Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ahemdabad ki chakkar

" If you have two pennies, buy grain with one and a flower with the other. One will keep you alive and the other will give you the reason to be alive...." What a lovely image and thought. I have been preoccupied with life and death issues ever since the Delhi blasts. This old Chinese proverb put things in perspective ...a little. Why think of bullets when there are blossoms to gaze at? I was back in A'Bad after a few years... and I could not recognise the city, starting with the swanky airport.It is green, clean and ticking, now that Narendra Modi has successfully demonstrated his sharp administrative skills and got his State into shape. Nearly everybody I spoke to, from a businessman to a driver , talked about Mody in reverential terms. A beautiful and bright lady, who has an exciting World Peace project on the anvil (more on her and the project in another post), swore about the 'quality of life' in A'Bad... and I did a double take! Mody may have cleaned up his act, in terms of getting the garbage off the street, but Amdavadis rhapsodising over the 'quality of life?" That's too much!Especially since most locals are still enormously wary and guarded when it comes to celebrating Garba during Navratri. This year they will do so amidst crazy security at all the venues. How sad!!! We can't celebrate our festivals freely, we can't travel freely, or even talk to strangers freely ("what if...?") .
I was there at the invitation of the YPO's of Gujarat, to talk to them about the present scenario in India - politically, culturally , economically. It was a closed door meeting, so our exchanges took place in an environment of trust and confidence. One of the guys had organised an elaborate Maharahtrian feast in my honour, post-the event.I was really, really touched.... and overate, just to show my sincere appreciation. Puran Polis and Basundi?? Bliss! Masaley Bhaat, solachi kadi, Kolhapuri mutton, bhakris, varan... jhinga in coconut gravy, pandhara rasa chi komdi!What a treat. Earlier in the day, I had enjoyed a Gujju lunch at a friend's home, traditionally served in silver thalis. It was no small feat that I managed to make a pretty neat presentation after stuffing my face shamelessly! Mr. Mody has invited me back on the 30th for a full moon party in the desert , to celebrate the first day of Navratri. Alas, I have to be in Delhi... but I'm going to take him up on the invitation at a later date.
Ahemdabad is a transformed city. The State of Gujarat is booming. The mood is upbeat, as industrialists point out how there are no power cuts EVER! And that Mody's men are keen to attract even bigger investments despite the rather dismal economic story world wide. I mean.... who could have thought Lehman and Merryl Lynch would suffer such fates?


Anonymous said...

Narendra Modi, yeh aadmi bahot confuse karta hai!

Defending the indefenseable is hard, yet I must also appreciate his efficient administration for being progressive and genuinely making a difference in Gujrat. Strange dichotomy no? Seemingly inefficient at some very particular times, very efficient the rest of the time.

I am confused about what to feel about him and his extremely shrewd ways. Are his feelings and widely reported stated actions towards communalism AMORAL, immoral or just merely politically expedient towards the larger vision that he sees. Big difference and one I cannot fathom. What is your take on it?

Perhaps the people of Gujrat now have no reason to try and fathom either. They say thier lives now are better than before, perhaps atleast for the majority. Sort of like Germany between the two wars? Watch this space sort of thing.... is it?

Your description of all the meals you ate there was wonderous. I am now mentally planning my Diwali menus and I shall borrow heavily from your descriptions to decide what my friends and family will eat! I think I will go all domestic and make my own sweets this year. Yay for me! Lets see how long this resolve lasts!

Navratri in the desert sounds pretty good. I cant wait to hear all about it!

Another Kiran in NYC

ek-ladki-anjaani-si said...

I start with my usual anticipatory bail - I know only as much as I read/watch and I write as most as I feel.

There was this documentary I had seen, THE FINAL SOLUTION. Have you seen it De or Kiran? Gujarat and it's politicians ala' Modi are no different. Their Modus Operandi is for political gain, and nothing more. Yes, the masses are happy from progress et. al. but really isn't there always a calm after the storm as well?

De' did you speak to the common man of minority there? Considered going undercover and writing a book ever? Don't you feel sometimes people say things to you because they know who you are, what you do, so as not to "offend" you? If what you say is true, then Hail to the Chief... but is it? Yea, skeptic I am, but then after having heard from the Amhendavadis here in Chicago, who often visit relatives there, I wonder! What say you?

@ Kiran NYC - Wonderful movie it was, The Lives of others! I saw it only on your recommendation, and I still have hair standing on the back of my neck! I wonder, are you a follower of any Michael Moore movies? I absolutely love his skeptical sense of humor! P.S. I would like to order carryout from your Diwali feast. Something chocolate-ey please! Desi sweets are so anti-chocolate, I feel! What say you?

Kris Bass said...

Maybe, it's time for me to change my views about Mr. Modi. I always thought of him as a bigot. My best friend was in Ahmedabad for 2 years and she never mentioned that it's so chic! ;)

Harish said...

Giving the devil its due, Yes Narendra modi might be a perfect swear, but one cant deny that he is also a boon to gujarat. Whats important is that we respect the individual for his good deeds as much as we reprimand him for bad blood. Be it sallu, sanju or nandu...

And i appreciate you for having the maturity to look at the other side of the fence/

regarding the witting suspision, venting of hostility, and clumping of emotions, well, it might sound harsh.. but this is a worldwide phenomenon. and in future we would devlop devices to quantify hatred and not detect hatred.

modi date in desert...

wao... and you are going to dilli... ra ra ra.. what de.

now coming to 'your' section
Chuk De, what an apt title Sanju gave you... Hail Sanju!




kaleidoscope said...

Dear De,

First, its super tragic to hear about the Lehman brothers story. I mean who could ever imagine waking up one fine morning to hear them go bankrupt. On a lighter note, I was laughing away watching the news clip on CNN that carried this story with 2 gay guys hugging, necking and consoling each other in the background. Of course the correspondent who was "breaking the news" didn't realize any of this happening. HA! The irony of the situation notwithstanding, I was simply loving it.

Second, on Ahmedabad. Again from my days at the School of Architecture (SA) there to now, the city has surely come a long way. But I quite liked it then when there were fewer barricades and more elephants on the road. This July when I visited the city after a long time, I was in for a climate shock. My SA and the campus is still beautiful but in the wake of all the hoopla, the city seemed a little too rustic - more people basking in the glory of Shining Gujarat but fewer people ready to be accountable for anything concrete.

Being an urbanist myself, I know this is a phase of intense urban stimulation and hence, the apparent chaos. After all, there is always a "method in the madness", and my research centers on its investigation.


stylenuggets said...

This comment comes all the way from New Zealand. It's great to read your blogs- gives me another perspective rather than just reading the news online.

sanju ayyar said...

Yes, contrary to what most of us think of Modi as someone playing the hindutva card for a big vote bank, the man has transformed. And so has Gujarat. And Ahmedabad. And Surat. And many other places. Pune faces about 6 hours of load shedding every day. The scenario in the hinterland of Maharashtra is even more appaling. I was in Guhagar a while back only to learn that they have just 9 hours of power, mostly during the night hours, that too.
Gujarat, I think, is the only state that continues to woo and attract investments left, right and centre. And speaking of the Centre, Modi is setting himself up to be the next PM candidate, provided BJP + Allies come to power. I dont know how good or bad they'll be, but in Modi they have a shrewd diplomat and a complete politician.
Ah! And as far as the food goes, just one question? Thalipeeth nhavti kaa?


;-) Thanks.

I seriously think De's love for food is phenomenal.

Chak De.

Unknown said...

Modi has done for Gujrat what Buddhadev tried but could not for Kolkata.Yes,A'bad has changed and changed for the better.any society grows out of collective effort of citizens.Rome was not built in a day.patriotism is not about singing the National Anthem in the theatres but keeping the song alive in our heart. Mera Bharat mahan banana hoga.

Shobhaa De said...


Harish said...


I have something for you... on behalf of all your blogdosts

Surprise Surprise..

Click Here to be surprised.

... click on the above link no De... na na its not a virus or spam...

Anonymous said...

Arrey wah Aham, aap ne toh tabbiyat kushal kar di! Phoolon, phalon aur app ke sau putra ho... etc etc etc.

Loved that image. I just printed it out and it will hang on my "to do" cork board!

Ladki, yes I have watched almost all of Michael Moore's films. He is a very funny guy who can be a thoughful or wicked by turns. I think his first movie about GM in Flint, Michigan was the very best. There is a sense of rawness and personal angst in it, that appeals to me emotionally. Which one did you like?

BTW, I saw Celine Dion at the Garden yesterday. She sings well, the show was spectacular, the production values were fantastic and I sat about 5 feet away from the stage with plenty to eat and drink and good friends around. I had a good time. Given all that, why do I still think all her songs sound the same and there is an element of shrill caterwauling involved? Am I just a Philistine or Aurangzeb? I hope not!

I saw George Michael just three weeks ago, same location, same high production values and show, same friends, same debauchery. He just sounded soooooo much better in comparison. Is it just me? Or do I just like Gay Men better than Gay Idols? Hehehehehe

Shobhaa (or am I supposed to call you De), sorry to hijak your blog and write my comments back to other commentors, but I dont have a public blog so cant use my own space to blabber away. I shall cease and desist and not use so much of your bandwidth!

Another Kiran in NYC

ek-ladki-anjaani-si said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Yes, very true.
24hrs. Water/Road/Light-Development

ek-ladki-anjaani-si said...

Thanks Aham.' Sorry I missed you on chat, but after you read what I did, you will know why. Like Kiran I printed it out as well, but I went a step further! I actually made Gatte Kee Saag a few minutes ago. It's only 9:50 C.S.T and I am done with lunch. Yes, I am supposed to be "working" from home today... but who is looking?

Now close your eyes and imagine this... a sindhi born in Jaipur, migrates to US 25yrs ago who just made the traditional Rajasthani Gatte for her Malyalee husband... Yes that's me! Now, can you guess how it came out? Well, keep tuned folks, if hubby survives, I will post! ELSE, KIRAN INTERESTED?

That movie, Roger and Me was excellent. I agree that was his best, but I really liked Sicko too! Perhaps, because I see that more on a regular day basis. Celine, I did catch in Vegas last year. Man she is awesome, now George Michael, I dunno... was a fan of his long back in high school, but then gave up. I have reverted back from firang music to desi music somehow. Though any kind of Blues... and I am there!

Parv Kaushik said...

why is English print and electronic media so much against narendra modiji??

so much so that his winning of recent elections was credited more to sonia gandhi's "merchant of death" remark than to his own work.

elite journos have to embrace the fact tht a silently youth brigade all around the country is marching under the modiji's leadership.

Unknown said...

Dear De,
I guess we have to give the Devil his due. Modi seems a good Administrator and CEO, who thinks of the State and not himself.
He has his faults, ( he will have to answer to the Almighty)but now if the people are happy with the progress, they should assist in making the State an Example to the rest of the Country.
Most of our States have idiots who are not even capable of running a panchayat, leave alone the State itself.
They are so self centred that they could care a damn for the people.
Cannot imagine our Mumbai being the Financial Capital running out of Power (forget other miseries, like bad roads etc.)and the best part of it the Consumer, that is we have to shell out (pay) extra, not marginal, but exhorbitant hikes every other month for no fault of ours.
Our guys should make a trip to Gujarat, instead of travelling abroad to check on how they should conduct their duties.

Anonymous said...

your quaint marathi phrases leave me waiting for more!
its like i am talking to an old friend!
you may have gone places, but you do have your head firmly on your shoulders.
your digs at the "Hoi Polloi" are amusing, to say the least!
as for jaya, lets face it she was on a "aa baell mujhe maar' trip.
i feel there was a malicious intent behind the statement.
if anyone will suffer, it will be her son, her husband, and her dil.
i feel she is one bitter woman who is overshadowed by her husband.
maybe she can try "art of living"??

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