Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I was trying out the Paper software by Fifty Three on the iPad and I managed to come up with this self-portrait. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Yi-CII Heritage Walk through the Old City area of Vadodara

Young Indians (Yi), the youth wing of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) organized a heritage walk through parts of the old city, starting from the Mandvi Gate. The route covered  heritage attractions such as Champaner Darwaja, Sarkarwada, Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya, Central library, Jama Masjid, Nazarbaug Palace, Kalyanraiji temple, Lehripura gate. The Heritage walk was guided by Jalendubhai Dave, a winner of the Rashtrapati Award and who is also the Gaurav of Gujarat. He has spent 20 years contributing to the heritage of the walled city. Eminent personalities from the city such as Mayor Dr Jyotiben Pandya; Municipal Commissioner Ashwini Kumar;  Dr Vijay Shah, Chairman, Standing Committee; Prof Yogesh Singh, Vice-Chancellor, M S University; Param Pujya Goswami.108 Shri Dwarkesh Lalji Maharajshri, the titular Queen of Baroda, Radhika Raje Gaekwad, along with educationist Tejal Amin, businessmen Dilip Shah, Premraj Kashyap and Nitin Mankad and columnist Sandhya Gajjar, walked together to take a glimpse of the city’s architecture and monuments of rich heritage. Here are some snapshots:

Leaning backwards - Nazarbaug Palace

Two shrines, two religions at the Mandvi Gate... and yes, they can coexist
The commotion before the display of posters
The Nazarbaug Palace was the first palace built by the Gaekwads
Stately, yet neglected - how old buildings in India are

An old watchman outside the old Kalyanraiji temple

A child sells flowers outside the old Gaekwad residence, Sarkarwada (where they resided till they became Baroda's sovereigns)
The Mandvi Gate
The old Kalyanraiji Temple

A police desk at Mandvi Gate   


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Snapshots from Bordha in Pavi Jetpur, Vadodara district

Makai (corn) rotlas (flatbread)... the largest I have seen at a Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya near Bordha village, a four-hour drive from Vadodara
Tribal women come back from a funeral next to a river. Tribal funerals are very colourful. There's a lot of music and dancing and only a few shed tears 

A tribal woman

Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) is a scheme run by the Central Government to run residential schools for girls in remote tribal areas where regular schools cannot operate because of the lack of connectivity, sparse population and little chance of educating the children. To get to this KGBV, we had to travel for 1.5 hours from Pavi Jetpur through thick forest (one of the few places in India, where you will not even find a piece of plastic)

Girls belonging to the Rathwa tribe at the KGBV, eager to get photographed

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A haircut voucher that led me to a yacht!

In 2005, I worked with a newspaper called Downtown Plus, the weekly South Mumbai supplement of The Times of India (TOI) in Mumbai. When I say south Mumbai, it means the geographical area that originally was called Bombay — that extends from present-day Colaba to Mahim. We used to run a very popular contest in our paper called Know Your Downtown. It carried the picture of a landmark in south Mumbai, taken from a not-so-common angle or of a landmark that was not so commonly known and the readers would have to identify the place. One of the correct entries would be randomly picked winner and he/she would get a gift voucher as prize. On one Friday, the winner we announced in the paper was Hiro Shroff. 

I dialled the number he had provided to us along with his winning entry. The voice on the phone was weak. I introduced myself and told him that he had won a contest. He said, "Thank you so much," in a very polite voice. I then asked him whether I should send the voucher across to him at his address or whether he would come to the TOI office at CST to collect it. "What's it for?" "It's for a hair cut at Juice Hair Salon," I replied. "But I'm bald!" For a moment I just didn't know what to say. "Well, you could give it to your wife or someone else — children perhaps." "No." "Well, I'll see what I can do about it," I told him and turned to my senior colleague. She frisked her drawer and told me she had a voucher for a clothing store. "Would it be alright if I give you a voucher for Globus? It's a clothes store," I asked him. He thanked me and said that he would acknowledge the voucher's receipt by calling me up.

And call he did. A week later. I was in the middle of something so I quickly said my "Welcomes" to his "Thank yous." He then asked me how long I'd been working at the TOI. I said, "A little less than a year." "Are you on the second floor?" I stopped what I was doing and responded with a hesistant, "Yes..." "If you are free, why don't you go to the Times Archives. You'll find my book, Down Memory Lane, there. If you don't get it, I'll send it to you," he said. I must have sounded a little less enthusiastic so he asked me for my address." I started reading out the newspaper's address from an envelope. "No, your home address?" Now, usually journalists don't give away their home addresses to winners of newspaper contests. I tried to stave him off but eventually, I just had to give it to him. 

The next week, I received a package at home. It was Down Memory Lane. Mr Shroff had put in a little note for me: "Dear Eisha, I hope you enjoy this book." I opened the book. It contained an amazing collection of oral histories, which Mr Shroff had gathered over decades as journalist (he was also India's first foreign correspondent to the newly-created Pakistan). The book talked of Jawahar and Jinnah, Prince Philip, Sindhis and all kinds of sea-craft. Having read the book, I wanted to meet the man. We fixed up an appointment on a Thursday evening at the posh Royal Bombay Yacht Club at Apollo Bunder. 

I waited nervously in the club's lobby. An attendant in white shorts and t-shirt and knee-length socks asked me to join Mr Shroff at the table. He was in a tweed coat and wore a cap. He must have been around 75. He talked as if he belonged to another time — his British manners, very polite tone of conversation were a far cry away from the journalists I would frequently meet. We talked of oral history, Gandhi, his book, Jinnah, Nehru and boats. "Do you like sailing?" "I haven't ever sailed," I responded, turning a little red. "You should go sailing. You'll like it," he told me. "Sure." "Meet Cyrus of the Colaba Sailing Club. You must go sailing," he repeated. I agreed. 

I contacted Cyrus Heerjee, who was then the secretary of the Colaba Sailing Club. He invited me to join them at a Sunday session at the Pilot Bunder in Colaba. I said, "Ok," not sure of what I was getting into. "Have you ever been in a boat?" "I have, but I've never sailed myself." "Can you swim?" "Yes." "It's ok then," he said. "Let's move it." Soon I was in the middle of the sea in a stationary wooden craft looking at kids dodging each other in bathtub-sized boats called Optimists. It was a hot day in November. But the kids kept going at it, some trying to cheat their way to victory. "We're trying to promote sailing. People, for some reason, think it's expensive. If you can spend Rs 2000 on a dinner, Rs 5000 for 10 sailing sessions is not much, is it?" That was my story! I must have spent at least five hours at sea, even tried to overcome sea sickness a couple of times, but I was never bored. I loved the water and the wind and how the kids had learnt to master both.

For the next year and a half, I would go on to cover every sailing event that would be organized in south Mumbai. I didn't learn how to sail myself. It's something I regret not learning in spite of Cyrus's repeated requests to me to join the classes. I simply did not have the time then. (Now, I live in Vadodara which is quite a drive away from the harbours near Surat). But I did write a lot on sailing. I went to the regattas, was invited to visit $2 million yachts owned by Dutch yachtsmen and got an insight into the working of the ports, docks and harbours. I called Mr Shroff to thank him for opening this new world of sailing to me. "Just get into a boat, my dear," he said.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My second orientation speech at the Faculty of Journalism and Communication at M S University of Baroda

Good Afternoon, everyone!

I congratulate all of you for getting selected into this programme. People join communication courses for various reasons — some want to become journalists, others want to get into advertising or PR, some want to write books or get into photography and filmmaking while still others want to use these two years of their lives to actually figure out what they want to do. You may be here because of one of these reasons or all of them. That does not matter. What matters is that you're here.

It's important that you value your decision to be here. This course has a lot to offer, but only if you are willing to take. You will meet people from different fields — academics, media, NGOs, government, politics, filmmaking, photography, art, commerce, literature, science, etc. We give you the bouquet. You may take all the flowers and throw them into a bin. You may take the bouquet home and put it in a vase to decorate your room. You may pick a few flowers and tend to them so that the new buds may bloom. Or when the flowers die, you can manure your other plants with them. What you do with this bouquet is your decision. Value it and it will be worth these two years of your life.

Now, coming back to media, I read an article in The Economist last year about the new age of news. It was called Back to the Coffee House. In the days before the media, people would meet at coffee houses, exchange their views, observations and discuss the happenings in each others' lives. That was "news". Gradually, as reading and writing became more popular among the masses, newspapers were born. People started going to the coffee houses for conversations and newspapers. News soon became a commodity of trade. It had to be gathered, sourced or created and then packaged and sold to a consumer. Newspapers had to shout out from the stands to catch the passers by's eye. The headlines became shorter, larger and bolder. Then came colour and bold photography. People saw the news before reading the paper. With the advent of television, news became more colourful and crisp. And then came the internet. News no longer belonged to the few reporters, anchors, presenters and editors who packaged it and sold it to consumers. With Twitter, Facebook, blogs and microsites, consumers could create, package and even break news. News-sharing has now become a two-way process. The coffee house culture is back!

In such a scenario, journalism is at risk. Each day, you are being bombarded with more and more information. It's difficult for you to sift the good from the bad, and after a point you don't even want to try. Truth used to be the cornerstone of good journalism. But no longer. Objectivity is still possible, but with the barrage of information that is available and the limited capacity of a journalist to analyse and investigate all of it, truth may not be pliable any more. That does not mean journalists come up with false news. Most don't. But they may not be able to find the truth and deliver it all at once. In the quest for "Who breaks the news first?" information is imparted to the masses in a piecemeal manner. As journalists, you have to find a balance between the speed at which you deliver news and the quality of information you deliver.

This course seeks to help you develop some of the skills you’ll need in the industry.  Journalism is about packaging news in a way that gives the maximum amount of information in the least amount of space as early as possible. People spend decades in this industry and are still clueless about what makes a great newspaper. A newspaper evolves with time. And so journalists have to keep upgrading their skill-sets. There was a time when writers would write and editors would edit. Not anymore. Journalists are expected to multi-task – to write, edit, photograph, design and make pages. But these are skills you can always pick up as you go along. What a journalist needs most is curiosity – a curiosity to know about things and people around you, a curiosity to find out about things that are described ‘mundane’ or ‘ordinary’ and a curiosity to know what’s unknown.

Luckily, all of you have time on your hands. I sincerely hope you will use these two years efficiently to chart your paths in career fields of your choice.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Canary in a Coal mine

This is a well-written press release that I came across in my mail (and I don't get too many of them). I will miss this show, but I am putting it up for those who have an interest in art, ecology and people.

Prabhakar Pachpute is often amazed and perplexed that his village now rests on a series of pillars — the land beneath carved hollow from excavation. These extraordinary murals in Clark House are potent expressions of Prabhakar's descents deep into the coal mines in Chandrapur, where his family has worked for three generations in one of the oldest mines in the country. They are acute observations of the lives of miners, and convey the sublime trauma of the mine's psycholoical impact on those who work in and those who live above the mines. Electric fittings within the walls, turn to symbols of power, of the source of electricity from thermal plants, and of a manager whose socket face and broad frame is fed by power. Thin wiry bodies with pin heads, in need of energy, walk in a slow line to work, clad in shorts and miners' shoes, shovel in hand. 

The exhibition’s title, taken from the eponymous song by Sting & Police is a warning of danger: 

First to fall over when the atmosphere is less than perfect
Your sensibilities are shaken by the slightest defect...
Now if I tell you that you suffer from delusions
You pay your analyst to reach the same conclusions
You live your life like a canary in a coalmine
You get so dizzy even walking in a straight line. 

The Indian government discourages the use of charcoal in cooking, prevalent through much of India, as its use leads to significant deforestation, and the smoke has serious health consequences. Prabhakar has spent many weeks creating murals in charcoal, putting himself through risk, acting like the canary in a coal mine, a bird brought by miners deep into the coal shafts to warn workers of poisonous gas leaks in the ground. The devastation beneath the land, may not be apparent. Like the dark lines of charcoal drawn over the primer form the skeleton of works, beneath layers of bright oil paint that disappear, only to be seen by conservators centuries later under an ultraviolet scan, the lakes that were once mountains, shift the whole ecology of the land.

More than fifty percent of India’s energy needs are met by coal. India’s dependence on coal will only increase as the cost of alternate energy remains high, and the infrastructure to produce it needs significant investment. The recent national power grid failure across India provides a cue to the need to plan energy needs, and how it is distributed. Millions of Indians do not have access to electricity, and thus coal found abundantly in India is likely to be the dominant energy source for the future. It also powers the steel industry and is often exported, bringing in crucial foreign exchange. Coal is found in eco-sensitive areas that share terrain with endangered species, like the tiger. Coal has created immigrant mining communities around its centres of production and displaced farmers whose lands often cover vast reserves of carbon formed more than three-hundred million years ago. The low monetary compensation for these immensely fertile lands is compromised further by corruption. Farmers are offered jobs as workers in the mines, forced to ignore their health, and the environmental devastation. 

Prabhakar Pachpute was born in Chandrapur, Maharashtra, called the 'City of Black Gold'. He graduated in Fine Arts from Khairagarh University, Chhattisgarh in 2009, and in Sculpture from MSU Baroda in 2011. Most of his preceding works, were sculptures, or mixtures of sculpture, drawing and light. However, he has been drawn to artists like Kathe Kollwitz and William Kentridge, and has previously written in an essay titled 'The Possibilities of Drawing': "In my opinion drawing is the only medium that itself tried to become a popular art form. And when the modern technologies came, what happened to 'drawing' is also important." Other works by Prabhakar have expressed the stories from the mines, as he had seen and heard them, in a style not so much expressive, as wise, humorous and giving — invented proverbs and relations between people, things real, and abstract and those that have accrued cultural or local social meanings. He mixes stories heard, with the thoughts discovered during the process and problems of making. 

Previously he has used light focussed on his own incomplete sculptures to throw shadows onto the surfaces of walls, whose figures are completed in drawing. The Beethoven Frieze at the Vienna Secession by Gustav Klimt is a discussion of the human desire for happiness, interrupted by travesties and the suffering caused by others, but also by inner deficiencies, while it celebrated Beethoven for his musical genius. The curators at Clark House have commissioned these murals celebrating and acknowledging its inspiration from the Vienna Secession.  

Canary in a Coal mine
Solo exhibition by Prabhakar Pachpute
Opening: Thursday, 9 August 2012, 5pm onwards
Clark House, Colaba

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Monuments at Champaner

Located on the banks of the Vada Talav, Kabutarkhana near Champaner (47 km from Vadodara) offers some splendid views of the Pavagadh Hill. 

Pic credit: Rachit Mankad

Pic credit: Rachit Mankad

Pic credit: Rachit Mankad

Pic credit: Rachit Mankad

Pic credit: Rachit Mankad

Some of the other monuments at Champaner listed on the Archaeological Survey of India's website are:

Jami Masjid
It is one of the finest mosques of Gujarat. This is a gigantic structure with two imposing minars on either side of the central entrance to the prayer hall. The dome behind the high central screen of the façade is elevated on two extra storeys of open arcades. The roof just behind this dome is filled by a carved slab of great beauty and ingenuity of workmanship. There are seven mehrabs (prayer niches) in the back wall of the main prayer hall, the central being more elaborated. The northern section of prayer hall was separated by a perforated screen, reserved for ladies from where an extra entrance was provided. A pillared corridor goes round the vast court yard opening inside in ogival arches supported by pillars. The Mosque has three entrance porches to courtyard but the eastern porch is most remarkable for its intricate carving and Jaali work. Outside the mosque, there is an octagonal tank with steps for ablutions. Construction of mosque is datable to late 15th century A.D.

Kevda Masjid and Cenotaph
It is rectangular on plan with a double storeyed main prayer hall. The two minarets on either side of the central arched entrance are beautifully carved and niches are filled with floral and geometrical designs. The windows provided with pillared balcony are beautiful and exquisitely decorated. Originally the mosque had three domes built above the prayer hall but the largest central dome has collapsed. The complex also comprises of a well, tank for ablutions and a few ruined brick structures.The square cenotaph located in front of the mosque has fluted central dome and four corner domes.

Nagina Masjid and Cenotaph
It is a huge structure built on a high platform with large open space in front. The main entrance of the mosque is flanked by minarets on either side the minarets are carved artistically and the niches are filled with floral designs. He Mosque has three large domes constructed over the main prayer hall supported by decorative columns and windows.
The double storeyed central dome of main prayer hall is provided with balcony. The complex of mosque also comprises of a few brick structures, well etc.
The cenotaph located on north eastern side of the mosque has openings on all cardinal directions. Façade as well as the columns and niches on the wall of the cenotaph are beautifully decorated and exquisitely carved with floral and geometrical designs. A series of beautifully designed projecting corbels decorate the cornice, with geometric motifs at regular intervals. These motifs are repeated on the base, both inside and outside. The dome of cenotaph is missing.

Lila Gumbaj Ki Masjid
It stands on a high platform. The façade has an arched central entrance and two lateral ones. The main arch is flanked by minarets patterned at regular intervals by horizontal cornices and mouldings decorated with niches. The three mehrabs of the prayer hall are embellished with floral motifs and hanging kalash at the centre. It has three domes, the central dome is fluted which was once coloured. Originally it had three entrances on east south and north. There is a rectangular tank for ablutions on north- east corner beyond the platform and a deep drain passes along its front. 

Sahar Ki Masjid
It is one of the most imposing structures constructed very close to the royal enclosure. It might be the private Masjid of the Sultans with five mehrabs. The main entrance is through an arched doorway flanked by two minarets. It is covered by a projection, sloped chhajja. Two more entries on either side of the central one are flanked by jharokhas. Corresponding to each arched entry is a large dome, surrounded on all its four sides by smaller domes. A rectangular ablutions tank was constructed on a platform.

Bawaman Mosque
It is located on the Western side of the fort gate. The Mosque is named after a saint Bawaman follower of Sadan Shah. It is built on a high plinth surmounted by a minaret and three large domes. There are three mehrabs in the back wall. The Mosque has three arched entrances, structural remains and small ablution tanks are visible outside the Mosque.

Kamani Masjid
This Masjid is known as Kamani Masjid because of the architectural feature of its pillared hall which is full of arches. The central hall is roofed by a marble dome decorated with glazed tiles.

Sikandar Shah’s Tomb, Halol
The Tomb of Sikandar Shah, the last ruler of Champaner, who was assassinated by Imad-ul-Mulk, Khusqadam in 1526 A.D and buried here, is a beautiful stone structure, which consist of a central chamber and entrance porches with fluted domes. The brick dome of central chamber and the side chamber has collapsed. Sikandar shah’s brother Latifkhan and Nasirkhan were also buried here. The structure is very simple but the brackets, plinth base and finial of the dome are elaborately carved with floral and geometrical patterns.

Ek-Minar Ki Masjid
It stands on a high plinth. Only one minaret and portain of the wall are surviving rest of the architectural members are missing. It was constructed by king Bahadur Shah (1526-36 A.D.).

Sakar Khan’s Dargah, Halol
It is the largest mausoleum in the old city of Champaner. The Dargah named after Sakar Khan, stands on a low plinth and has a large dome, its façade has windows.

Mandvi or Custom House
It is a well proportionate square structure situated in the middle of the fort of Champaner. The main purpose of constructing this structure is to separate the royal enclosure from other areas. During the reign of Marathas, this structure was used as Octoroi or Custom House. Made of dressed stone, it seems to be originally six bays deep and five bays wide.

Makai Kothar
It is a three domed structure. Overlooking a deep valley, the structure was used for storing maize for the garrison.

Navlakha Kothar
It is a massive brick structure, overlooking a steep cliff called Navlakha Kothar. The structure was used storing grains.

Tomb near Panch Mahuda-Ki Masjid, Halol
It is a rectangular structure having four arched entrance flanked by two smaller ones on cardinal direction. It is built on a high plinth with two corner minarets.

Panch- Mahuda-Ki Masjid, Halol
It is built on a high platform. Masjid is ruined in condition, only corner minarets are visible.

City Gate
It is a well preserved gate with an arch, which projects from the fortification wall, running north-south. Originally this gate was double storeyed.

Citadel Walls
The citadel walls, running north-south have numerous bastions. Four of its gates are in good condition. All these gates were originally double storeyed and provided with watch and ward rooms.

City Walls at the S.E. Corner of the Citadel going up the hills
This is a part of the citadel wall of ashlars stone masonry, having four intact bastions.

East and South Bhadra gates
These gates are the part of citadel wall, built by Mahmud Begda. The south gate is a massive one of rectangular plan. The eastern gate has also an identical plan. They are known as Halol & Godhra gate respectively.

Fort of Pavagadh and the ruined Hindu and Jain Temples on the top of the Pavagadh Hill
Pavagadh hill was a famous Hindu fortress under the Solanki kings of Gujarat followed by Khichi Chauhan. They belong to Hindu sect and constructed numerous religious structures. Among the notable monument located on the mauliya plateau, the earliest temple datable to 10th -11th century is dedicated to Lakulisa of which only gudhamandapa and part of antarala is extant. Other temples belong to Hindu and Jain sects and are datable to circa 13th -15th century A.D. All the temples are of the Nagara style having garbhagriha, mandapa and entrance porch.

Gate No. 1 Atak gate (with two gateways)
The ancient Rajputs fort on the Pavagadh hill has three lines of defence one above the other. The first line of defence is entered through the Atak gate. It is a double storeyed structure with catapults datable to 13th century A.D.

Gate No. 2 Budhiya gate (with three gateways)
The western end of the Rajput fort on the Pavagadh hill after terminating near the Khaprakodia watch tower runs further east-west with its main gate lying sandwiched at Budhiya gate. It was built in the 13th century A.D.

Gate No. 3 Moti gate or Sadanshah gate
Machi has four gates each built at successively lower level and joined by massive battlements. These are double gates. The Moti gate represents the second line of defence which is most formidable Sadan Shah Gate is cut through solid rock on the top of which occur tall walls & bastions of circa 13th century A.D.

Gate No. 4 with big bastions and cells in the interior
The third line of defence passes through this gate, which has a winding passage cut through the solid rock, crowded by towering walls and bastions of circa 13th century A.D.

Gate No. 5 Gulan-Bulan gate
This gate is the portion of the fortification on the ridge behind the Sat Manzil. It is datable to circa 13th century A.D.

Gate No. 6 Buland Darwaja
This gate is located on the hill near Makai Kothar having strong defences on either side. It is datable to circa 13th century A.D. 

Gate No. 7 Makai gate
It is located in between gate No. 6 & 8. it is similar to other gates with a true arch, solid bastions and defence wall on both sides datable to circa 13th century A.D.

Gate No. 8 Tarapore gate
It is the lower most gate of the lower citadel. It has an arched opening and was originally double storeyed. It is datable to 13th century A.D.

Helical Stepped Well
The Helical stepped well made of bricks and stone paved steps consists of an entrance which leads to the stairway attached to the wall of the shaft and descends down wards like the coil of a snake. The steps of this stairway are 1.20 mts in width. The stepped well surrounded by 1 mts high parapet wall is datable to circa 16th century A.D. The three distinct typologies of stepped well – spiral, linear and composite – enjoyed an eminent status in architectural development of the period. 

Kabutarkhana Pavilion
This is a small brick structure with lime plaster built by the side of Vada Talav. It served as a sarai.

Mint above gate No. 4
It is a small structure supposed to be utilized as a Mint datable to circa 15th century A.D.

Patai Rawal’s Palace with Tank
The ruins of the palace of King Jai Singh last of Patai Rawal’s family lie to the south-east of the Machi plateau. Clearance has revealed that the rooms of the palace were built of rubble, plastered with lime. The palace complex also contains some water cisterns with cover. It is datable to circa 13th century A.D.

Sat Manzil with steps right up to bastion on top
It is a seven storey building of circa 15th century A.D. in which four storeys are at the end while the remaining ones run along the cliff with a stone staircase.

Three Cells
The structure, situated within the fort-walls, was probably constructed during the reign of Mahmud Begada (A.D. 1459-1511) for keeping prisoners.

Tomb with a brick dome in the centre and small corner domes
The tomb has a square domed chamber raised on ashlar masonry plinth. The tomb is built of bricks. It is one of the few brick built tombs of Gujarat. It has four arched openings on the four sides. The top is roofed by a central dome, flanked by four corner domes has plastered with lime masonry brick. The central dome is almost plain from inside while its four corners are adorned by series of squinches. The outer plinth has decorated mouldings. 

Walls of fort on top
The fort walls are of ashlar masonry dates from circa 13th century A.D.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A-Z for Gujarat

In Gujarat,

A is for America, the land of all hopefuls. Kevi Rite Jaish? (How do I get there?)
B is for Bandhini, the tie-and-dye fabric
C is for CA (Chartered Accountant), those who've tried, those who've failed and those who are
D is for Diamond, everybody's best friend
E is for English and how it is butchered!
F is for Finance with a capital 'F'
G is for Gujarati, the language of the people
H is for "Haindo", the crass way of saying, "Move it!"
I is for Ice-cream, Gujarat's favourite dessert
J is for Jamnagar or Junagadh or jamphal (guava). Whatever!
K is for "Kemchho", the conversation-starter
L is for Lions, the proud residents of Gir
M is for "Majama" (doing good), the expected response to a "Kemchho"
N is for Navratri, the nine-day festival of garba and raas (dandiya)
O is for Old, the lovable grannies who spin good tales
P is for Parsis, who first came here when they fled Iran all those years ago
Q is for Quasi, a word little known here
R is for Relatives, many who you'll never meet again, some, you can only hope to never meet again
S is for Swaminarayan and their grand pink temples
T is for Tarak Mehta, the most popular TV show here
U is for Uttarayan, the spectacular kite flying festival
V is for Vadodara, the "Cultured City"
W is for Wrong Side, for which you break all the traffic rules
X is "Axe", one of the tons of mispronounced letters/words you will come across here
Y is for Youth festivals, which are full of activities and surprises  
Z is for ZZZZ, the sleep you get after dancing through the night at a Gujju wedding