Deep into south Gujarat, lies a small town called Vapi. It’s nothing special, just a small town with three to four areas of importance. It boasts of three general trivia points of note: largest industrial area of Asia; once it was (wrongly) declared fourth most polluted city in the world; and of course, “Daman baju me hai na *wink wink*”.
To those people from outside of the town who consider it nothing. To those who think that befriending a Vapi guy is a ticket to Daman. To those people who’ve stayed here laugh the town off. To those who ask me, “Vapi and magic?” To those who agree with people who say “There’s nothing here.”
I address this to them.
Vapi is nothing special. Many would have told you that. Except that despite being a small railway station of only two properly functioning platforms, it is awash with trains. Connectivity via trains is something Vapians are spoilt with – just ask those Daman folk! Rajdhani (August Kranti), Shatabdi, and many other long distance trains have a halt at Vapi. It often is the only intermediate stop between Mumbai and Surat. Which means the station is a hub of activity every time. You see, the road to Daman and Silvassa is via the tracks of Vapi.
They say it’s nothing special. Except that it does, however, boast of a huge industrial area. Big companies like Sun Pharma, Meril Life Science, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, etc. Have their presence here. Did you know, that the towels which Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams etc. use during their Wimbledon matches are made at the Welspun plant in Vapi? There are a lot of industries, which means jobs. Which means opportunity. Which means a chance at building your life. Being the son of a man who did just that in this town, I think I know what that means. And I’m sure there will be many who agree with me – that even if you reach huge pedestals in life, you’ll always remember your first platform. Vapi has been a first platform for so many.
It’s nothing special, even food wise, with a tourist wealthy Daman beside it. But ask a localite who’s grown up here about Agnee’s Chocolate Balls, Friends’ Puffs and Sandwiches, Anna’s Eggs, Ramu’s Chinese, Jalaram’s Khaman, Famous’ Vada Pav, Mewad’s Faluda and Paradise’s Chicken! And if you’re an old timer like me, you’d remember the now closed (or rather differently run) Vapi Restaurant at Zanda Chowk. Take the vote of this guy who knows Surti food well, you won’t regret these!
“It’s nothing special, there’s nothing to see here!” many may say. And I tell you to stay at Vapi and travel to the beaches of Daman and Nargol; the banks of Daman Ganga river and Dudhni, to Tadkeshwar Mahadev Temple, Barumal and Parnera Temple. Relax at the natural beauty at Khanvel. The Gateway to South Gujarat’s tourist places, with it’s optimally placed location, is Vapi.
You can’t talk about a town without talking about it’s people. A multi cultural town, you’ll find all kinds of languages spoken here. And no matter where you’re from, people will ;help you out in whatever way they can. Even if we don’t know your language, we will use Gujjinglish and Gujindi to solve your problem out! And be sure to recieve any delicacies to taste from your neighbours if they are made at their place – because sharing is caring!
It’s nothing special, except for the fact that people would allow their kids to jump societies to play with kids from other societies without hesitation. Inter society tournaments were a big deal, because the best teams often were an inter mix of kids from different societies. That was often due to many societies being very close to each other. But we played. And we were allowed to play – and those who refused, gave us memories for life. Ask a Vapi kid as to how they dealt with people who refused to let them play and you’ll get more than enough for an evening.
Vapi is nothing special, yet you’ll never be at a loss of anything important. There aren’t many reasons you need to leave the town to get something done, unless of course its acute and extreme medical emergency – even then, there are facilities to take care of you really well.
And then, there’s the love you have to a place where you grew up. Where you talk about how you used to sit and chat at *that* place years ago. Marvel at how things have changed while you were away studying. Tell visiting friends from other cities about your addas. There’s the familiarity in every step, on every road, in every area. And there’s this magical feeling – home.
Four areas, three neighbouring union territories. Two parts, one Town.
You may say it’s nothing special.
But it’s pretty special.