Day 6 (Mmm….Mango Lassi)
Ahmedabad, what a tidy city. It constantly brought to mind how we all take the simple luxuries of cleanliness for granted. Both the skies and streets lacked the pollution we had come to expect; the city even felt safer and less chaotic. (Fun Fact: Gandhi spent a large part of his life in Ahmedabad, and at his request the city became a dry state (alcohol is illegal)).
Either alarms must hate us or we hate alarms. Despite the 10 am meeting time, Caroline and I once again missed our alarm and woke up fifteen minutes to ten. Super. Late. Again. In my haste, I must have neglected to calm the Recently Awoken Christine storm because our professor insisted that I not apologize for my tardiness and repeatedly asked about my health.
First on the agenda: Amul Dairy, Ahmedabad’s largest dairy producer. The company has a truly unique business model – a diary co-op at the village level. This creates a direct link between milk producers and consumers. Milk producers (farmers) control the processing, procurement, and marketing of the milk and thereby take full control over their own production schedule and economic returns. More than 13 million milk producers pour milk in dairy cooperative societies; this milk is processed in 176 district co-operative unions and marketed by 22 State Marketing Federations.
At our arrival, we received some Amul mango lassi, and I must say that this had to be the best lassi I have ever tasted (I even drank an unclaimed 2nd lassi). Amul prides itself for not using any form of preservatives, hormones, or antibiotics. Rohit mentioned that the milk in India tastes much better than milk in the States, and I definitely agree. Furthermore, Indian cows have this huge hump on their back to which farmers attach plows. While these cows do not produce as much milk as U.S. cows, breeding has taken place between the Indian cow and the Jersey cow to help increase milk production. (Fun Fact: According to some whole milk is much more nutritious than skim milk. I’m not entirely convinced.)
As we toured the plant after the meeting, I recalled that Amul’s business model gave economic power to women in rural villages. I asked to see if I could interview several of these women and everyone at Amul seemed extremely receptive to this idea. Unfortunately, due to political issues and short notice, the accommodations fell through. they would not be able to accommodate us on this request. That would have been some powerful footage.
Amul Café, where we enjoyed lunch after the visit, stood in front of the main Amul plant. My stomach rejoiced over the yummy masala dosa, Amul ice coffee, and a pint of mango frozen yogurt (which surprised the employee). Since I love family style meals, I tried a slice of the pizza that the others had ordered. Although delicious, it had a much sweeter tomato sauce than American pizza which kind of threw off the rest of the pizza experience. I made myself feel less guilty about the pint of frozen yogurt by sharing it with a few of my lovely bus buddies (Paul, Jeremy, Kevin) on our way to Gandhi’s Ashram.
The word peaceful aptly describes Gandhi’s Ashram where Gandhi spent about 12 years of his life. To view his living situation and learn about his life fascinated me. Throughout the place, Gandhi’s quotes hung in large displays. He has a very powerful way with brief yet complex phrases. “My life is my message” perfectly reflects how I feel.
Back at the hotel, we relaxed for a few hours before exploring the city with Ali, our excellent twenty-one year old tour guide. On the way to some shopping areas, I found a camel!!
Before dinner at a traditional Thali place, some of us boldly tried Indian street food even though we had been warned many many many times NOT to ever eat Indian street food. Descriptions of nasty indigestion were embedded into our minds. In fact, my friend Ryan wanted to make a pretend infomercial about the most efficient weight loss program called the “street food diet.” People eat a ton of Indian street food so that they throw up. Then place them in the worst part of New Delhi so that they have to run in order to survive. Despite these warnings and horror stories, after Rohit confirmed that eating street food in Ahmedabad probably could possibly be much safer than in any other state, we gave it a go.
I tried a tasty after meal dessert called Pan, which looked like a some sort of leaf with different plums and spices wrapped together. Its taste kind of reminded me of some Taiwanese candy that I had once before. Since street food does not exclude family style in my book, I also ate some of Amit’s street corn. Let’s see what our bodies make of it over the next twenty-four hours.
We had a great time at the beautiful Thali restaurant. Rohit confessed that this place would probably serve the most authentic food that we would experience on the trip. I liken Thali to tapas, little portions of a variety of dishes.
The South Indian food style proved much more sweet than its spicy North Indian counterpart, which I did not like. I will take salt over sugar any day, so it was hard adjusting to food I expected to be salty but tasted like sugar.
Passing out seems like my favorite after dinner pastime. I have no idea why. Maybe it has something to do with a lack of sleep…