​Navsari, a nondescript little town en route the Western Railways main line, a station between Valsad and Surat, native to many a Parsis and as many Gujarati Jains, the closest rail to Dandi - where India's first realisation of freedom was spelt. The place where I discovered Gujarati gastronomical wonders such as લસણીયા બટાકા, cheese butter masala, Budhiબેન ની ચા and the array of delicacies waiting to put you in a culinary tizzy at Lunsi Kui.

Since that first time in March 2012, it's also been a town, which I've met more people who call home in some form or another. A past that is more resistant to change for fear of losing its heritage than for fear of change itself. An ethos so full of purpose for the causes it had supported so far, and promises to carry forth through generations to come, quietly, but resiliently.

Unlike bigger cities of Gujarat, Navsari has steadfastly spat in the face of bulldozing development, even when its excavators and concrete slabs prevailed, almost as if echoing the sentiment of the man who broke the salt law not farther than 14 km away. It has not cowered in the wake of modern political oscillation. It has shown the middle finger to Bombay.

Then again, it has opened its arms to embrace Bombay's injured and inebriated.

Navsari opens its arms to embrace Bombay's injured and inebriated

And then Navsari comes to Bombay. And it says, you folks don't know how to live; I don't blame you for not singing here in your open voices, and not throwing back your heads uncontrollably when you laugh helplessly; આવ, હૂં તને પમ્પોળું; આવ તને વ્હાલ કરું અને પ્રેમ આપું; તારી ચિંતા અને કદર માં તને વઢુ અને સમજાવુ (come let me caress you, let me give you my affection and love, in caring for you and appreciation, let me scold you and teach you).

I've written about it before on this blog as a place of music, a short drive to the beach, and as the childhood nurturer of my friend, Veeram. Navsari belongs to anyone who wants to be Navsari, really.  In that, Navsari is a sanctuary that is independent of its geography, its people, its old architecture and meandering lanes. Hell, it might be a town with few or no opportunities, but where loans and debts are not equated to sustenance or sustainability. Patience and perseverance get you there.

You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave
If you want to be (in) Navsari, you needn't even take that four-hour train ride, for it is not some memory stamped on your heart or nostalgia.

Navsari is a state of mind. To achieve it, you must be honest to yourself constantly.

And then you enter the realm of the real and the realistic. Then even your tiny hole-in-the-wall-like room in the queen of Bombay's suburbs would feel like Navsari.

Navsari is like that. You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave.

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