Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Monday 18th - Old Ahmedabad. Or is that Amdavad?

A relative lie in this morning. Breakfast at 7.45 and then an auto ride to the House of MG whence we plan to take their "highly acclaimed" audio walking tour of the old city.  After hanging about for a while a man appears to tell us that the i-pod is on the blink so no tour is available. We revert to plan B and walk off in a huff, taking the first likely looking side street and soon find ourselves in the chicken market, followed swiftly by the fish market.

R is delicate as far as odours are concerned so we do not linger and find ourselves in a residential area where there are still some of the old timber buildings. We are objects of curiosity all round but the good old fall back of taking a digital photo and showing the result soon breaks the ice.  The old city of Ahmedabad does not lack for either goats or autos and this picture allows two birds to be killed with one stone.

We are given directions out of the cul de sac we have wandered into and take a stroll down a couple of streets of shops which are still shuttered. Around a corner the road opens out into a a much wider street with one of the surviving city gates across it.. Beyond the gate is an open space where the shoe sellers are setting up their stalls. A left turn takes us into a vegetable market with lots of colour and characters. Nearly everybody wants their photo to be taken.

The following turn takes us onto a street of fruit sellers - strangely this is also where the stalls selling garlic are as well. Next comes the spice market and then we are amongst the cooking pot and utensil sellers. Each trade keeps to one area in the main. There is even a street of wedding stationery specialists. Off the streets there are narrow alleys called poles, on which most of the residential buildings are situated. There are a lot of old wooden fronted buildings but many of them are in poor repair. The whole area must be a Fire Chief's worst nightmare.
After two hours walking we are quite worn out. We have been looking for a cup of tea but fail to spot even a chai walla so we decide to go back to the courtyard cafe at theHouse of MG. We open negotiations with an auto driver and once again a mini-conference ensues. Fortunately one man speaks passable English and a deal is struck for 30 rupees. We assume that we are going a few hundred yards but the ride goes on and on. In general auto rides in the city seem to be cheap compared with Delhi, and certainly much cheaper than Chennai.

R is revived by a cup of tea and decides that her wardrobe is in need of a further revamp. Only the very best air conditioned outfitters will suffice for this. Great piles of garments are examined and rejected in several shops but eventually a couple of purchases are made and we can retire to the A/c splendour of our hotel room..

We have a very lazy afternoon snoozing and reading - it's almost like being on holiday. As the light fades we head out to the Night Martket again. This is much quieter tonight but gives us chance to practice a bit of haggling.  We have probably been ripped off rotten however we think that we have got a couple of bargains.

On Sunday we passed a restaurant that had a good write up in lonely Planet so we thought that we would try it. When we got there it was closed so we went to the next place along the street. In the next room there was some sort of function going on. Everybody looked really miserable so it must have been a wake or a wedding. We had a very nice veggy meal and were amazed when our bill came to less than £4. One more point for Ahmedabad, or should that be Amdavad?

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