Lucknow Forever: A City Which Never Leaves You
Muslims attend prayers during Jumat-ul-Vida or the last Friday of the holy fasting month of Ramzan at Asifi Masjid in Lucknow on July 1, 2016. (REUTERS/Pawan Kumar)
Lucknow has always been a headline writer's delight. ‘Whose Luck Now?’, ‘Luck Now or Never’.
The above two are among the sundry examples deskers use to read and predict the political temperature in the capital of India's politically pivotal state.
This time, however, these headlines are missing because the race is predicted to go down to the wire. The historically rich city goes along on its own pace, unruffled by what twists and turns various sub-editors give to its ancient name. The imambaras are beautifully lit up and the business is brisk at Tunday's and Dastarkhan, both offering delectable stuff to people coming from all over the world to savour arguably the finest Mughlai dishes in the world.
There's plenty of food and food for thought for everyone. The buzz of politics and incessant chatter of who will take Lucknow are heard everywhere. Lucknow has always been a deeply political city and a witness to many historical turns, both good and bad. Many moons ago, full of pain, Wajid Ali Shah sang mellifluously Jab chhod chale Lucknow nagari... He was right. You can leave Lucknow, but Lucknow never leaves you.
Politics in India is also a dreamworld. Like our films that sell fantasies by the hundreds, politicians and their acolytes too peddle different and magical dreams to attract people to themselves.
But all dreamworlds need fuel to crank out weird dreams. Sometimes, this fuel comes from bags of currency, sometimes from electric speeches, sometimes from navigating treacherous campaign trails, sometimes from the fervour of untiring workers and sometimes it comes from just cups of steaming hot tea and samosas mashed into a delightful plate of chickpeas.
At Naresh's tea shop in Raebareli, a group of bald men, attired in white kurta-pyjamas and Nehru jackets, drum up support for their parties. The political temperature at the small, flashy restaurant gets heated as empty clay cups of tea accumulate on the table, which is already littered with carelessly eaten samosas.
The conversation acquires a high fever and then suddenly peters out as it does not show any signs of reaching a conclusion. All the participants, tanked up with politics and palaver, disperse with their pieces of dreamworlds intact.
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