29 November 2014
Introduction to Ahmedabad
On a late November night I alighted from a much delayed train at Ahmedabad. The train station presented to me what any typical North Indian railway station would do. Crowds everywhere jostling in a seemingly meaningless and unpurposeful way. Legions of bodies asleep on the platform obstructing all attempts of smooth travel. Vendors, beggars, hanger ons, travellers, coolies and god knows who all trying to accost you. Part of the platform is under repairs and has not been clearly cordoned off. So piles of construction material and dust lay everywhere. In typical Indian fashion, several punters approach me offering taxi or auto ride to a "good cheap hotel". They are remarkably non persistent and get shooed away without much effort. The exit of the station is lined by seemingly deserted autorickshaws. I try to haggle a fare but give up easily even when I am acutely aware that the sum is disproportionate to the ride. The roads are near deserted. If you are hoping to immediately find evidence of the success of "Gujarat Model" outside Ahmadabad railway station, you are going to be disappointed. The roads are obstructed by overloaded long distance trucks and cattle. Almost all the shops are shuttered down. However, before I can jump to an early conclusion I realise something is different. The eateries are open and are being patronised by large number of men and lots of well dressed women. That is something which you wouldn't find in a typical north Indian town at midnight.