The Boy in the Yellow Shirt & So Many Others


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I spent a few days traveling across Gujarat. The state has surprised me in many ways. One of the things that stood out for me was the people of Gujarat. Here, I came across some of the most honest and genuine people. Having traveled across quite a few places in the country, I can safely say that as a woman I have felt most comfortable in Gujarat. And, this is huge for non-touristy women travelers like me!

Of the many wonderful people I met during this journey, I want to put down three of them, those whom I would not like to forget.

The Boy in the Yellow Shirt

It was the last day of our trip and we were at Ahmedabad. Our flight wasn’t until 8.00 PM, thanks to the slow pacing of our travel. My parents had decided to rest at the hotel, so I made my own plans. I set out with the intention of visiting Jami Masjid, Sarkhej Roza, and then exploring the market at Lal Darwaza.

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Pic 1: Lal Darwaza – entryway to a huge wholesale market place

An Ola auto took me to Jami Masjid in just 10-15 mins. I didn’t realize that it was this close to my hotel, which was located at Sabarmati Riverfront. On the way, I spotted Siddi Sayed Mosque, which we had visited earlier. I felt tempted to go inside once again to take a closer look at the jaalis of this mosque, also known as Jaali-Wala Masjid.

I asked the auto driver about Sarkhej Roza, he had no idea and recommended I ask the people at Jami Masjid. On enquiry near the masjid, I got to know it was 11 Km. away. The auto driver demanded a whopping Rs. 800 to take me there and back. I bid goodbye to him and entered the mosque.

At the entryway, I crossed a young 19-20 year old boy. He called out that I shouldn’t enter the prayer area, as women are not allowed. A little irked that I don’t need to be told about that, I used the moment to enquire about Sarkhej Roza. He said it wasn’t that far and then offered to take me there. Not sure if I could trust him, I hesitated and said I may get delayed as I would like to explore Jami Masjid first and also planned to go to Jaali-wala Masjid. He said he had no problem and would wait.

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Pic 2: The courtyard of Jami Masjid

In the 15-20 mins of exploring Jami Masjid, I had decided to take the risk of going to Sarkhej Roza with the young boy. We stepped out of the Masjid into the narrow crowded market place outside. Instead of hailing an auto right there, my young guide started walking into narrow alleys. Enough for me to pull my guards up. “Why don’t we take an auto here?” I asked. “We’ll take it from the main road,” pat came his reply.

Doubting his intentions, I started probing further – Why are you going to Sarkhej Roza? What do you do? What were you doing at the mosque? Simultaneously I took note of his bright yellow chequered shirt, the slight limp in his gait, the Cello tiffin box that he hung on his shoulder. I got to know that he worked in a notebook shop opposite the masjid. His Seth had not opened the shop that day, so he was going back home after offering namaz at Jami Masjid. His house is close to Sarkhej Roja. He went on to sing praises of Gujarat and even telling me with conviction that I should shift to Ahmedabad.

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Pic 2: Siddi Sayed Mosque – a view from the backside

After a walk of about 15 mins, we arrived at the main road and just across the road was jaali-wala masjid. Ah! He remembers that I wished to stop here. After I was done, we crossed the road and boarded a shared auto. The shared auto put to rest all the unnecessary speculations my mind was occupied with.

Somewhere this young boy got off and when I offered to pay his fare he hesitated but accepted later. The auto zoomed away and the distance seemed to be quite a bit. I could hear myself saying – Sarkhej Roza better be worth all this trouble!

Soon the shared auto dropped me off at some point. With ample guidance from the autowala, I crossed the road, boarded another auto and reached my destination  –  Sarkhej Roza or Bara Maqbara.

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Pic 3: The mosque and tomb complex of Sarkhej Roza, this picture shows the mosque only.

This young boy had no intention other than just taking me to the place I wanted to go. A gesture I will always fondly remember.

We live in a world where even good acts are viewed through the tainted lens of suspicion and we find it difficult to accept that a stranger can do something nice for us. I firmly believe the world is made of more good people than bad and this is just another case in point to prove that.

The Driver Who Cared So Much

Have you ever come across a driver who pays for your tea and nariyal paani and also treats you to roadside street food? I never had until I met the driver of the car I had hired for our travel. It wasn’t a package tour and I had just booked a cab separately for 5 days and 4 nights.

The driver went beyond his duty of driving us around to make sure we had a very good experience. He became our guide taking us to places that we had no idea about and treating us with all the best roadside food found in each place. Not just that, while in Somnath he invited me to his house for an authentic Gujarati lunch prepared by his sister.

The Unassuming Chaiwala 

The chaiwala (roadside tea seller) at Dwarika is again someone who touched my heart. He was just one of the chaiwalas selling chai (tea) at Gomti Ghat. I had chai from him on two occasions. The third time I had no change and he said that I could pay later. Selling chai to a tourist on credit, I thought was a very nice gesture. I told him I was leaving that day and may not be able to come back. “Koi nei” (“It’s okay”) is what he said.

These people and many others have been instrumental in making my Gujarat experience a wonderful one. And, these are precisely the kind of experiences that propel me to travel.

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Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

32 thoughts on “The Boy in the Yellow Shirt & So Many Others”

  1. I am happy to read this post. In my travels I have been helped by numerous strangers. Just like you there have been occassions where being a solo female traveler I have doubted their intentions but in all cases I have found them to be good. I would especially like to narrate one story similar to your yellow shirt where a guy asked me to get down at a station 3 stations ahead of my actual destination. I got down but immediately felt that the man had bad motives because it was deserted station where it was only him and me. But gradually found that getting down at that station saved me a 50km bus ride and it was the closest place to the place I was going. Even now I feel guilty thinking how I doubted that fellow. Great post as usual Neel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is quite a story, Balaka. I would have had the same thoughts in your situation. I too have found mostly helpful people during all my travels.
      However, haven’t been spared from being cheated for being a tourist especially by taxi drivers and autowallas 😀 In Gujarat, even this didn’t happen. In a particular occasion an autowala thought the distance was too short (not so much in my opinion though) and wouldn’t quote a fare. Instead asked me to pay whatever I thought was right. When I insisted, he charged only 20 bucks. I wouldn’t expect this is most places, at least not in Bangalore 😀

      Like

  2. Our outlook depends on what we see, read, and experience. Unfortunately, we only read negative news in media – newspaper and television. Bad news sells! It is important to “unlearn” when we travel. As always, I feel we should trust our instincts. If it doesn’t feel right – stop! And by the way, women have “extra power” when it comes to instincts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Totally agree with you, Arvind. Instinct and gut is what I have always relied upon and so far I haven’t been let down 🙂
      Such kind of experiences gives me so much hope and really warms my heart so much!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Actually I have never traveled solo so far, that is all alone. I have traveled with strangers, people I have just met. Not sure if that qualifies as solo. I am a gregarious person and feel that I will not enjoy solo travel. But do want to try sometime.
          In this trip I was with my parents. They need rest intermittently and those are moments that I stole and did my own thing, like the one here 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing these encouraging travel experiences! In this regard I have just seen a documentary film in cinema about a guy crossing all Africa by bicycle alone from the South to the North, a real adventure. People were usually friendly, helpful and curious, no robbery or evil things like that happened to him. Very impressive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That story rings a bell. I think I have read about this person and his travel experiences. These good souls add so much warmth to one’s overall travel experience. Thank you so much, Ulli for reading and leaving your thoughts 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you so much for such a lovely post! One of your bests, because it tries to something I whole-heartedly felt throughout my (limited) travel experiences. And beautiful pictures!

    Since you don’t mind being a Grammar Nazi, here you go:

    # Corrected sentences (first section):
    “Why don’t we take an auto here?” I asked. “We’ll take it from the main road,” pat came his reply.
    # Corrected sentence (last section):
    “Koi nei” (“It’s okay”) is what he said.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t had the time in Ahmedabad to look at these places recently. They are old favourites, and I loved seeing your photos. I’ve been treated to a chai by an autowallah in Jaipur once. He stopped at a roadside stall and ordered “Sir aur madam ke liye extra chini, extra malai dalo”. And I thought to myself “S*** exactly what I don’t want”

    Liked by 1 person

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