Going vegetarian in Gujarat

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Travellers visiting Gujarat should be aware that the majority of food served in the state is vegetarian. In bigger places like Ahmedabad and Baroda, finding non-vegetarian food is less of a problem than in smaller places. If you visit Bhavnagar, the Nilambagh Palace Hotel serves very good food – both veg and non-veg. Many people hanker after Gujarati thalis, but I am not one of these people. Those who are not on the Gujarati meals can easily find well-prepared south Indian vegetarian food like dosas, idli, and vada. Pizzas are also widely available, often with excellent tomato sauce made with fresh tomatos. 

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Gujarati thali

Another thing to consider when planning your trip to Gujarat is that it is a dry state: alcohol is not served in any public places. It is possible to get a permit (I have no idea how) to be allowed alcohol ‘for medical purposes’ (!)  Gujaratis and others desperate for booze can cross the border into either Daman or Diu, both of which were Portuguese colonies until 1961. Now they are administered not by the State of Gujarat, but by the Central Government of India – they are Union Territories. Alcohol is freely available at almost duty-free places in these tiny places, both of which are well-worth visiting.

 

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A mug of chhas

If you are thirsty, there are plenty of soft drinks available including the refreshing watered down yoghurt drink chhas (also known as ‘buttermilk’). Tea is the prevalent hot drink. We found it hard to get decent coffee, let alone any coffee. Most Gujaratis in Kutch and Saurashtra seem to be keen tea drinkers.

 

Discover more about journeying through Gujarat in Adam Yamey’s new book:

GUJ LULU PIC
Paperback available from lulu.com, Amazon, bookepository.com, Kindle, or order it from your bookshop [ISBN: 978-0244407988]

The author and his book…

ADAM GUJU BOOK

“Travels through Gujarat, Daman, and Diu” by Adam Yamey is a personal introduction to a part of western India far less well-known than its neighbour Rajasthan.

First, a bit about the author:

Adam Yamey is the author of several books, including: Albania on my Mind, From Albania to Sicily, Exodus to Africa, Rediscovering Albania, Aliwal, City on the Hooghly, Buried in Bangalore, Bangalore Revealed, and A Boer in Bangalore.

Born in 1952 in London, son of South African parents, he attended Highgate School, and then University College London. After a doctorate in mammalian physiology, he became an undergraduate once more and qualified as a dental surgeon. After 35 years in general dental practice in Kent and London, he retired in September 2017.

Amongst his many achievements, he has been Chairman of both the Maidstone Recorded Music Club and the Medway Association of Dentists. In August 2008, he gave an Independence Day speech to pupils of a school in northern Kerala. Some years later, he gave a presentation at the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bangalore. More recently, he has been editing the newsletter of the Anglo-Albanian Association.

Adam married Lopa, from India, in 1994, and, since then, has been visiting her native land very frequently. India has become his second home. He is a keen traveller. The periods between his journeys are usefully and enjoyably employed with: family, cooking, writing, editing a newsletter, theatre, and exploring the many delights that London has to offer.

 

Here is the list of the contents of this profusely illustrated travel book:

The Firozpur Janta Express (‘p.’ = page. 7)

DAMAN: (p. 11) A Portuguese fort; Cutting chai; In jail

BOMBAY: (p. 28) A shortage of vultures

KUTCH MANDVI: (p. 31) Kutchi beer; Highgate in the heat; Marriage in Mandvi; Dhows

BHUJ: (p. 51) Palace of mirrors; The dairyman; Leaving Kutch

RAJKOT: (p. 65) Gandhi lived here; A famous pupil; Reserved for ladies

GONDAL and VIRPUR: (p. 80) The Buddhist caves

JUNAGADH: (p. 88) A lively bazaar; Fantastic tombs; The citadel; The Nawab’s dogs

PORBANDAR: (p. 108) City by the sea; Gandhi’s birthplace; Something fishy; A floating stone; Another bus

SOMNATH: (p. 136) The Queen’s temple; Krishna stood here

DIU: (p. 150) A border crossing; Portuguese traces; The Governor’s grandson; Towers of silence; Four bangles; A Governor’s insanity; Laxmi Park; The fire temple

BHAVNAGAR: (p. 193) A silver bracelet; A royal encounter; Constructing a cobra; Graveyard for ships

Leaving Saurashtra (p. 219)

BARODA: (p. 222) A market; Floors of glass; A deserted city; A voice from the depths; A military base

AHMEDABAD: (p. 257) Tree of Life; Lunch in a graveyard; Before the Taj Mahal; Books under a bridge; Gandhi and Le Corbusier; The heat of the day; Music at sunset

Epilogue (p. 297)

Glossary  (p. 299)

Potted history of Gujarat (p. 304)

Books consulted (p. 306)

Acknowledgements (p. 308)

Index (p. 310)

The book is available from on-line stores such as:

Amazon, bookdepository.com, & lulu.com

There is also a Kindle version called:

“Travelling through Gujarat, Daman, and Diu”

On the bus in Gujarat

Hop on a bus and travel through Gujarat: see the country and enjoy the people

More excerpts from “Travels through Gujarat, Daman, and DIU“, a travelogue by Adam Yamey, available HERE IN PAPERBACK and HERE ON KINDLE

 

BUS 0
Narendra Modi on the bus

During our eight weeks of travelling through Gujarat, Daman, and Diu, we made much use of public transport. We used mainly buses. As in other parts of India, some buses are run by private companies, and other by the local state, in our case Gujarat, which operates under the name ‘Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation’ (‘GSRTC’). At the outset, we made the assumption that privately-run buses are bound to be better than those run by the state. It was only near the end of our travels that we discovered that we had made an erroneous assumption.

 

BUS 1 Daman
Local bus in Daman

Here are some extracts about buses in Gujarat from my book “Travels through Gujarat, Daman, and Diu”:

On a private bus between Junagadh and Porbandar:

BUS 4 to Porb

Our vehicle stopped frequently. Whenever the conductor saw someone standing by the side of the road, he leaned out of the open passenger door, shouting our destination repeatedly: “Porbandar! Porbandar! Porb…” More and more people boarded our small bus. All the seats became occupied as did the space at the front of the vehicle around the driver. As the bus picked up even more people, even the standing room became used up. People were jammed against each other and their arms and baggage invaded the seated passengers’ space. A lady began resting her bag on Lopa’s head. When she objected, the woman said: “Where else can I put it?” Another person almost sat on Lopa’s lap.

There was hardly any room for the conductor. He spent most of the journey leaning out of the passenger door. When Lopa asked him whether this was dangerous, he responded cheerfully that it was part of his job. After about an hour, when the bus was already incredibly crowded we stopped in a village where a large group of people were waiting for our arrival. The bus driver told the conductor that there was no room for any more people. The conductor ignored him and squeezed many new passengers on board.

BUS 2 Daman

Our fellow passengers were a varied crowd. They included men with curling handle-bar moustaches wearing turbans and loose-fitting white kurtas with baggy trousers. Their clothes were often stained probably because they were worn whilst doing work on the land. At many rural stops, women wearing colourful garb boarded. Many of them were tattooed on whatever parts of their bodies that could be seen and probably also on parts that were not visible in public…

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Diu bus station

On a GSRTC bus between Diu and Bhavnagar:

We boarded a bus belonging to the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (‘GSRTC’). This and other buses belonging to the state-run bus company are superior to any of the private busses we had travelled on. The GSRTC vehicles: are cleaner and more comfortable than the private ones; only stop at bus stands with good facilities; do not tout for business at random wayside stops; and do not admit more passengers than there are seats to accommodate them. We wished that we had not assumed, wrongly, that privately-run buses would be better than those run by the state.

BUS 7 Bhavnagar
Bhavnagar bus station

On a GSRTC bus to Ahmedabad:

We boarded the newest and most comfortable bus of our trip at Baroda bus stand. Part of the GSRTC fleet, it was a Volvo vehicle. These buses are held in high regard by Indians. As far as buses in India are concerned, they are regarded as Maharajahs amongst the myriad of road transport vehicles. The coach driver asked Lopa her relationship to me. She replied that I am her husband. The driver shrugged his shoulder and replied in Gujarati: ‘It happens’.

BUS 5 Veraval

Whether the bus is privately, or state operated, a ‘back-seat driver’ like me cannot avoid being aware of the adventurous driving  of the bus drivers:

BUS 8 Pavagadh

Our driver sped along the good roads leading towards the eastern edge of Saurashtra. He overtook frequently and usually hazardously. Often, he had his head turned towards the conductor sitting left of him, chatting with him, rather than looking ahead along the road in front of him. He also made frequent ‘phone calls to people with whom he was doing business, buying and selling vehicles.

 

BUS 9 Volvo
A GSRTC VOLVO bus

Mixed couple mix-ups

These excerpts from my recently published book describe how surprised people, especially in Kutch and Saurashtra, were to discover that a Gujarati had married a European. The reactions described below have never happened to us anywhere else in India.

MIX 2

“By the end of our third day out of Bombay, our third in Daman and nearby parts of Gujarat, we had become aware of the attention we, as a couple, were attracting. On many occasions, both in Daman and later in Gujarat, Lopa was asked whether she was my tour guide. When she replied that she is my wife, this was met with both surprise and disbelief. It seemed that the locals were not ‘phased’ by the idea of an Indian woman acting as a tourist guide for an unrelated European man, but the idea that we were married was beyond their comprehension …”

And some days later in Bhuj (Kutch):

“After eating toasted vegetarian sandwiches in a tiny café in an alley near a small dargah, we boarded the bus bound for EKTA supermarket near to our hotel. The bus route ends at the Government Engineering College. Lopa and I were chatting, when a young man, an engineering student, turned around and asked Lopa abruptly in English: “Are you Indian?” She replied: “What do you think?” To which the student said: “But, you are speaking English.” Lopa pointed out that English is one of India’s national languages; it appears on every Indian banknote. Then, the youth pointed at me, and asked aggressively: “And, this person?” Lopa said that I am her husband. To which the boy asked incredulously: “You are married to him?” When Lopa confirmed this, his jaw dropped, and his eyes seemed to pop out of his head in surprise and disbelief. This extraordinary behaviour was not an isolated incident. Wherever we went in Kutch and in the rest of western Gujarat, we encountered people who were unable to conceive of anyone of Gujarati background marrying someone not of that background, and certainly not a European.”

 

Join Adam and his wife on their interesting travels through Gujarat, Daman and Diu.

Click HERE (lulu.com) or HERE (Bookdepository.com) for PAPERBACK

Click HERE to download Kindle version

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:

PAPERBACK   BUY A COPY                                  

KINDLE           DOWNLOAD HERE

Why Gujarat?

AHMed 4

In Ahmedabad

Before and after our 8 week journey through Gujarat, Daman, and Diu, many people asked us why we chose to visit the region.

Ahmed

In Ahmedabad

Here is my answer.

Compared with other places in India (for example: Agra, Rajasthan, Kerala, Kashmir, the Himalayas, and Goa), Gujarat is relatively unvisited by Indian and foreign tourists. We saw no more than about twelve foreigners during our eight weeks in Gujarat and its two former Portuguese enclaves. Most of those whom we saw were in Diu. As I enjoy exploring places less-visited, Gujarat appealed to me.

Ahmed 3

In Ahmedabad

Another reason for visiting Gujarat is my wife’s heritage. Her father’s family originated in Gujarat, and her mother’s in formerly independent Kutch, now a part of the State of Gujarat. Lopa and I had never visited either of these places.

Ahmed 2

In Ahmedabad

Yet another reason for our trip was to see the two former colonies of Portugal: Daman and Diu. India is dotted around with territories that remained in foreign hands long after Independence in 1947. We had already been to Pondicherry and Mahé, both formerly French Colonies, and Goa, which was capital of Portugal’s Indian Ocean empire. Each of these places retain a colonial European charm of their own despite having been part of India for several decades. We wanted to discover what is left of the Portuguese influence in Daman and Diu, and we were not disappointed.

AHMED 5

In Ahmedabad

Would I recommend others to visit Gujarat, Daman, and Diu?

My answer is an unqualified YES!

The region is rich in  historic sights and history, handiwork, folk traditions. There are unspoilt beaches. The people are friendly and welcoming. Places are well-connected by public transport and accomodation is good. What more could you want?

Find out more by reading my book!

GUJ KIND COVER

Available on KINDLE, click H E R E

GUJ LULU PIC

To get the paperback, click H E R E

Get into Gujarat

GUJ KIND COVER

An exciting new account of travelling in today’s Gujarat is now available on Kindle:

To download a copy, click:

HERE

Almost wherever you live, you are bound to have met members of the Gujarati diaspora. Yet, Gujarat in western India, where they originated, is hardly known or visited by foreign and Indian tourists.

Adam Yamey’s richly illustrated book describes his travels through Gujarat and two former Portuguese colonies, Daman, and Diu, with his wife. Her knowledge of Gujarati allowed the travellers to speak with locals and gain their insightful views about Gujarat’s past, present, and future.

Join Adam and his wife in their adventures through the land where Mahatma Gandhi was born and educated. Meet the people and discover places whose beauty rivals the better-known sights of India.

chakkk

Junagadh

PS: A paperback version will be available soon

The overloaded cab

Excerpt from “Travels through Gujarat, Daman, and Diu“, soon to be published  in paperback by Adam Yamey, NOW available as a Kindle with the title “TRAVELLING THROUGH GUJARAT, DAMAN, & DIU” ( buy your copy:  here!)

DAM 1

Water gate in Moti Daman

A kind man driving a three-wheeler van gave us a lift from the tea stall to the gate where we had begun our walk in Moti Daman. Speaking in Gujarati, in which my wife is fluent, he told us to wait for an auto where he dropped us. The sun was setting, and there was not much traffic. Eventually, an auto already carrying four large passengers stopped to pick us up. Two of the passengers moved to the front of the vehicle and squatted hazardously on either side of the driver, and we squeezed onto the narrow passenger seat next to the other two people. After a short distance, we stopped. The two men squatting beside the driver disembarked and walked ahead of us. We drove on, weaving our way around the barriers of a police check post, and then stopping again when we had passed out of sight of it. The two men, who had disembarked, retrieved their positions beside the driver, and we continued across the river to Nani Daman. The driver explained that the two men had had to walk ahead of us past the check point in order that the auto would not be stopped by the police because of being overloaded.

We disembarked at the bus stand and paid a small fare. We saw many taxis parked there. Painted yellow and black, they were old Ambassador vehicles, just like the taxis used to be in Bombay many years ago …

DAM 2

Ambassador taxis in Nani Daman