Posts Tagged With: gujarat

For Halloween, Go to The Lucky Restaurant and See The Husain Painting in the Graveyard

lucky restaurant1If you are in Ahmedabad and you don’t know where to celebrate Halloween, that would be an amazing coincidence, but why not try this bizarre snack bar called The (New) Lucky Restaurant and eat among the graves? You can find it in the area of Lal Darwaja, not far from the old center of the city and next to the famous Sidi Saiyad mosque and its even more famous tree-shaped Jali!

 Fifty years ago, a tea stall was situated next to a Muslim graveyard but it was so successful that the owners decided to extend it among the tombs and neem trees.

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Neem tree and graves

Today, the graves are painted green and surrounded by railings. They are respectfully cleaned and decorated everyday as they are the highlight of the tea joint. But whose graves are these? After searching on the internet, I read they might date back from the 16th century and were supposed to belong to the family of a Sufi.

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Croque-monsieur among the dead…

 I went there in a morning with my friend Shubbhra and we had a dosa and a delicious grilled sandwich. We were sitting by a lovely range of tombs! If you want to improve your French, it is funny to notice that the grilled sandwich I ate is a kind of snack which exists in France too. It is actually called croque-monsieur, ( croque = munch) ! And by the way, it also sounds like another French word croque-mort, (mort = dead), which is nothing less than an undertaker! ( French undertakers were supposed to bite the thumbs of the corpses to check they were really dead!)

Well, if you don’t want to try the lucky “croque-monsieur”, I heard maska buns were the best. (warm buns with butter…). The chai is also really famous for its inimitable chocolate aftertaste. The fresh mango juice is thick and yummy!

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by MF Husain for the Lucky Restaurant

 However, my friend and me didn’t even notice the highlight of the place, the gold icing on the jalebi; a real picture by Maqbool Fida Husain himself hanging on one of the walls! We didn’t know a masterpiece was in the restaurant then! The great painter loved going there and he was friend with the first owner Mohammad. He said that place gave him “a feeling of death and life”, a kind of carpe diem sensation. He made a picture and gave it to the restaurant in 2004. Well,to my mind, it looks a bit like a poster for a Tunisian travel agency but I heard it cost a great deal of rupees!

Stories are told about the great costumer: it is said the painter used to come there barefoot. Other rumors say bottles of tea from the Lucky Restaurant were ordered to be taken by friends especially for him while he was self-exiled in Dubai!

 Now, the last question is: Are you ready to have lunch among the dead? In Ahmedabad, some people say they feel the presence of God thanks to the shrines and some others go there every morning to spend an auspicious moment providing luck for the rest of the day… so now, you know why this teashop is called The Lucky Restaurant!

For further reading, you can go to Oddity Central or Live Mint.

Click on the photo to see where there are from.

And to finish, the rules of the restaurant pinned on the wall. I can’t read Gujarati but I know the last rule is “Don’t fight with the waiters!”

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Categories: Gujarat, India in pictures, Kitchen, Museum, Voyages | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Funny little Gujarati things…

When you stay for a few weeks in Gujarat, you can see such funny little things:

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Monkey sending a text…

ET’s House! (Baroda)

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Monsoon Bike…

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Don’t spit in shopping malls! (Ahmedabad)

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The bin is speaking… (Baroda)

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Hrithik Roshan makes you write…

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Resting dog… (Ahmedabad)

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Hi!

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Dusty bike!

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Modi wall painting (Ahmedabad)

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A lady giving birth on the wall of a temple… (Patna)

Categories: Fun!, Gujarat, Voyages | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Adalaj Step-Well: A Sandstone Jewel near Ahmedabad

Adalaj Stepwell

Adalaj Step-well

I stayed for three weeks in Gujarat last summer. A place I wouldn’t have had the idea to go to if I hadn’t had my friend Shubhra living in Ahmedabad. She took me to a must-see: Adalaj Step-well.

Gujarat is the state of step-wells; they call them « Vav ». Basically, step-wells are water tanks which collect the rain. The water was used for anything in the village, from cooking to religious rituals. There are about 120 step-wells in Gujarat. They were meeting places where rich and poor, men and women, villagers and caravan travellers went to, to get water, to enjoy the coolness of the depth or to pray under the carvings of hindu gods.

The vav I saw in Adalaj was one of them. You have to imagine that construction as a kind of underground five-storey building ending in a sort of staircase which gets deeper en deerper and which is decorated with hindu and muslim carvings: flowers and geometrical symbols for Islam, gods, animals and people in their daily lives for Hinduism and Jainism. The more you walk down, the darker and cooler it is. The water is still, mysterious, silverlike, and glittering with lucky coins at the bottom.

Shubhra told me the interesting legend of its construction and this legend itself epitomizes the usual Hindu-Islamic mixture you often find in Indian architecture:

In the late 15th century, a king called Rana Veer Singh decided to have a well built for his people who suffered from drought. The construction started but unfortunately, muslim Mahmud Begada, attacked Rana’s army and killed him. The muslim conqueror had taken Rana’s land but he also wanted to take his widow Rani. She didn’t refuse the proposal but she asked Mahmud to finish the step-well before the wedding. Once Mahmud had granted her wish, she knew her people was safe and to remain faithful to her dead husband, she ran to the step-well and threw herself from the top.

Now, even if the presence of the tourists inside the well deprives you of enjoying the freshness and the silence of olden days, the park surrounding the monument is the perfect place to have a nap under a frangipani tree or to have a picnic on the lawn. However, don’t think you could flirt with your sweetheart between the twisted arms of the large banyan because we saw on our way back, a group a policemen, sticks in hands, going to chase the shameless lovers!

A few pictures:

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MTI playing the full with a broom...

MTI playing the rani with…a broom…

 

Hindu carvings

Hindu carvings

Banyan tree in the park

Frangipani tree in the park

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Categories: A Piece of Myself, Gujarat, India in pictures, Voyages | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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