LUCKNOW, AS I HAVE ALWAYS KNOWN IT
There is a place one likes to call home. A place that isn’t perfect but brings back a bundle of memories, surrounds you with a familiar crowd, those same buildings with a few more additions on every visit, the same public problems, an acquainted way of dealing with the locals and a reason why you call it ‘home’ and give it more importance than the rest.
Just when the flight landed, I closed my eyes to remind myself that ‘I was home’ and not in my hostel room, some thousand kilometres away, saying ‘I miss ghar ka khana’. The eerie agreement that happened right then between my mind and my heart is a conversation they alone understand. And the best part was when the passengers lined up to exit, I saw someone do the gesture of ‘pehele aap’. Though I failed to understand how that helped in that moment when we just wanted to leave, I smiled on my inside.
People see it for the chikankari, the imambaras and some more things that I admit I’m not aware of because I don’t remember the last time I behaved like a tourist at ‘home’. Home is just not the city. It is the places I visit the most, the people I meet most often, the food that satisfies me more than any fancy portion on my plate and the people I call ‘family’.
Lucknow is the comfort of home that has looked after me the entire time. The same places of the house where I crawled as a baby and then stood in my first sari. The familiar sounds of ‘good morning’ and where everyone feels they have the liberty to switch off my alarm if I snooze it too much. Lucknow is those five people in the house who wait by the gate every time I visit and hug me the tightest to last until my next.
Lucknow is kebab paratha at every street midst the chants of Tunde. A hub for non-vegetarians which managed to turn this vegetarian into a kebab lover.
Lucknow is Sharma Ki Chai in the winter when you don’t mind waiting for half an hour for some samosa and bun makkhan. If you’ve lived for nearly two decades of your life in a single city, there are chances you’ll always meet someone wherever you go and home is that feeling when you’d socialise because you want to and not because you’re bound to because you already have your crowd.
Lucknow is where ‘hum’ refers to one person and ‘aap’ is any stranger, younger or older.
Lucknow is the night Ganj where you’d walk for hours together just to get exactly what you need and a wee more, to say the least. To pass forth the Novelty cinema and see what was the single film trending in the crowd that made up half the city while people like us enjoyed myriad choices at the mall. Lucknow is being aware of what new business opened above Café Coffee Day and just thinking that it won’t last for more than a couple of months.
Lucknow is La Martiniere. While the college grows with new infrastructure every time I visit, it gives the same feeling of confidence, love and belongingness. And a new addition now, Lucknow is the annual 12-D meet at the same place, in the same restaurant and with the same people who just mature and grow closer with each day. Cities and even countries couldn’t keep us apart.
Lucknow is a long drive on the expressway or the marine drive with your favourite people. You know you’re most comfortable when there’s silence but not awkwardness. The extension of Gomti Nagar with more student friendly areas and new outlets are giving more life to the city now.
Lucknow is the irritating traffic and unbearable heat. Where if one person honks, the chain reaction is unstoppable. It is the place where you know the short cuts to your most visited places to avoid traffic. In Lucknow, cultures like slam poetry are growing and taking some spotlight because here change is slow but an audience for everything. Here The Cherry Tree Café is the common point from all areas and you are bound to know that.
Lucknow is a million other things that are overshowed by the safety issues, corruption and population. Under the label of ‘Capital of UTTAR PRADESH’. Lucknow is a place where you’ll find almost everything. You just need to know where to look and whom to approach. Lucknow is over the stereotyping that is done because it is busy establishing its new identity alongside perfecting its originality.