Monday, November 5, 2012

Life is like a Gujarati Thalis

After an eventful flight to Ahmedabhad we had 1.5 crazy days running around, visiting the sights, eating wonderful food, and power shopping like maniacs. The evening we arrived we visited the SEWA store, formerly Banascraft, now called Hansiba, where we shopped up a storm, and I scored the most divine top with Rabari embroidery, and a wonderful pashmina. We gave one of the ladies a rickshaw ride back to our part of town, given we kept her at work longer than she needed. We then ate a quick but delicious bite at The House of MG, in the casual dining area. Dhal was again on my radar and it didn't disappoint. Off to bed then up the next morning to visit a baolis, a step well, where Rob and I had visited many years before. Then off to the Textile Museum for our booked tour, which turned out not so booked - oh well, it's easy to get in somewhere in India if you try hard! So in we went for an enjoyable, if not theatrical tour and presentation - I had to try so hard not to laugh at times given the tour leaders drama and theatrical timing!
On the return trip to town I noticed I had missed a call from Australia and most importantly what looked like the number from where I'd had a job interview the previous week. So it was necessary to find a net cafe to check messages, but also for some railway timetable information I needed to make some changes to an impending journey. There was no communication re the job so I called what would probably be an expensive message retrieval, which also answered no questions, and if anything left me with a cryptic and incomplete message from which to try and comprehend. With that I tried to shift it to the back of my mind, and we headed to lunch at Moti Mahal, one of the cities oldest restaurants, and where I had previously dined and stayed. Again dhal, some veges and a mammoth serve of garlic naan were the choice, the naan I hoped would both keep Marie's cold from me and also speed up her recovery. After lunch we headed back to our hotel via rickshaw in the afternoon traffic mayhem to undertake a walking tour of the old city, only to find it was " under maintenance" and currently not functioning. However with the help of our trusty hotelier, Mr Anis, who fashioned up a map of the area with directions to Manek Chowk, the main bazaar area, we headed off into the mayhem for what proved not only a great adventure but a great shopping expedition, especially for Marie, at Ganthiwala's, famous for their lovely textiles, which Marie had no difficulties taking off their hands. After a few hours we headed back to Hotel Volga where we had been staying and packed for our next leg of the journey, someone's bag distinctly more heavy than when we had arrived. We stored our packed bags, and headed across the river to Mirch Masala for yet some more dhal and naan, mostly to fill in time til our midnight train to Bhuj, but also as this is such a cute little restaurant, the closest thing to a theme establishment that the city has, old school Bollywood as the theme . Marie admired the surroundings and curios that lined the little restaurant while we ate the delicious food, washing it down with fresh lime sodas as Gujarat is a dry state, so no Kingfishers to quench our thirsts. After dinner, yes more shopping, and time wasting before heading back to the hotel and on to the railway station for our overnight train to Bhuj. Once aboard and on our way it soon seemed like everyone was fast asleep and snoring all but me. But I did eventually go to sleep, waking about dawn maybe an hour an a half from Bhuj.

Arriving in Bhuj we were soon on our way to Hotel Gangaram, our lodgings for the next few nights. A quick wash and off for the best chai in town, before starting our sight seeing early at Prag Mahal. This place thankfully is now under repair having been badly damaged in the '92 earthquake. It is one of the strangest, if not quirky places I have ever been. Deb and I came on our trip 4 or 5 years back, when it was in severe disrepair with the tower and the hall, Durbar Hall itself extensively damaged. What struck me then, and amused me again now, was the huge range of taxidermy, some almost decaying and extremely bizarre. We went up the tower, something I couldn't do on my first trip, and hopefully fortuitous, I was shat on by a resident pigeon, right on top of my head - maybe that job will be mine!

On the way to Prag Mahal we passed Bharat, my rickshaw driver and guide from the previous 2 trips. We went off to Aina Mahal the neighboring sight to catch up with Mr Jethi who together with Bharat had organised our next few days around the Kutch region.

So many things to see, it's going to be an action packed few days!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Ahmedabhad & Kutch - Gujarat

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