Tuesday, November 18, 2008
a city left unexplored, Sulemani wedding and lots of mutton
Early morning we reached Vadodara station. We were there for my friend’s brother’s wedding. It was a traditional Sulemani wedding and I knew it will be quiet an affair when the young girls of the family surprised made their frequent visits to the train restroom to smoke cigarettes.
As we headed for the place we were going t stay in, I was drooping off and couldn’t care much about the dusty streets of the city at all.
After regaining consciousness, and finally settling in our service apartment in the outskirts of the city, we headed for breakfast in the huge dining hall. Just after having my first breakfast there, I realized that every meal that will follow in the course of our stay, will be special. Afterall, how many times have you shared your plate with complete strangers? How many times have you eaten from a plate as big as you?
Well, what followed in the next two days, (briefly) included eating lots of mutton- Biriyani-khurdi- paya- bone soup- keema- I don’t remember what else. There were prayer ceremonies and then there were the not so holy sessions of sneakily smoking. Our room had given home to the many habits the Jamat kids harbored.
There were only 2 opportunities we took/got to venture out into the city to explore. Both weren’t very successful. However, there were a few things I experienced/saw, that are worth a mention. One lazy afternoon a few of us went to Kirti mandir and luckily, caught a painting exhibition. The place didn’t seem to excite me much but because we’d come so far from where we were staying, we went inside to waste some time. And I must say that some of the paintings on display were very impressive. It made me wonder, whether the artists really do get their well earned and deserved fame and acknowledgement.
Vadodara also has this huge statue of Shiva in the middle of a pond like thing, while you’re going towards on of the main markets. It’s very random, but looks gorgeous especially in the evening when the sun is setting.
We also managed to go to the marketplace and ate our hearts out. We ate unidentifiable gujurati snacks from the streets, we tried out a few Chivdas frm a shop we were buying things from and we ate paan. Lots of it, many times.
I remember after the wedding ceremony, we went in the rickshaw in search of paan. And obviously there was nothing open in at that hour. But miles away, we finally got one shop. Open. But what really made all that exploring worthwhile was not the paan, it was the ride through the city at that hour. It was 12:30 something and I couldn’t stop gazing outside and enjoying the city’s old world charm. Maybe it was just the hour, but I’d like to believe that this was the place where one can picture Versace’s skinny models with painted lips- red, purple, pink and yellow, green shoes and long lashes, sashaying down the dusty roads for a fashion shoot, as the amused passerby’s gape at them like one would see an amoeba in a science lab. I could picture the kings and queens of the fashion world, bringing colour to the faded façade of the city. The charming old, unkempt city. Very dusty and very quiet. (Atleast at night).
The Sulemani wedding took the cake. It was so varied and new for me that it became the priority and the city was forgotten, and kept away for another time, maybe.
posted by phantasmagoria at 3:51 AM