It is hard to understate the dramatic nature of the transformation Budhan Theatre has wrought on Chharangar. In the past, only policemen and customers of the locally brewed illegal liquor would dare venture into this urban ghetto; now, even if their neighbors still dare not venture into the community, the rest of the world comes to Chharanagar on a daily basis.
While Shashwati and I were there we had a chance to meet: journalist Dilip D’Souza, scholar and activist Ajay Dandekar, playwright and journalist Pranab Mukherjee, religion professor Greg Alles along with a group of students from McDaniel College, filmmaker Vinod Raja, and others. It seemed that if we sat for long enough in front of Roxy’s house, we would eventually meet just about every socially conscious writer, scholar, or artist passing through Gujarat.
The Budhan Theatre has indeed transformed Chharanagar from an urben ghetto on the periphery of a huge city into the cultural center of Ahmedabad! Back in the cultural wasteland of New York City, I already miss Chharanagar, and all the new friends I’ve made there, especially the volunteers of the Budhan Theatre and their families.