Sunday, November 9, 2008

Down the memory lane -- My visit to Ahmedabad

I happened to visit and stay in “Apnu Amdavad” almost for about a week. Thought to pen-down (rather key-in) my experience and observation with some apt subject line.
During Dasara vacations, I toured with my family, Udaipur and Mt Abu before reaching Ahmedabad.Exactly 10 years back (mid Oct 97) I bid adieu to Ahmedabad, in search of greener pastures(?!). Lot of water might have flown along Sabaramati (!!) during this period and I was expecting some changes in Ahmedabad and was ready for many surprises.
The first observation, which had not changed, was getting an auto-rickshaw. At 9:30pm from Paldi to Vastrapur, I could easily get an auto and that too without demanding any extra fare (It was just Rs 27/-). Unheard of in Bangalore. Three main changes I noted immediately were – wide roads, CNG run autos (and buses) reducing pollution, flowing water in Sabaramati river (even in the month of October).Most of the roads in Western Ahemdabad have been spruced-up drastically. Leave alone the likes of Satellite road and Vastraupur main road, even Ramdev Nagar main road connecting Sangam Apartment looks quite wide and neat and path-hole free. (Did not find any pond at the mid of road, which were forcing us to walk or drive our scooter on edge of the road. ) All roads have good markings and sign boards both in Gujarathi and English. With less cars on the road, the traffic seems to be very comfortable, especially one haling from Bangalore.Was put up at Vastrapur at my wife’s cousin’s house, had an itinerary to visit DriveIn, SAC, Akshardham, old Ahmedabad Area, Law Garden, CG Road, Sangam, a few friends, Garbha etc. etc. Quite a hectic plan with about 5 days stay.
I could enter SAC with prior appointment (C P Sharma was the officer I was to meet officially) on the pretext of a technical discussion, after some formalities. The main gate itself has been shifted a bit inside and we have to pass through second gate to enter SAC area. The second gate is manned and employees have to swipe for each entry and exit. All the vehicles (including staff vehicle) were parked within the area between these two gates. There was a café in that area open all along and even for outsiders. The security, I was told, very tight, but there was no frisking or checking through metal detector etc., which is common in some offices in Bangalore. To me it looked still laxed, almost as it was earlier. Quite a few new buildings have come up; lot of new divisions, groups, areas etc. Naturally many familiar names/faces are group-heads or division heads (R K Dave and Samudraih are GDs);friends have become Project Managers etc. Like IT folks, many seems to be visiting abroad – from French Guyana to Moscow ; Israel to Iran. With all the surfacial changes, the undercurrent seemed to be same – warm and casual. People were discussing about 6th pay commission, HRA Changes, CDR, DDR, MRB,…..,still using multiple node locked licenses of expensive tool suites…low salary Vs productivity discussion, ….After meeting many in (old) SED, I was back at SAC gate at around 5:30pm, lots of familiar faces rushing past me in scooter or cars (from PFF, RSAG, IPDPG, …..). Never had “I know this person ..” kind of experience more than 100 times in a span of about 10 minutes. Would have been one of them had I stayed there !?.
The unbeatable Drive-In is exactly same as what it was, eventhough the drive-in road has changed a lot. The ticket rate been increased to 30, which is quite less than what I pay at Multiplexes in Bangalore. My kids especially, enjoyed the show or the environment (not the movie), where they can move around freely while watching movie or even lie-down on bench/lawn. Since Navratri was on, the crowd was relatively thin. After having “snake” during interval we left the venue at around 10 pm, watching the movie for about 2 hours. The road beyond Drive In, towards Sarkhej-Gandhinagar road (now called SG Road) is completely packed with shopping malls, apartments etc. No more looks like out-skirt of the city.
One spot which has astonishing changes is Satellite road – Highway crossing. Remember, we used to go for a night walk to get a cool breeze till highway? Now that area seems to be most posh and happening place in the city. Shopping malls and Cineplexes are dotted along, seems whole of CG road shifted here. Vikram Nagar has come well within the city and in this posh area. Lifestyle, BigBazar, Crossword, Reliance Mart have all crowded the spot. May be, as a consequence, Ramdev Nagar ‘char rasta’ is very clean and all shops have been pushed sideway. I missed the cows which were acting as traffic controller and failed to locate them even anyway near by.
Vikram Nagar has become quite clean, vast and lively. Went to Nathu’s place at Vikram Nagar for dinner and also had short visit to Anna (Govinda Raju, who was playing with his one year old son!!) and Bhalerao. Seems whole Vikram Nagar is one big family; Nathu’s daughter was freely moving around in neighbouring houses (including Anna’s house); Sharmaji was pointing out
among many playing children --- Asha ben’s (Asha Sharma) kid, Pradeep’s daughter, Ravi’s son etc etc. (Amzing, considering cellular city where we live in). Comfortable and contended life ? Attaching photos taken from Nathu’s balcony (located on 7th floor) – new part of Vikram Nagar (my daughter and Nathu’s daughter posing as models). Ramdev Nagar – Bopal road is also wide and occupied.With good road conditions and new d
evelopment at around SAC, Bopal area seems to have become very good residential area. New ring round is touching Bopal and old societies like Param dham, Kalindi etc are stone throw away from there. Again, big shopping area developed all long that area. I stayed with Sharma for two nights as last leg of my tour. Sharmaji has an enviable bungalow in a nice colony near Bopal, with many SACians as neighbours. His villa has 4 bed rooms with large front side lawn, place for parking atleast three cars, wide road within society… Attaching one of photo capturing the grandeur. Paul, Mala Bhavsar Verma, Nitant Dubey, Pankaj Srivastav.. were some of the ISRO faces I could remember who stay around in that colony.

Undoubtedly Garbha was the ultimate item of this visit. The same enthu, sound, color, smell crowd, dress, beauty, beat and the magic. Felt for regretting moving out of Ahmedabad. The whole city was looking like dancing the tune and beat of Garba song ..”Sarasateene……..”. Guess you cannot find such a stage and fun anywhere in the world. Also visited Akshardham, Gandhi Ashram, Ratan Pole and Teen Darwaza area, Vishala etc.

With heavy heart, left Ahmedabad on 21st Oct morning enroute to Mumbai with lots of “Ifs, buts, could have been, should have been,…….”.

Wish you happy Deepavali.

November 2007