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Byron Shire
May 13, 2021

Northern rivers comedian dies suddenly

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Byron shire comedian, Sandy Gandhi, who called herself ‘Australia’s most easterly Indian’ died suddenly on Wednesday (February 1).

Sandy, whose real name was Sandra Ahrana, turned 59 on Saturday (January 28).

She was as passionate about Byron Shire as she was about everything in her life. Sandy was ‘always on’ and could keep a dinner party in stitches just as much as a stand-up audience.

Her birthday coincided with the screening of Spice Sisters, a film in which she starred, and one of the featured Australian shorts in Flickerfest this year.

Sandy died suddenly while talking to a friend on the phone on Wednesday morning.

Her friend and colleague, artist and filmmaker Duncan James broke the news on Facebook earlier this evening.

 Sandy Gandhi in one of her many volunteer roles, delivering Meals on Wheels. Photo Eve Jeffery
 Sandy Gandhi in one of her many volunteer roles, delivering Meals on Wheels. Photo Eve Jeffery

‘She was an amazing person both on stage and in the community where she devoted and volunteered much of her time. She will be sorely missed by many,’ he wrote in his post.

‘RIP Sandy xx,’ he concluded.

After moving to the northern rivers, Sandra, as she then was, began doing the door at comedy gigs organised by the Echo’s Mandy Nolan.

Eventually Ms Nolan decided ‘she was funnier than a lot of the people I was hiring.’

Mandy took her under her wing and, not long afterwards, her alter ego Sandy Ghandi was born.

Mandy remembers her ‘shaking like a leaf’ before going on stage but somehow she always summoned the courage to do it – and she was always hilarious.

‘Seems a bit unfair that Sandra Ahrana will never live to the age of her comedic creation Sandy Gandhi,’ Mandy said.

‘There was decades of jokes left in the old girl. It’s hard to believe she’s gone.

‘She is Indian. There is always reincarnation. I know what she’d say in her sharp character accent: “I’ll be back”.’

In just a few weeks Sandy was to appear in Canberra’s Multicultural Stand Up Spectacular: Show Us Your Roots at the Canberra Theatre.

A full obituary will be published in the upcoming issue of The Echo, in the meantime, above is a video tribute to Sandy Gandhi.

Vale Sandy x

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  1. So sorry to hear that Sandy has been “curried away”. She was a genuine comic with a quick wit and a heart of gold. Sandy did a couple of very funny at for the Northern Rivers Friends of the ABC and kept me entertained at very events such as the Byron Writers Festival. She was an iconic Byron Bay identity. Gone too soon. Neville Jennings

  2. Hi Echo Team,
    I am Sandra’s brother. Thanks for your heartwarming write up and embedded video, on my zany sister. It is good to know she was so well respected, in her adopted community.
    Would it be possible to get four copies, of the issue of your paper, that contains the article, as well a a single copy of the embedded video.
    Mike Aranha
    45 Bradstreet Road
    Mount Waverley 3149

    • Hi mike. My name is Dan carraro sandra lived with my family in London when I was a kid . She worked for my dad Angelo . I only just found out . We are so sorry for your loss . She meant a lot to us, I even have a statue she gave me when I was 7 yrs old. She will be remembered fondly and spoken of with love and good humour x

  3. I am shocked and sad to read that Sandy Ghandi is no longer with us 🙁 She was a true inspiration in her life…with Sympathy from Julie Simpson

  4. So shocked and sad to hear this news … wished her happy birthday and joked about getting her autograph on Sat night right before her star turn in Spice Sisters at Flickerfest. She was always ready with a joke and a laugh during our Meals on Wheels stints. Byron’s lost a very funny and special lady.

  5. Gosh,
    I just chatted with her at IGA the other day!! can’t believe this!! RIP Sandy Ghandi, you were a lovely , funny woman.So sad 🙁

  6. So sad to learn that Sandy has left us so suddenly. A genuinely lovely and sharing person with a great tallent for comedy. My dear dear friend you will be saddly missed. RIP Sandy.

  7. Oh Sandy. How you will be missed. Beneath the humour there beat a heart filled with compassion. You were so special and caring to my Mum. You cherished animals and people and encouraged us to see the funny side of life. You brought light and laughter to us all.. even on the darkest days. You will be missed, oh funny one. di and Boris.

  8. Oh Dahl! You have a whole new audience now in the after life! Keep them laughing! Love you long time sweetie ❤️?

  9. Carole and I have been Sandy’s landlord for the last three years. I have been blessed to cross paths with her and have found her to be kind, considerate and gentle as well as quick witted and a laugh a minute. She loved our dog and cat as well as the cattle all of whom she named. She has had a life packed with adventure and she could have written a fascinating book if she had been with us longer. I was with her just after she passed away and wished I could have been there a few minutes earlier. We will miss her greatly. Namaste Sandy

    • Chris, just a few days before she passed on, she wrote to me (her cousin) asking for the recipe for treating diarrhoea in cows which she remembered was in my grandmum’s handwritten recipe book. It was for you I believe as she mentioned it was for her landlord. I sent it to her and not sure if she passed it on. Thank you to you both for being there for her.

  10. Dear Sandi what a shock to read and as I saw you so recently more so. A real sadness for our community
    Come again please and let us know its you
    Love Jenny and Mungo

  11. RIP dear Sandy, there will will lots of swearing amongst the angels with you onboard!!! You will be missed…hurry back

  12. So so sad to hear this news. Since we moved away from the Bay a few years we haven’t caught up nearly enough. Does anyone know funeral arrangements for people that want to come from interstate?

    So absolutely devastated. But aware this was a life well lived.

    Vale my gorgeous Sandy lady.

  13. Sandy
    Unforgettable that’s what you are… so many laughs and so many memories. You and your most Easterly Indian will be honoured and immortalised I’m sure,
    What a shock you left so quickly but you did always like a bit of shock factor
    Rest in the great peace ( I hope it’s peaceful don’t cause too much of a racket)

  14. Darling Sandy, a combination of great grace and humour. How you will be missed. My greatest joy during a broken leg recovery was your Meals on Wheels visits; and your hilarious comments about the the state of my Fridge!

    We so need ‘our Sandy’s” in this world…I just hope that another Sandy manifests…quickly. Vale and thank you Sandy for being you…get them laughing in Heaven and send it down to us. We need it. Blessings.

  15. So sad to hear of your passing. You were a ring in at my 40th birthday and the highlight of the night! Your line about looking younger than the birthday girl was sadly true.
    Your love and compassion for all beings was truly inspiring. Thank you for the laughs and that killer smile. X chris & Ian

  16. I went to the premiere of The Spice Sisters in Sydney last year. Wonderful to see Sandy again and enjoy her crazy sense of humour. I was astonished at her performance in The Spice Sisters – that someone as ebullient as Sandy could put in such a pared back and restrained performance. She was such a talent. The world’s going to be a duller place without her.

  17. Sandy, I’m so sorry … Yesterday I realised that I didn’t have Christmas wishes and news of Byron Bay from you last year (Christmas 2020). She must be pissed off with me, because I’m not a very pro-active friend – I thought – and decided to blank me for a while to see if I would react. I looked in my emails to check I hadn’t missed it and discovered my last Christmas email had come on the 24th December 2016. A quick check on Google gave me the very sad news of your death in February 2017.

    Needless to say I felt like a shit. Naturally, you will be laughing and writing a joke about me.

    We met in Regents Park Road, London in 1980, when she was still Sandra Ahrana. Hey, she said, share your chips? She was beautiful and a joy to be with; gentle warm and, of course, very, very funny. We were both in relationships, but found opportunities to spend time together – treasured memories now that I know I will never see her again. And we’ve remained mates ever since – with a few gaps. I live in Scotland’s Byron Bay, Findhorn Bay and, after she returned to Oz, Sandy found me via Google. Only three things have stopped me visiting: I’m fucking lazy; Byron Bay is a very long way away and my current wife doesn’t mind that I have internet relationships, just not intimate ones. However, I’m sure she won’t mind me sharing that although “circumstances” always kept Sandy and I from a serious entanglement, I’ve been in love with her for forty years and always will be.

    Goodbye to a humane human being. Big love and big hugs.


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