So, it has officially been about a little over a month since I arrived to Lucknow, and I have not really talked about what I have done thus far because sadly, I have not done too much sightseeing. I have this problem of not sightseeing too quickly when I know I will be in a place at least for a few months. I actually decided to start my Lucknow journey by getting to see the “tehzeeb” (Urdu for culture).
However, instead of worrying about sightseeing, I’ve been more concerned with just getting acquainted with the city on the “living level”. There certainly is an old charm to the city, even though it is seeming to die and remain a part of art and imagination. I have to say part of this charm is kept in the fact that the city is not a tourist one. In fact, a girl at the AIIS institute is living in a guest house where she happened to meet David Guetta (and did not even know it). I suppose David found out Lucknow was not filled with much tourists, and so he decided it was best to go there as a hideout as opposed to a bigger city.
Anyway, rather than bombard this post with images of the city (which will be taken later), I feel the best way to represent Lucknow is my first presentation of its “tehzeeb”. This presentation started with some great kebab in Aminabad at a very popular joint named Tunday Kebab, followed by some great Aloo Tikki in Chowk. By far, these two things have been a treat for me in Lucknow.
In terms of the music scene, I was lucky to be around from the annual Sanatkada festival, both to try food, and to watch a beautiful kathak performance by Lucknow’s own ustad, Pt Birju Maharaj. The man was amazing, and the crowd wanted to see his troupe regardless of the rain. That’s commitment. With people pushing to be able to see and many answering their phones, I heard the most interesting line from a gentleman who was getting rather bothered with the crowd. His exact words: “Lucknow mein tehzeeb hai, magar logon mein tehzeeb nahin hai”.
Most of the photos I have displayed above are from an annual festival called the Sanatkada weaves festival. Sanatkada is a non-profit crafts shop which sells products from all over India directly from skilled craftspeople. I have not gone to the shop yet but hope to stop by soon!
I am definitely lucky that I am advancing my Urdu here in Lucknow and immersing myself in literature that I otherwise would not have made time to understand given the crazy schedule of professional school coursework. I admit I have been a bit slow to understand the plots of some of these great Urduwallah works, but I finally can say “wah wah wah” with some confidence. I can actually feel some of the beauty in Urdu Shaairi that I used to never feel before.
All in all, for now, I would say that in seeing the old Nawabi buildings of Lucknow deteriorating, there is definitely a charm to this city that cannot be seen by comparing the city to a more cosmopolitan place like Mumbai. While sitting at the Sanatkada eating great food in the middle of beautiful old buildings that needed better preserving, I became attuned to the Qawaali music around me.
I asked my friend, Emily, if I was perhaps using the music to idealize it all. Her response in regards to the music was this: “It [the music] just makes it feel like the beauty is not falling apart as quickly.”