Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Rains & Amdavad: Wows, Woes and Vows

The plight of an Amdavadi is similar to that of a farmer sitting on his parched field awaiting rains. Perched high on a multistorey, a hanging Amdavadi, with his taps running dry due to low water pressure in the tanks await rain, year after year, in the same fashion as the farmer does. 
The wait intensifies with every passing week of June. We see those self proclaimed Pandits offering Pooja to please the God of rains. Ever noticed the amount of water they use in drowning themselves while chanting? That very water could suffice for a colony for a day! And then comes the meteorological analysis with a satellite picture, where Gujarat invariably shows an intensified cloud pressure. These ‘WHETHER’ reports regularly fail to their own predictions. The day they predict nothing, the clouds come dancing, hover over the city, and DOWNPOUR!!!!

When Amdavadis expect normal rainfalls, they receive it in inches as petite as a super model’s waist line. And when they prepare to accept semi-drought, one fine day, it pours, not just cats and dogs, but elephants and dinosaurs! Hence, very soon, monsoon becomes mournsoon. All the FB statuses which had gone berserk over the first rain, after a couple of others, bellyache about the puddles, humidity and water logging! Not completely wrong though, they miss the heaven pouring from the above in toto.

Water logging and pot holes are unique features of Amdavadi rains! Let it rain for 4-5 hours and our roads submerge and become all one. All the obstacles that the fresh potholes have to offer remain under water with the effluents contributed by the drain incontinence! Owners of certain hatchbacks, at once, think of exchanging it for a boat to facilitate commutation. The CNG rickshaws require pace makers to help them regain breathing. Two wheelers begin acrobatics on reaching an oil spilled patch. And between all this, some Amdavadi is invariably found blabbering over the cell phone, right at the cross roads while driving. 

However, heart and stomach enjoy the season optimally! Dalwadas, boiled corn, sizzling hot and mouth watering pakodas with a Cutting Chai keep the stomach in a feel good mood. And the heart either enjoys all the mush or goes into contemplation over the losses! For those, who cannot cry out aloud, rains help shed a few tears and for those who cannot do absurd things, the rain lets the child within go on a fun rage! 
Let us run a checklist. How many of us, after our childhood years of naivety, have ever, dared the rains by walking barefoot in the garden letting the rain sink in, reaching the soul, making it supple and full of compassion for the world? How many of us, have let the rain drops work on us in dissipating anger that we go on accumulating over years? How many of us, have simply walked out with arms wide open and have at least got wet without the fear of having allergies due to acidic rains!? The answers to this account for your healthy heart beats! The irony is that after praying hard for the rains, when it arrives, we distant it away by umbrellas and jackets! We only prefer watching it from a place- away from soil and mud, with our monsoon shoes on! In the fear of catching cold and cough and missing the work, we miss experiencing the pouring nectar!

The rains have become irregular here. Probably when God visited Ahmedabad, for a recce, he was welcomed by the roaring exhausts of ACs, the heat reflecting cement structures and the disappearance of green canopy like a mirage!  Hence, he decided to leave, never to return! While chants will surely keep the faith watered, we also need to be more responsible as a mega city to ensure healthy environment for our own sake!

I so wish that during monsoon seasons we get blessed with showers, distributed uniformly across the city, over the span of months! So while we join hands in prayer to have the much needed rains, we also tighten our fists and pledge for the steps required to be taken by us Amdavadis to ensure environmentally healthy practices.

Happy Showers :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Our Amdavad

Our city, Ahmedabad, for some of us, is a city of blends, and for some others, city of contrasts! But, once you experience Ahmedabad, you can never forget it. It probably was easier to recreate Disney land in various countries than to even think of recreating Ahmedabad! Ahmedabad- an imperfect city like many others with its own growth quotient- slow it was, steady it is.

The city has been contributing to the National economy in its most humble ways by being the Manchester of India once upon a time, to now becoming the Oslo of Gujarat, having the highest number of multiplexes!  Amdavadis splurge, but they ensure the return for each penny spent. While the grocery shoplets have been replaced by the mega malls all around, we still happily exchange a bowlful of sugar with our neighbours!

We have learnt things to keep in pace with the fastest growing economies of the world, yet retaining the very ethnic and rustic feel! An Amdavadi will never abandon a sweet bhakhri pizza dressed with a heap of shredded cheese, while accepting the soft based pizza italiano! The burgers and dabelis are loved equally and the ‘Thali’ concept has popularly been extended to even Mexican and Italian cuisines :)

Amdavad celebrates a festival called LIFE. Yes, 365 days, we have celebrations on! But, some days, we have them a little more intense! The fun, frolic, flaunts of figures depict Navratri in Ahmedabad. For 9 nights, the city suffers from a pleasant amnesia, ultimately having a nap after putting Ravan to fire on Dussera! Uttarayan, another unique feature of Gujarat is celebrated on 14th January during which kite flying is not the only activity that goes on, on the terraces. Showing off the latest western attire to make neighbour jealous and match making for X’s daughter with the boy on the next terrace are pretty much parts of celebrations :D 

The ‘flip-flop’ loving generation of ours which loves experimenting with tattoos, trying different business ventures and even yielding in to the creative calls from within is only a generation away from the men and women dressed up in creased out clothes with neatly oiled and/or tied hair, with a formal footwear, following their familial vocations or being content in humble salaries to lead a peaceful life. The schools now have become private and tuitions, personal! The great Amdavadi traffic sense has managed to prevail even on the 6 lane roads in this intelligent generation! Honking still remains their birth right and noise pollution for them is only when the Garbas are played after mid night. All the rest is the part of daily chores and not noise pollution, in any case!

While you may believe that everything is going towards entropy, have a close look. We have the youth, responsible enough to sit by road side and teach the slum children, in the street lights. Group of friends working towards cleaning of an area, serving through blood donation camps, helping NGOs in saving the tree massacre and yet another serving free food and water to the needy! 

The richest culture of Ahmedabad is Kitli Culture. The discussions that go on at these kitlis can range from the team selection to business strategies of Ambanis-Tatas, to political sense of Obama to any other thing. While in discussion, each Amdavadi becomes Arnab Chakraborti and Barkha Dutt. The authority in their voice may for once force the selectors to change the team:)

There are several such distinct temperaments of the city that can be talked about. And so, see you here, with a distinct flavour of Ahmedabad, everytime :)