Goodbye Gujarat

“Why does one person need so many cloths?? How many t-shirts and salwar could one person wear in a span of 3months?? What in the world was I thinking when I bought all this stuff?? How the hell was I going to get all this stuff across 5 states?!”

These were just a few questions that were going through my mind as I sat in front of a suitcase that was looking increasingly puny in comparison with all the stuff that is supposed to go inside it. So I decided to do what many a genius has done time and again when faced with such daunting tasks. I decided to procrastinate.

See the thing is, I am moving out from Gandhinagar in less than a week. Wow… hurts quite a bit to think about it! In a little over than 3 months, this place has become as much a home as is possible. So many memories…walking down the memory lane, I am jotting down some of the most vivid memories I have of this place.

  1. Wandering through Manek Chowk

Manek Chowk is a street food bazaar which opens at around 10.00pm every night. Known for the mouth-watering variety of food it offers, it is the perfect place to have the BEST dosa you’ve ever had (I’m a South Indian. So when I say The Best, I mean it), lip-smacking pav bhajis, kulfi with raita, faludas, hot jalebis, and reasonably good pani puris among other delicacies. Key in the 1980s Bollywood music streaming in from speakers to experience life in North India at its best.

Street Food at Manek Chowk (Photo Courtesy: www.ahmedabadgiftshop.com)
Street Food at Manek Chowk (Photo Courtesy: http://www.ahmedabadgiftshop.com)
  1. The day of hailstorm

This is truly an unforgettable experience. A few friends and I had set out to visit the Adalaj Stepwell as few kilometers away from Infocity. It was a very hot and cloudy day and we were expecting (or rather hoping) for a strong drizzle at most. Imagine our surprise when the sun who had been playing peek-a-boo barely a second ago, suddenly disappeared and wind strong enough to overturn roadside carts and uproot age-old trees appeared. Initially we waited a while, hoping it would abate as abruptly as it started. And then it started to rain with such ferocity that we wondered if this was a replay of the 2001 earthquake. Somehow we managed to find an autorickshaw. It took us a moment to realise that half the ferocity of the rain was because it wasn’t raindrops that was drenching us – it was sharp, pebble-sized pieces of ice! My first hailstorm! And then, as if it were a Bollywood movie, the rickshaw broke down. How we got back to the hostel with our wits intact still eludes me but once we did, it made a hell of a story!

Caught in the hailstorm (Picture Courtesy: www.skymetweather.com)
Caught in the hailstorm (Picture Courtesy: http://www.skymetweather.com)
  1. Strolling through Sabarmati Riverfront. At 12.30 am.

Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project is an initiative by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation to develop the Sabarmati riverfront in the city of Ahmedabad, India. . We reached there at around 12.30 am, only to be sent back as it closes at 11.00pm. Neverthless, the short walks outside the entrance were enticing enough to make me want to come back to this place as and when I can.

Sabarmati Riverfront at night. (Photo Courtesy: defence.pk)
Sabarmati Riverfront at night. (Photo Courtesy: defence.pk)

It was also the place where I got the first glimpse of how dangerous the seemingly safe places of North can be. The fact is, in the Southern parts of India, people rarely venture out after dark, with the exception of metro cities. We don’t have night bazaars or street shopping. However in the other parts of India, night is the time everything comes alive. There is something about seeing multitudes streaming through streets going through their lives that make you put your guard down. It makes your forget all that you’ve read about how unsafe a place it is for girls. Which you should never, EVER forget.

  1. Sunset at Somnath

Somnath is an ancient temple located in the Western coast of Gujarat. We were on a trip to Diu and stopped there and ended up visiting the temple at the best moment possible. The evening aarthi was just starting and the ambiance inside was amazing. But the best part of Somnath was standing on the deck there and watching the sunset across one of the most beautiful expanse of sea I’ve ever seen. Experiencing that sense of peace and tranquillity – very difficult to put into words.

Somnath temple at sunset. (Picure Courtesy: Shobha Kamath)
Somnath temple at sunset. (Picure Courtesy: Shobha Kamath)
  1. The day Modi won

How can that day not be memorable? Hearing about Gujarat rejoicing over Modi’s win is one thing – seeing it person, feeling that joy and sense of triumph vibrating through passers by…unforgettable. Needless to say, by the night of 16th May, there was not a single sweet shop not empty and there were policemen stationed every 100 metres. (Erm…I just realised that those two facts have nothing in common!) Brushing aside my personal emotions, it was amazing seeing so much faith in one man’s vision.

Celebratory ladoos on the streets after Modi won (Photo Courtesy: indianexpress.com)
Celebratory ladoos on the streets after Modi won (Photo Courtesy: indianexpress.com)
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LFG #2: Shopping at Law Garden, Ahmedabad

Here’s the thing. I dislike hate shopping. For makeup, shoes, bags, dresses – especially dresses! You know that moment…that instant when your fingers curl round the handles of a shiny, uncreased bag — and all the gorgeous new things inside it become yours?¹ Well, I don’t. And I swear to God that I-WILL-KILL-YOU if you give me that puzzled look and say “But I thought girls loved shopping!”

So anyway, my shop-o-phobia is quite well known to all my friends back home. They “claim” that I am the worst shopping companion ever. And I must admit, they do have a point. Take me shopping with you and chances are that once the initial fascination with a shop wears off, I may sulk, pout, throw tantrums and generally behave like a 3 year old in a theatre.

Now the thing is my friends here are blissfully unaware of all this drama I am capable of unleashing without a moment’s notice. You see, we’re still in that honeymoon phase where we ask ‘May I?’ before dipping into the other person’s ice-creams and say ‘You look good’ when what you are really thinking is “REALLY??” So when this idea of going shopping in the evening came up, I didn’t wanna be a party pooper and say no. And thus I went shopping.

Considering that Ahmedabad is famous for clothes and its unique styles of handcrafted silver jewellery, we (read they) decided to head to Law Garden at Ahmedabad. One of my friends had heard from one of her friends’ friend that the place had an amazing collection of traditional wears. And so, off we went.

Law Garden is a public garden in the city of Ahmedabad. During day it is like any other street. But at night the place comes alive with hoards of makeshift shops that boast of exquisite handicraft goods sold by local people. Also, the road at the side of the garden is filled with street hawkers selling all kinds of food items. So while the wife-y darling is off burning a hole in her pocket, the husband baba can go gaga over the delicious, if slightly unhygienic, street food and burn a hole in his too. Combined hole-burning opportunities – what an idea sirji!

So we spent a good chunk of night going gaga over gorgeous chaniya cholis, and dazzling silver jewellery. Sure, it was hectic, we were worried we wouldn’t get back to the hostel in time, my friends were complaining that “There just wasn’t enough time” and I was like “I know!” (While chanting “Jai Mata Di” in my head for ending it quite soon) and we couldn’t have dinner ‘coz by the time we reached the hostel, we were way past curfew.

And yet, I enjoyed it. I didn’t expect to, but I did. I even ended up buying a few kurtis and a lovely silver earring! Is it too soon to call up my mommy and claim that my shop-o-phobia is cured??

And that's a peek of how it looked in the streetlight.
And that’s a peek of how it looked in the streetlight.
This lovely babe is mine. I saw it, loved it, bought it. For 40 bucks :-D
This lovely babe is mine. I saw it, loved it, bought it. For 40 bucks 😀
An exquisite chain I fell in love with. Didn't buy it though. Darn! I should've na?
An exquisite chain I fell in love with. Didn’t buy it though. Darn! I should’ve na?

In case you’d like to get a better feel of Law Garden at night, I suggest you go through wander collection’s post titled ‘Law Garden Night Market.’ It has some lovely photographs as opposed to my amateur ones. 🙂


[1]Quoted from ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’ by Sophie Kinsella

B’lore Diary


Being somebody who is very self-conscious about what I jot down, I’ve spent quite a few sleepless nights wondering what to blog about and quite often, it so happens that I spent so much time analyzing what I SHOULD write that I end up deciding that the topic I chose is too insignificant to actually devote an entire post to. However, now that I’ve decided that it’s time to throw caution to the winds and start blogging fervently (aah… a girl can hope!), I thought why not write about my trip to Bangalore a few weeks back.

Bangalore or B’lore, as it is popularly referred to nowadays, was literally a breath of fresh air for me. So what is the big deal, you might wonder. For one, that was the first time I’d ever traveled alone in my 21 years of strutting around on this Earth. Okay correction – I wasn’t exactly alone; there were 4 of my friends too. Girls (in case you are curious). But the point is it was a girl’s trip. No parents. No sister to watch over. Just me in charge of myself. 

And what fun it was. Right from the train journeys where we got the customary murderous glances from our fellow travelers (Can’t blame them, I guess…I mean, even you would be pretty pissed off if your co-travelers stayed up till 3.00 am giggling and singing really crappy tunes plus munching Laysand Kurkure and fighting over the Pepsi) to the strolling through the streets at night going ‘brrrr..’ in the chill.

However, what I remember most about Bengaluru is its attitude. I’ve often heard and read that in urban cities (especially Mumbai), nobody gives a damn about how you look or what you wear and I’ve always thought of that with a dubious mind. It was when I actually experienced it, that I realised how cool it is to be able to dash out to buy a dozen eggs in your PJs. (Yup, I actually did that and nobody gave me a second glance.) Right from the time I first entered into the city, I was surrounded by all kinds of people – the seedha-sadhafolks, the school girls with rather cute ties and pigtails (speaking of which, how is it that the school kids of these days look as if they’ve come out of Femina? You should’ve seen me in my school uniform. On second thought, I’m glad that you haven’t!) And of course, the super-stylish teens and mommies. To be honest, I’d always reckoned that that super stylish moms, in jeans and tees and shades, swinging their adorable kids into school buses with a kiss on their cheek was a figment of imagination, planted into our heads by evil men in Dharma Productions…but no – they did exist. As did the endearing grannies with their pattu saris and mookutti. In here, everyone had a nook, regardless of their occupation, sex or financial set-up.

And of course, there was the novelty of being able to walk around at 10.00 pm and still being one in the crowd. Not to mention the street shopping (for a self-proclaimed shop-o-phobic, I didn’t do too badly) and the food, which was, hands down, the highlight of the entire journey. As a rule, people tend to return from Bangalore with their pockets considerably lighter and suitcases proportionately heavier. But in our case, heavier than our suitcases were our tummies. Taco Bell, Subway, KFC, Chaat, McDonalds and my personal favourite, Coffee Cafe Day – the list was too long (And yes, we did try to list the places we ate at – very meticulous bunch of folks, we are).

Bangalore also brings to my mind fond memories of the cozy apartment where I spent 3 days with my best buddies, cooking our own food, staying up late watching movies on laptop, and generally making a nuisance of ourselves to Ammu chechi (who was our trip coordinator-cum-associate sponsor-cum-food & accommodation in-charge) and having a taste of life at a bachelor-pad, surrounded by the people you are utterly comfortable with. It still amazes me that in those few days, we were able to soak up the essence of Bangalore – from the posh malls to downmarket streets, the tour through IISc (made me wish for a moment that I was actually into engineering), the glimpse of BEL and what not. 

“Did you visit any pubs? Discos? Chalo at least did u get drunk?? Nope..?? Ayye..pinnendina Banglore poye..” This was how most of my friends reacted on our return from Banglore. And do I even need to say that our negative replies have brought us down a notch or two in many eyes..?