I had no clue how difficult it is to write something about Lucknow – in a few words.
This Lady takes exceptional and unconditional pride in her dialect, is gloriously engrossed in labyrinths of traditions, redefines the pace of time and your soul naturally gravitates towards the bygone eras of not just Nawabs but of the sounds of common people greeting and meeting each other with love, traders haggling with honour for a better deal, conversations while having a meal on what makes food such a special gift from God and what shall be the next meal, one which is more delicious and sumptuous than the current one, kids fighting with choicest of expressions and words that one would today consider to be a respectful conversation between friends and not an argument at all, ladies tending to kids and discussing family and house – none of the activities slave to time, Lucknow always had her own definition of time and even today one cannot make things move the way they would prefer; Lady Lucknow is enveloped in a time pocket and she lovingly wants to remain there. Look at me this is the first sentence that I could write – a brief!
This city has shown us vile Nawabs, given birth to phrases like “pehle aap” – after you, “deewaron ke bhi kaan hote hain” – even the walls have ears; redefined importance of fine cooking and sumptuous serving, endowed generations with the finest of poems and couplets, witnessed numerous lifecycles of kingdoms, thoughts and progress. Yet it is still called “Nawabown ka shaher” – there would be few which are just that but Lucknow will always be much more.
This regal city is a second home of sorts as it has my maternal house, don’t know why but maternal anchors have more warmth and a sense of comfort in our minds than the paternal ones for sure. I think it is the lesser time and fewer visits to mother’s home which generates heightened nostalgia for them!
It was sort of my idea to play Djinn to my daughters’ wishes – Papa we want to go to….we want to see….we want to eat….endless wishes completely honoured by their Papa Djinn! Nidhi for a change did not want to shop….she wanted to witness the unseen, experience the unkown – she wanted to explore and let Lucknow reveal Herself as she would want to be with friends. This meant no Tunday kebabs, no limiting ourselves to the Imambaras, Residency, Clock tower, Rumi Gate etc – in fact we went behind the scenes. Namaz at the Badaa Imambara (famously called Bhul Bhulaiyya – India’s most famous 240 years old labyrinth), chaat at Bhootnath market, Chinese at Jone Hing (while Ganjjing), vegetarian roles near Indira Nagar B block (pleasantly surprised at an old Sardar gentleman doling out delicious veg street food in capital of Oudh).
As confessed cannot write about this lady in short, She welcomes you to witness a time warp – harmony between new and old. Traditions thronging alive, alongside a modern and multitasking generation. I write while my daughters and sister (my maternal cousin) are watching a Hindi movie (in a modern multiplex surrounded by parks with more stones and less greens) aptly titled – Shandaar!