“Walking on the sands of time
Down the memory lane
That old wind-chime
And the broken window pane”
Returning to Lucknow after a long time, it felt at home. I had been languishing for the city. The love and happiness it has to give to everyone. Its very well said, “Muskuraiye Aap Lucknow me Hain.” Yes, “Smile that you are here”, and even the birds will make you laugh a little. The way of speech, the iconic “Pehle Aap”, the Tehzeeb and much more, whenever I think of all these things, I get jitters down my spine.
Looking out of my window at the market across the road, I was stupefied with the memories I had of the place. The Bhootnath Mandir, the sabzi vendors, my school, and how we used to take a few tomatoes and run away. That “Pudi Wali Gali”, and I swear I driveled at the sight of those beautiful, round red Pudis.
That first crush, and the crushed napkin
Wishing always for an Alladin
A thousand smiles, but few tears
And fourteen long years!!
My first crush happens to be here. Somehow its special, the place. Yes, it is. Like boys used to stalk girls, I and my cousin would wait for an extra hour after school just to have a glimpse of our common crush.
(He seemed cute to me that time, but when I saw his photos recently, I wondered, why did I even found him attractive. I just wish now, he doesn’t ever get to know that I had a secret crush on him. Huuhh!! I guess I had a bad taste.)
While thinking about all this when my legs took me to the next street, I never realized. Walking through the same streets years after seemed the same as when a soldier returns from war to home and feels. It’s true, outside the home, we all are just fighting wars. Some to live, some for success, some for happiness, some for money, but when we return home, it’s the best spa. Just the air inside will be magical enough for all your hassles and agonies.
Raindrops like a pearl,
a fresh soft breeze,
and the road that curled.
And I could feel stuck in between a gridlocked road. And within a few minutes, my hands were piled up with the Bhandara prasad. And to the opposite was a masjid. Ramzaan ‘Iftaari’ time and people were distributing sealed water bottles at the time of Iftaari. Such uncanny beauty!
Where people are dying in the name of Hindu-Muslim riots, Lucknow houses the best relation between them ever. ‘Bada-Mangal’ and ‘Roza’ generally occur at the same time. Where Hindus celebrate Bada-Mangal on every Tuesday of the Hindi month “Jeth” by organizing Bhandaras, a lot of Muslims gather around at a single place for the Iftaari. It is interesting to hear that the culture of celebrating Bada mangal was started by a Muslim who was a devotee of Lord Hanumana. This is Lucknow!
“Zaban-e-hal toh baya kr nhi skte ye noor-e-mayyasar,
Hume to loot liya hai is awadh-e-kohinoor ne.”
I had my nerves on the run when I saw that same old red building which was witness to a lot of my failures and successes. “Sangeet Natya Kala Academy”. The place which gave me my first ever certificate in dance. Indian classical dance, Kathak, of Lucknow Gharana. I was rendered speechless when I first saw those young girls dance to the tabla with such marvelous expressions. The delicate, soft and eye-friendly moves. It was a delight. I still remember how much I cried when I didn’t make it to the finals of a dance event the first time I participated in it. Yes, this place had seen me in every state.
“Memories cascading their way through
the stairs of time, it made the whole
ocean of it, with a blend
I somehow realized that every place here had a story with it. My story, which made this place so much mine. The streets, those buildings, those old cafes, even the chaat-pakodi walas, every single thing had a story. And this place never fails to impress me with its delicacies.
Ever had a laccha paratha here, Kulfi from the Prakash kulfi wala, the meetha paan of Hazratganj or those GPO dahi-bhalles? Trust me, if you taste anyone one of these, you will always wait for your next trip to the city. And for the non-vegetarians out there, who isn’t aware of those “Tunday-kebabs”. Renowned for the taste, it even compels me to start eating non-veg.
“Vo meetha paan, vo sard shaam,
dahi k bhalle, aur kulfi k naam.
Rishta-e-ulfat hai is jagah se,
Tashreef ek baar rakhen janaab,
Vaabasta ho jayega is noor se.”
Which city are you from? Do comment below and if you’re from Lucknow, then do tell us if we have missed something, in the comments below 🙂