Tuesday, January 13, 2015

KADAK BADSHAHI - When Ahmedabad Happens

Here is my take on the on the recent performance of Kadak Badshahi that I witnessed in Ahmedabad...

For someone who grew up in this glorious city of Ahmedabad and moved out at the prime of the youth, without knowing what this city is all about or the so intriguing history of how the city came into existence the play Kadak Badshahi was a perfect eye-opener and an echo to most of my questions and qualms about the present situation of the city.

The experience of the play starts the moment you step into the gates of the venue and walk towards the amphitheater. There are small floats and stalls that are a live experience of the joys we Amdavadis enjoy on a regular basis and have started taking for granted… be it the food, the garba, the colors and the explosions of experiences. I for once was completely speechless and mesmerized with the experience here and the play hadn’t even started.
I will try not to share the spoilers as the play is an experience in totality and I don’t want to spoil it for you by telling you everything about it, yet I will give you enough enticement of why you don’t want to miss it for anything.

The play starts with the history of Ahmedabad, the famous story of the rabbits getting together and winning over the wild dogs… there are multiple audio-visual treats all over the venue going on and you as a spectator will not want to blink your eyes worrying that you might miss out on some of the grandeur of the performances on the stage and the “screens”

The cast of the play was almost 50 if not more, and I shouldn’t be calling it a play, it is more of a performance or a treat to your audio visual senses. The performance very easily and convincingly blends the history of some of the very famous monuments of the city, and how they got their names or why some of the things that happen there that are happening and you forgot to notice.
There are also very subtle yet strong digs taken on the government and the administration from the Amdavadis’ perspective that the performers have portrayed very candidly yet with perfect conviction. Most of the audience will remember the stories of the famous foods and drinks that we are so used to in Ahmedabad, but the performance also pointedly asks and probes you as an Amdavadi to think what is happening to your city.

The multiple times of the cast asking us the audience, “what the city was and what did you do to it?” was an echo to my feelings and frustration that I have experienced as a ‘returning’ Amdavadi. For the past decade, I have visited this city as a ‘guest’ live here for a week and fly back to my base… this time, I was here for over 3 months, and at every step on the way I asked myself why? What the F@#& happened to the city I left a decade ago? This time I roamed on the roads and experienced this city as a part of the population.

There are many parts in the performance that will completely move you and bring you to tears when they talk about the goings on of the city and the historical significance of it all… be it the story of the Kankaria lake, or the Ellis bridge, or the story of a flower vendor selling her wares on a carpet on the roads outside the Bhadrakali temple.

The performers keep reminding us how the gardens, and forests gave way to the concrete jungle over these years and how the normal Amdavadi has become apathetic, money minded and worried about only one thing “what is in it for me?” there is also a very emphatic statement that lingers in your head well after you walk out, the rough translation of it is “Lakshmi doesn’t mean money, it means prosperity”

The finale of the performance is one of the best I have seen in my life, a glorious celebration of the foods, drinks and everything of Ahmedabad, the audience are so involved in this that they are thrilled when someone hands out gotas and vadas during the performance… guess I have told too much about it already.

Bottom line is that if you are an Amdavadi, or curious about Ahmedabad or someone who has lived here even for a few months… you MUST watch this play and relive your experience of the great city of Ahmedabad. My kudos to the never ageing and every graceful Mallika Sarabhai who not only is part of the performance but also directed the play with Yadavan Chandran and Nisarg Trivedi. You all have created history, let me rephrase, you have recreated history.  

Monday, May 09, 2011

After getting inspired by Doc. Raval's pics of his Kolli Hills ride, I had already decided that I'm gonna ride out to this destination...Last weekend's BN G2G brought up this topic... Ashish Chamoli jumped to the idea of going for a ride, any ride! As long as it is a long ride :)

Made a few calls and sent out emails asking friends who would be interested; and only Arijit Ghosh reverted, saying that he is interested, he roped in another of his friend Dilip who has done extensive riding across India, specially the northeast part... So the planning was done, date and time decided, all that was needed was to turn up for the ride! We met up at 5am on Hosur Road, and started for our destination by around 6ish (it took some time for everyone to assemble) the roads were butter smooth and the climate was perfect!

First stop was at around 7 near Krishnagiri for some awesome idlis and omelets. After getting a fill of food we started again, next stop was Salem, asked for directions and hit the right road towards Rasipuram, here funny thing happened! A kid comes up and asks in Tamil if this is a college trip, I just shook my head and didn't say anything; he then asks if we are the Police! I shook head again, so his mum tells him, they are the army... :D
From here, the great NH7 turns into a modest State Highway… but kudos to TN govt for making such great roads, not too many potholes on the way and perfectly picturesque scenery to give us company all the way!

After Rasipuram we had to start climbing the ghat section… the dreaded 70 hairpin turns! But to my surprise, the road condition was so smooth that the dread turned into sheer joy after every turn! And by the time we reached the top, the adrenaline and the joy both were on a full high!

Now bearing in mind from Doc's instructions we knew that there are not too many accommodation options here, and hence Ashish had carried his 4person tent (just in case!) there are 2 famous resorts and a couple of measly lodges that provide accommodation… to our luck, everything was full! Finally the owner of a resort allowed us to pitch our tent in his coffee plantation (of course after charging 1K for it) but it was exactly what we wanted! We pitched our tent in the middle of nowhere, with coffee plants all around us and the noise of all the birds and insects around :)

After pitching up and resting for a while, we set out on our bikes to do a look-see of the place. We were surprised to find that the place doesn't have much to offer from a `touristy' option… just 2 `points' for witnessing the sunsets and loads of liquor stores to buy cheap beer and brandy… we did our `shopping' and went to one of the points to see the sunset, saw hoards of people come, pose for pics, and go while were sat there unmoved.

After sunset and some basic `appetizers' we headed for dinner, ate dinner and crashed in the tent amongst total darkness and sounds of all the insects… the sky was totally clear so saw a lot of stars…

Woke up early in the morning, packed our stuff and rode out before the local traffic increases… after some photo-ops on the ghats, we descended to Rasipuram for some breakfast of dosas and parathas… ate our fill and rode out… next stop dharampuri for tender coconuts then again rode till Electronic city, stopped looking for lunch options and realized that we are too close to home to eat out now… so, said good byes and ripped all the way home…

Total ride distance, door to door: 650kms

Riders: Ashish Chamoli – LB500

Arijit Ghosh – TB350

Dilip – STD350

LJ – RedEye

Monday, December 20, 2010


We were sitting, sipping the nectar from the goblets of life; and suddenly she asks me, “Why don’t you say anything nice about me? Don’t you feel the same like how you felt earlier about me? “I was speechless, flabbergasted is the right word actually, and didn’t know what to tell her…

When I was sitting alone; reminiscing, contemplating, anticipating… I realized that I really don’t feel like how I felt about her earlier, I feel much more! That was the time when we were still strangers, trying really hard to know each other, keeping up the respect and not reacting the way we would want to to a lot of things that the other did. Now we are almost one, we know what the other will say even before we begin to speak.

Relationships are a very funny thing. You try hard to build them, once they are strong, you start taking each other for granted, start ‘hurting’ the other one even without realizing that our actions or words might be really hurtful!

Well, I have to confess… I am cursed with a twisted tongue; no matter what I say, even if I try to make it sound good… it comes out either blunt or rude or crude or sarcastic, basically something vile… and this happens only for people who I love and care about. For the insignificant ones, I can build castles in the air with my words but unfortunately the same castles turn to ash when I turn my face towards someone close…
It’s a curse, what to do?

Coming back to the point… something nice for her? What do I tell her? I am who I am because of you? I am the man that you wanted me to be? I changed my entire existence just to match your liking? I am alive just for you… else why would I even bother to write this for her?
She is the meaning of my life, she is my life…

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

See U on the road :-)

I know I know;

guilty as charged… there has been a terrible silence and a really long gap on this
Blog. So long, that even I started to wonder if I should just close the blog and delete the account!

Then, I realized that the sabbatical from biking was long over a few months ago; I rode till the
maddur lake with a few BN biker friends.

Now, again it will be time for our annual ‘distancing of selves’ where the wifey will
go off to places that she yearns to go to, and I will slog my behind in the office… heh heh

But this GAP is going to gift me with 2 wonderful weekends which I intend to put to complete use
and go out riding… destination is not known as of now, but I know I will be out riding my butt off :-)

See you on the road then!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sabbatical Over

Finally broke the silence from riding… did a small ride (couple hundred kilometers) the last Sunday….

My sabbatical is now over and I will be riding and writing more… the blog that had absolutely dried up, might just start getting random posts again :)

Wish me luck on my future rides… and do contact me if you want to join in any of them!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

No more...

We all were sitting close by, there was some heavy breathing for a few seconds and then all went quiet… he left us exactly at 11:05 on a Friday… this was the blow by blow (or should I say a breath by breath) account of my Grandpa’s death given to me by my dad over the phone.

Now since my imagination is still a bit too wild, I got transformed in the room where my gramps spent some of his final weeks… I had met him in January, and he was joking, “This is the last time we are meeting, you will not be able to see me again after this” and I commented back, “you will be alive even when my kids get married, you would probably outlive all of us” if only I had known…

Fact is, we all knew… his cancer was growing really bad and that there was no way we could bring him back to the healthier side… we all were just waiting for him to pass on… now that he has actually gone, there is such a big gap! Now way this lacuna can be filled by another person.

It’s so funny that you look up to one person all your life… you love them, and then you despise them, sometimes you hate them… but, you know that they are right there. And then suddenly they are not; they suddenly become a memory of a lifetime!

We all were sitting around that empty bed that was occupied by the memory… a nice laminated picture frame sat on the table across the bed looking at us, a few of us wiping the tears that flow down, uninvited; the other brave ones console the weak and then breakdown themselves.

Death is a very funny thing, cousins who didn’t even acknowledge each other’s presence are now urging the others to take care of their health and ensure that we stay in touch!

Condolences are shared across all the modes of communication, calls, messages, tweets…

The biggest thing will be to go to the online genealogy and put the ‘deceased date’ in front of that name…

Deceased…. Not here any more… Rest In Peace!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


If you like what you do… you don’t have to do what you like…

Unfortunately this is not the case most of the times. I know a lot of people who spent their lives till now trying to figure out what they like to do and what should they do to do what they like :)

I am now gearing myself up to get off this silly chair and get on the seat of my bike… ride down at least 100 kilometers and feel alive again.

Inshallah that should happen pretty soon now… I can see the leaf turning…

In the words of Richard Bach, “what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly