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Discovering Ahmedabad

February 13, 2016 Hutheesingh Visual Art Centre Our flight landed and a pleasant breeze kissed our faces as we stepped out. It was a reminiscent of the purpose of our visit, to dig deeper beyond the surface, into the untold accounts that the city holds. The smooth taxi ride from the airport at 7.30am, the sparsely populated roads and the signature smell of the chai, fafda and dhoklas took us to the CEPT campus. Rushing in with added enthusiasm about the workshop at 9 am, we set out to check the arrangements for the same. But, Ahmedabad was still in its slumber!!! After an hour well-spent in anticipation, ‘precisely’ ten minutes to 9, the canteen served upma and the gallery welcomed us into a large hall. A hall three times larger than our requirement! A laid back, relaxed lifestyle and hearts larger than ever, it was about re-discovering Amdavad!

'The People Place Project' started its new venture with 'People Called Ahmedabad’. A city that has been nominated as ‘the world heritage city’, offers a rich blend of layers, neatly woven into each other producing a unique urban fabric. We set upon unfolding this fabric of 'Apnu Amdavad' with an aim of better understanding the cityscape, people and the nuances that hold them together.

The intense brainstorming session guided by Nisha Nair Gupta included a potpourri of experts from varied fields. It included Mansi Shah - architect and faculty of Urban Designing, Dr Seema Khanwalkar - semiologist and faculty at CEPT, Deviba Wala - founder of Tvak Art residency, Jalp Lakhia – faculty at MICA, NID, NIFT; Deepika Sahu – journalist at Ahmedabad Times , Zalak Trivedi – researcher , Snehal Nagarsheth- architect from RouteTwo architects, Vyom Mehta- artist/film maker; the team members included Tarun Gupta, Saylee Soundalgekar and Manjushree Abhinav; invitees included Dhaval Rawal, Sriram and Ipshita Karmarkar.

The axes to align the discussion were the intangible parameters of humanity and the tangible parameters of place, socio-culture, occupations, history and so on. The intersection of the axes intended to give a trail towards the stories of Ahmedabad. The panelists spoke widely of the deep-rooted Gujarati values and nuances which define a life of its many regional precincts and also the entrepreneurial/business/trade oriented culture and the many histories interrupted by a wave of migrants.

Multiple conversations and details like the khakras, the theplas and the gul-papdi, transcending from being a mere food item to symbolical association of a shared past, the passion of festivities, transient spaces like Manek chowk, the Kerala stores, etc. also their own stories, their relationship with the city, and the foreign car market... All these snippets now scribbled away meticulously in our notebooks - all great story ideas.

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