Exploits of a travel writer on the run. Subject: India

Friday, December 03, 2004

Ahmedabad/ Ahmedagood

The last time we chatted, I was down in Diu living the good life. Well, as they say, all good things must come to an end, and mine ended with a nasty respiratory flu that took hold during a "sleeper" (notice quotations) bus trip up to A-town, and held on like Tuff Hedeman for a couple of weeks-- the combination of weather switchups, tailpipe sucking, and dust storms of Biblical proportions conspired to give me the seven-decades-of-smoking cough for about a week, until Lalit at the Shri Ganesh guesthouse in Mt Abu gave me a tip on the Ayurvedic home remedy for dry hack: raw ginger root chopped up and sweetened with honey before bedtime. I'm here to tell you it really works.

But I'm getting ahead of the storyline here and focusing on all the worst aspects of my health, which for anyone who knows me is the typical state of affairs for Tim Brown. But enough about my body, my self...

All my travels in the north had radiated from Ahmedabad, making it a fact o' life to spend a little time there on three separate occasions. I developed a curious love/hate relationship with this city for both reasons germane to the city itself and for entirely coincidental bad luck.

Fact: The first two days I was there the city was all but shut down: the first time, the national Diwali holiday, the second, the government asked all merchants to shut down to protest an indictment of a "seer" who later confessed to being an accessory to a murder he was being charged for! Sounds pretty wacky? I thought so to, but I don't pretend to know the nuances of the Indian political landscape. All I know is that I hadn't eaten in two days and had a hell of a time getting anything to eat. It caused an existential breakdown of sorts that caused me to yell into the void, "WHAT ABOUT ME? WHAT ABOUT MY NEEDS?" I thought traveling had cured me of this little annoying habit, but I thought wrong.

Counter Fact: The same day, I met Garaung, aka Gary, at the Kathiawadi food stand. He sat down next to me after it seemed nobody wanted to (I had actually made a little boy cry moments earlier) and told me he had moved to Pittsburgh from Ahmedabad to become a regional manager for Walmart. He asked, "Do you want to see my Ahmedabad?" and took me whizzing around on the back of his motorbike all afternoon, taking me for Ice Cream ("Ahmedabad is the Ice Cream Capitol of India," he told me with a straight face), touring the University of Gujarat Campus, worshiping at his Temple, the Swami Narayan Temple in Central A-town (a person told me before afternoon prayer "God is waking up!"), a lesson in eating paan (more later), and finally a drop off at the Internet Cafe. In other words, a perfect tour guide for a lost afternoon.

Fact: I have been hit on by more gay men in my 72 hours in Ahmedabad than I have in my entire life, and much more graphically. "Do you like homo-sex?" was my overture as I was stumbling off an overnight train at 5 a.m., and "What's your size?" was the romantic cadence I heard in the park from a horny mustache later that same day. Easy-going acceptance of a person's sexual orientation translates to tacit approval for the Gay Indian, it seems. Gals, I feel your pain.

Counter Fact: Like I explained earlier, I have never, nor do I ever, expect to receive money from total strangers ever, ever again. Anywhere. Period.

Fact: A miscreant hit me on the back with a rock my first morning there, then flew me the bird when I turned around to see what had happened. The little turd was all of six years old.

Counter Fact: I had a most pleasant bus ride from Mt. Abu back to Ahmedabad with Sumta, a Londoner going to visit family in rural Gujarat. We did some girly gift shopping at the Night Market in which she was most helpful, and ended the evening with a top five Gujarati Thali at the Gopi Dining Hall. All told, a relaxing and final five hours there.

With such a mixed bag of emotions and experiences, how could I not write about it? After all, the bad experiences make for better post-travel stories, but the good ones are what you actually travel for. Rarely has a town given me so much of both.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just finished reading all the entries and I am salivating from the delightful anecdotes. You gave me the giggles. Lovely, fascinating and inspiring. You've got a grand rhythm going here and I can't wait for the country ode.
Sal'amu Alaikum
Anna

December 4, 2004 at 3:36 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just finished reading all the entries and I am salivating from the delightful anecdotes. You gave me the giggles. Lovely, fascinating and inspiring. You've got a grand rhythm going here and I can't wait for the country ode.
Sala'amu Alaikum
Anna

December 4, 2004 at 3:45 PM

 
Anonymous Frances Nash said...

amazing blog...i loved it!

June 28, 2005 at 2:39 PM

 
Blogger candace said...

Olah Tim,

I must say how great it is to see someone get out in the world and live life. I am a college student in your fathers US GOV class, he gave me this site and told me to give it a visit. It is quite impressive.Anyways,where do you plan to visit next......... I personally have never been anywhere, YET. But have big plans, God willing, they will proceed. In the last few years I have become so facinated with the world and cultures in it. I may have never left Tulsa or the USA but it seems as if the world is coming to me. With all the advantages we have here in the states its hard to ignore all of mexico is visiting us and everyone from everyothter country for that matter. It is scarey to say white people are now the minority in such a diverse society. With all the clashes that come with diversity, me being the brilliant person I am, decided to make it my proffession and God willing utilize it for education.Anyways, there is more to this world then the end of our noses and the universe doesnt end at the stretch of my finger tips.A concept most people do not understand. I am studying International Studies of The Middle East, I am learning arabic and studying Islam. When 911 occured I was in school at the time for medical assisting and phlebotomy, and already been to school for emergancy medicine technician basic; after that occurance, I looked at the things in the world in aww and sadness.I decided that no matter how smart you are if that person is gonna die they are gonna die. As I become fascinated with the world its problems, I relized there is a big problem. We dont know how to communicate efficiantly. Why? ............I think it all goes back to education. What I learned studying medicine was this, most conditions can be prevented if people are educated how to prevent them in the place, this is called preventive medicine. That is to educate. Anyways, I have a phone call, sooooo.........If youd like you can email me candacemetcalf@yahoo.com, I dont get online often, just at school, or a relatives house.


Keep a Postin
Candace

June 28, 2006 at 9:23 AM

 
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November 13, 2006 at 8:29 PM

 
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