It is very far away from anything other than Penguins and ice-caps. It has 4 million human beings surrounded by 40 million sheep. It has almost 100 Volcanoes, lots of mild intensity earthquakes (about 400 in a year, out of which about 25 are usually above 5.0 on the Richter scale) and is ruled by a lady who lives about 18,000 kilometres away (let us face it, given all this fire & brimstone, wouldn’t you too ?) And of late, it has decided that a new tax will be imposed on its citizens – nicknamed the ‘fart tax’, it is a tax that actually gets farmers to pay up every time a sheep or a cow belches. In short, this is one of the world’s most interesting countries.
I am of course referring to New Zealand.
The first Indian to get to New Zealand was a Bengali man who jumped ship in 1810 to marry a Maori woman (and whose progeny I would give an arm and a leg to see!). By 1896, Indians had overrun the place with all of 46 of them in residence, including Mr Phomen Singh, a sikh who became a seller of sweetmeats in the streets of Auckland. And they just kept coming – recent estimates suggest there are 100,000 of us who followed in Mr Singh’s footsteps; almost all of them in professions as benign as hawking sweets.
So, even if you do not want to do a ‘self-drive honeymoon’ or jump off a cliff for fun or watch India getting hammered by the last ten Kiwis playing cricket, I would suggest you go and check out the country. If not for anything else, at least to understand how the ‘fart tax’ works. Remember, the way the enviro-mafia is at it, soon you will need to pay up every time you…you get the picture. And New Zealand will probably be a good place to figure out how that can feel.