My journey to Ahmedabad was starting having the whole day for myself in the train. 13 hours that I used the best I could, including a couple of naps. The highlight of the trip was a 10 minutes stop that I used to get off the train, walk in the station and spot some nice food after all the crap I had been eating. The cue to get an omelette was long, but I was ready for it. When it was my turn, I paid the guy and he started cooking my omelette, but my train started moving! I look at him with eyes of ‘f*ck, c’mon, I want my omelette and all my stuff is in that train!’. Then, somebody told me to go and take it and I honestly didn’t think it twice and took my train on the move, like in the movies. Quite relieved and still hungry, 45 seconds later I see the guy that told me to go to take my train running and bringing me my food. He happened to be in the same train! So, so generous of him to wait for my food and bring it to me! Fast food, I thought amused and I could see how this could happen in any movie and also happened to me.
After the long journey, I got to Ahmedabad at 22.00h to see how I was rejected in every single guest house I was trying to get to. After half an hour in the dark streets, thankfully full with mainly muslims, I found the place I had seen online and my last hope. A negative there would mean no place to stay at night and it was quite late. But the hotel this time didn’t say no. It seems that some places, especially in not so touristy cities like this one, have trouble registering foreigners and that is why I was getting all those ‘we are full’. When I asked to be shown the room, my disappointment came back: It was dirty, there were roaches and it was a bloody mess, especially for the price they were asking. But there was no other option.
So, when I woke up the next day I got to the train station to get tickets to get out of there in maximum 2 days. Surprise, my supposed next destination, Jalgaon, was not available and the waiting list was long. Change of plans for the eleventh time: let’s try Mumbai-Aurangabad despite I didn’t want to be in Mumbai any more than what I wanted to be there. And for my surprise, I couldn’t leave the day I wanted so I have to spend 3 days in total in Ahmedabad. Fine, I thought, no nights in Mumbai then! And that’s how the rest of my week was planned.
After that, I took my adventurous spirit back with me and tried to give it some use. Let’s explore the city! I got to a nice park I saw the previous night from the train that was like an attraction park. Nice and quite walk to get back a bit of peace. After I went to see a step well with a very nice Muslim man that would show me around a mosque and on top of it and after I saw a Jain temple, all of them were beautiful and got some smiles back on my way that actually made my day. I quickly realised how this city was dirty, was mainly Muslim and also how safe it was. People were hanging out at night and street food was everywhere! I was planning to go to the food market close to the hotel for dinner, but the hotel staff was super nice and while I was in reception using the internet, they got ice creams and gave me one of those. My dinner was sorted with that!
Next day I woke up with my adventurous spirit on, I went firstly to check a mosque. There, I got to meet Salim, who would change my whole stay in Ahmedabad and turn it into a true experience. He invited me to his shop to have chai and I couldn’t refuse as it’s one of my favourite hobbies nowadays. Then, we went to get his lunch and in the meantime I was left with all the friends and people working for him that were around. It was time for praying for them, so they asked me if I minded to wait for 15 or 20 minutes and they left me with the papaya business on going. With no Hindi skills, little I could do but to wait for them to get back. Once we were all together, everybody got his lunch out and we ate together. They shared everything with me and I even got fish, which it had been a while since the last time I tried it.
In the afternoon, we went to the riverfront where Salim taught me to drive the motorcycle. And I have to say that this time I got my shit together and was actually quite good at it! He took me after to a nice palace a bit far from the city that was actually his favourite place. It was lovely and we spent the evening exploring the place and sitting for small chats. Quite enjoyable. I even got to play cricket with some kids and apparently I am quite good!!! Back to his shop, his nephews offered me to go for dinner and hang out for a bit and how could I say no?! So I went to eat to his mum’s place, where we sat on the floor and had amazing lovely food with our hands, Indian style of course! I am good at the chapatti part and now I am getting good at the rice and curry part.
We took the motorbikes and rode away to find some place for the new business of one of my new friends. I found hilarious that he was actually a professional scammer. When I heard it was just about scamming America I just thought well, that’s ok! They were super nice to me, we were having cigarettes and I tried pan, a kind of sweet that you have to chew and spit and it’s rolled in a leave. I didn’t like it at all and they found that quite funny. I ended up coming back to my hotel at 1.30 am. The place was closed and they helped me to get in. After they left, the guy in the hotel just asked me if I was ok and if they tried to blackmail me. I couldn’t stop laughing, they were such good guys!!!
Next day was my last day in Ahmedabad. And you would think that I would take the last chance to do bits of sightseeing, right? Well, you are completely wrong. I went straight away to the shop of my friends to hang out with them, because that’s much better that sightseeing. That’s exactly what I want: experiences, new cultures, different ways to thing and same good humour. That’s what I live for! After a tasty lunch shared with my Salim (I felt too invited and got him some sweets to take to his house) consisting of some yummy seafood, I got to get some coffee. Here, the coffee is poured in a glass and from the glass to the plate, where you sip it from. The plan for the afternoon was to go to Science City with his nephews, but it is far and it would take a lot of time. Too tight for time because I had to be back to take my train. So we decided to go to a rooftop to fly kites! That is Ahmedabad’s favourite hobbie. There is a festival the 14th of January every year which I have been invited to and I am dying to see. Anyways, I have to say I am awful at flying kites and I messed up with the first one and the second one lost in its first fight against another kite. Embarrassed as I felt, I left everybody else do their own a bit and enjoyed watching. Back to the shop, we got to play ludo and have a shisha! And time to pack and say goodbye, sadly.
I said goodbye with a heavy heart and with the hope to see them again. One of the nephews might make it to Europe, even Spain, after a few years of work for business. Salim is more than welcome to my house, as nothing would please me more than return the hospitality that I have received. And in general, all of them that made of my experience in Ahmedabad such an amazing experience, are welcome in my house wherever that is. But I truly feel like coming back soon and get to see them again, they have given me so much in just two days…It might seem crazy, but when you experience it, you understand it. I can only hope to keep in touch and wish them the best in their lives until I get to see them.
One more train to take, this time Mumbai is the destination!