Daman (of Daman and Diu fame)
Conquered it on an old splendor. We had actually planned for Vasai fort. But when we neared vasai, we saw the signboard for Daman, 150 kms. Quickly changed plans, and with the power bestowed upon us by plastic money headed to Daman.
The highway is superb. It was very firang looking road and the traffic was also lean. We pushed the old splendor to 75 kmph, above which it groaned. Otherwise it did quite OK. Must admit splendor is one reliable bike. Only pain with long distance biking is the pain in the neck and the rashes on your bum. Otherwise it was one smooth ride.
Went to a place called Ambica bar, whose owner was friends with bhartiya. He was not there, had gone to Pune. So we did’t get any extra hospitality. But the food was cheap as well as mouth smacking. The prawns were really fresh. Drank lots of port wine. I admit i havent acquired taste for real wine. I like port wine, which in daman is rs.70 for a bottle than even a rs. 1500 bottle of cabernet sauvignon i had once had. Also bought two bottle for friends. Now we have a relation to Don Corleone. He also had started his business by smuggling booze. It was smooth sailing as we were never stopped by any cops.
Somehow portuguese could’nt or did’nt change the people or the culture here. For starters, everyone has heard about goan food. Daman and Diu food??? The restaurants here have been afflicted with the punjabi + mughlai food disease. Punjabi food with it’s lots of oil and with every other dish looking and tasting the same. There was sea food but it’s preparation was generic. And there are gujaratis everywhere. Infact they would i guess constitute 90% of the population. I am making a guess, when portugues left in 1961, gujaratis came over and changed everthing. Read this wiki.
After wining and dining we went over to the jetty. The boats were plowing even in the night. The creek which separates the two parts of Daman, Moti Daman and Nani Daman once had a bridge. But it fell down during one heavy rain. This giant piece of concrete was swept to around a kilometre. There is a red light marking the spot, warning boats and ships. So now there are these small boats which ferry people across the narrow creek for a sum of rs.2.
A slight rain began, which reminded us of one of the three necessities, namely “makaan”. The hotels there were quite expensive. Though not compared to mumbai. The cheapest hotel at daman would be around rs 300 for a day. And we did not want to spend even that amount :). So went some 8 kms to Vapi. Found a room for 130 with a attached wash basin. Actually we found out later that it was a shulabh shouchalay which was converted to a lodge when people began hearing wails and howls at night. Now it is obvious that when this was hardly a place one could attend to his/her business. Hence it was converted into Amar Guest House. Attached wash basin, a bottle of cold water and two ghosts on the house. Luckily because of all the heavy wining and dining we slept undisturbed.
I woke up at 8, which is after a long time. Got a sleepy and unwilling bharatiya out of bed and off to the jetty. We were headed to Nani daman. Took a ferry. There is a big fort in Nani daman. As soon as you get out of the boat, you face a great gate, Kille ka darwaza. Awesome looking. And obviously very different in architecture to the shivaji forts lying around. Once you enter the gate, there are different public offices on both sides of the road. Municipal court, Secretariat, library, weather bureau, everything you can imagine. And everything is so accessible. There was no guard at the gates of the secretariat and the main building was hardly 20 meters from the road. Some of the sign boards still have spellings like, “Amdavad”. There is another gate at the end of the fort. Which leads to habitation, and wine shops. Had beer for breakfast and took a autorickshaw to the beach.
The monsoons are not the time to go to beaches. The water looks like creamy tea. I could make myself get inside that slush. Had a cool time watching slimy creatures doing there daily business. There was a bunch of boys, youngest being 12 and the oldest being 18 playing football. Around 15 in a team. It was very proper with linesman and all. And the quality of play was also good. Bharatiya noticed one kid who played like ronaldinho. After a while walked inland. There was a tadi shop, but there was no tadi. Rainy season is bad for tadi tappers. The rain water goes into the matkas and dilutes it. We took a rick to the bazaar, and to our luck the sunday bazaar was in progress. From fish to tshirts, heaps of bras to knick knacks. We bought two plastic toys which can swim when wound. Both of us had enough and were looking forward to the return ride.
And as return trips go, was uneventful and unexciting.