“Ahmed­abad is an op­ti­mistic city,” says RJ De­vaki.

India Today - - INSIDE - As told to He­mal Me­hta

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

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