Ahmedabad, as Indian cities go, is not that old. The oldest part of the city dates to the 15th century and consists of pols, walled neighborhoods comprised of the households of different professions organized around courtyards and a maze of passageways. Most doorways lead to individual homes but some lead to doors that connect to the adjacent. Since most buildings are 3 stories high, it was impossible for me to get oriented. After walking through 4 different pols we came to a stairway that opened onto a vast (at least 2 baseball diamonds) open air mosque in complete contrast to the surrounding warren if passages. I'll post pictures later -- they take forever to load.
A couple of women in our group have been to India numerous times. One has told me that even she's finding Ahmedabad challenging -- the smells, the pollution, the crowding. She tells me that the villages and towns are easier. I am having a hard time with India. Seeing families living on the sidewalk, babies playing naked in the city gutters, hearing dogs howling after being struck by scooters, stepping over piles of garbage and all manner of fresh shit. There is clearly more to India than the life you see on city streets but it's not so easy to see. And, to be fair, the people I see do not appear to be abject or miserable. I am bringing my own biases about fairness into the equation and it does not help the India experience.
Gandhi spent 15 years in Ahmedabad, founding his ashram on the shore of the river and developing his philosophy of passive resistance and non violence. His home has been preserved and an incredibly moving museum has been erected. In light of the proliferating brutality in the world, I found reading his words very emotional -- how much was gained through his actions and teachings and how much has been lost.
This beautiful hotel is a converted mansion. It is exquisite. Some of the rooms are connected to one another by beautiful wooden doorways that, while are now bolted shut, allow free flow of sound. Given how much street noise and incessant honking there is, it's not much of an issue. However in the wee hours when the traffic recedes and there's a break in the call to prayer from the mosque across the street, neighborly noises are noticeable. Maybe even a little reassuring. So here I am trying to get back to sleep when my neighbor farts. Not just a friendly little toot but a full on howitzer blast that was repeated in several different octaves with incredible volume. Believe me, I come from a gassy family and we would need megaphones (no, microphones!) to compete. Honestly, though, I have to admit some envy -- my neighbor must've felt terrific afterwards.
Trust me to always work in a fart story.