'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Passing the Days in Amdavad

The last few weeks, confined to Ahmedabad, have been dull - tiresome weather, not enough to do, no social life and not enough energy to explore beyond city limits...

The new haunts:

- Sabarmati Station: An hour's walk from where we live. A mostly quiet place; a derelict but functional footbridge gives a full view of the huge railway yard and one can watch a wide variety of diesel locos (both broad gauge and meter gauge) in furious action. Perfect for a vacant evening.

- Kankariya lake: A vast, nearly circular lake dug in medieval times. Recent 'development' has brought in a toy train named 'Atal Express' and garish lighting. The worst part of it all: everyday, they play songs from 'Hum Aap ke hein kaun?' on the public address system; a welcome lung-space despite all that. Right next to the lake is the strangely named One Tree Hill park. In this tree-filled patch I was surprised to find a few medieval European burial sites marked by tall and slender pyramids. Called 'Dutch tombs', they lie clustered among a dozen or so modest Muslim graves. A short way around the lake from there is a dull zoo with the usual captives (a novelty was the 'white black-buck'). This place is redeemed by an incredibly dense and varied population of birds, free and feral (except some sad flamingos kept in a net-covered enclosure) - crested spoonbills, ibises, egrets, a few night herons and thousands of jet black cormorants. Each of the trees is thick with dozens upon dozens of shabby bird nests and the air, with the stench of guano - and the roads and bushes are white from a steady shower of it. The avians make a chaotic racket at dusk but fall very silent by night; spoonbills sitting very still on the highest branches gleam in the powerful waterfront lights.

- For a few days, long trips on the RTS buses were a diversion but the experience quickly became a drag. What one sees of the city from these paths is terribly dull - wide and functional but flat and boring roads lined with concrete boxes, each no different from the next. The sheer monotony of it is so overpowering that even the sight of semi-slum settlements and smoke-spewing factory chimneys at Danilimda feels like a welcome variation. Oddly enough, the stop right next to the Indian Institute of Management has been named 'Blind People's Association'. There is indeed an institution nearby that helps the visually challenged. But 'blind' is no longer a politically acceptable word. So, what does the stop name really refer to?

- At a pavement bookshop, among pirated editions of the usual desi and phoren pulp, I saw a copy of 'Satanic Verses' and casually asked the price. The vendor appeared to know the game and quoted 4 times the usual figure. Needless to say, I did not dare to buy the book.

- And if you think the only proper way to see someone off at Ahmedabad (Kalupur) railway station is to buy the three rupee platform ticket, you are mistaken! There is a perfectly legal way to do it cheaper - with some other benefits thrown in!
Here is how: a passenger ticket to Sabarmati or Maninagar from Ahmedabad costs an unbelievable two bucks. So, buy that ticket instead of the platform ticket, see off the guest and walk out; if someone checks the ticket, say with perfect validity you missed the train you wanted to catch.

Even better, if you want to get back to somewhere in the western half of the city from the station, and have some time to spare, actually use that ticket and take a passenger train to Maninagar or Sabarmati and then hop on to a (quite cheap) RTS bus at either place and get home for some more peanuts; no need to haggle with the Kalupur autowallahs.