The Pride of Gujarat

Today when the nation’s spotlight is on Narendra Modi, we turn the spotlight on Gujarat, and provide you with quick snapshots on three of its popular attractions.

Gandhinagar: Many Indians now see Gandhinagar as one of the most modern cities, and its multi-lane roads, as smooth as a baby’s bottom, are almost undistinguishable from that of the facilities in, say, S Korea or Japan. This has been possible due to the sustained focus and development in the field of photoshopping.  At a more realistic level though, Gandhinagar is much like most administrative capitals with the landscape specked with plenty of government buildings filled with for-the-purpose office rooms, large conference halls, and toilets that are mostly leaking and spluttering like, to borrow a phrase from the previous sentence, a baby’s bottom.

Gandhinagar, a planned city, is demarcated into sectors, and the layout is mostly linear as it was designed by the same famed architects who conceptionalised and designed the iconic Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate. Ha. Ha. Ha. Just kidding.  Gandhinagar’s straight roads and clean civic features are actually a delight for about four minutes after which it becomes monotonous and you want to get to a place where it is agreeably chaotic. In other words, Chennai.

One of the main attractions of Gandhinagar is the Children’s Park, as it houses the second largest hatchery of dinosaur eggs in the world. Said to be only museum of its kind in India, it was set up by the Geological Survey of India and several life size models of dinosaurs such as the Tyrannotsaurus Rex, Titanosaurus, Brachiosaurus and L K Advani can be seen here.

Another well-known spot in Gandhinagar is Sarita Udyan. Located on the bank of river Sabarmati, it is a botanical garden with many rare flora looking at which your kids will spontaneously WhatsApp their friends with the message: ‘stuck in this boooooooooring thorny place with dad, da!!!!!!!!’ (The response to that from the other end usually will be: ‘Lulz!!!!!!!!!’)

Gir Forest National Park:  This wildlife sanctuary, one of the mpopular destinations in Gujarat, stands out for two main reasons.   1) It is the sole home for the dreaded Asiatic lions.  2) It has the most ridiculous name for a forest region abounding with dangerous animals and reptiles.

Like everywhere else, the lions here too have been victims of poaching.  So the government placed lions on the ‘endangered list’ and carried out a census exercise after which it had to place forest officials on the endangered list as the census work basically involved physically spotting and counting the predatory lions.

Anyway, after the census it was found that only 411 lions remain now. To safeguard and keep track of them the government has put in place a huge conservation programme, which, among others, includes providing each lion with the Aadhaar card (unfortunately, in a small goof-up, one of the lions’ has Meghnad Desai’s picture on its card).

The Gir Forest authorities also run a lion breeding programme that also puts to use artificial insemination technique, which is carried out on the lion and lioness after tranquilizing them. But we are not sure how long this programme will run because some conservationist may take the government to the courts on the ground that ‘mating’ lions without their consent is cruelty.

Dhokla:  It is the national dish of Gujarat despite the fact that Gujarat is just a State.  Dhokla, quintessentially, is the flavour of Gujarat.

But you need not go to Gujarat to taste it. In fact you can try making it yourself at your place. And here is the quick recipe

Main items needed:

Besan, rava,  sugar, ginger- green chilli paste, lemon juice, salt to taste, fruit salt, oil for greasing and a dictionary.

Other Ingredients:

Mustard seeds, sesame seeds, chopped green chillies , a pinch of asafetida, chopped coriander (for the garnish)

Step 1: Check in the dictionary what the heck besan is.

Step 2:  Figure out that your standard English dictionary is of no use when it comes to Hindi words.

Step 3: Eventually, through some random guessing, find out that besan is kadala mavvu.

Step 4:  Combine all the main items together, except the fruit salt in a bowl and mix well adding water. Don’t worry about how much water should be poured, because whatever quantity you are going to add is either going to be less or more, but never correct.

 Step 5: Just before steaming, add the fruit salt.

Step 6: Realise that you don’t know what fruit salt, too, is

 Step 7: No worries. Just because you don’t know what fruit salt is, you must not hold yourself back from adding it into the prepared mixture.

Step 8: When the bubbles form, mix gently. Pour the batter immediately into a greased plate and shake it clockwise to spread the batter in an even layer.

Step 9: Quickly wipe the floor with the mop to clean the batter that you ungainly spilled while trying to spread it.

Step 10: Steam in a lidded container for 12 to 15 minutes.

Step 11: Open the container, check whether the dhoklas are cooked or not. It will crumble and not be firm enough to be cut into fluffy pieces that you get to eat in restaurants.

Step 13: Blame the ingredients.

Step 12:  Order Chinese takeaway on the phone.