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Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Seniors’ day out

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ISF and KISCA seniors enjoyed holi and sightseeing, reports GEORGE THAKUR

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Fun at Phillip Island

The Indian Seniors Forum recently combined celebrating the festival of Holi with Harmony Day at the famous Rose Gardens in the distant West Melbourne suburb of Werribee. Sixty-one enthusiastic seniors joined in, and it is worth mentioning that two members were wheelchair-bound, while three others of Indo-Sri Lankan origin were profoundly disabled. The bus picked up members from a centrally located Dandenong railway station and along the way from Clayton which boasts a large Indian population, and also from the Shirdi Sai Temple at Camberwell.

In the Gardens, members sprinkled gulal on each other’s foreheads and painted faces. Free-dancing and sing-songs were performed for long, to emulate the festive atmosphere back home. While a government grant helped the Forum to provide festival sweets, volunteers arranged lunch and sweets, and more sweets, in fact, so many sweets and snacks that they were shared with visitors to the Gardens, some of whom wanted to know the significance of the Indian festival. At the end, each member was motivated to take sweets and nibbles home. The weather did not disappoint either.

The Forum meets at two separate venues. Dandenong meets are held first Monday, and Camberwell fourth Saturday. Refreshments are served. Both events are free and every and anyone is welcome to attend. See What’s On for information on events in April.

Ready to celebrate Holi

Kingston Indian Seniors Association members recently enjoyed a day out at charming Philip Island that offers so much to visitors. Most of fifty enthusiastic members were at the usual Marcus Road meeting place at 8:30 am, the time stipulated, and greeted each other. A carload of unapologetic, compulsively true Indians at heart though, deemed it proper to delay the rest of us. Finally, the bus started off at close to 10am. President Usha Sharma welcomed members and announced the programme for the day. Members distributed sweets, nibbles and dry fruit, and sang songs.

We were too early at San Remo, located at the Melbourne end of the bridge that connects the Island, to view local fishermen feeding a colony of pelicans every midday; a spectacle that attracts hundred of visitors with cameras. We carried on, envying the palaces of the rich and the filthy rich on the higher ground of the thoroughfare and Port Philip Bay on the lower. We travelled past a motorcycle racing track and various gardens to reach Nobby Beach, which thousands of Fur Seals call home. As the track close to the rocks where one can spot and photographs seals was windy and long, most chose to stay put. Next was the Koala habitat where one comes in close contact with the mammals, and can even touch or pat them. Usha negotiated a concessional rate for members, although the clerks were not very thrilled to have fifty of us turning up unannounced.

Cowes, the main Philip Island marketplace and beaches, etc., was next on the schedule. We found a shady tree-lined place near the beach as the usually irritable Melbourne-based Sun God was in a good mood, and spread our chairs and sheets. While some tried to test the salty waters of the Bay, most settled down sharing lunch with the others. Those who did not bring along lunch for one reason or another abandoned us to buy food from the market, not realising that we had enough food to go around for all. They also did not return at time stipulated for our departure, so our bus negotiated the not-so-wide Island streets looking for them. Finally, we found them enjoying themselves, and we all moved on to the next venue. Our next stop was the chocolate factory where beach sand, boats and birds are made of chocolate. Chocolate, as we know, has the influence of making one ignore the doctor’s advice and dig in. None of us tested that power!

The return journey was all sing-song, to a drum carried by one of us. Barbara Nagaya collected donations as gratitude to our Fiji-Indian driver. A thoroughly enjoyable day out.

KISCA meets from 2:30 to 5 pm every fourth Sunday. For more information, please call President Usha Sharma on 9584 8500.

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