Sunday, October 28, 2012

Memories of Lucknow

We lived in the city for a short while but I was too small to remember many details, other than the fact that we stayed near Qaiser Bagh and Baara Dari and Dikshit Uncle gave me a bath in Chelpark Royal Blue for a fancy dress get together at Cathedral where I went as the baby Lord Krishana. I suspect that my unwavering, albeit misplaced belief, in my ability to charm the fairer sex may have some co-relation to this incident so early on in life! There are two other incidents that I remember, one I will specifically omit to mention but the other one I don't mind sharing. Mittho, our pet parrot was left out in the balcony one rainy night and ended up looking really sick. Friends and family decided he had caught a cold and amongst various other medical procedures, cough syrup drops were downed his throat using those medicinal droppers. Mittho did not survive.

Lucknow was a city where we had both our sets of grandparents and invariably all our summer and winter holidays were spent in the city. The journey, itself used to be quite an event. There were no direct trains from Chandigarh and we used to invariably take a bus to Ambala and then take the train to Lucknow. Back in the 1980's the trains were invariably very late or maybe it was just our unique experience. Since Baba hardly had any leave, he would accompany us to Ambala from where Amma shouldered the responsibility of getting us three siblings to Lucknow in one piece.

 The other unique aspect of IInd class train travel in the 1980's and early 1990's were the crowds. The crowds seeking to travel always seemed to be 10 times the seating capacity. So getting into the bogey required special expertise and some unique tools like knitting needles which were most effective in creating the necessary space that would make it feasible for a lady to negotiate the unruly crowds. Amma would determinedly make her way to the ladies coupe holding on to the three of us while simultaneously shouting instructions to the coolie. Once inside the ladies coupe, she would  plonk us all on the top most berth and get busy with insuring that the luggage was safely tucked away below the berth.

If the train was not very late then we would find ourselves at the Charbagh station, Lucknow, the next morning, just about when the sun was rising. That was a good time to reach, the city had yet to wake up from its revelry of the previous night. We would have the streets to ourselves other than perhaps the buffaloes on the way back to their sheds from an early morning bath in the Gomti river.
 From the railway platform itself, hordes of rickshaw pullers would start jostling for our attention. "Mine is a new rickshaw", one would say. "I know the address, come with me" another would say


Su said...

I feel as if I'm from another era when I think of those un-ending summer train journeys! Looking forward to seeing Lucknow through the Naqvi eyes - when's the next installment, I say!

Zafar said...

bahaut khub ...

Lucknow aane ka baa'is nahi khulta yaani,
hawas e sair-o-tamasha, so kam hai hamko,
liiye jaati hain kahin ek tawwaqo ghalib,
jaada-e rah kashish-e tuaf-e haram hai humko

DhiRAj SinGh said...

Was fun to read, Ali... can definitely identify with those times... the jostling for space, the crowds, the stench... but then there were also some great conversations to be had despite the noise and the constant shaking... A train journey encapsulated the worst and the best India had to offer... then :)

Divya Bhalla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Divya Bhalla said...

I often wonder why the women(and men) of the 21st century are not half as hardy despite the education, exposure and so called awareness...physical fitness par bhi khoob zor hai...phir be, where did we go wrong?
Imagine your amma taking 3 kids to a crowded train station so simply. Today we think so much before taking our kids to a holiday where there are 1000s of facilites/help.

Ahn said...

So guys what's the deal with these blogs? Can't I reply to each and every comment separately? Thank you everyone for bothering to read this.
@Suhasini: Don't put so much pressure on a Naqvi!!
@Zafar: Saw Sonar ki aur ek Lohar ki!! Ab, tumhara bhi apna hi andaz hain!!!
@Dhiraj Bhai: Arre I still enjoy second class train travel, bahut maza aata hain....infact I am toying with the idea of doing a train journey from north to south india... probably a month long journey...and get of at small "c" cities for a day and catch the train the following day again...anyone interested???
@Divya: Ya it is so true, our folks just got on with the job with the least amount of fuss!!! You ain't too fussy either ;)!!!

Subhashini Anand said...

As a new mom about to embark on my maiden visit home and freaking out travelling with my baby.. amazing to see how our mothers managed in less than ideal situations...