A storyteller is always looking around for inspiration in whatever he or she does – and that is what Chetan Bhagat seemed to have been doing while driving around Gujarat.
I got the opportunity to travel with him while shooting for the MyEndeavour alterrain series being produced by Ford India and the National Geographic channel; Chetan was on a quest to meet the people of Gujarat, especially the Siddhi tribe of African origin living around the Gir National Park, to provide possible settings for a new book. According to Chetan, the real India lives in villages while he writes in English. It was his endeavour to gain insights to be able to write about this real India.
Driving a Ford Endeavour alterrain edition, we sure met a diverse set of people – all with their own unique societies, cultures and lifestyles. These included the rural folk of Gujarat, self-help groups trying to improve the lot of the lesser privileged, the Maldharis of Gir, the Siddhis and more. It was literally like a series of house calls we were making.
Of course, we also had our share of adventure along the way, driving through different terrains. These included dust tracks through forests, landscapes of near-desert like conditions, village roads, hilly tracks and more. We got to see a lot of colour and vibrancy too – rural folk spontaneously breaking into traditional singing, the dance of the Siddhis with their painted faces, workers making decorative earthen kitchen devices – it was all there. And in between, we grabbed a bite of the famed Gujarati cooking, often prepared with a touch of sweetness.
Sounds inviting? Did you want to come along too? Would have loved to have you on board, but we could only take that many. Ford India did run a contest in advance, and a lucky winner got to ride along. But you don’t have to feel disappointed – tune in to National Geographic channel in India on July 7, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. for a drive with Chetan Bhagat.
I am not telling you what you will get to view on the show. But here is a curtain-raiser; watch this space for more. You can also view more images at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151353070315770.1073741837.108449295769.