“Ahmedabad is an optimistic city,” says RJ Devaki.
One of my favourite memo- ries of growing up in Ahmedabad is when visiting Gujarati Sahitya Parishad where my parents performed plays. Located near the Sabarmati riverfront, it provided a natural landscape for rehearsals. Thus, since childhood, I could only relate the city with art and theatre. From attending film festivals at Alliance Française and singlescreen theatres like Advance Talkies, to learning Kathak from Kumudiniben and being connected with various art events, Ahmedabad has always been about my art and my culture.
As a city, we had only two means of entertainment— food and movies. That’s why radio stations saw an instant boom in the city. As a radio jockey, I reach out to 15 lakh people every day for 40 minutes, and doing so, I try to make my contribution towards maintaining the city’s spirit. I’ve realised that in times of despair, like the serial blasts that occurred in 2008, radio acts as a powerful tool to create optimism in society and reduce cynicism.
I encourage people to take heritage walks in the old city as there are so many stories waiting to be unveiled there. One such story is that of the naubat, which used to be played in praise of Sultan Ahmedshah. If you happen to visit Badshah no Hajiro, the naubat continues to be played today. Similarly, it is believed that the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, wanted to go out of the city at night but the Mughal guard on duty at Teen Darwaza stopped her. According to the belief, he asked her to wait until he returned with permission from the king, but instead he beheaded himself to keep the goddess in the city. People say that that’s the reason behind the city’s prosperity. Stories like these sustain my love for the city.
Besides the heritage, I also love the kind of freedom women enjoy here. It allows me to dance to my heart’s content during the nine nights of Navratri. Another thing I love is the food . It’s affordable and there are plenty of choices. I think people should call Ahmedabad the city of joy, as you will mostly see happy faces here. It is an optimistic city. It has the opportunities of a big city, yet the comfort and warmth of a smaller city. It has the best combination of both. I hope it stays this way.
Devaki is a Radio Jockey and the Gujarat Programming
Head for Red FM 93.5.