An early morning drive to the ghaams was the plan for the day. But first we had a few stops to make in Navsari…
1. Sugar Cane juice
2. Kurtas for my brother
3. Mama ne chevra
Mama ne chevra loosely translated “Uncle’s Chevro” is a shop in Navsari that-you guessed it- sells chevro. They had all different kinds of chevro and they’re all scrumptious. All the chevro is made at the back of the shop and Mama himself is at the till. At the shop, they gave us bhajia (chili bites) with chevro, aamli and raisins as a filling which was so delicious that it was addictive.
After our stops in Navsari, we proceeded to Baroliya, my dad’s ghaam. Baroliya is a farm with lots of houses and very little people. There are about 50 houses and only 15 people in the village. My dad’s elderly aunt and uncle and their son along with his wife and three kids live in the village. We were not the only visitors to the ghaam, my dad’s cousin from London along with his wife and two kids also came to India and were staying in the ghaam for the Easter holidays.
Baroliya is beautiful. The houses are old and being in them makes you imagine how it might have been in those days.
My uncle gave us a tour of the ghaam showing us our family’s home, Masjid and even where my uncle went to school. He showed us where the helper washes dishes and clothes outside and the trees that grow in Baroliya, papaya, bor and coconut being amongst those.
We were then called for a lunch where my aunt had a spread out for us. There was mutton dhal, chicken curry, roti, rice, salad, paapri, acchaar and also mango salad. The food tasted amazing and it was good to have proper homemade Indian food after such a long time.
After lunch, we had to hit the road again. We had to now go to my mom’s ghaam Alipore which was down the road from Baroliya.
My dad stayed behind in Baroliya while my cousin took his place in our car. My dad was to catch up with us later when my uncle dropped him off and picked up my cousin. I loved having my cousin with us because we got to know her better.
Later, my dad caught up with us at the hospital in Alipore. The hospital is currently under renovation and so some of the floors aren’t currently operating. The Alipore hospital has an ICU, ventilators, pediatrics, sonar and x-rays amongst others. The hospital also manufacturers their own oxygen which goes to the wards. It is definitely well equipped and well run. Makes me proud to have such a well established hospital in our ghaam.
After the hospital, there was a short drive to the actual ghaam. Alipore is very different compared to Baroliya. Alipore currently has five masjids and one coming up. There are lots of houses but not many people who are actually from Alipore. We had supper by my great-uncle’s house. He lives with his wife and sister as well as his son and daughter in law with their two small children.
My great-uncle took us on a tour of Alipore. We saw my great-great-grandfather’s houses. One is currently an empty piece of land and the other house is rented by locals. As we walked through the ghaam, children played cricket on the street and adults relaxed on their doorsteps.
We visited an uncle in the ghaam who lives with his sisters. The best part of speaking to him was hearing him speak of the other members of my family who visited Alipore. It shows the imprint we leave on people and how our memory lives with them because chances are you might never meet them again but you’ll always remember them and they’ll always remember you. You just have to decide how you want to be remembered.
It was almost maghrib time so we walked back to my great-uncle’s home. My brother and I played with the swing on the stoep until the athaan was called. We could hear the athaans of all the masjids but the most prominent one was the masjid that is taken care of by South Africans. Hashtag local is lekker.
After the men came back from the masjid we had supper. They prepared for us roti and bread with mutton tarkari, masala fish and chicken sheesh kebabs. The food was out of this world. For dessert, they gave us homemade Bombay Crush, needless to say it was amazing.
After supper, we didn’t have much time before we had to leave. I loved listening to my mum and great-aunty talk in Gujarati. I also loved the swing that hung in their lounge.
It was very sad to leave Alipore because everyone was so kind and welcoming and Alipore is where my roots lie.
The drive back to the hotel was long but interesting. As a South African, we have a fear of people driving home alone in the late part of the night/early part of the morning, so we asked our driver’s daughter, Aminah, to accompany her dad. The drive was interesting because Aminah spoke fluent English. I realized then that teenagers are the same, it really doesn’t matter where you live. We all watch the same tv shows, listen to the same music, use the same make up and even eat the same food (Thank goodness for McDonald’s).
The best part of the ghaams was making friends. I didn’t really see people my age, so it was quite refreshing to have someone who I was able to talk to.
Step count: 5871 steps.