“Kem chho!” was the first Gujarati phrase I learnt. Just one year in, and how my vocabulary has grown!
The day I left Nasik, I did not realise that a completely new phase of my life was about to begin. Ahmedabad, the bustling city in Gujarat, captivated me with its strange blend of rich heritage, history, and modernity. The transition brought new experiences, from exploring historical landmarks to savouring delectable Gujarati cuisine. The exhilarating experience of playing garba the whole night for nine ratris or nights during Navratri threw open the liveliness of the city and its people. It was dizzying to watch native Gujaratis dance tirelessly for hours! During Uttarayan, the sky was filled with kites of all shapes, sizes and hues. The sound of cheers and laughter created an unforgettable, electrifying atmosphere. The city’s food, especially the street food culture, was most comforting. With mouth-watering Jalebi-Fafda, Dhokla, Thepla and Undhiyu, I found my go-to food in the ‘frankie’ near the University.
The transition from Nasik to Ahmedabad was made simpler with the help of the ‘Circle of Care’. It helped me make new and like-minded friends with whom I explored the nooks and crannies of the city, from visiting Manek Chowk at 2 in the morning to going bowling. The comforting environment of the university campus made this change exciting and transformative.
Living outside your hometown has its flipside, and there are times I sorely miss the authentic spicy food of Nasik, the taste of spicy lip-smacking Misal Pav and Vada Pav, and it has been hard, almost impossible, to find that taste in Ahmedabad. Plus, this year, I missed Ganesh Chaturthi; not being able to celebrate this year’s Visarjan with dhol-tasha and dance made me homesick. However, I’ve learnt – to immerse myself in a new culture, a new world making me its own.
My hostel is right across the Sabarmati riverfront. Over time, cycling every morning at the riverfront, I have realised that starting my day witnessing the gorgeous sunrise has become a part of my routine that I won’t be able to shake off.