So as I write this, I am on a work trip to Rajkot. While I have seen fair bit of country in my job as an event manager, this is the first time I am here. Here are ten things I observed in/about Rajkot, in no particular order...
1. The most famous thing to have happened to Rajkot is Cheteshwar Poojara - the cricket player. Apart from that there is hardly anything that Rajkot could plaster banners of. I mean there is some house where Gandhi grew up, there is some doll museum and so on and so froth. There is a whole list on Trip Advisor but none of the places listed there made me want to visit.
Even the statues in the city are of Jhansi ki Rani and Shivaji. I mean Shivaji and Jhansi ki Rani? There's no Veer Rajkot in their history?
2. The place is poor. While there was signs of prosperity like a branch of Standard Chartered Bank and a very own Rajkot Half Marathon, the city is poor. The super premium brands are missing. I saw just one BMW (that too X1) in my 100 odd KMs of travel of in / around Rajkot. One of the three malls dotting the city that I visited was in desperate need of maintenance. And there are just too many beggars. Even the rickshaw-wallahs fleece like nobody's business.
Compare it to places like Pune, Ludhiana, even Indore. I dont know if these are of the same size but those small towns, cities are far far ahead compared to Rajkot.
3. They dont know what is Red Bull. In my former avatar, I would have asked for Diet Coke but now that I am off cola, I tried my luck with Red Bull. I was amazed to see that they dont know of Red Bull. I thought their distribution was as good as Coke's.
4. Google rocks. At Rajkot while I vaguely understand the language and while most people can converse fairly well in Hindi, without Google, it would have been a pain in ass to get around. In fact, Google does not rock per se. Because without Google, I would have asked more people for direction. I would have been taken for more rides. I would have been subjected to more pressure. And as a result, I would have become more robust (remember AntiFragile)?
5. Everyone in Rajkot chews onto some local tobacco kind of thing. Its in the same territory as Gutka and Khaini. I tried it, tasted funny and I couldnt comprehend what pleasure do people get from it. May be the same pleasure that I got from binging on Diet Coke?
6. People drive like cunts in Rajkot. If someone is coming towards you on the wrong side of the road, rather than scampering away or giving them enough room to pass by, you will go head on into them. And then stare at them. Till they give up, back their vehicle through the mad jam that has been ensued by now. And when you do pass by them, you give them a glare.
Its this kind of useless aggression and ego-maniacal display that gets wars and battles started.
7. Continuing on traffic, people do not wear helmets. People do not wear seat belts. People drive the way they want to. Guess its a small-city thing. Most other small cities are similar.
8. Tea Post is, I think, Rajkot's answer to Starbucks and Cafe Coffee Day. In the limited time, I could see some 5 outlets of Tea Spot. And going by the number of people at each cafe, each time I passed it, I want to invest into it. Connect me to the founder please?
9. Loved the food options in Rajkot. I am not a foodie per se but I relish when / what I eat. While I was there I tried eating what locals would. And I was pleasantly surprised at the taste. I had this poha next to the hotel I was staying at. And then I asked a local for their favorite restaurant. They pointed me to Pankaj Restaurant and oh my god!
On this note, I think I need to make a pact with with Vivek that once in while we'd goto some obscure place and eat our hearts out. Much like Rocky and Mayur's highway on my plate.
10. Rajkot's economy works on core industry (not on farty things like software, ITES, retail etc). It is manufacturing. And it is huge. There is ceramics, auto ancillaries, automobile spares, cotton, stone and so on and so forth. Rajkot is the kind of place where I would love to put up a factory that makes something (and money) and keeps me busy throughout the day. And the same factory has a high roof that affords me a view of neverending landscape spread under a starry night, while I lie down, fold my hands under my head, prop my feet up on some lo stool, look up to the million patterns that the stars and cloud make and marvel at this wonder called life.
Inshallah some day!
Thats about it from Rajkot. Over and out.