Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Tuesday 12th - It's Dry in Gujarat

Ahmedabad is a bit noisy but we get a decent night's sleep and wake up in raring to go tourist mode. The sun is shining brightly from a clear sky and there is none of that sticky humidity from further south. After breakfast we take an auto to the Sabarmati  Ashram , Gandhi's home for many years.

As we arrive we here a strange birdsong from the trees above us. Eventually we spot the culprits - palm squirrels. The Ashram is now a museum devoted to the story of Gandhi's life and achievements and is quite well done. There are some quite prophetic quotes by the great man about the calibre of politician that the new India will require. Not too sure that he would approve of some of the current crop.


 Some of the Ashram's living quarters are preserved  - there isn't much by way of fixtures and fittings on show but then they deliberately minimised the quantity of possessions that they held on to. There were several school parties and a group of deaf youths taking tours but the place still had a quite peaceful air about it.

For our next stop we took a ride to the famous Ahmedabad hotel and restaurant, the House of MG. We were thinking of doing one of their tours but were advised that the traffic in the middle of the day made this impracticable so we settled for a light lunch instead. The plate should be full of samosas but they were too good to resist and most were eaten by the time our sharbats arrived.

On our way back to our hotel we took a detour to find another hotel with one of the few Liquor stores in Gujarat. when we got there we were told that it was closed for the day. So we had to make do with a cup of tea in the shade of our room. Once the full glare was over we headed out to the Tourist Office to see about getting ourselves registered for a liquor permit which allows the purchase of a monthly ration. Foreigners can get such a permit - but not today unless they go to the airport as all of the liquor shops are shut - apparently for electoral reasons. Don't get us wrong - we are not dipsomaniacs but tourism can be very thirsty work and a man can only take so much Sprite.

In order to overcome our disappointment we took a stroll over to Gandhigram railway station on the metre gauge line that runs south west out of the city into rural Gujarat. The queues at the booking office were not too bad so D stood in line and in due course was able to cash in his surplus ticket - another railway experience ticked off.

There isn't a huge amount of traffic on this line but there was a train standing in one of the sidings so we took a walk along the track to get a good look. The rolling stock is pretty grimey as metre gauge is definitely on its way out in India so maintenance is minimal and investment non-existent. We continued our walk to the next level crossing where we took the road leading to the hotel we had planned to use when we return to Ahmedabad next week. It gets the thumbs down and we have to look elsewhere. Fortunately our current hotel, the Always Hotel Riverview now has a room for our dates so we switch our booking. Sadly the House of MG is full.

Tonight we need to seriously repack as we have an early start to the next part of our trip. We eat in and the food is OK but not the best that we have had in our travels. From here on for five days we are not sure what internet access we are going to have. We do hope to have some good photos so keep watching this space.

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