Former Australian skipper Michael Clarke, who was in the city as part of Friends of Australia — a global ambassador network, talks about the similarities between the two countries and his love for Biryani, among other things.
When you think of Australia you either think of cricket or you long to visit the beautiful country abundant in natural beauty, wildlife diversity, rich culture and mouthwatering food. Former skipper of Australian cricket team Michael Clarke was in Pune recently to promote Australian tourism as part of Tourism Australia’s Friends of Australia — a global ambassador network.
The commentator and travel enthusiast loves the fact that both Australia and India have a lot in common. “I have spent a lot of time in Australia and India and I think they have a lot of similarities. Both countries love to see their sporting teams achieve and perform very well. Our cultures in general are very open to accepting each other. My experience of coming to India and meeting Indian people has been quite a pleasant one. They are always warm and welcoming and since there are so many similarities, I have always enjoyed spending time here,” says Michael.
When asked about his association with Tourism Australia’s Friends of Australia programme, the 36-year-old says, “Tourism Australia has done a wonderful job over a long period of time in promoting our country. I am very fortunate and proud to have grown up in Australia as it is a very warm and welcoming country and we are open to embracing every other culture. It has a great environment for other cultures and faiths to exist. We do not say ‘no’ to anybody. We have so many different personalities and people coming together and that is our strength. I think Tourism Australia has a lot to do with that.”
About the travel attractions and natural beauty that Australia offers, Michael says, “You want snow, you have it here. You want to enjoy the beaches, you can hit the beach. You long for the harbour, you have them here. There are beautiful mountains that gives you solace.”
Speaking about his favourite places in Sydney, he says that since his parents didn’t have enough money to spend on holidays, they drove around the country to explore various destinations. The cricketer, who did a lot of camping and loved going out because of his outgoing temperament, says Australia’s beautiful weather, parks, beaches, mountains and so on make you step outside and enjoy.
A FRIENDLY PLACE
The entire world knows that Australia is one of the most preferred travel destinations because of its geographical diversity and exotic wildlife and cricket. How would the former captain like the world to look at his country? “It is a country where different cultures have become a part of our family. What you see on television or hear about my country is very much what you get to see and experience when you go there. It is a very friendly place, and we are so open to everybody coming in sampling our country. Once you go there, it is hard to leave which means we are obviously doing something good!” chuckles Michael who believes that travelling is one of the most amazing things and helps him to get to know people in their own environment and how they go about things. “Travelling allows me to respect people more and get an insight into what their culture is like,” he adds.
LOVE BARBECUE AND BIRYANI
Ask him about his favourite Australian food and he promptly replies, “It is impossible to pass by barbecue! To me, barbecue gives you a peek into the Australian culture. While growing up whether we were at the beach or park or meeting up a family during Christmas, a big barbecue would be set up there. To me, barbecue is ultimate Australian food to be enjoyed with friends and family.” Some of his favourite places in Australia are Sydney, Tasmania, Northern Territory, Canberra and so much.
Michael also loves Indian food and is a diehard Biryani fan. “When I eat Indian food I always feel good because you have beautiful rice, beautiful breads and delicious curries to go with them. I love Chicken Tikaa, Tandoori Chicken and Naan but Biryani is my favourite with some Raita to go with it,” he says.
FAVOURITE PLACES IN INDIA
Ask him about his favourite places in India and Michael finds it difficult to pick one. “There are so many beautiful places in India. I have spent a lot of time in Pune but my fondest memories is of Bengaluru where I made my test debut and scored a century. Like Australia, every Indian city and town has a different feeling and flavour. Recently, I spent a lot of time in Kolkata and I just love the city. People are so wonderful and you get loads of great food. They make sweets better than any other place in the country,” he concludes.