<<Hope you have enjoyed my description, esp. my Kutchi friends>>
Indeed, your description made a fascinating reading. It seems you had a great time.
I do know Zanzibar's Dr. Goradia. He had his clinic on Portuguese Street along the Post Office. This also reminds of another Zanzibari doctor, Dr. Patel, whom we visited at his Santacruz clinic while we were in Bombay in the 60s. People are bound by destiny and they disperse here and there.
The 'rann of Kutch' that you describe was the one over which one of the Indo Pak wars was fought in the 60s. It borders Sindh and must be near Karachi. We do not hear much about its border and wonder if it permits crossing to travellers.
Your visit to Kutch and Kathiawad calls up memories of my own visit to this spectacular region in the 60s. My mother always reminisced about Mandvi and thus I was very eager to go there and see it for myself. Travelling to Kutch and Kathiawad by train is exhilarating. Along the route the view has its scenic attraction. The still of dawn, the 'kanbi' (farmer) and 'govar' (shepherd) in their huge 'pugri' (turban) absorbed in their routine, their ladies in colourful and traditional garments and the cattle grazing on pasture provide absolute beauty. The compartments are full of passengers with characters who chat, play cards and sing songs for their amusement.
Wherever (Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Bhuj, Mandvi, Mundra, Kera) I went I was drawn to Khojavad, the Khoja vicinity, which houses Khoja residents, mosque (Ithnashris') and jamaatkhana (Ismailis'). In Mandvi I met Bahadur (you probably know him), the Bhatia boy from Zanzibar, who was famous for telling the time of day without even looking at the watch. It was a God given gift to him. In Mundra I visited the Babla residence to meet my friend Arun. Kera is famous among us for its Peer Courtyard, Gulmali Peer (in one of my earlier posts I had erroneously referred to it as Hassan Peer which is in Mundra and not Kera). I recall visiting one of the 'vaadis' and seeing heaps of mangoes set aside for export business. In Bhuj i feasted off delicious Gujarati thali at its 'Tarav Naake' which provided picturesque view of its surrounding. You can imagine our sadness on the trauma of its earthquake.
That was almost four decades back. Now with all the latest form of developments Mandvi, Bhuj and Mundra must have grown into full fledged cities.
<< As we drove from Bhuj to Kera and onto Mundra I remember running into a Muslim shepherd tending to his sheep and the thought went through my mind was if that is how I could have pictured myself had it not been for my ancestors not migrating on Zanzibar in the late nineteenth century.>>
What a wonderful narrative of Kutch! I'm going to read it out to my mother, i'm sure she'll be delighted.
You are absolutely right, had it not been for our ancestors leaving the shores of Kutch and Kathiawad for Jungbar the Khoja history would have been different altogether.
I was there in 1967 and i don't know if the Kera mosque that you talk about was the same. The 'Peer Courtyard' must be 'Gulmali Peer'. Yes, Kera is breezy and people come all the way from neighbouring towns specifically for climatic change and to refresh themselves.
In Mundra i'd put up at 'S.T.Bus Guest House' that cost just 5 rupees a day. When i reached the mosque (I vividly recall it was 10th Safar, 'trismu') I introduced myself to Ahmedbhai Juma and Mohamedalibhai Bhanda (Baqirbhai should know them). They found it astounding that i could put up at such an expensive place (the guest house was considered very expensive and as good as 'Taj'), for Rupees 5 meant a lot of money in those days, and you could rent a whole house for one full month for that amount in Mundra.
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