For the past few weeks I have been on a quest to find the single most defining feature of Ahmedabad. I have narrowed my search down to two or three attributes that I believe define the city.
I am not going to write about any here because that is going to be a key part of the biography of Ahmedabad that I am currently working on. And why would I want to ruin the slimmest of chances that some of you may actually buy and read the book?
However, (I must profusely thank the inventor of however for it always offers a great segue to anything), there are things I have been noticing about the city which I can share without my publishers nailing me for breach of contract. For instance, the city gives you the sense that it cannot decide what it wants to be. Does it want to be a city that has outrun its provincial shadow? Or does it want to be a city that wants to leverage those very provincial instincts? Ahmedabad also cannot decide whether it is the defining city of Gujarat even though it could well be.
In most great cities one feels the visceral effects as one approaches what is the center of its urban/cultural/historic gravity. I am yet to feel that in Ahmedabad, although there are a couple of places that do make you feel something akin to it. I am going to spend the next few weeks scouring Ahmedabad for anything and everything that would add to the narrative heft of my book.
Speaking of narrative heft, the arrest of Gujarat’s former junior Home Minister Amit Shah, accused of murder, kidnapping and extortion, would naturally be an important part of the story. I was particularly struck by the festive mood created by his followers around his arrest as if he had embarked on a pilgrimage for a lofty cause.