After a few days in Udaipur we parted ways with Mark and Allison, who caught a flight to Mumbai and then out of India. We stuck around for a while and then boarded a train for Ahmedabad. It’s a very large city, pretty far off the tourist trail, with a high percentage of Muslim residents that lends it a different feeling compared to most other places we’ve been in India. We only spent a couple days here, but enjoyed spending time in a place where tourism doesn’t feel like a major factor. The food was great, the wandering interesting, and we especially liked our visit to Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram.
Our train arrived in Ahmedabad at about 4am, so we knew finding a hotel was going to be a bit of an issue. Our auto-rickshaw driver made it even more challenging when he proved to be determined to try and “help” us find a hotel so he could get a commission for taking us there; a commission that we would pay in the form of higher room rates. We asked him to drop us off at a theater as a neutral starting point, and had to repeatedly yell at him to not take us to the hotel he had in mind. Then when we got out the driver parked and tried to follow us on foot to whatever hotel we’d end up finding. He was persistent, even sticking around outside when we sat in a restaurant for an hour to kill time. In the end I had to really confront the guy to get him to leave us alone. That kind of thing happens all the time in India though, and by now we were used to it. Eventually we found an open hotel with a reasonably priced room (after waking up four guys sleeping in another hotel’s lobby, and then leaving them pretty irritated when the room was too expensive and we walked out) and had ourselves a nice nap.
Walking around the city was fun and exhausting. It was hot and very busy with tons of traffic and people walking
everywhere, and there were lots of interesting shops and restaurants to check out. We ate some good street food from some of the many carts around town, and found an Afghani restaurant that had curries and paneer so delicious that we went back twice. The portions were big and we wrapped up our leftovers and gave them to a man begging on the street; his extreme gratitude was humbling. So many experiences in India make us realize how lucky we are to be from a place and situation where we can save up enough money in several months to be so wealthy compared to so many people here. Even in they don’t realize it, Americans and folks from other first world nations are incredibly privileged. Later that evening we went to a night market where there were lots of neat textiles and clothing for sale, and we ate some more great street food. We also enjoyed some kulfi, one of our favorite Indian desserts. It’s a frozen milk treat similar to ice cream, but denser, and it comes in flavors like pistachio and cardamom that are not often seen in the US.
The highlight of our stay in Ahmedabad was Sabarmati Ashram, which was founded by Gandhi in 1917. Many of the tourists who come to Ahmedabad are drawn almost solely by this place, where Gandhi lived for many years and worked towards Indian independence. Now the place is a museum commemorating this amazing man, and it was a powerful experience to see exhibits and artifacts from his life.