Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I was there today in one of the most congested regions of the city

Ahmedabad , Gujarat                   Jan 29/30 , 2012                                     Sun/Mon 12 : 20 AM

Uttarayan the festival of kite flying in this region, when the masses get up on their roofs, sing eat dance, play music, scream at every kite that takes off and that gets ‘cut’, by the competitor in the sky.
I was there today in one of the most congested regions of the city to get the right atmosphere for the shot and it was as you can see a bit overwhelming. But flying the kite was such a nostalgic feel. Perhaps after 60 years, during my time in my city of birth, Allahabad, that I was indulging again .. and cut my fingers too with the ‘manjha’, the crushed glass swiped thin thread that propels the kite into the air. The ‘saddi’ is the soft plainer thread that is used to tie up the kite and then fly it. But when competition starts from the other roofs, the idea is a competition of how to get rid of the other persons kite, but cutting off its flying thread. And this is done by tying to the ‘saddi’ a large length of ‘manjha’, which remains in the upper portion of the kite, so that when it encounters another kite soldier in its vicinity in the same sky they battle to cut it off – cut the tread that controls and flies the kite. Its a victory of course in the air and there is much jubilation from the roof you are at and from your team, when a few competitive kites are ‘cut’. In Allahabad or in UP, where the language is different, we used to shout – ” woh kaata !!”, ‘there we’ve cut it’ …
But really the most enthralling moment was driving back from the site … the mass of people, struggling pushing fighting the security, and their happy faces and shouts of ecstasy were just so much to be thankful for. It is difficult to control ones emotion at moments like this.
That done it was time for some philanthropy. The opening of  cancer hospital in the city, started by some US returned doctors, with the latest equipment and a motto that irrespective of he means of a patient, he or she would not be sent back because they did not have the funds to undergo treatment. All would be entertained and if they did not have the monetary support, the Hospital would consider them for free. Laudable gesture !!
Later, the Chief Minister Mr Narendra Modi dropped by at the Hotel where I was staying to meet up and to personally thank me for the work that had been done in the field of Tourism for the State. He also educated us during the course of his stay on the ‘banini bhais’ or the ‘banini  buffalo’. I do sincerely hope I have got the name right – ‘banini’ or ‘banni’ ? Not quite sure. But its details were fascinating. A unique form of buffalo who’s quality of milk never suffered with extreme changes in climate. The tested milk would be the same if the buffalo was in  -23 degrees temperature or at + 52 degrees. And this species is only found in Gujarat – or so I was informed !!
There is a move to cross breed the cow found in the Gir forest region with their counterparts in Argentina ! Thats a long way away !!
But most of the afternoon after all these formalities was spent in watching the Australian Open Tennis final between Nadal and Djokovic. And what a match that was. On to a 5 setter and not a scratch of evidence throughout the game as to who the possible winner or champion would be. So intense and rugged the game was. Went on to create a record in its timings – beyond 5 hours ! No other Grand Slam Final had been played so long before …
I really feel most concerned for the girl friends of these champions that sit along with their team in the stands, with a prayer and expectation on their faces all the time. They must loose some serious pounds during each of these competitions !!
Tomorrow another early call, another fascinating location, another long drive and another new habitat for the night .. we are the roaming minstrels of the modern age !!
Love to you and shubh ratri ..
Amitabh Bachchan 

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