Friday, August 19, 2005


the godavari ghats

i have always had a particular affection for the city with its clearly comprehensible structure, its vibrant godavari ghats and its newly developing areas with typical bungalows and apartment buildings at the fringes of the city. it must be because through my architectural career i have been part of two studies that concentrated on the city. the first was a nasa (national association of students of architecture) study that i was part of when i was in the 4th year of architecture at lsr. my first ‘urban’ study, as it was. we did not win the competition but i still insist it was the best study of the bunch that we saw at bhubaneshwar. the other was when i was a teacher for ninad’s class in the second year and we went to the city on a study trip. naturally, the throbbing activity of the godavari ghats ended up being the site for a highly controversial project. the stories that came out of that project are legendary.. sunil thavre’s ‘open to sky from the side’ story or the north signs on elevations that he actually tried to explain and justify to suneet who was towering above him in his threatening manner.

i love the godavari ghats. anything happens on them. though filthy and very disorganised, i love the fact that auto rickshaws as much as bullocks are brought there to be washed, people pray, people sit- and this time the river was full and flowing.. kids were frolicking in the water.. very exotic india and i fell for it all.. i am wary of rejuvenation that bureaucrats will carry out in the area in the bombay beautification mode, flower pots and lighting schemes. the cleansing of the chaos will probably destroy the madness that i love so much..

anyway, this time we had gone for a completely different reason. the entire family was to be entertained at yashwant mama and amods place on the road form nasik to sinnar where they have their rubber molding factory. over the past 12 years their family has hit the big time and made a lot of money, built a big house with 11 foot high ceilings and kota floors, with two cars, and it was about time that we all saw it. the pretext for the gathering was meghana’s ‘kelwan’- a meal that the family of a girl is supposed to give her before her marriage. as a result even the poor in-law to be ashish was dragged into the event where the men guzzle alcohol incessantly in the darkened outsides of the house while the women sit and talk in the lit interiors of the kitchen and the living rooms. this gender division is rare in my family but always seems to happen at these extended family reunions.

'license no 1' claims to be the first shop to have a license to sell alcohol in the country- 1857 the date

pramod and hemant mama admiring the quota for one night

three cars left with three people each on saturday morning- i bunked school for this. mom, dad and me in one, hemant mama, madhavi mami and aaji in the second and dharmu mama, nikhil and usha maushi in the third. the entourage met at ‘midway park’ somewhere on the highway for breakfast and then proceeded together to nasik. yashwant mama, asha mami and amod were very hospitable and generous- great meals and lots of alcohol. we were shown around the gorgeous house and important details of effort pointed out with great care.

nikhil and me shared a room the first night in a rest house overlooking the main road ‘shalom’ it was called. the next night we had to move as dharmu mama needed a room for himself and it was the 4 bachelors anand, ashish, nikhil and me, that ended up sharing later. this discrimination against the unmarried must be stopped!

the house

"the lovable belled vehicle"- translated from marathi collects garbage every morning from yashwant mama's house

the first evening was more alcohol and drunken revelry, will someone please explain to me this urge for intelligent smart men to become silly slobbering idiots by drinking oneself into a stupor every afternoon and every evening that men have? i don’t understand it- i guess i am just a boring superior shy snob. anyways, i was not the only one who got annoyed at all the nonsense.. the women as a whole seemed also pretty pissed off, especially the so called guest of honor- meghana.. who admitted to being a grouch at these events.

where sita was kidnapped..

outside the house where sita was kidnapped

religious books at the kalaram temple

the next day was even more sight seeing. in the morning a small group of us took off for the old town for the kalaram temple, the sita gupha and the ghats. i surprised myself by remembering the roads. nasik, by the way is supposed to be the place where ram spent his years in vanvaas. sita gupha is where ravana came and kidnapped her. the place where she was supposedly lifted from is not a little house in a vada style with strange plaster of paris depictions of the event. directly opposite is this weird temple in a cave. you enter through a building that looks like a residential building and enter the shrine through a tiny tunnel leading you downwards. inside a three claustrophobic chambers connected by narrow doorways and staircases, the first with ram, sita and laxman, the second with a tortoise and the third with a shiv ling. the kalaram temple is a mammoth hunk of black stone with hardly any decorative work.

the ketkar women (and the variants) at the sinnar factory

the shop floor..

after we got back to the hotel and had a meal of dosas we headed for the planned excursion to sinnar to admire the factory of rubber, which was very impressive. what was more though was the ‘gargoti’ museum. some dude has decided to make a museum in the nowhereness of the sinnar midc estates dedicated to natural minerals, especially those found in the maharashtra region. amethyst, gold, silver, quartz, etc. exquisite colors and forms, amazing structure. bought me a bunch of stones- could not help but fall for the hype.

the kitschy statue in the atrium of the museum.. the world is mapped on the roof

stone.. minerals..

puran polis and whiskey for lunch.. so we left immediately after – 5 of us and drove though the old town again before ending up at a movie theater, a marathified fame with sabudana wada instead of chicken sandwiches. ‘mangal pandey- the rising’ is a crime. it is so awful that it deserves a separate post.
the guests of honour.. madhavi mami, meghana, ashish, hemant mama, anand

mom as the madam of ceremonies

the spoken word skit- with aaji leaning to listen

back at the party place, amods house the real event had begun, naturally with some more whiskey and vodka. women of the family put on a great show. the spoken skit that sunila maushi, viju maushi and maushi put on was a blast and then, as usual, everyone performed, except the kids who sat on the side and watched. i did a bit of dancing with amod, and was pretty much aghast at his bawdiness.

the khardi house

on the way back, the entourage stopped off at hemant mama’s khardi plot where a small shack has been built. the site is spectacular in the rains, green with a stream flowing through. naturally, i got allergic to something in the air and with eyes water and sneezing left for mumbai as soon as the booze got out of the cars.

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