Staying in a village at last

Oct 6 : Late start from the dhaba again. Dhaba boys pleasantly surprised after seeing the camera. Am on my way to Diu as early as possible. Very slow progress. Bad roads. I am tired for no particular reason.

When a motorbike rider asks me to visit his home for tea, i quickly take the offer. We go to Ramesh's fathers ashram. This is a small cool place surrounded by neem trees. A place where he has spent about 12 years as an ascetic, chanting Om so many times that he runs out of breath every now and then. I talk for a while with the old man. As happens everywhere else, the old man asks about my salary. He cannot believe that people can earn in lakhs by just doing a naukri. Caste is an important item of discussion too, and again he is surprised to know that I'm a brahmin. Too many surprises in a day for the old man, so I shift attention towards Ramesh, who has just returned, tea in hand. Ramesh grows pretty much the same thing as everyone else around here, but has a considerable amount of land, 200 bighas(2.5 bighas = 1 acre). I bid Ramesh goodbye at 10.

The road conditions have only woes in store for me, till about 4kms from Diu. Nearing Diu, I notice this strange palm like tree which actually branches. This is the Okha tree. It's fruit is about the size of a medium sized gauva, and tastes somewhat like dates. Crossing a long bridge takes the traveller to Diu.

The island of Diu is a surprising place, just coming out of Gujarat. Being a union territory, you would guess what it is famous for - booze, and of course at cheaper rates. Perhaps petrol too, but that's not of much use to me : I'm on a bicycle. And non-veg food. Diu is a touristy places, without too many tourist attractions. I choose to visit the Old Fort and the Church. I'm not a beach person, and anyway it's mid-afternoon. So safe to skip the beach.

The Old fort, surrounded by sea on three sides, is worth a visit, with nice views. Morning would perhaps be the best time. I have some pictures, so that will save me the effort of describing it. Note that there's a prison inside the fort. Photography is not allowed there, and a board says, 'no entry'! Somehow reminded me of a railway board, 'aana free. jaana free. pakde gaye to khaana free'.

(sorry no pics due to internet issues. Will add pics here)

Next destination : the old church. A nice white large building it turned out to be. It's close from the fort, and small enough for a peep-in.

Food in Diu seems to be reasonably priced. My thali cost me 50 rupees at a hotel with a sea-side view. After that it's bye to Diu. Diu had this long four lane road along its length. There are two roads leading in and out of Diu. I choose the other one - reaching a village called Kesariya on the highway, and I'm back on track towards Somnath. Trying to exit Diu, I notice several swanky buildings in Diu, confirming it's touristy nature.

Post sunset, I was trying to find a place to rest for the night. The two most likely candidates were a temple, and a village. I was hoping for a village stay. And that came my way, quite unexpected. I was riding towards Kodinar, 25 kilometers away, hoping I didnt have to ride that far. My bike just passed this old man on another bicycle. I waved at him. He said something which I didn't quite catch. So I had to go close. After the first two questions, he asked where I was planning to rest. I said I didn't find a place yet. Quick was the invite in coming, and quicker the acceptance.

This old man looked the typical local chap - clad in heavily soiled white clothes. I was expecting to sleep in a hut. Imagine my surprise when we reached a regular cement house. Spacious rooms, bath and toilet. The house had a fridge too.

The next hour or so was spent in chai and chit-chat. The family is a Rajput family tracing back its roots to Rajasthan. However, they have not kept track of when their ancestors landed here. Many of their customs are the same as the local ones. My host does not wear silver bracelets and golden ear-rings. These are considered symbols of wealth(and items to show off), and he is just not that wealthy. The custom of ladies keeping the ghungat is followed here. Girls do get to go to school. School starts late here - anywhere from 11 to 2. Untouchability is practise to a certain extent still; harijans are not allowed inside houses of higher castes. However, labourers seem to be treated well: one of them had food with us, and I didn't figure out that he was just a worker.The oldest person in the house is the old man's mother - a glorious 100 years. She apparently still keeps good health other than having lost eyesight.

Supper was typical Gujarati fare - chapatis, two types of side dishes, some green chillis fried lightly. Homemade Jowar rotis were soft and nice. Wheat rotis were there too. A bowl of milk was the local addition compared to earlier places like Palitana. Rice cooked with turmeric and mustard is soaked in rice and savoured. Tastes pretty good.

Lights switched off at ten PM with the ladies still watching the Star Plus fare on TV! And this, mind you, is Advi village...

Comments (9) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Excellent ride report. Looking forward to ride with you after you come back
    from your tour.
    – Mahesh

  2. Congratulations on your trip and best of luck.

  3. I am curious. No questions on ‘purpose’ yet?

  4. Great ride , reminds me of NDTV Election express, have a wonderfull journey ahead ..

  5. looks like you are having great trip, have a nice time

  6. Some of these places are totally fucked up!! Ignorance flows in their blood. The question of caste was asked to me a thousand times! I know I am being harsh but that is the unfortunate truth!

  7. Heard on the bikeszone forum that you are on your way back.
    I hope everything’s ok..

    Sorry to hear about that happening. 🙁

  8. @ Viral, Manjula, Sundar, Mallik, Mahesh : Thanks for the encouragement !

    @Faiq : 🙂

    @Raj : Ours is a society in transition, and we are moving away from the caste system. I see that as a good thing. I moved to Karnataka as a kid in 1997. I’m a brahmin. The ‘harijans’ always were given different cups and plates. They had to wash their stuff too. These things have changed since. And they are changing everywhere – and will soon be gone. Economy is becoming the new order. As the old man’s son said, “we all eat at the same hotel anyway”. Now, who would have thought that the hotel would become the great leveller in rural Gujarat!

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