TRIPup Ahmedabad: A New Way to Celebrate Uttarayan!
By: Nipun Parikh
14th January…. In many places around the world, January 14 may just be January 14. But every year in my part of India, this day is celebrated as ‘Uttarayan’. I live in Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat, which lies in the northwestern part of my country, bordering the Indian Ocean. January 14 is the day when nearly the entire population of Ahmedabad can be found on roofs of buildings flying kites and having endless fun. A few few months back, my friends Rahul, Piyush, Palak, Amit, Nishith, and I had a small get together to hang around and chat. After being on the topic of Uttarayan for some time, we suddenly decided that this time around, we would step up to orgnize and host Ahmedabad’s first Triptrotting.com TRIPup event: kite flying at Uttarayan.
From there we began to brainstorm every day how to make it a wonderful event for Triptrotters heading to Uttarayan to enjoy the city, the culture, and of course, the kites. Each day we collected more and more ideas for the event. Eventually, we began to put our plan into action by sending out the invitation on Triprtrotting website — we immediately saw a positive response. Next we scouted for a meeting spot/venue, and decided on the roof of a commerce college in the heart of old city was fixed thanks to our friend Piyush. The enthusiasm grew and our ideas materialized. Soon enough, we began to receive messages and requests from travelers excited to attend the Uttarayan fetival. Ten days before the festival we had already reached our estimated capacity, with even more requests coming in!
Many travelers were provided with Triptrotting hosts — originally I was going to host two travelers, but ended up hosting six! And they hailed from all corners of the world: two from Serbia, three from China, and one from Norway.
The event started in the afternoon of the 13th with the old city heritage walk. The first stop was Bhadra Fort. Fellow Triptrotter, Sanjaybhai, took the initiative to conduct this walk. Since I met him over a year ago, he has been incredibly active as an ambassador and an amazing guide for his city. This was my first visit to Bhadra Fort and it was incredible! The view from the top looking out over the city was amazing! We then walked through Teen Darwaaza, Manekchowk where we saw Jama Masjid, and finally ended at Sidi Saiyeed Ni Jali. Here we winded down with delicious chai and maska bun at Lucky restaurant — a favorite local snack. But Lucky is not only known for culinary excellence. Uniquely, it is the site of graves of some Islamic saints — right inside the restaurant! Then it was time for a full meal, hopping over to Vishala restaurant, which is best for traditional gujarati food. There we concluded day one of our event, and happily filled with delicious food we went home to rest up before meeting again the next day at 10.00 hours.
January 14, the day of Uttarayan, was here! Everyone met at 10.00 hour on the roof of the commerce college. The energy was alive, our day defined by kites, string reels, finger tapes, snacks, drinks and music, everything was managed. The wind was slight, but ready to take our kites to the sky. The first kite from our roof was up in no time. Within the hour our roof was packed with travelers from all over the world: America, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Columbia, China, India, Israel, Norway, Serbia, Sweden as well as expats living in Ahmedabad. The event was so successful, almost overwhelming, but amazing feeling when our attendees from everywhere congratulated us for organizing such a fantastic event. Soon enough, everyone knew who organized the event, and we were congratulated and thanked by locals and Triptrotters alike.
Well, not everything was perfect. The one and only disappointment was that there was almost no wind during the later part of the day. This made it rather difficult to send the kites flying high. I took this opportunity to take photographs, capturing the fun. As the sun began settling in the west, it was time for celebrations. By this, we released several Chinese lanterns in the sky — a tradition each year and one that makes the sky look nothing short of beautiful.
The lanterns are normally banned by the government as it created a fire hazard. Many still take them to the sky, however, and the people attending Uttarayat this year were able to enjoy the unique image of a lantern filled sky. We had also planned to fly paper lamps attached to the string of a big kite, but unfortunately the lack of wind ruined our plans. Still, the event was a success, marked by the clear enjoyment of everyone attending, the more than expected who attended, and everyone appreciated our efforts.
Planning and organizing was one of the most important parts of the event, as it gave all six friends the chance to work as a team and get to know each other while working to spread the word of Triptrotting, promoting a concept that will help us all make friends and understand the world. We were able to dig into the lighter and darker sides of each other. And by ‘darker side’, I mean the fun side. Chatting everyday on Facebook, our group chat has more than 2200 messages and still it’s going on strong. For me, it this connection with people whom I get along easily that counts a lot.
The best reward of all? Before leaving, the Triptrotters I hosted presented me with postcards and experiences from their travels. This exchange, with great people from different places and of different cultures was very heart warming, inspiring, and exactly what Triptrotting is all about.
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