Flyovers and wide, flat streets have replaced the narrow pot holed filled roads of yesterday. Bare open spaces have been replaced by residential high-rises. The nightly groupings at paanwala’s have been shifted to Barista’s. An unorganized galli cricket has taken shape of an official league. School auto rickshaws have been replaced by vans. All night Garba’s are now restricted till midnight during Navratri.Life or should I say time, has changed Baroda. But has it really?
The flyovers and broad boulevards have not stopped Barodians from going on the wrong direction instead of taking a long u turn!! Stray Cows and dogs still wander the streets and cause traffic jams. Even though there are long waits in Coffee shops, paanwalas’ also command the same popularity. Cricket, politics and movies are still the favorite topics of discussion. So what if roadside cricket is not as popular now a days, Sports academy’s and organized leagues are garnering the same level of interests. Cricket is still played with same passion. Rickshaws are not a common school vehicle now a days but just as in yester years, kids constant chattering is still responded by drivers bawling and more importantly there is always space for ‘one more kid’ in a packed school vehicle!! 12 am deadline during Navratri has failed to put a dent on Garba crazy Barodian’s enthusiasm.
When I walk at midnight on VIP road, crossing the new flyover, I can’t help but wonder if it is the time that has changed or is it our perspective? The city, as I see, has been the same since I left. Traffic rules are still broken, cricket experts and international relations gurus still gather at the roadside paanwala’s, school vehicles are still flooded with kids and their backbreaking backpacks, the famous roadside food vendors are still packed till late night with food junkies. Navratri is still the best time of the year.Here’s to one of the best things that ever happened to me…I spent my school years in Baroda.
To the city that gave me more than I bargained for, it gave me an identity…Thank you!!