A destination many consider to be the heart of international culture, Melbourne is the perfect place to start exploring the land of Oz, whether for a long vacation or just a short trip. Such was the case for actress Sanjjanaa Galrani and her friends. You & I caught up with her this week to find out more about her week in Victoria’s capital.
When the audio release of Sanjjanaa’s little sister, Nikki Galrani’s latest Malayalam film Team 5 took her to Melbourne, the opportunity was too good to pass up, and the siblings found themselves eager to explore the city. The Galrani sisters were accompanied by actor and former cricketer S. Sreesanth, who plays the protagonist in Team 5, as well as their good friend and producer of the film, Raj Zacharias.
With up to nine zoos and wildlife sanctuaries in the state of Victoria alone, the group wasted no time in making their way to the Melbourne Zoo located in Royal Park. Situated around four kilometres from the city centre, the zoo is home to more than 300 species of animals from across the globe. Already teeming with curiosity about the koala bears and kangaroos, Sanjjanaa was enthralled at being able to pet and feed the native animals.
“We even had plans to check out the penguin parade at the Phillip Island Nature Park, but the windy weather had plans of its own,” said the actress. Located only three hours from Melbourne, the group’s next stop unfortunately had to be revised due to the weather forecast predicting a storm. “The weather is something the people take pretty seriously here, as the wind velocity has been said to reach a speed that even vehicles soar from its sheer force,” she further adds.
Despite the minor setback, there was nothing that could stop the otherwise sunny city from impressing the foursome. They allocated quite a bit of their time to exploring the swanky and lively Crown Melbourne, a casino and resort situated on the southern banks of Yarra River. Part of the Crown Limited conglomerate, this junction offers everything from fine dining, luxurious living, and shopping to exhilarated gaming and partying.
On the other hand, the Yarra River is no mere water body. Apart from being used for boating, water skiing, canoeing, kayaking, and other water activities, the riverside is a great spot where popular restaurants like Arbory Bar & Eatery, offer divine food and an amazing view. “Of all the restaurants, Arbory was definitely my favourite,” she reminisced.
When it came to what stood out the most in the city for the actress, she shared that it was the city as a whole. While every place they visited was beautiful, the minimal pollution throughout the city enhanced its beauty. Sanjjanaa further shared, “There was a relaxed and laid back vibe that buzzed around the city and contrasted with life back home. The lush greenery scattered throughout Melbourne and its easy-going people made it refreshingly calm during the day and beaming with fun during the evening.”
With regard to its people, Sanjjanaa noticed that Melbourne was full of hard-working people. The group was impressed with how every single individual diligently abided by the local laws – be it not driving while inebriated or crossing a street from the designated spot or sticking to their lane while driving. Being able to witness them following the simplest of rules was a literal breath of fresh air, more so even than experiencing their well-kept surroundings. “While I didn’t get to interact with too many locals, I did notice people of various nationalities, specifically quite a few Indians and Iranians, going about their days in the city,” she said. Based on her experience, the elder sibling concluded that the people were hospitable and took very good care of them.
“In terms of the food, usually when I travel, I make it a point to try out the local cuisines of different countries,” shared the actress, adding, “However, I didn’t come across that many local dishes as such.” Owing to Melbourne’s multicultural nature, they did cater to multiple cuisines from across the globe. “Indian food was quite popular there and the food joints included a Thai, Malaysian, and pan-Asian spread, for I certainly remember feasting on quite a bit of Nasi Goreng, a native Malaysian dish,” shared Sanjjanaa. The city was ultimately the true depiction of the words ‘home away from home’.
Asked about the one thing India could learn from this Aussie city, the actress said, “The simple act of respecting one another and learning to keep our surroundings clean. While we’re moving in the right path with the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, this is an initiative that is important today, and shall continue to be important in the future as well.”
Finally, as the trip concluded and the group made their way back home, Sanjjanaa mused over the other cities she wasn’t able to visit with a twinge of regret, reflected on the efficient way Melbourne’s citizens lived their lives. She also fondly recalled the fantastic time she had on her short but sweet trip, and made up her mind to visit Australia again, next time for a thorough and much longer trip. -- Roshni