Sunday, July 13, 2008
An old on Rajkot
Rajkot (2nd June ’08)
Small towns usually stir up mixed feelings in me. There’s always excitement and curiosity about what the place will be like, and often a small fear of a boring, dry turnout. It wasn’t any different this time, when my client asked me to make a trip to Rajkot on work. If anything, I was a bit more anxious after my eventful and rather depressing trip to Nagpur 4 days back.
After scrambling for 2 flights in a row including a mad highway rush with a cabbie who insisted on staying within 50 (and annoying the shit out of me….. aha, Business class made sure I got on the plane 7 minutes before it was scheduled to leave) and a sprint from KF arrival in Bombay to Jet departure, I finally landed in Rajkot.
So far, I love it.
My travel gyaan: A trip is a trip when there are observations. A short trip is a good trip if it allows you to tap in to the city in the little time you spend there. The excitement of being in a new place is just peripheral.
And that’s exactly what I find here. I’ve been here 4 hours, 2 of which I spent walking around (and another 2…working). It’s small, friendly, and makes me feel like I’ve been here before. I haven’t though.
I was welcomed by a cabbie, who made me wait 15 minutes, so he could fit in 3 more people from the airport heading towards the same hotel. When I finally got to the cab, 4 fat men decided there was no room for me, so left me waiting for the 2nd cab. This was roomier.
I reached the hotel, and immediately decided I needed to go to a chemist store (not taking any chances since I have 3 hours on the road tomorrow). On quick glance, as I walked down to the chemist, there was a gym called powerhorse (I’ve seen power house before), with a group of young men standing outside, who didn’t miss a chance to whistle at the only girl in their vicinity. I feel the office wear factor played a role in that. A couple of kids playing marbles decided to stop and point towards me saying ‘wo dekh’. The background dotted with the sound of scooter horns and Hindi movie songs a few years old. The chemist started to speak in Gujrati, but quickly switched to Hindi as he realized I didn’t belong here.
When I got back to the hotel, there were about 8 people ahead of me. One of them, a short old man, probably a seasoned businessman here for some regular trade of his, gave me his place, with a welcoming smile. As I got my room key, he walked up to me with an acknowledging expression, and said “Kaam pe aye ho.....Achcha hotel hai”. He had clearly been here before, but realized I hadn’t. And realizing I was the only girl there, alone, decided to re-assure me I was in a safe place.
My room is small, cozy, and very functional. I don’t have a bath robe, and the room service menu is all vegetarian (the corn cheese chilly toast reminded me so much of business school days). Having separate switches for each lamp (as opposed to the highly convenient single switch in most luxe hotels), twin beds, broadband that needs to be re-connected after every 15 minutes, all such things, the absence of which would probably make you forget you’re in a small town.
Before I speak to soon about this place, I’ll shut down, since I do have 6 more hours to check this place out tomorrow. You never know what could change, 6 times over, in 6 hours. So more tomorrow.