Junagadh , Gujarat Jan 23 , 2012 Mon 11 : 28 PM
I do not remember travelling through a State as extensively as the one I work on in such a limited time. Gujarat has been a revelation to me of culture and dress and food and custom and wondrous stories of the times when there was flourish and pageant and ceremony. It is there still and in perhaps a greater awareness, but just listening to the old stories of the region as you drive and fly past has been most rewarding.
Th early hours of the morning saw us packing all our belongings at Bhuj to drive to a location with the back waters and the birds that have migrated from the Northern Hemisphere, due to the extreme cold to milder weather here in the Rann of Kutch. There were all kinds of them, silently floating about in search of food in the gentle and still waters that line and fill up the otherwise arid terrain, on either side of the carriageway that winds its way along the countryside for miles. There is no vegetation, just the wild 'babool' shrubs with the infamous 'babool kanta' – the babool thorns. The cattle around does not eat it, nor is it of any use for the habitation. But there is talk of gently burning the shrubs to allow it to be scorched sufficiently in order that they can be used for coal burning. We asked and tried hard to find out how the burning of these shrubs could possibly produce coal ? But the villagers around would not relent and went about demonstrating how it was done and how this waste product had now become an earner for the poor villager. So be it.
The birds of various sizes and hues was a magnificent site to see, except we had forgotten to bring our binoculars, and so could not see much, and worse were unable to have a powerful enough lens to film them for camera stills. But some of the crew said they got some rather interesting shots of them before we arrived on the location and they would show it to us, but none did. Also there, it was back to wearing a helmet and on to a Royal Enfield Bullet bike, a bit ancient, but such a loved and popular piece of machinery ! That done we drove another few hours to a handicrafts village where the most exquisite designed clothing with the special embroidery work is accomplished by hand from very talented locals, excelling in their craft through generations and for the sale of it through various foreign buyers. Fascinating absolutely. And the dress and demeanor of their clothing very close to those one sees in adjoining Rajasthan State. That done, it was back to the car and the massive convoy that rides along, for another 2 hrs to the airport at Mundra and quickly out on to the waiting private jet to fly to Rajkot. So after about 5 hrs of driving since the morning and working on different locations it was back to the plane and on to the next city. Several hundred kilometers were flown over in just 20 mins and on arriving at the airport drove straight on for another 3 hrs to Junagadh.
We are all sore and exhausted, but the company has been lively and educative and interesting, so one never felt the time passing by. Also, thanks to the most generous publicity done by some of the very large and kind media presence, all the villages that we drove through had masses of people lining up on the side of the street, cheering us on which was such a rewarding gesture !
The tourism campaign has been a massive boon to the locals and what they were going to earn with great difficulty in an year, they were able to get that within a month, during the festival times and the general increase of the tourist population. Tourism has been a huge earner for any country or city or place of interest. With the economic situation in the West at not its best a great amount of attention is being paid to India, and one way of furthering it has been the efforts being made to bring in greater amount of tourists. American tourism has dropped from almost 16%, to a meagre 7%. Spain is trying to boost its economy through the path of enhanced tourism, and here in Gujarat thanks to this wonderful campaign, the percentage increase as I said earlier is bigger than in any other part of the country, and indeed greater than the National Campaign of 'Incredible India' …
Landing at Rajkot and driving through the streets to our next destination was nostalgic. I had come here ages ago for the shooting of my film 'Main Azaad Hoon' and had faced the ire and wrath of demonstrations against me, because of the false allegations on the Bofors matter. Students and elders and society in general waved black flags wherever I went, painting me out to be a traitor of the country, without any justification. I was asked to go back. But we stuck in with our work and after completing it did we return. Today life had changed. We fought the accusations against us in some of the major courts of the world, won and proved to those that had accused us that they were wrong and we were right. The real persons involved were named by the courts after intense judicial and intelligence procedures and efforts are on still to proceed against them legally. Today the airport is not as unwelcome as before. Today the media generously waits to capture the moment of my arrival. There is jubilation in the eyes of the public and garlands and flowers and gifts in place of the black flags. It took a while, but it proved that justice done was correct and faultless and all prevailing. I do not and never shall look upon it as a vindication, but instead look upon it as a portion of the learning process that life has to offer. Yes the public has a right to express their anger, but they equally are responsible for showing love on realizing that the facts were incorrect. It is wiser to appreciate this than to sit on procedure or ego or any pride that may well be the norm in such situations. I could go round turning the town red by rubbing in my innocence, but other than giving me a sore throat and colored hands, it would do nothing else. For me my happiness is that I am able to share this moment with you who are my Ef. I would hesitate to speak about it elsewhere. It does not appeal to me of being the right ethics. I would much rather gain the experience as a learning than beat a hollow drum about it.
In Rajkot too, Jaya and I have initiated a Blood Bank, which has grown to exceedingly worthwhile proportions and its success and progress reflects in its enhanced existence. The foundation stone for that was laid by me in this very city and today that complex and structure which started off as a small facility has become one of the leading blood banks of the country. I would much rather be proud of that, than of the vindicated victory. What worth will it bring to me to shout out the wrong of the other and my own right. Nothing. Best it would be to take that in as part of my destiny, part of my life's learning and move on to the next challenge. It may not always be fruitful. There could be a moment when things could go extremely wrong too, but at least one must make effort to face it and fight it rather than give in tamely. " I would rather be a plucky loser, if ever I were to lose, than to be one suffering from abject retired hurt, or an easy giving in "
In life nothing is permanent and nothing without struggle. If you are not prepared for it, or think otherwise, you could not be a bigger fool ..
My love always,