I meet my buddies Pete & Toni when picking up the match tickets from our source (Thank you unreservedly big fella.) late afternoon and we immediately hit upon the plan of going for dinner.

“The lady at our hotel recommended this place…. Vishalla.” Pete and I both concurred and the Sinfield’s driver Vijay took us on a tour of Ahmadebad by dusk, Divali illuminations stoically shining through the enveloping smog and spent firecrackers as we made our way through the city.
Our destination is on the cusp of an area of town Vijay cheerfully nicknames “Little Pakistan” and to the only dwelling in the city almost entirely uncontaminated by light. We’re greeted by a variation on the theme of fog; great swathes of asphyxiating incense that add to the mystical theme. It’s no surprise to find Ravi Shankar is one of the many notables to have dined here down the years.
So too has Sachin. And an old bloke with shoulder length hair who’s in lot of adverts out here.

Tonight we’re joining the great and good of Indian public life to have dined here, but as with such a lot of things in this wonderful country, not as quickly as we’d like.

“No food till half seven, but for an extra hundred rupees, you can see our museum till then, please pay here, now, thank you.”

So off we went. And not to just any museum. No dear reader, for an extra £1.40, we’d scooped the museum lottery jackpot….. The National Utensil Museum of India.

What followed was a combination of an Anglo-Indian game of Going For A Song with that Spanish Inquisition bit in Blackadder II; “Oh, it’s a scythe/ knee rest/ back scratch/ front fastening camel flask….” And an almost endless selection of receptacles- jugs, pots, colanders, pans. All that was missing was Didier Deschamps. Having spent more time there than was probably sensible we headed for some much needed tucker.

“No food yet, watch magic show, enjoy music, look at puppets.”

The latest hors d’ouvres was some chap with a limp, balancing bell-topped bamboo canes on his top lip, before attempting to simultaneously hit these bells through a pea shooter. I feared for him, I really did but our co-diners seemed to lap it up. Which, presumably, is how the poor ol’ boy got his limp in the first place.
It reminded me of the post credits sequence at the end of Phoenix Nights. I imagined it was the one-legged Preity Zinta tribute act’s night off.

Finally food and a feast of raw chillies, spices, dals, traditional Gujurati fayre, rotis, pickles, dumplings and sweets. Infact, all the other stuff they tell you to avoid in the guide books till at least six weeks into your Indian adventure. All that sat cross legged (“so that’s what those knee rests are for….”) and fastidiously waited on. The ever present incense and the fact that we could have been filming one of the night scenes in Bridge on the River Kwai added to a unique dining experience and a truly original taste sensation. Yes, really. ( See http://www.vishalla.com for details.)

I thanked Vijay for his driving (I know tuk-tuks are the real way to see Asia, but you never turn your nose up at a lift in an A/C Tata MPV) and thanked Peter & Toni for their generosity and bid them farewell until the morning and my raison d’être, the first day of the Test Match….

Postscript. I’m merrily tapping away now, but there is no way I’m going to be match fit after all that lot. So near yet so far. You’ll have to go on without me chaps.

Hello hotel telly. Hello plain roti and bottled water. Hello toilet.

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