Famous in Gandhidham
Trip Start Unknown
10Trip End Ongoing
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
It’s a time where words would be more useful as I charade to the mechanic what the problem is to one that is greeted as a performance by a westerner acting crazy. Simulating the wobble with sound effects was of course amusing to the 15 strong audiences. After all of this it turns out the mechanic has gone to Bhuj 70kms away from where I had started the day. Not wanting to backtrack I venture to the next town 50kms away. Four mechanics, four charades, and four blank looks later I wobble out of the next town heading to Gandhidham.
I arrive in Gandhidham and when asking for an Enfield mechanic I get asked which one, it’s like buses. Hoping for the last time I give my well rehearsed charade of what happened followed by one word 'problem’. Again it is met with amusement but this time with a solution. The following morning I arrive at the mechanics for them to start work on my bike. I always overlook the work on my bike as it does mean they always do a good job but most of all its crucial information gathered for when I’m stuck in the middle of no-where and have no choice but to play the mechanic. My presence is of great entertainment to the mechanic and his young apprentice and likewise to the ever frequent visitors. As the day ticks on my bike becomes a mass of pieces
It’s now 10pm and the mechanic is putting the last pieces together, I’ve been here for nearly 12 hours, I went for a long lunch but the rest of the time I’ve spent drinking chai, chewing pan, chatting to the many locals and joking around. Yet again language has been non-existence but it hasn’t stopped the understanding or camaraderie. Spending such a duration in a garage does sound absurd bordering on insane but it’s a good as cultural outing as any. The garage becomes a hangout for men to chat about the local going-on’s, it’s like a bar without the alcohol but saying that I have seen the whiskey bottle pulled out on quite a few occasions but predominately it’s drinking chai every five minutes whilst chewing pan and trying not to dribble, well I speak only for myself being a novice pan chewer. I have no idea what I am chewing as it’s an explosion of flavours and spices all making my mouth salivate far too much. I hoping it’s because of the explosion of flavours rather than I’m just about to be sick
I was planning on heading off in the morning to continue my original journey but get informed that tomorrow is the Sindhi New Year and the city lays on a procession and days activities. Sindhi’s are the people that once occupied the land of Pakistan but after partition they were forced out to make way for the Muslims. Gandhidham translated means Gandhi’s place and it was through the great man himself that the land was obtained so that the refugees had somewhere to go after fleeing their homeland and possessions.
My awakening commences with firecrackers and distorted amplified music. I rise from my bed and climb out from under the mosquito net and swat at the mosquito’s desperately trying to feast off me after a night of frustration. It’s like an oven in my room as the sunlight radiates in putting the room on a gas mark 8. I throw myself into the shower and the cold water runs down my back sending shivers and goose bumps all over that is like an oasis in this incessant heat
Before I have time to adjust to the sights facing me I’m getting asked for a photo, been given food and a kid tugging at me for what I presume in order of money. Ok patience is key; I pose for the photo, decline the food and give the kid a rupee. I move on to give myself some time to absorb in all the sights and sounds. The streets are filled with people chatting, eating and observing the procession. Kids are playing with their New Year treats of what seems to be either balloons or high pitched whistles and with the loud music coming from the floats it’s all sound clashing to create audio mayhem. I weave my way through people to get into some shade but just as the shade beckons I get goaded into dancing, I obviously refuse. Who in their right mind wants to become the center of attention whilst everyone looks on chanting and cheering and having to dance in a different fashion all of which is bound to cause huge embarrassment and is way too extrovert for me. ‘Neh, Neh Neh’ I repeat once more but this only recruits more reinforcement to grab me. In China 4 years ago I had a whole nightclub banging their bottles and chanting for me to get up to dance to Michael Jackson and I bailed it but after I kind of regretted it
Everyone is in a great mood and being in a dry state there is not a drop of alcohol about. It appears I am the only westerner here and consequently with this tourist solitude comes more people wanting a slice of me. Beads of sweat run down my face, my t-shirt is stuck against my skin and the humidity is very uncomfortable. Everything is chaotic, I’m getting pulled in many directions and getting smothered in people, the more people the more heat, the less fresh air and the more beads of sweat running down my body. I bite my lip, I want to just explode and go to find some water to jump into, but instead I get down to some dancing with a granddad that is proving so hilarious that I forget about everything else. People are cheering and it causing an immediate magnet to all eyes as everyone checks out the only tourist breaking some bad (in both sense of the word) Indian dance moves. People are videoing me and photographing me until my fame takes to the TV camera’s as I give a good interview on my experiences celebrating the Sindhi New Year
The whole day has been hilarious and probably is one of my funniest days to date
My alarm wakes me in time for the ETV news. It is all spoken in gujarati so I cannot understand it but then flashing up on the screen is me getting down dancing followed by my interview starting with a polite ‘Namascar’ and then my verdict of the festivities and the people. This is so surreal but brilliant. I walk out to get some breakfast and before I am out of the door my hotel manager points to the newspaper featuring a massive article on me. And as I go to grab some food a man I don’t recognize comes up and greets me like a long lost friend, he then proceeds to do some dancing moves and then it clicks. Obviously he had seen me busting my moves yesterday and judging by his body language he seems very happy with my efforts. The longer I stay in Gandhidham the more famous I become. I give another interview to a larger paper explaining my purpose of visiting India and more importantly what every Indian wants to know, how we feel about their country
I got to learn a lot about the Sindhi people, I met some great people that were very friendly and helped me understand their culture and way of life. It was the British that extremely slyly passed partition just 2 days before giving Independence back to India and after hearing this I thought for sure they wouldn’t be too happy with the British or me being British but there was no animosity at all. So even after their removal from the lush land they still remain stoic and just as proud in this hostile desert. There is not a great deal to see here but the people and the culture definitely make up for it. I had no intention of visiting Gandhidham but through turns of events I ended up here as randomly as the events that’s passed, all proving to be one of my funniest experiences ever. ‘What the hell’ proved a great philosophy and as I cruise off at 20mph it’s like a slow mo ending to a movie. I ride off into the moon and star clad sky taking great memories with me as I laugh once again at the turn of events…. Famous in Gandhidham, who would of thought it!