Last year September 18th we were travelling to Trivandrum, from Mangalore. Everyone in that train seems to travelling towards Trivandrum to appear the PG entrance exam in various streams. The only missing streams were medicine, dental and engineering.
This year it was Jamnagar.
It is my first visit to the state of Gujarat. We enter the state in the morning hours, suddenly the marshy wet rainy western coast gives way to pastoral flat lands, hues of green intermeshed with dull maroon soil industrially vibrant urban layout intercepted by now barren now crop rich terrain. The journey is really beautiful.
I had these visuals associated like Rajkot for some reason I imagined would be muffusal town with prototypes of Gandhi walking around, while Sabarmati would a village dotted with Banyan trees while Jamnagar in itself gave me the image of Jasma Odan.
When we did arrive at Jamnagar it was afternoon. The first shock was the blazing sun and scorching heat after the comforting air-conditioned travel. Then came the usual pushy auto drivers. After 32 hrs of travelling we were quite exhausted. The food in the train was quite bad too, and we had not packed food like we normally did. With the stark absence of pre-paid auto’s we paid Rs.80/- for an Rs.50/- distance. Kids from Kerala were smarter; they had booked their cabs online.
The town seems to run by Reliance. My daughter tells, me that the Reliance township is just a little ahead. We see the Reliance logo and Narendra Modi everywhere.
we had to get to the Satya Sai Educational Institute campus, again the hotel told us it was a Rs.30/- journey, but the auto insisted on Rs 50/- since we had to get there we had no option but to take it.
Once at the campus it was beautiful bustling with “oh! I am so cool” kids, the area simply seemed swarmed by them, I was reminded of the description of the Somnath temple in the book Moonstone, where says the hindoos entered the shrine in neat three file here the kids entered in groups, of various languages, some with parents, some with spouse, some just classmates whatever, and as we waited outside for the next hour it was quite interesting to see parents catching up with each other, some making phone calls, some like me reading books, of course I did try to photograph the wild sparrow but it was camera shy.
Gujarati’s being enterprising tea, fafda’s and samosas made rounds every 15mnts. There was someone selling cold water too.
The campus in itself is very nice, neatly kept open spaces, garbage cans at comfortable distances visible yet discreet. People sweeping the leaves shed periodically. Visitors chairs placed beneath the shades of trees, the chairs were intact and clean. No graffiti marring the surface.
Exam over and when we had to return, the auto’s insisted on charging Rs.50/passenger.
It was nothing more than extortion. Like the return auto to the station was at Rs.!50/-
Here are a few suggestions.
- As most of the hotels are aware that exams are on, and students flock from all over India, have a pick up and drop from the Railway station and airport.
- Also as you know most students will be attending the exam, and the venue is fixed, organize a pick and drop from the hotel to the exam venue so that the students are relieved of the haggling exercise, you could charge for the same.
- Better still the Gujarat tourism/Jamnagar tourism to attend to it.
- Ensure that the auto’s run on meter.
- Like Bangalore have a meter card.