Monday, 11 February 2008

Down memory lane ...

As the train chugged into the station at 4 a.m. on that cold December night, I got my first glimpse of Jamnagar. This was the place where I got my first job after completing my studies at Kolkata, a bustling city more than 2000 kms from Jamnagar. Jamnagar in comparison was just like a small town. For those of you who don’t know … Jamnagar is a small city in the Kutch region of Gujarat. I stayed & worked here for 3 years. I have many fond memories of Jamnagar … the company I worked with, the people I met there (at office & outside) and the food. :-) So, before I forget all about these things, I thought that I should put them down somewhere.

As I got out of the station, I found a driver waiting for me to take me to my apartment. I was taken to a two bedroom apartment which I had to share with another girl who was also on her training. Well, yes, as a GET or Graduate Engineer Trainee at this company (let me call it SR), we were provided quite comfortable accommodation. And when it’s your first job, I can assure you that such treatment makes one feel quite special. When I told a family friend about these arrangements, he commented “Are you joining as a GM of the company?” I don’t think that he quite believed me. :-)


Jamnagar had quite a few specialties when it came to the culinary department, like the home-made ice cream at Teenbatti in a shop called Ram Mandir (as far as I remember). The ice cream there was mmmmmeltilicious (melt-in-your-mouth-delicious) and extremely cheap too !!! Then there was the unlimited gujarati thali at the Brahmaniya. If any of you have ever tried an unlimited Gujarati thali then you would surely agree with me when I say that the Gujaratis stretch the “unlimited” to its limits. In fact your stomach is ready to burst after the first helping itself because of the immense variety of such a meal. And we also did enjoy the large variety of “snakes” (I mean, snacks) in offer like the khakhra, thepla, dhokla, khandvi and many more very delicious stuff. But of course, when in Jamnagar stick to authentic Gujarati food & don’t try to explore & never-ever try a Pizza there. When we felt like eating Pizzas, we used to make a weekend trip to Ahmedabad which is about 300 kms from Jamnagar.


Gujaratis in general are very amiable people, at least the ones I met in Jamnagar. The atmosphere at office was also very much like a big family, probably because we were in the project stage and the number of employees was not too large. My immediate superior, MP (M-bhai, we used to call him in the true Gujarati style) was a very nice man from whom I learnt quite a few important lessons both personally & professionally. VNS, our boss was a very mild mannered Malayali who was not just extremely accomplished technically but also a very nice person. When I was leaving Jamnagar, VNS drove me to the station himself & saw to it that I got a coolie who would put all my stuff on the train for me. See that’s what I mean by saying that we were like a family. I’ve not seen such personal care by superiors anywhere else that I’ve worked since.

The head of our department was an angry not-so-young man. You could call him Tiger because he would usually growl at people, whether in person or on the phone. His way of showing displeasure with someone was to throw down his spectacles on the table. People all over SR were scared of him even if he had no interaction with them. But he would be quite a different man outside the office … well, not really amiable, but nice. :-) I remember once during an office party, we were playing passing-the-parcel. He and his wife were the last two players & we (the ones controlling the music) cheated a little & made his wife win the game. It was fun to make him lose … at least once.

And then, of course, there were friends. We were a group of 40 who had joined the company at almost the same time, so there were loooots of friends. The movie, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam released when I was in Jamnagar & about 20 (or perhaps more) of us went to watch it together. I developed a few long lasting friendships during those years. I’m still in touch with them & so glad to be able to call them my friends.


Gujarat is a colorful place & nothing can portray it better than the variety of colors in their bandhni (tie-and-dye) dresses and sarees. If you are a fan of the cotton fabric like me, then there’s no better place to be than Gujarat & the shops at Jamnagar are not to be belittled at all in this aspect.

I had the fortune of visiting a lot of places in Gujarat & Rajasthan while I was in Jamnagar. One of the first places that we friends went to was Diu, a very beautiful sea beach. While in Jamnagar, I also visited the temples of Dwarka & Somnath, the Gir forest and of course, Ahmedabad where we used to mostly go for shopping and to eat Pizza. :-) My friend, Sh & I visited the beautiful hill station of Mt. Abu in Rajasthan on the day that Gujarat was struck by the earthquake in 2001. While in Jamnagar, I also made trips to the beautiful palace city of Udaipur & the forts at Chittorgarh in Rajasthan. The memory of these beautiful places I still carry with me in my heart & in photo albums.


I left Jamnagar for Mumbai in Dec 2001 for a new job. I wouldn’t be truthful if I said that I was sad to leave Jamnagar. I was in fact glad to leave because most of my friends there had, by that time, moved to greener pastures elsewhere. Also after 3 years in Jamnagar, I was looking forward to the hustle-bustle of a huge metropolis like Mumbai. But I surely do carry with me many fond memories of Jamnagar.


The TAAMommy said...

You description of Jamnagar and things were very interesting and informative. Especially the Gujrati food, now i have to try some of it :). I cannot believe they have the concept of unlimited thali out there. I became used to buffets only in the US.

Piscean Angel said...

Thanks a lot for your comments, TAAMommy. Oh yes, the unlimited thali was so unlimited that once the guys bet against each other & one of them had 17 chapattis !!! :-)

KP said...

hmmm .. very nice post...really flowing one.. ;-) this Jamnagar seems to be pretty good place.. unlimited thali and all the meltilicious things ;-) feeling like going out and eating something but cant:-( .. Is some delicacy famous as Jamnagari?? something like Jamnagari jaamun or Pedha or something?? I am not able to recollect it properly though..and all those nice places you visited also warrant some more description;-) eg. Mythical Dwaraka and Dwaraka now?? and so on..:-)

AD 'glutton' said...

Very nice!! Brought back lots of memories and recollection of some simple pleasures and places that I had long forgotten about. Maybe I should have written a blog on it, too, lest i forgot, which, sadly I have. But rest of the memories are indelible!!
Thanks for writing this piece P.A., I was able to indulge in fond reminiscence.

Piscean Angel said...

KP: Thanks. Well, no. I can't recall any thing like that which was esp. Jamnagari. But, oh yes ... I forgot to mention about the sweet shop called H.J.Vyas which used to make a special kind of chocolate that used to be exported too. And there sweets & farsan were delicious too.

AD-g: Thanks. Well, u can still write down ur memories of J'gar. They might be quite different from mine & we'll enjoy reading that too. ;-)

Anonymous said...

hi, I am visiting Jamnagar would like to know if Brahmniya is the best place to have thali.Which other place would you recommend for snacks and chat,especialy dhokla patra.

Piscean Angel said...

Hi Anon, yeah I think that Brahmaniya wud be the best place to have a thali. Altho', I was in J'nagar till 2001, so many other good places may hv opened by now too. But at that time, Brahmaniya was surely the best. They will serve u dhokla, patra or khandvi with the thali itself. These u can also hv at Hotel Amber (or Amar) ... sorry I'm forgetting the name. U MUST also try the ice-creams at the famous ice-cream place near Teen Batti.
Happy stay at Jamnagar & tell the city that I miss it sometimes. :-)