolutely sure that this dinner from the garbage was cleaner than anything I have eaten in India, yet most people would be horrified if they should imagine themselves eating something from the trash. I’m really glad that these people introduced me to dumpster diving, I successfully did the first step, and now, when I will feel like, I can occasionally check the dumpsters of big brand supermarkets and I’m sure I will find some tasty food for free. Awesome! As I later found out, Nik himself is a big practitioner of freeganism, although not with food but with furniture and various appliances and household goods, which he often collects on the roadside, and when he was studying at university in Philadelphia he used to collect free food which was supposed to be thrown away by bakeries and shops and then distribute it to poor people. So it seems, that freegans are all around me :-)
6 months ago I was a well-paid manager in business/IT consulting for financial institutions, today I had my first dinner from dumpsters. Amazing career path, isn’t it? :-)

Last day Nik and I bought a new battery for the car, as the old battery died the day before. It was quite funny start of my romance with the Subaru – when I wanted to go for a trial drive around the block, the car was just dead, and not only it wouldn’t start, it wouldn’t do anything. So we bought a new battery, exchanged it and replaced the oil in the car, which unfortunately lead to mini ecological catastrophe in Nik’s garage, because the bucket into which he put the old oil was leaking and by then time we found out there was a hefty oil puddle right in the middle of his garage. We spent 2 hours cleaning that shit and still it was nowhere clean. As it happened in the night just before my departure Poor Nik will have to continue cleaning it up even after my departure. Seeing what 3 liters of that sticky shit can do, I have a new understanding of what Exxon Waldez must have caused.

All packed for roadtrip part II, ready to roll!!!

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     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak