Writing this makes me nostalgic. It was the Christmas of 2008 when I first set foot on this city, which was amongst the top three of the ‘world’s most livable cities’. – Melbourne! And I was to later find out why!
On the very first day I was quite amused with the unusually long evening, it was around 9:30 pm and the sun had still not set! For someone so used to a tropical sunset, where the sun sets almost unfailingly at… sunset (LOL!), this was quite unraveling! I took the additional daylight into my stride, not knowing that winter was quietly waiting for repayment in some faraway corner!
What struck me even harder was the deafening silence at nightfall. No noise of traffic or of people, generally because the houses are scattered far apart and people retire early. This was so much in contrast to the numbing ambient noise back home.
Melbourne is a very relaxed, chilled out city. You might attract some raised eyebrows if people see you in the office after 5:30 pm! And of course, people still use trams to commute. It isn’t uncommon for people to enjoy lengthened relaxed wining and dining, not necessarily on weekends. Melbourne is well known for its cafe culture. There are pretty little boutique cafes and mom n pop eating joints in small nooks and corners of the city. But, at the same time most malls and restaurants would shut down by 5:30 -6:00 pm! Wait, Isn’t that about time we mumbaiites usually just about start planning the rest of the evening?
But before you start writing off this city as boring, I think it is because of this very reason that it actually comes to become ‘lively’. I came across a people who are very sporty and fun loving! Sports!- you name it and they have it! Apart from that I witnessed a lot of cultural events and activities that would take place out in the open for the public to enjoy like performances at the federation square, Operas in the parks, Carols by the candlelight, movie under the stars, and many more!
It took me no time to fall in love with with this place that was brimming with natural beauty. I was mesmerised by the exquisite beaches and versatile coastline, breathtaking mountain ranges and valleys, vineyards, beautiful parks and nature walks, little ponds filled with lotuses and water lillies, long alluring drives, unique wildlife, and much more. On one hand I found pretty little old towns tucked somewhere in the valleys and on the other hand I walked along an array of modern architectural structures in the city. It is truly a home for budding architects.
It is here that I truly understood the meaning of the word ‘seasons’ for the first time outside of the books. I lived them here. Summers could get so hot as to cause bushfires, and winters would bring snow and hail. And of course, I paid back my debt! The sun would set as early as 5pm! The cold winter showers made me miss warm Mumbai monsoons like anything! And the dull and drab winter evenings made me miss – guess what- Tubelights! Yes, you got it right – bright white tubelights! I couldn’t care less for the mood lights and dim lights and the warm whites and the yellow whites and what have you! I just needed some brightness to feel normal!
And what do I say about fall and spring? Colours, colours and more colours! I could not get my eyes off the fiery display of the fall colours – bright orange, reds and yellows. Spring would come with subtler hues with huge trees clad in pink, white, yellow, lavender flowers and laden with lemons, oranges and many more! And lo and behold – not to mention the enthralling arcs of rainbows!
I witnessed some splendid sunsets here! Sunsets on the vast, pristine beaches that would turn the skies into massive palettes and the sands into inviting red carpets, sunsets that would set the waters of the saintly lakes on fire, sunsets that would lend a different hue to the beautiful parks right in the middle of the city, quiet reflective sunsets from my backyard that would take me to a different world and back!
Those rays of the sun giving you a golden face and twinkling eyes, those silhouettes of couples walking holding hands or sitting on a bench, those noises of the birds flying back home and kids jumping around, those memories of driving back to my warm cozy home, and those quiet, peaceful moonlit nights are etched in my heart forever. But before I knew, I woke up to another crisp spring morning which would take me miles, miles away from this beautiful paradise! It was time to move. “Move?” It was like I was jostled back to reality from a living dream!
Coming from the hustling and bustling aamchi Mumbai, this ‘most livable city’ helped me ‘live’ life like I had never before. It was a perfect setup for nurturing the new relationship that I had just stepped into, for gaining finer experiences in life, for meeting new people, for pursuing further studies and to be one with nature. And it was here that nature endowed me with one of its most precious gifts, my little angel, my beautiful daughter!
Melbourne gave me an opportunity to live life to the fullest and to rediscover a new me – a me that I never knew existed!