I was recently invited to the MSU University at Baroda, to conduct one of my photography workshops. The workshops were well received and went off smoothly. When I first thought of visiting Baroda, there were certain things that I had wanted to do. Meeting the Pathan brothers (Irfan and Yusuf), having a taste of sweetened dals, overdose of dhoklas and theplas, and exploring the city in its architectural beauty, being a few of them. With these in mind, I set out to explore Baroda, which happens to be a very old city as was evident from the buildings that one got to see in the city.
The one thing that did adore the skies were the smoke from the various industrial plants. You get a feeling that the industrial growth stories that you hear, that puts Gujarat so high in terms of development is indeed true. However I was not interested in exploring them, as I would not get to experience the actual Gujarati Culture. And in my opinion, the true culture of a city (place) can only be explored on the streets.
So, tagging Netra along with me, I set out to explore the area behind my hotel (which by the way was frequently also visited by a zillion mosquitoes), which also happened to be the near the railway station. The sheer thought of exploring the areas around the railway stations in India brings a smile to my face. There is always a deluge of activities that is going on and hence, I am always thrilled at the photographic opportunities that the time is going to provide me with. Baroda was not any disappointment either.
It also surprised me (or rather helped I got to know) that the Baroda Railway Station is celebrating 150 years of its existence.On hindsight, when you come to think of it, this station must have been one of the oldest stations in India, and needless to say is a very important junction in the ever expanding network of Indian Railways. This itself gives you an idea on the oldness of the city. The building architecture of the station is not as you would expect, as its not as grandeur as the Bombay or Chennai Stations, but it still had a huge hoarding that explained its existence for such a long time.
Often the case with shooting on the streets is that there is no destination as such. It is often the journey that is the more enjoyable experience. The photo-ops are huge, and stopping at a road side stall for chai is just a part of the wholesome experience.
A very common site you spot in India is people urinating on the streets, and it infuriates me to the core. And moreover when the subject, or the wall actually possesses an interesting grafiti, you know that it is a photographic moment worth capturing. Take this guys for example. Pain is temporary, Pride is Forever. Now I leave it to the viewers to decide which one of these is actually felt and which should the person opt for. It is all the more ridiculous when inspite of instructions and signs, people still do it.
I notice that there was this motif of hearts that were visible on almost all the autos that plied in the city.
Wonder if it had any hidden meaning behind it, or whether it was a conscious decision to choose the hearts. Most of the autos in other parts of the country have religious motifs, and the presence of hearts here was a welcoming sight.
I savour myself with local vadas and some extra sweet Jalebis that are being freshly prepared. One interesting thing to notice was that a lot of people were stopping by and having their breakfast here and the fresh dal-vadas did taste lovely.
Overall a wonderful city to explore, but too sad that I did not have much time to roam the city. I am sure there are a lot of things remaining, like the gardens, and the palaces, which people say are "the" things to see in Baroda. I missed it. In the hope that I will come back to the city to explore it in more details some other time and hopefully find the Pathans too.