Sunday, March 4, 2012

Vibrant Ahmedabad!

R officially finishes his MBA day after and its now almost time to pay the pending bills, close the accounts with our various domestic helps on campus and move on into another chapter. As R and I drove into the New campus last night after a movie and dinner, I was reminded of the immense amount of joy that I had experienced driving into the IIM A for the very first time in April last year. Through the ups and downs of the life on campus, R managed to survive the grueling pressure test that he was put into. So proud of him!

For me Ahmedabad is my 'City of Joy'. I am overwhelmed by the kind of effort that the people of Ahmedabad put into celebrating and enjoying their festivals, culture and their life in general. Just one night of Garbha and dandiya was enough celebration for me but for them, it almost bordered fanaticism. They were dressed up and danced every night for nine consecutive nights with the same fervor and energy. Its a feat not everyone can achieve. The dancing goes on into the wee hours of the night, even early morning, all without the help of inebriating liquids. The crowd at the various clubs in the city can give the Shakiras and Spears a run for their money. I was amazed at the energy in the jam packed clubs. Strangers like me, especially with two left feet were quickly pulled into a huge dancing circle formed around a Ganesh statue and coached with the garba steps that the crowd was performing. The co-ordination amongst the 'circle' was a delight to watch.

The Uttarayan kite flying festival was another spectacle that just engulfed my attention. The streets were patched with makeshift stalls selling colorful kites in unimaginable shapes and colors. The vibrancy of these paper kites hypnotized even the non-flyers like us to walk up on the terrace and spend hours listening to the calls of 'kai po che'. In the evening, the sky looked brighter than usual witha lot more stars much closer to us. When I noticed carefully, these were small hot air balloons being sent up in the sky! Absolutely marvelous!

Every year for the past three years, a small village in Kutch called Dhordo holds a Desert festival called the Rann Utsav. Three of us managed to plan an all girls trip into the heart of Gujarat and came back with an unforgetable experience. The surreal White Rann of Kutch remined me of the short story "Love across the Salt Desert" that I have read and cried over may times. The event is well planned and executed by the Gujarat tourism and reflects their enthusiasm and involement to promote tourism in Gujarat. The Rann Utsav deserves a whole blogpost and hopefully I will be able to write about it soon.

I knew that my stay in Ahmedabad would be incomplete without a visit to the Calico Textile Museum. A museum of age old textile pieces collected and preserved with utmost care by the Sarabhai Foundation. Some of these are almost 300 years old. The museum restricts entry to 20 people per day and bookings have to be made in advance. There is a fixed time of entry everyday and a well informed english speaking guide conducts the tour. I am glad that I finally made it, the trip was definitely worth my morning.

For the love of their food and liberization that the state provides its women folks, most restaurants are usally always crowed especially during the weekends. I have heard it many times over during the past year that just like all other businesses that take weekly holidays, Gujarati housewifes take off from their kitchens on weekends. This explained the never ending waiting line outside any restaurant and the funny fact that most of these places don't take reservations on phone! And ofcourse why most of these places have great food! I am yet to pinpoint a restaurant in Ahmedabad that serves really bad food.

The city is engulfed in a cocoon of vibrant culture that I in my so many years have not witnessed anywhere. I am happy to take a part of this vibrancy with me and hope to be back soon to witness it first hand yet again!

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