I just returned back from Ranchi which is also my place of birth. Ranchi is a weird city. Unlike most cities in India where usually a political figure of past days occupies pristine town estate, this one has a martyr soldier of the Indian Army who has his statue in the main town plaza. Lance Naik Albert Ekka died fighting in 1971 and was awarded the Param Vir Chakra. He stands tall in the heart of the town holding his rifle and in a ‘charge forward’ posture. You ought to see the statue to feel the awe.
But that is not all what makes Ranchi earn the title of ‘weird’ in a positive sense. The city is a highly multi-religious and multi-cultural. If the marwaris from Rajasthan running the wholesale business, the best restaurants in town are owned by Punjabis. The tribal cultural is all around. Then there are folks from Bihar and Bengal who are living here for ages. Arguably, the best Durga Puja celebrations outside Calcutta happen in Ranchi. The best part is, it is possible to get a flavour of each and every culture in this city. That, one can say is the Ranchi culture. The sense you get there is of an extremely proud and confident city. Proud and confident, just like MS Dhoni.
Dhoni incidentally is not just the captain of the Indian cricket team, but a super class icon, the most well known sportsman that the city has produced – and by the way, they have produced not one or two, but dozens hockey players that have played for India- both men and women. Coming back to Dhoni – Everything around Dhoni is followed with a microscope. His arrival into town during Christmas is a front page picture in newspapers, as well as his departure out, with details right up to which flight he took! I incidentally learnt that his much talked about upcoming villa is just couple of hundred yards away from where my parents stay. However, in the interest of MSD’s privacy, I have no pictures to post here. Instead I have a picture taken by my phone when I went to see MSD’s boys at CSK play the Delhi team at an IPL match at Chepauk.
What I also noticed was a Mahi eatery close by, which had heavy advertising across the town. It isn’t owned by Mahi, but someone saw a business opportunity around this brand and decided to act. See the billboard on top of the Firayalal building.
The Rock Garden next to Kanke Dam was an absolute revelation, where the terrain has been beautifully used to create an ambience of leisure.
We also went to the Jagannathpuri temple on the other extreme of Ranchi. This temple is atop a hillock.
Like Puri’s annual yatra, Ranchi has a mini-yatra too, in which the mythological Lord Jagannath (Lord Krishna) goes to his aunt’s place for a brief period every year in a wooden cart (‘rath’ hence rath-yatra, and this event held at Puri is the etymological origin of the word ‘juggernaut’) pulled by enthusiastic devotees. This is the picture of the frame of the cart. As a child I remember seeing it drawn by crowds on a rainy day.
In closing, there were some amazing dahlias and roses in my parents’ garden, and I made this collage out of this.