Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It's Time To Move On..It's Time to Visit Melbourne

Panchi was ushered on to the stage, nervous about her speech that she had to deliver on the occasion of Kunal's wedding celebrations. It had been quite difficult for her to even attend the marriage, considering Kunal had been the love of her life, till about six months back, when he declared his marriage plans to Shruti, a family friend's daughter.

The deck had been beautifully decorated, balloons and posters of half-naked women suiting to Kunal's crazy plans while beautiful white lilies and drapes of baby pink and creme were ethereally indicative of Shruti's presence and decision making. This beauty on water, Maidenabella flowed shyly on the transcendental and picturesque Yarra river in a calm and serene Melbourne

She looked across the still waters, reflections looming small and large, hues of the sky, twitching with recurring spasms of lights from the fireworks. She looked at the dozens of eyes looking at her-some eyeing, some simply looking in retrospective glances while few did know about her relationship and thus had a tinge of pity in their eyes.She held the mike like she held the most fragile thing in her hands, as she began.

Her eyes welled with tears, stinging her view of the gathering, the Yerra river and the clandestine presence of the love she still held so close to her. And there he was..Kunal..The man she had fallen in love with on the very first day of her college life. They had been the only lasting couple while they graduated after which, Kunal had been placed in Melbourne while Panchi continued with her writing and poetry in New Delhi.

The next three years saw them go through many ups and downs in their lives, with Panchi losing her legs in an accident, Kunal deciding to shift to Melbourne permanently and yet their love, seemed to exist like the breeze that seemed to conquer all territories and yet sadly, as they would realise, it was bound by none either. Time flew by as their relationship waved from meetings to telephone calls and then Skype.

However, one night-things changed. Panchi woke up to Kunal's call who seemed to be talking too loudly and too quickly for her to grasp anything of what he was telling her. "Are you listening, Panchi? I am marrying Shruti and so we can't be together any more. I know it would be hard, but hope you understand. My family won't accept a physically handicapped wife for me and I cannot go against them. So the wedding is here itself, I'll send you the invite soon. Ummm..Take care. Good luck." Buzzzz...

The line went dead, and so did Panchi's senses. Kunal just ended their four-year old relationship and was getting married. Melbourne- this damned place had taken away her all that she had and that she had hoped for. She had roamed through the city through Kunal's eyes, his pictures on Facebook hardly capturing the imagination and vibrancy of the place like his voice would- be it while he'd roam around this very River, soaking in the solitude and serenity or the crowded blocks within the Melbourne City Centre, riding a bicycle around the by lanes, witnessing exorbitant masses of people around him.

He would often exclaim how Melbourne would live up to its name of being the second most populous city of Australia- the varied indigenised yet affirmative culture of the people there- their eating habits, their sense of culture and way of living. Panchi could imagine the autumns when Kunal would talk of how the wet roads look so attached to the earth, with all ethereal colors of moss, brown and beige striking amidst the moistness and wet and dry maple leaves like broken stars would cover the pavements, sometimes in uneven heaps or plattened carpets.


Kunal knew Panchi loved the sea and how she missed them in Delhi and so he'd call her up and she'd listen to the waves crashing into rocks, while Kunal would light a smoke and describe the Great Ocean Road to her as she would excitedly Google up the road to see images and videos of the same.

The island stretched right across the road and Panchi could almost smell the sea though the phone. The light wavy sounds along with the crashing waves, pleased her senses to no dearth! She loved the feel of it and often would traverse into conversations with Kunal on to paths where they would have had a future, where they were each others holding hands and would walk down the beach, hand in hand- arm in arm.


The Eureka Tower was Kunal's favorite, from the top, he'd click pictures of the city, and would exclaim in delight, over the phone as if he was announcing it to the entire world. He was obviously totally in love with Melbourne.Who would have known how fate would center Melbourne into their lives as a crossroad which forked their paths into two different directions.


He loved brisk walking to the office and en route, would marvel every day at the Intercontinental hotel and sit in a small cafe, one amongst the many in the lane ahead to sip beer or coffee and gaze at the monumental structures around him while Panchi on the other end, miles and oceans apart would stare at her dark room, with shards of light coming through the window, imagining it all in her mind.

Mugs of beer and crazy cars are known to be a feature of the Southern Cross Station, both of which are things men love the most. So Kunal would often hang around in that area or would spend some leisurely time here by arriving early during his inland trips. He would for sure, attend the Good Beer Week festival there.
Of course men and sports would be inalienable and with the Melbourne Cricket Ground, she'd find Kunal grumbling as to how his working hours never let him take an off and go watch a match! Nevertheless, he would often walk along the circular path and they'd listen to the crowds hurling during a match.

Kunal was all about walks! He would roam about during the weekends exploring the Rutledge Lane or the Off-Ackland Street which would basically be the most creative parts of the city, with graffiti artists literally "painting the town red yellow blue" like Kunal would describe in glee!
Off-Ackland Street

Rutledge Lane

Ah! It had been quite a roller-coaster ride! Her relationships, her writings and also her love for the city!Implicit like an old love song, the bud of interest grew as her relationship with Kunal faded away little by little, till he literally got married! And there she stood, at his wedding delivering a dedication speech for the married couple. She had thought of excusing herself, but then, Kunal's denial for her only because she was now physically handicapped had taken a toll on her feminist side, that was as much of her own. So she had ruefully chosen a song- that  would wrench his heart down and make him guilty of what he had done.

She stood with a glass of champagne looking at the beauty that surrounded her, sighing as she tried inhaling the exotic charisma into her. She winced as the air stung her nostrils but it wasn't just that.. She knew what she had to do. Just like the moment she had uttered to herself, " Panchi.. It is your time to visit Melbourne, NOW!" at the very thought of Kunal getting married, she now realised she needed to explore the city, where she loved and loved, quite emphatically. She had to know every nook and corner, not just feel the pleasure but sense it too-see it, feel it and taste it!

With that thought, she kept the glass aside and looking at the crowd that included Kunal and Shruti cuddled up, for one last time- she exited. That evening she sat next to the window sill, looking at the sky determined- like Melbourne had wrapped her into an embrace. She did not feel dejected or forlorn, but rather excited to explore the city. She realised that in the due course of the relationship, she had also fallen in love with the city and for now- this love was enough. Who knows, maybe someday soon enough, while she wheeled herself across the street, she'd find her man in shining armour (read beer in hand and the light tanned skin) winking right back at her!

This post has been written for the Indiblogger's's your time to visit Melbourne NOW!

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Images courtesy a friend and photographer Amit Bajaj-