As I said in my last blog (Destination Gujarat’s #RannUtsav, Part I), once you alight from the bus upon reaching Kutch, you are amazed by the scale at which the Modi government has planned the #RannUtsav. Easy check-ins at the welcome – tent, with the staff handing you colourful bandhni scarfs for the sun and the dust got us into the ‘white dessert’ mood. We chose to walk up to our tent since we were told it was not very far away. Many others took the golf buggies. Busses after busses were coming in with people from all parts of the country, chiefly Gujarat. Despite this, there seemed to be no sign of confusion at the gate. Must be immaculately planned. Or is it that the tourists were more patient? Both, I decided.
As we walked past the entrance gate towards our tent, we saw a library, an AC tent with internet connection, a huge amphitheatre for the evening cultural programs, a tent for medical needs, a tent housing craftsmen/women at work, a makeshift ‘museum’ showcasing Bhuj’s history, a cluster of tents earmarked ‘food-court’, another cluster selling handicrafts, bags, jutis (sandals) and clothing. God!! They have thought of everything!! And, finally a hell lot of security guards all around. All right, we are safe too.
Tents were in clusters of about 40-50, for the ease of management. In between every cluster was a huge carpeted ground for families to gather and participate in bonfire or plain banter. The tents were adorable. You could see Gujrati workmanship everywhere. Our was an AC tent, for despite the end–December dessert chill, we were told that the noons could get unbearably hot. And there was a heater for the night too. What contradictions!! The inside was space with just the basic requirements. So was the washroom. But spotlessly clean. This was like those picture of the tents of Rajahs out on a hunt in the jungle..haha. All three of us were hopping around, excited at the prospect of staying in a tent. My daughter could make us her mind whether to sit in the reclining chair, or check of the ‘queer’ washroom, or go out!!
Realising we were famished, we freshened up quickly and went to our ‘toran’, the dining room. Food was a complete Gujrati spread with chaach (butter-milk), rotis, two different types of vegetable curries, rice and the ghee laden dessert. We devoured them, choosing to ignore the ghee!! However, during our subsequent meals for the rest of our stay, we realised that the organising committee had not given much thought for toddlers and little children. Every curry and dal was extremely spicy. Almost every family we saw there with little kids, were giving ghee-laced rotis to their wards along with dahi (curd). I put very little dal in my daughter rice so that she wouldn’t feel the chillies, and took the help of curd and sugar. But dinners were difficult, since I couldn’t give her curd at night, considering the chill outside. At breakfast too, there was no milk. The 4pm snacks had only tea and glucose biscuits. No fruits for the children. We did speak to somebody from the food committee, and mentioned all this in the feedback form too.
Coming back to the tent around 1.30 pm, Jayant ordered us to take a quick nap. The village excursion was scheduled for 4 pm, from where we would be taken to the Rann until sun set. Off we went to sleep, overpowered by the exhaustion of travel.
— Post/Photographs by Deepa.
— Also read Destination Gujarat’s #RannUtsav Part I — Reaching Kutch
— Also read Destination #RannUtsav Part III — Experience @Kutch