Getting up at 5AM was never the brightest thing to do for most people in life.But for me It was a necessity.I had never missed it in my life and nothing could come in between – not even wife and kids.Yes it was an obsession.
It was Boxing day,the alarm went off, it was 5AM and time to switch on the television.Weary eyed,yawning and moaning I got up and scrambled for the T.V. remote.The room was dark,I finally managed to sit up and unearth the remote buried deep inside the blanket.The channel was already set,the pre-show was on and I slid back on to my pillow to enjoy what would turnout to be a delectable affair.The camera panned the stadium,MCC looked lush green as ever and the forecast was bright and sunny. The stands were almost full for the much awaited encounter.Test matches for the true blue Indian were always paramount,even though the majority preferred the shorter version of the game.
It was a perfect setting, warm comfy pillows,no one to disturb or object, a huge LED television and something to munch at an arms length. And then something happened which changed my life forever.
Just as the game was about to begin the power went out – there was no electricity and it was total darkness.The generator backup wasn’t working either as I sat gnashing my teeth for missing the opportunity to witness a Boxing day test match.I cursed and swore and banged my fist,but when you thought nothing else could go wrong,you are brutally surprised.In the middle of pitch darkness the T.V. flickered and showed signs of switching on.I couldn’t believe my eyes.I pinched myself hard and left a mark on my forearm.Yes I was awake but what I was about to witness,would throw me beyond my wildest imagination.
“Hello mate” a sweet voice came from the television speakers. I was taken aback – I certainly wasn’t going cuckoo so early in life I reminded myself and shrugged it off.But after a few minutes the television switched on and there was a young girl with a microphone inside the MCC stands talking to me.! Before I could gather myself the lady spoke again :
‘Hello mate, you must be AB ‘
‘Uhh umm yes b-but how do you know?’
‘I’m here to take you to Melbourne – its your time to visit Melbourne now’
‘What?’ I gasped.
‘Yep its true – come on over’ with that she extended her hand out of the television.
‘Close your eyes’ she whispered.
When I opened my eyes next I was in Melbourne,inside the MCC.I was petrified,stupefied.This couldn’t be true – but there I was right inside the MCC stadium.
The mysterious girl was still holding my hands and asked gently ‘ do you want to see the Melbourne city before the match begins?’
‘What is there to see?’ I mumbled.
‘Well for starters Melbourne has a passionate soul and a welcoming heart.’ she smiled.
‘Where do we start?’ I blurted out.
‘Do you like wildlife and adventure?’ she inquired.
‘Umm I do but not the zoo types, something bit more exciting’ I replied.
‘Well I’ve just the place for you – The Melbourne Aquarium :a breathtaking 360 degree view Oceanarium which houses giant sharks and stingrays – what’s more you get to see the incredible live feeding presentations held twice each day.’
‘Hmm that sounds like fun – what else do you have in store for me?’ I was warming up now.
‘Well from underwater,lets go to the surface and enjoy the sun and sands at St.Kilda beach. You will love the atmosphere and I will be modest when I say there are some really beautiful views’.
‘Errm like pretty girls?’ I asked innocently.
‘Well lets just say the St.Kilda beach is a sight for sore eyes.’
‘Are there more beaches like this?’
‘Sure – you have more than you can imagine :Brighton beach,Port Melbourne,e road and many more.’
‘Wow that really sounds exciting.’
‘Yes mate it is more than you can imagine.’ she winked.
‘Ok that’s for the eyes – but what about adrenalin? Is there a place which can get the adrenalin pumping?’
‘Well if you re having a bad day at the beach you can enjoy the water sports.Other than the usual,Kiteboarding and surfing are particularly high on energy.Make sure you come wit adequate energy.Elwood and Middle Park beaches are very popular with sailboarders and kitesurfers. On a hot windy day you can find 20 or more windsurfers out in the bay. Hire a board and give it a go.Then there is Kayaking ,Sailing and Hot air balloon rides.There is plenty of adrenalin that gets pumped I reckon’
‘Wow now you ve really got me excited.’ I jumped with joy.
‘Well that’s not all – you see Melbourne has something special for all your senses , touch,taste,see,hear,smell!’
‘Art galleries and museums like the Victorian Arts Centre, the Malthouse Theatre, the Recital Centre and the National Gallery of Victoria‘s international collection will hold you spellbound.While Inside and Out takes you close to the innovation and skills of the local artists.’ You can see wonderful painting,sculptures and frescoes.And after seeing those wonderful sights if you are hungry,then there is no better place than Melbourne.’
‘I was hoping you ‘d bring that up -yes I am hungry but can we have some good wine?’
‘Well sure you can – but let me ask you this : how do you know which is a good wine?’
‘Hmm well the one that tastes good?’
‘Ah no that simple mate.There are many strict rules that need to be followed to make a good wine.If and only if all the rules of that wine region are followed to the T, only then it can be called as a good wine and needless to say ,in Victoria we have some of the best vineyards in the world.If you are a wine connoisseur then there is plenty to chose from.Victoria is divided into many wine regions – North East (Rutherglen, Beechworth, Glenrowan, King Valley and Alpine Valleys) ,Central (Bendigo, Heathcote, Goulburn Valley, Upper Goulburn and the Strathbogie Ranges) and many more.You can walk into a vineyard and see the entire wine making process , taste it,and then decide for yourself which is a good wine,which will perhaps we a more informed decision this time!
‘You opened my eyes – I am certainly looking forward to visiting one soon.But he lets not forget about food.’
‘Well there’s lots to offer in the region – it has a restaurant for every occasion,season,palette and preference.It really depends what kind of a foodie are you? You can chose to dine at one of the Great Ocean Road region’s finest restaurants serving fresh seafood straight from the ocean or cruise on a paddle steamer to wineries and restaurants, dine at riverside cafes or in a cosy country pub in the Murray region or stick to Indian food if you so desire.There are plenty of restaurants in Melbourne that cater to not only Indian food but also oriental or Halal food.These options will ensure you spend lots of time savoring the gastronomical delights – golden fried prawns or Lobster Thermidor with butter and garlic melting in your mouth or a sumptuous Sri Lankan crab gravy for sea food lovers are some of my favorites – and you can close your mouth now’
I was indeed salivating at the prospect. I managed to gather my composure. ‘You know I think I need some rest – this is a bit overwhelming really’ I said exasperated.
‘Oh dont worry about that – there are plenty of options to choose from the available accommodations – be it super luxury hotels or simple and chic Bed &breakfast there are budget hotels that suit your pocket.And if you re still tired, you can get yourself the best massages in town.There are plenty of spa’s dotted around town and they will rejuvenate you for the party and nightlife to follow.’
‘Is it safe in the night for a foreigner?’
‘Absolutely, there is a vibrant night life, bars,pubs and cafes with a great healthy atmosphere, medical or any other emergency or security issues are within reach and act swiftly. If you are not the party-the-night- kind of a person – you can chose to spend a quiet evening or read a book or ever indulge in your latent talent in photography. So that completes your journey of the five senses – touch,taste,smell,hear and see…’
‘Wow – didn’t realize, it all happened so quickly but I have a lot more questions, like shopping,deals,Australian beer,stakes,and many other things -I want to share this with my friends and family – so that they know its possible, its simple,its worth taking the time and effort to consider coming here…’
‘Oh there ample connectivity and deals you could look into ,package tours or custom tours ,you could stitch one for your pocket.’
‘So where do I begin?’ I ask excitedly.
‘Close your eyes give me your hand – let me write the link – Go ahead and checkout http://www.visitmelbourne.com/in – that’s a good place to start looking.’
She scribbled the link on my palm, it felt strange to feel her hand – and then it struck me – that I don’t even know her name.
‘You know we spoke for so long but I don’t even know your name, what’s your name?
I did not get an answer,as I opened my eyes she was gone and I was back in my bedroom waiting for the match to begin.It was 7AM.
Did I really go to Melbourne or did I dream it all up – but couldn’t be because I was awake’ just as I was trying to make sense of it all I opened my palm and saw something quite
unbelievable – a few words that sent a chill down my spine… “See you soon – Love, Melbourne Girl”.