Love Letter to Melbourne

A decade in Melbourne, a woman decides to celebrate her love not only with her husband but also with the city.

When someone decides to renew ten years of their marriage vows not just with their husband but also with Melbourne; undoubtedly, it’s a milestone worth celebrating -with your family.

But what happens when your family is stuck overseas due to Covid? Meet celebrity interviewer, filmmaker & Mental Health Ambassador, Dheepa Awtani founder of babydelaw who not only creatively wrote a love letter to herself but also with Melbourne in this process.

‘A century is about events; a decade is about people’ and that’s what makes the existence absolutely bittersweet.” said Dheepa.

It has been ten years since she called Melbourne her home and 2021 also marked her 10th wedding anniversary. She had plans to celebrate by renewing her wedding vows in the presence of her parents, in-laws and their elder daughter Deleena. But there was another reason to make this extra special as they welcomed their youngest daughter Deanna this year.

But lockdown meant saying goodbye to all social plans, just like many Melbournian Dheepa’s parents were supposed to come to Australia in March 2020 from America and her in-laws from India in June 2021. But Australia closed its international borders to other countries causing major disruptions and delays; despite them having visas and double vaccinations they couldn’t visit Melbourne.

Dheepa, said that while it was extremely tough to keep a straight face during the lockdown she didn’t want COVID to dampen her plans either. Taking matters into her own hands, she started designing her wedding anniversary with her family and Melbourne in mind, to be more precise, a party with her husband, her pregnant self and with the city, visiting some of Melbourne’s iconic points.

A heavily pregnant Dheepa began to plan meticulously all the details and places she wanted to take her parents and in-laws when they would have visited, specially the things she loves doing in the city.

The tenth year also termed as the ‘Tin’ anniversary as metal represents flexibility, strength & protection; and it is also for parents as they stand as pillars to their kids since their birth. “This 10th year the world, parents and newborn babies definitely needed the same I felt. It was extremely heartbreaking to be by ourselves pre-and postnatal, it’s physical and mental impacts are just beyond repair.” says Dheepa. These endearing moments are a testament to the city and to its people as everything is at a standstill.

So, earlier this year in April, Dheepa saw a window of opportunity to do a photoshoot for their 10th anniversary in August. Each photoshoot had a concept behind making the ultimate picture-perfect photo album. Firstly, a photoshoot at the famous Doveton Myuna Farm was something she wanted to feel closer to home. With nature wild and free, it reminded her of her free spirit.

“Myuna farm photoshoot was a tribute to all the birthday celebrations kids have missed especially with grandparent’s due to pandemic”.

The second concept was definitely a love letter to Melbourne where she and her husband Dixit Awtani decided to show their love for Melbourne which is not only the home for artists, students, writers and a melting pot for cultures but it is also her home. She and her family being a big Harry Potter fan, she wanted to take her parents to one of the Harry Potter show at the Princess Theatre, she also wanted to capture the iconic Melbourne sounds from Flinders Street Station to Hosier Lane to its trams and the heartbeat of Melbourne, Federation square. Dheepa wanted to capture all this in her lens and share it with her loved ones overseas.

Her special tribute had to be her adorning red bridal gown at the Parliament to mark her special anniversary and also a tribute to all the newlyweds who shoot their wedding photos there.

Now that parents of Australian citizens and residents are regarded as Immediate family by the Department of Home Affairs Australia, Dheepa is beyond ecstatic for this positive change starting 4th November and is certain the feeling is mutual amongst the Expat diaspora in Australia who are waiting to be united with their families. Hopefully the time comes when the world is soon lockdown free.

In her own words “Love, Lost, and Locked-Life- an absolutely creative way of capturing Melbourne & maternity time.” We wish creative Dheepa all the best for her love, life and cherishing letters to Melbourne.

By Nandita Chakraborty