I am a restless person, with a constant need for experiences, adventure and something ‘new’. I cannot even stand my 15 day exams and the same monotonous schedule of studying day and night.
I need a change.
My brother, being an architecture student travels in the old city and sketches the life there. So, I decided to accompany him and we decided to travel without any destination in our minds. We just decided to roam around and let the streets surprise us with their heritage and culture. We decided to explore the doshivada ni pol in the old city, inhabited by the goldsmith community. The main road is lined up with a lot of jewellery shops.
We took the BRTS to the municipal corporation stand, and then a shuttle, to the pol. During our short ride in the shuttle we observed the transition of Ahmedabad; the transition from the new city to the old. You can literally see the city getting more antique and raw as you move towards the internal parts of the old city. We wondered about the hundreds of stories that must have existed here.
The shuttle stopped and we found ourselves in one of the streets, and when we looked around we could see no one. The streets were empty, the buildings and havelis were interacting with the sun rays as it was early in the morning. We thought the pol won’t be clean enough, but they were surely cleaner than the ‘new’ city. The morning time is the best time to visit any place. You can observe the architecture, the activities, culture; listen to people talking around you all at the same time.
We chose to perceive whatever we were seeing through two more mediums other than our eyes. Those were, a camera and that of sketching whatever we saw. Most of the time musafir sketched and I photographed. We understood how much differently you can see that one thing through all these 3 views; eyes, camera and sketches.
While musafir was sketching the day to day activities, I was photographing the architecture of one beautifully carved wooden house. The silence made me more aware of my surroundings, I heard a person calling out ‘aap NID se ho? (are you from NID?) Strangers coming talking like this is uncommon for us; I replied with a smile, ‘No, I am still in 12th’. He guided me around and shared some of his stories. I got to know from him that it was a prestigious haveli of Hatisingh, which had been locked for many years. He made me see the carvings, pointed out the elephant on the top right. He was just so pure by heart, I could sense it. I thought he was a local guide, but soon got to know that he was just a resident, curious to know what I do and thus, helped me.
While Manasvi was busy with the new found kind stranger, I was lost in thoughts sketching the life of these people. What Manasvi experienced with the people, I felt and observed the same thing while sketching them. I saw how silently they lived their lives with each other. There were people in the streets but yet you do not feel them there. The shops opened late at 10:30. They were not running and competing for excellence like we people do here. They believed in helping, doing what they were doing rather than interfering much. Everybody had their roles assigned, from a person distributing water to passerby to a person feeding dogs, to a priest, or 3 friends sitting in the corner and keenly observing. All of them were important to make the culture of that place what it is, to make the old city alive, yet again.
Being one of them and then exploring the place gives you a homely feeling and introduces you to the real vibes. While sketching and sitting outside someone’s house, we were having our morning chai (tea). I insisted musafir on playing some music, he responded by asking me to hear the music around me. Then focusing on sounds around me I could hear the sweeping of the broom on the pavement, steel vessels being jingled, footsteps hear. I could hear my city; I smiled and silently danced to those. The chai never felt so refreshing, maybe because of the air and the vibe of that place.
Exploring further we found a haveli in the corner with an akhand diya lighted 140 years ago, we visited a beautifully carved jain temple, met beautiful people and roamed around into serene streets.
It was already 12 and we had no idea of how the time had passed in that beautiful place.
Walking back to the BRTS stand, we went to catch a glimpse of the magnificent Jama Masjid, I told musafir about the impact that monument will have on him. Entering and catching a glimpse of that piece of art I saw tears of amazement in his eyes. We did nothing there, other than just seeing the beauty a man’s hand can create.
We loved the old city not because of its historic importance or great architecture; we loved it because of the people that had made this city what it is. The life of the city here and there is completely different and I won’t hesitate in saying that the life over there is far more peaceful than what we live in.
नया करते चले और नई इमारत बनाते चले
पर ये भी तो ठीक नहीं की हर बुनियाद काटते चले।
नए लिबास पहनना और उतारना गलत नहीं
पर ये भी तो ठीक नहीं की पुराने किरदार भुलाते चले।
नए जझ्बात उगाना और उजाड़ना गलत नहीं
पर ये भी तो ठीक नहीं की जर्द से लम्हें उखाड़ते चलें।
खुद को बदलना या इक दफा तबाह करना गलत नहीं,
पर ये भी तो ठीक नहीं की अपना वजूद मिटाते चलें।
और जनाब ये भी तो ठीक नहीं अपना इतिहास ..
We wondered, was the modern change truly meant to ease our living?
post in collaboration with musafir (Dhrupad Mehta) instagram-musafir1998
~Manasvi Shah and Dhrupad Mehta