Ahmedabad, a big bustling city on the banks of the river Sabarmati is located in the western state of Gujarat in India. Home to more than 6 million people, it is also a city which is rich with history and stories.
Let me brush up on the history for a bit. Back in the 15th century, a ruler from the Delhi Sultanate, by the name Ahmed Shah became the leader of the city. In the later years, the Mughal ruler, Akbar conquered Gujarat and Ahmedabad became a thriving centre of trade and commerce. Later on, in the mid 18th century, Ahmedabad was surrendered to the Marathas. The Marathas fought over the precious piece of land and managed to keep it under their control, until the mid of 19th century when the British moved in and established an army cantonment in the city. With increase in trade and technology, textile industry took off and Ahmedabad came to be known as the Manchester of the East. Over time, freedom struggles and a stable government, Ahmedabad has grown to become one of the fastest growing cities of the decade and one of the best cities to live in, in India.
On a trip to the NIRMA University in the city, a thought intrigued me, what happened to the dynasty, the bloodline, are they still rulers somewhere? Or have they all perished! I wished it be that they would still be there and maybe meet them too. For a photo story shoot, a bunch of us, went to the Swami Narayan Temple in the heart of the city.
As I walked around the place, I saw loads of people, and found it to be a nice opportunity to talk to them a bit, get to know the place and also take a few photos.
As I wandered about, camera in hand, I heard the unmistakable sound of a sewing machine, and went right in, to have a chat with the man who was working with a lot of concentration on a piece of cloth. We talked about his work, and his past. At the mention of the past, he appeared a tad bit sad, and said that things are not the same anymore. Yes, I did find it a little strange, but well, I decided to moved on. As I was leaving, he calls out to me and says, “Once upon a time, my wife would command slaves, today she sells vegetables and my son, he makes kite reels! This is what misfortune does to you! I would have been a king back in the old days, but this is all that has remained today”. Needless to say, I had to find the vegetable seller lady, and maybe the son too.
Some search yielded results!
The lady, accompanied with her grand daughter could be found at a local market. It seemed that she commanded a lot of respect amongst the other sellers in the vicinity. I asked, who is she. And the reply came, in a nervous jest, “You don’t know, she is the queen…the queen of the sabji mandi (vegetable market)”, and there was some laughter around. She didn’t look very amused, while the girl retorted, in the choicest of words that some day the fortunes shall turn and they would serve her, and her brother.
From the other corner of the market, there came some sounds of commotion. One of the shopkeepers swears, looks at me, says with some contempt, “That’s the king we are supposed to serve if the fortunes turn? No damn way”. There was just one thought in my head, this can’t be happening! I rushed to the site of the commotion, and realize that its a street side kite making shop. A man is applying the coatings on the reel (Maanja) while the other one was rolling it. It seemed some altercation had taken place. Nothing I can do there, nor talk much. The guys seemed ready to fight, more than willing than to talk about some what ifs.
As the call for wrap was being sounded, right near where our bus was parked, I saw a boy, another vegetable seller. He had a poise, a gaze and an attitude that made it impossible to ignore and walk away. As I talk to him, he asks me various questions, where I was from, what I did and so on. He was fascinated by the camera, and I showed him the photos. He exclaimed that I met his grandparents and sister. As I bought a carrot from him, he said he has a secret, that no one believes! He said, that he is destined to be a ruler! I smiled, paid my due, and took a photo, but before I left, I asked, “Whats your name”?
He looked straight at me, with a hint of pride in a winsome smile, came the reply, “Ahmed Shah”!
There may be elements of fiction in my account, and in case I got the facts wrong, correct me, I shall be grateful. If I have hurt someone with my account of the trip, please feel free to contact me with your grievances. I cannot claim that all the characters here are fictitious or that any resemblances are coincidental!
Feed me back through the comments please!