Flying into Kutch

Kandla

 

A quick way to get from Bombay to Kutch is by flying. There are two airports in Kutch where passenger ‘planes can land: Bhuj and Kandla.

We took the one flight a day from Bombay to Kandla on the  coast of Kutch. As the ‘plane descends towards Kandla, it flies over a vast area of marshy coastal inlets that surround the seaport. When we landed, we walked down the ladder onto the tarmac, I noticed that the propellor ‘plane was surrounded by soldiers armed with machine guns. The reason for this is probably that Kandla airport is primarily a military aerodrome. Ada, also, Kandla is just over 200 kilometres from India’s border with Pakistan.

We walked towards the small terminal building followed by our baggage that was carried in small wagons joined together like a train and pulled by a little tractor. At the terminal, we had to help ourselves to our baggage before being hurried into the carpark outside the airfield. It was clear that passengers are not particularly welcome at this militarily sensitive area.

Buzzing around Baroda

The best way to get around Baroda (now ‘Vadodara’) is by three wheeler autorickshaw (‘auto’). There are plenty of these nifty little vehicles for hire and although their drivers hardly ever use the meters, the fares are remarkably reasonable.

Unlike Bangalore, where the auto drivers are often argumentative and dodgy about fares, the drivers in Baroda are usually straightforward and friendly.

We have made a couple of long journeys in Baroda. As the auto drivers were uncertain about what to charge, they used their antiquated meters. These must have last been calibrated many years ago. According to such a meter, a journey of about 6 kilometres should cost 4 rupees and 20 paise. This is ridiculous because the shortest auto journey in Baroda costs 20 rupees today. The auto driver looks at his ancient meter and then, without looking at a conversion table, decides on a fee. We made the 4 rupee and 20 paise journey twice. Once, we were charged 100 rupees, and the other time 120. Both amounts are reasonable, and far less than you would pay in a Bangalore auto or a Bombay taxi.

I favour autos over cars for getting around cities in India. The former are far more manoeuvrable than the latter. This is vital in a city like Bangalore, where traffic is poorly managed. In Baroda, however, traffic flows brilliantly compared with Bombay or Bangalore.

Unless you have huge amounts of baggage, hop into auto in Baroda.

Bye, bye, Mumbai

Before setting out on our two months of travelling through Gujarat, Daman, and Diu, we spent a fortnight in busy Bombay. Here are a few of the many photographs that I took in this bustling, vibrant city – the ‘Manhattan’ of India. How many of these places can you identify?

bom 13

 

 

bom 14

 

 

bom 4

 

bom 2

 

bom 1

 

bom 3

 

bom 10

 

bom 8

 

We left Bombay for Gujarat by train, embarking at Mumbai Central Station:

 

bom 9

 

bom 11

 

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Memories of imperialism

In the former Portuguese colony of DAMAN,

daman

“…there is a public garden, the Pargola (sic) Gardens. It contains a semi-circular colonnade and a monument built like a pile of rocks. The monument has a carved stone plaque commemorating the Portuguese who died on the 2nd of February 1559, the day that their country finally captured Daman.  A plaque beneath this is to remember those Portuguese who died on the 22nd of July 1954 during their unsuccessful defence of Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

The late queen_800

It is a sign of Indian tolerance that a monument celebrating the deeds of invaders has been left intact. I have seen examples of this elsewhere in India. For example, Cubbon Park in Bangalore has two well-maintained British statues, one of Queen Victoria and the other of King Edward VII, and in Calcutta there is the Victoria Memorial. In contrast, when we visited the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum (formerly The Victoria and Albert Museum) in Bombay, we saw a macabre collection of mutilated statues of British ‘worthies’. These had been vandalised during Maharastrian nationalist riots.

bau daji

This is a short excerpt from a new book/Kindle by Adam Yamey:

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