On November 7, Mansi and I ventured out to Gandhinagar, the capital city of Gujarat. Set about 20 kilometers from Ahmadabad this small town is a weird place. I’ll tell you why soon enough.
The evening of the 7th was a very eventful one. The bus that we had booked from Mumbai was delayed by about an hour and a half. So much so, that along with a few other passengers who were supposed to be on that bus, we were sitting on the roadside, on the curb, smoking and talking about how beautiful life was, while the others around us fumed and yelled into their phones, cursing the driver of the bus, which was stuck somewhere in the heart of Mumbai in incurable traffic. Finally, when the bus arrived, it wasn’t the bus that was supposed to take us to Gandhinagar. This was a temporary make-shift bus, one that was already filled with passengers for some other destination, into which we were herded and told to stand in available nooks or sit on someone’s lap, until we were dropped to Borivali, where the actual bus was waiting for us. A lot of fighting and raised voices and heated tempers later, we were deposited into our rightful bus, two hours behind schedule, and finally, at a quarter to midnight, with the start of the journey delayed by 2 hours and 15 minutes, we began the journey. Mansi had the distinct honor of relieving herself by the roadside in the middle of the night while I stood guard, while the driver of the bus and the few passengers who were awake and still angry about the delay glared at us, but apart from that, it was an uneventful ride.
We reached Ahmadabad around 10 in the morning, and we met up with Mansi’s friends – Vishesh and his wife Dimpi – who courteously allowed us to use their bathroom to freshen up. At our request for authentic Gujarati breakfast, my new found friends took us to the Heritage Hotel in the heart of the city – a quaint, elegant place that was a perfect marriage of opulence and culture. We had the most amazing breakfast where we feasted on dhoklas and poha and washed it all down with the best masala tea I’ve ever tasted. It was and still is a breakfast to kill for. I dream about it sometimes…
Mansi and I then said goodbye to the lovely couple and took an auto rickshaw to make the 20 kilometer journey to Gandhinagar. We traveled on some very well-maintained roads and with the excellent meal settling into our systems, we were eagerly awaiting a weekend of more fun with my cousin and our host-to-be, Kruthika. We arrived at her place in Info City a little after 2 in the afternoon, and changed into comfortable clothes and settled down for a nice catching-up session with piping hot chai.
Kruthika was also hosting another friend of hers – Jeanne – a mathematician who had come from Chennai to spend a few days with her. We spent the evening roaming around Info City, where the most prevalent object is an eatery. There was absolutely nothing else for us to do than visit one hotel after another, checking out what was on offer and eating it. We made the trip to Ahmadabad in the night to visit the IIM Ahmadabad campus and to have a cup of tea in the world famous hole-in-the-wall. It literally is a hole. In a wall. A hole through which a street vendor passes tea and cigarettes (a contraband) to the students of the university. Pretty neat, huh!
On Sunday, the four of us made our way to the step wells of Adalaj, a few minutes away from where Kruthika was staying. Mansi went completely mad with her camera, clicking away the magnificent architecture and playing with the lights and the shadows. I did a half decent job myself, with my phone’s camera.
Back in Info City, we packed up, walked over to another eatery and ate mouthwatering dabeli and other kinds of chats, and after a lot of burping, it was finally time to say goodbye to my cousin and Jeanne. They were sweet enough to wait with us for our bus and waved us off once we had gotten in. It was a very interesting trip to say the least. We expected to do a lot of wacky things that weekend and we ended up putting on a couple of kilos each with all the food that we managed to eat. It turned out to be a very unexpected food trip!