December 3, 2010

I’m in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. I can’t even say the name properly. I stopped here because I couldn’t find a direct train from Udaipur to Mumbai. And I discovered that in this town there’s an ashram founded by Gandhi in 1917. An ashram is a spiritual community, where people retire and do some yoga and meditation.

In Gandhi’s ashram people also work, fabrics, because Gandhi thought that you must work to eat, prayers, meditation or study is not enough. He’s an interesting guy. After being a legal consultant in London and South Africa, he went back to India, his home country; he gave up his clothes and wore that white sheet that you see in every picture and started preaching the independence of India from the United Kingdom, the equality of religions, the abolition of the untouchable chaste.

From Ahmedabad he started the famous march against the salt tax, wanted by the UK, that was a burden mainly for the poorest, for which salt was one of the most important products. 385 km, until Dandi, by the sea.

One of the rules of the ashram was chastity, which might have contrasted with the fact that he was married since he was 13 years old… His wife also lived there, but in a separated room. Also “palate management” was a rule, because you have to eat, but without enjoying it. Well, I wouldn’t be able to live with this. The ashram all in all is very nice, quiet, near the river, with a large palms garden and giant ants. It invites you to spend the day reading.

It’s hot in Ahmedabad. You can tell you are heading South. Good, it was getting cold in Rajasthan. And I thought it was hot in Winter too in India…

This morning my train arrived at 4.20, in time. When the arrival time is in the night and I would like to sleep more, the train is always in time. When the arrival is in the mid of the morning, when I would like to go to the hotel as soon as possible to start visiting the town, the train is late for sure. This morning I left my bags at the luggage deposit and I walked to the town centre. People seem nicer here. Maybe because it was 6 am or because there are fewer tourists, but the “good morning” seemed more heartfelt. Only the rickshaw men were annoying like in every other town. Every two meters someone would stop to ask if I needed a taxi. And a “no, thank you” is not enough, so you have to explain that you have arrived at your destination, otherwise they seem not to believe that a tourist might like to walk while sightseeing.