Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Giant Wheel

I was walking to work a couple of days ago and took a detour - two decades back in time. Staring right back at me as I walked through Darling Harbour (no less), was a "Giant Wheel"!!! OK, so it wasn't anything like the rickety, diesel-fuming, gaudy-fluorescent-lit deathtraps of my childhood. The carriages were completely enclosed in glass, there weren't any non-queues and they probably call it a "ferris wheel" or something as boring. But still! I felt the unmistakable yank of nostalgia and spent the next 15 minutes miles away from Sydney.

I actually remember my very first Giant Wheel ride. Which is surprising cause I must have been like 4. I went with two of my mum's students - Debbie and Fleur, I think - and was definitely not enjoying it. I remember being bundled up in my red winter jacket feeling sick. And the girls trying to distract me by telling me to look at the moon and different distant buildings that were all "Uncle Manuel's house".

Within a year or two though, I couldn't be dragged away from the monstrous wheel. Au contraire, I'd be right there yelling at the "giant wheel wallahs" to step on it! Folks figured out ingenious ways to entertain themselves on the wheel - throwing shredded pieces of newspaper when the wheel was in full flight, for instance. The wheel wasn't devoid of controversy either. Every once in a while you'd hear of some random couple copping a feel, sampling some tongue at the zenith of the ride the previous night. The best days were when you'd get ready to disembark at the end of the ride... and one "uncle" (usually someone in the fete organising committee) would have a word with the giant wheel wallahs and get us a second spin.

Ah, cheap thrills. The fete's no more, the giant wheels are rare... all that's left are the memories.

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