Most old cities have a khao galli. Don’t they?
Set in older parts, with glorious food served from tiny shops or glitzy laaris.
Ahmedabad has not one, several khao gallis, creeping outwards as the city spreads.
When I came to Ahmedabad more than 40 years ago, Khao galli was Khaas bazaar. Khass because it was stoutly non-veg in a city dominated by Gandhian vegetarians. It existed a couple hundred yards down from the old fort and its mata na mandir. Several decades later, a new branch of that Khaas bazaar has made itself permanent on the S G Highway’s Sarkhej stretch, offering economic meals, desi style and American magic Chicken style too.
Khaas bazaar was an all day affair; its vegetarian counterpart in the chowk ruled only at night, crowds milling on the footpaths off the downed shutters of silversmiths and the stock exchange and others, for a selection of sandwiches topped with grated cheese and a dash of desi spice along with other desi vegetarian street foods.
Cut to a couple of decades and many bureaucratic battles later, new Ahmedabad got its own Khao galli. Set in the lane next to the centrally placed Law Garden, it sported laaris offering a variety of gujjuized cuisines: gujarati, Punjabi, South Indian, Chinese, now even Thai and Mexican, pizzas and pastas, all bastardised with desi masalas and topped with Ahmedabad’s eternal favorite: Ashrafi kulfi.
What looked glitzy and new then looks sad today. No one has upgraded either hygiene or presentation…… neither owners nor the municipality that created the market for them. Since customers come anyway, no one bothers.
Now a new Upmarket Khao galli is in the making. The 100 ft road that some call Anandnagar Road and some Prahladnagar road is on its way to becoming a couple of kilometer long Khao galli, strung with a bouquet with restaurants, from Subway, Macdonalds and Coffee Café day to fine dine places and even a cute Varie tea tucked way in a basement, with all the ‘in’ cuisines in between.
Even as this Khao galli is still at expansion stage, new ones are appearing on the horizon. Long life Khao galli. WHERE ELSE HAS THIS HAPPENED?