They were laughing. I was laughing. Then they were literally rofl(ing).
The cause of this amusement was my Gujarati. They were able to understand what I wanted to say, and were even teaching me some, which was all the more reason for their laughter. I however had to read them through their dumb charade skills. It however, was still difficult for me as there were a lot of ee ees, oo oos, ha ha haas, ow oww owwws which they were constantly mixing with their words – trying to talk even while laughing. These kids, Praveen, Divya, Aati and the other 3 cheerful souls whose names I forgot; ran to their uncle who just arrived on his bike. At the same time an old man who became curious of my business at that place told me to leave. Talking of this unwelcoming reception, I should mention of my trip to Juhapura.
Aarti, a co-fellow, suggested we both visit Juhapura while I suggested on visiting Akshardam having little knowledge of the history of Juhapura. Later, looking on the internet I got very excited to visit that place. Owing to its distinct history mainly, and also me being a bit bored, they were difficult 2 hours to wait for Aarti to come. Autowallah couldn’t quite comprehend why we were so interested in visiting Juhapura. Anyway, after paying the autowallah the amount, even though he was expecting more due to our non-ahmedabad origins, we went walking through the narrow lengthy street lined with food stalls and…wait…actually I can’t remember what other retail shops were present. I didn’t have my lunch and it was 5:30 in the evening. Needless to say, I was hungry. That too with the aroma coming out from these stalls which had enveloped the whole place, it was reasonable that I could only see food everywhere. I had starters of chicken and believe me it was some tasty food. And so while walking Aarti felt that everyone was staring at her. I noticed it too but did not find it too strange. People stare at every woman as if they were aliens just arrived from Venus. But then I noticed women too goggling her. That’s strange! So Aarti clarified that this was about the bindi on her forehead which was communicating non-verbally of her hindu credentials and also probably not wearing the scarf to cover her hair was also communicating of some different social group she belongs to.
Waiting to meet an editor who lives there, we discussed of the significance of Juhapura, its effects, and how media should focus on real things etc. However, I needed to have more concentration levels to keep up with her, as the aroma which was present was still pulling me to try some more varieties. It’s a paradise for foodies and street food lovers. Just have a glimpse of some of the items which could be seen every 10 metres in that street. Starting from the first – crispy chicken rolls, little mutton samosas, mixed chicken balls (mixed here means a mixture of vegetarian and chicken!), enticing falooda (only take home variety was available, sadly), ubiquitous dhokla, soft and juicy basin ka camman (my favorite), spicy channa, colorful sodas (line, orange and masala), black gulab jamun, jalebis which looked a bit too red, gravy variety of some patte (literally meaning leaves), a number of varieties of evening tea snacks and the list just goes on and on and on. I tried my hand on most of the items mentioned, and even Aarti had little option than to try these in the second round of vegetarian course.
In these 2 hours of stay I hadn’t found anything drastically stark there. Yes, everyone is a muslim. But I have seen that before in the old city of Hyderabad, Shivajinagar of Banglore, and other muslim majority localities here and there. Yes, the population density is a bit too much. But even that I’ve seen elsewhere. And, not great planning of the locality. Again not too surprising. However, I was also slightly getting worried thinking of the fact that, was I getting used to these things? Or even worse, was I accepting them as normal? The history of this place surely stands out in its significance. This is just not right. The continuing expansion of this place tells of the real fear among muslims, and their desire to live with the people who share their God of worship. Looking at this, hope we stop priding ourselves as a diverse country. Diverse communities living amongst themselves does not make us a diverse country.
I guess it’s the fear of unknown, or of some crazy excited fundamentalist which is leading to this segregation. My presence in muslim majority localities however still continued with little intention of my own. After a field visit, I went to Manek Chowk to have a look of what it was like. There was some exotic food, and there I made a mistake of having one full plate of pav-bhaji. It did not let me try more items. I unexpectedly came across Ahmed Shah’s Dargah, and then, I was at Jama Masjid. They were all close to each other, but still going to those beautiful places without knowing or expectation was quite exciting. To make things more wonderful, it was a pleasant night with cool breeze and slight drizzle, and there was a congregation of a small group of people who were sitting and listening in peace to a speaker. All that made it feel serene and drowsy. I decided to sleep there in the Masjid, however later on further wandering, that night I finally ended up sleeping at home.
I feel like I should be adding some experience related to office work here, however, it is so lengthy now. Even by saying this, I’m making it lengthier and so shall stop here. It’s late and so India Fellow people, this is for you – Good night Anupama, Jaoog, Sweta, Aarti, Areeey Arroora, Mere Sharma, Chaitu, Mohit, Shankar, Janvi, Konkiii, Lucky Yaar, Rohyni, Anusha, Shanbag, Rahul. Good morning for tomorrow also guys :D!