India Diary - 19 October 2001

Lazy day today, got up, mooched about a bit, then went to synagogue for the first time in around 13 years. Also went to a superb Italian restaurant for dinner.

The Magen Abraham Synagogue was built in 1933 and is the only synagogue in Gugarat. It serves around 60 Jewish families who live in the area. We went past it on the way back from buying my train ticket to Goa (I travel down to Paloleum in Southern Goa on Monday) and I was invited to attend the Shabbat service by the community leader. The families here are Safadim and the customs are slightly different from what I remember, although it has to be said that my memory is a little bit vague after all this time! There are obviously certain things that are the same; you must cover your head within the synagogue (yep, Dad I should have taken a cupal after all!) which is the same in any Jewish place of worship, but also you must remove your shoes which is typically Indian. Talking with Joshua, he told me that as far as they know, around 10-20 families were ship wrecked in Gugarat around 2500 years ago and spread throughout the region from that time. Several small synagogues can be found in some of the villages in the area. There is also quite a large Jewish community in Mombai (Bombay). The numbers are generally declining however as many people choose to emigrate to Israel.

Magen Abraham Synagogue and me

Magen Abraham Synagogue - inside

The Little Italy restaurant (near Hotel Classic Gold) is the place to eat if you like Italian food. It is run by a Sicilian, Dario Dexio and the food is simply stunning, it has been a very long time since I have eaten Italian food of comparable quality. The place would easily hold its own in the UK. I just hope that the Tiramasu is available if you go there. The place has only just opened up (16 October 2001 was the first day) and so not everything on the menu was available. He also has franchised restaurants in Mombai, Pune and Goa, two of which I shall definitely be checking out. Don't get me wrong, I really like Indian food, but it's nice once in a while to have something different!

To tomorrow...

Created by Dan Leigh 18/10/01