The bridge

There’s a lake that winds on forever.

There’s a path that no man has taken for years.

I wanted to see where it leads.

So I took a different route the other day.

I wandered a bit, honey. Even though they had asked me not to.

I took a journey to the roads that have cursed stories.

The legend says people who went there were scarred forever.

And now I have a memory weighing down on my sanity.

I came back changed. I came back scathed from the things I saw and I touched.

“There’s a forest beyond the rusty gate,” the old man had spoken.

“But don’t go in there, young lad” his words fell on my deaf ears.

How long I kept walking inside the gate, is a question now I ask myself.

All I know is that the forest got a hold of me.

I can feel it in my bones to this moment.

I saw the things stranger than ever.

And now I can’t tell the truth from the reality.

I saw you sitting cross-legged at a familiar place, once I crossed the wooden bridge.

I remember how the trees willowed down & darkness took over.

I remember it all happened as I walked over the damn bridge.

You sat on the other side like you’ve always been there.

Younger and happier as if pulled out of an old Polaroid.

In your favourite purple jacket, zipped halfway through.

You tucked your hands inside the pockets and started to walk.

I followed you like a ghost.

Beyond the bridge and into the woods.

At a place that time cannot rule.

Is it the end of our worlds or is it the beginning? Is it a shortcut to our memories?

Out there was your world that whispered to me.

I headed into the unknown, the one that felt familiar eerily.

I have come back changed now, and I can’t unsee the ghosts I have been with.

I took a little journey into the darkness, honey.

I cheated on time and now I’m being punished for it.

I can’t tell if I belong to this time or another.

I can’t help but wonder if you’re still sitting there, with your one leg crossed over another.

Like the December of 2009.

A ghost

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You tell me you don’t miss home anymore

You stare at the faceless portraits of people you come across

You wait until midnight to listen to your favourite song

In the new city that sucked you in

Just a month before

 

You tell me it’s hard for a ghost

To be dissolved in such a crowd

You tell me you can’t as much work on new art

You stare at rusty drafts that hoped to breathe life

Just a year back

 

You tell me you take the longer route back home

You chew on daydreams more than before

You stumble upon a broken tree and

The old abandoned houses try to pull you in

You wander the city like a ghost from another time

 

You tell me you don’t miss home anymore

As I get ready looking right at you

You mimic me until I smile

Then you draw a half smile in reply

I leave for the new office in the brand new town

You stay back on the other side of the glass

 

Renascence

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I remember drowning in the sea with a rock tied to my legs.
Though it was a mammoth ocean trying to claim me, I felt like a lost kite wandering off in an azure sky.
I was gasping for breath until a mermaid came to rescue me.
I opened my eyes to her face studying mine. Looking at the typewriter next to me, she grinned.
Write a tale which speaks of a white ship. The day you finish it, a giant wave will help you find your way back” the mermaid whispered into my right ear.
I was looking for the right words to say. But like all beautiful things, the creature was an ephemeral one.
With one flip of her tail, she disappeared into the dark sea.
It has been twenty-seven days since she left me here. Alas, marooned yet alive.
Sitting with my weary feet dug into the white sand & my eyes staring at the papers flying around in a frenzy.
Ready to prophesise with my words and undo the curse from the past.
I would like to believe that I have somehow made it already in the parallel universe.
The crumpled papers in the sand have slowly begun to unfold. They are asking me to breathe life into them.
But I’m busy pondering over the stale thoughts in my head.
It is insane how we let these voices in our head devour us. The things we need to purge, we let them feed on our brains like ravenous parasites.
But I have had enough of it now. I have stared far too long at the sand beneath my feet.
It is time to howl back at the Moon. Howl back at the ghosts of our ‘what ifs’ looking down on me.
I had buried your soul in my typewriter long after you left. And I see it burn out into the tiny sparks as I hit the keys.
Like a firefly, it hovers around my head. It’s been the only light on this godforsaken island.
I sometimes wonder if you’re keeping me company or waiting for me to wither & die.
Your love had grown like wildflowers in my ribs. I couldn’t pluck it, so it spread further to crush my lungs.
Much to your displeasure, I do feel a rush now.
There is a sparkle in my veins. It travels down my spine & kindles my senses.
I sit by the sea every day where sunlight breathes warmth through the singing trees.
This is where I shall conjure angels and create magic.
I could move through the time with waves. My words will shatter distances and defy the ocean’s depths.
You know, I keep thinking over what the mermaid said.
I have been writing for twenty-seven days straight. But the story never ends.
I’m stuck in a riddle that keeps me dying and alive at the same time.
There are days it rains & I hide under the tree. I have seen how the peace exists there in a daydream.
The rain drops fall over the pages, and I silently hope the ink will find its way to the egress.
If you read the poem well, you’ll even see the silhouette of a raven on the pages. It was sent by the Poseidon to keep an eye on me.
I have finally learned that the magic is concealed in one’s belief.
Why else would the mermaid choose me? When the sea is littered with lifelines, and she won’t touch a single one. That creature is in love with the dying.
Or maybe the resurrection is her task to summon all poets & writers and bring back the magic. I will never know.
Today, I’m standing at the spot beside the river where the willow branches touch the water. I can hear the waves singing paeans on my behalf.
I have now learned to hold hands with the wind and let the words become infinite.
I can see that the crumpled pages have joined into a giant paper boat.
The quest is at last complete. It is time to sail once again and say hello to the roaring breeze.

“The End”

Writer’s block

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This little place they call a writer’s block.

Would you care to pay me a visit?

I surround myself with it. I stay in it, and I sleep over it.

I have made it my home now.

Would you push open the old creaking gate,

And tiptoe down the spiral staircase to the basement?

The house welcomes you with an archaic clock.

It is stuck at the hour you said goodbye.

Don’t be fooled; they’re my eyes.

Stare at them long enough & your reflection will wink back.

The guestroom is adorned with a flame.

My lungs blow oxygen once in a while to rekindle its dying spark.

Hear that fluttering sound right across the hall?

A foolish child tied my heart to the ribcage,

said it was his paper kite that someone tried to snatch away.

I keep thinking that you’d come around.

I hear you re-read the drafts I scribbled long back,

Ask me who did I write them for?

But I just lie here in an empty bed,

And watch the wind play its dirty tricks.

Our memories ride on the paper planes,

And fly across the room in a frenzy.

Till they become the wandering clouds,

that disappear into the sunbeam.

The memories that you’ll become in years to come,

The memories that you already are.

Baherche Nath (God outside the temple)

 

Sauviragram,
Along the banks of Godavari,
17th century…somewhere near Paithan.

CIS:IS.12-1963

“FASTER! Don’t waste time. And don’t pick up that spoiled cotton” Naamdev was giving instructions to women of his family picking cotton from the plants. It was a harvest season and traders from Paithan would be coming in just few weeks of time.

If we could collect good amount of cotton in time, we can barter enough gold and goods for it” he thought to himself.

“Where is Ilaa?” Naamdev shouted as his daughter was nowhere to be seen.

None of the women deviated from their work, as they knew Ilaa would be whiling her time away somewhere, thinking of an ideal world she wants to be in.

An ideal world was still a dream. But for now, she had to settle for a peaceful place like ‘baherche nath’ (God Eknath outside the temple). It was a small passage along the banks of river Godavari which was famous for housing the tomb of Saint Eknath. It was also the end point of Paithan city connecting to Sauviragram village. Paithan housed the temple called ‘aatle nath’ (God inside the temple) which previously used to be the residence of Saint Eknath.

“I am sick of this! Why do we have to work in the fields when Arun and Ganesh get to learn about Vedas and Shastra from Dharamguru in the temple?” Ilaa grunted loudly.

Iravati and Padma simply looked at each other. It was a routine. Ila’s frustration at what men could do and what women weren’t allowed to.

“Let that be. You two! Now start reciting what I taught you the last time.” Ilaa ordered in the same tone as town’s Dharamguru used to speak.

“Umm…namo aadimaya bhagwati…umm” Iravati fumbled her words as she bit her lower lip trying to recall rest of the lines.

“Ohho…this is not even half of what I had taught you” Ilaa was clearly not impressed.

“Ilaa, can I ask something? Do you know how to write?” Padma spoke finally while double checking, if someone was around to catch them not working.

Ilaa was taken aback. But keeping her composure, she nodded ‘no’.

“Why do you ask, Padma?”

“I have heard in Paithan’s temple, where Saint Eknath used to stay, they teach women to write. And since you visit the temple with your grandfather regularly, I thought you might be…”

“Oh I wish!” Ilaa exclaimed. She knew it was not their fault not being able to remember the poems. But reciting to each other was the only way they could keep it in their memory…unless they learn to write, like Ilaa.

She had kept it a secret. She had been asked to, by her grandfather who had taught her to write. He was her secret mentor. He must have been more than 80 year old. One of the most elderly and respected ones in town. He hardly walked. Apart from his pilgrimage to Paithan every year, he was known to keep himself inside the house.

And while at the house, he spent his time telling stories to his grandkids – Ilaa and her younger brother, Arun. He would tell them about the history of Paithan and that of nearby towns. Paithan which was a capital of Saatvahan kings was later called as ‘Southern Kashi’ of our country, he told them. Arun was too young and maybe a bit immature to see, but Ilaa could notice her grandfather’s eyes were filled with tears when he said he had always wished to visit Kashi.

Amongst all the stories she heard from her grandfather, Saint Eknath’s tales were her favourite. ‘About his literature, his social work and his fight for equal rights to everyone’; she was mesmerized by his work. One evening before sleeping, the grandfather narrated them the story of “Bayaa daar ughad” (Oh goddess, open the gates). It was a poem written by Eknath addressed to Goddess Jagdamba. It was during the time when Vijaynagar Empire was on the verge of extinction. Social structure was shattered. Women once treated as equals were being sold and bargained in the daylight in Southern Kashi of Bharat-India. Saint Eknath then wrote this poem, demanding status of women to be restored to what once used to be during Vedic times. His poem inspired people and once again they stood together. Saint Eknath shone them the light needed to push the darkness of cruelty that had engulfed the town.

“So do you mean, women could also sit at temples and learn about Vedas like men do in our village?”

Grandfather decided to answer that question only once he was sure that Arun and his son, Naamdev had fallen asleep.
Ilaa was sitting outside the house, gazing at the star studded sky. The moonlight crawled along the edges of rooftops. He sat next to her and took a deep breath. It wasn’t the first time that she had asked him such a question.

He placed the lantern next to her and started scribbling on the floor. That night, Ilaa learnt to write her first few letters. And then few more the next night. The pace increased as she showed her acumen to her willing grandfather. Slowly she learnt to write the entire poem.

Today when Padma asked Ilaa ‘whether she could write’, it sparked a thought inside her mind. She could see the eagerness to learn in Padma’s eyes. She wanted to help her. And Iravati. And all other women of her village to write, to read, to be able to do the things that only men were allowed to do. She remembered how Dharamguru at temple had reacted, when during Eknath festival last year, she expressed her desire to learn alongside the men of the village. The crowd laughed and one head – that of Naamdev’s, stooped low in embarrassment, his eyes emitting fire. But she decided not to give up. She really wanted to learn.

That night Ilaa was sitting outside the house again, with the lantern keeping her warm.

Her grandfather’s coughing was the only sound in the asleep Sauviragram.

“You have gone crazy” he said as soon as he sat next to her.

“The plan is to teach our village in the language that they understand. Only then they will be ready to teach us”. Ilaa then explained the entire plan to him, with him nodding, asking her to reconsider, nodding again and finally saying yes. ‘You will have to wake up very early from tomorrow’ he reminded her. And determined Ilaa happily agreed.

The next morning Sauviragram witnessed a miracle.

Namo aadimaya bhagwati, anadi siddhamul prakruti” the first line of Eknath’s poem – bayaa daar ughad had appeared on the wall behind his tomb.

The entire town was shocked. Apart from Dharamguru and Grandfather of Ilaa no one could recite and write the poem in the small town. It was not Dharamguru and the old man could barely walk.

It was followed by one new line the next morning. The village people considered it as Saint Eknath himself scribbling it down, with Eknath birth anniversary being just around the corner.

Dharamguru was astonished, as he studied the letters on the wall next to Eknath’s , with the crowd behind him waiting for an answer to the miracle they had witnessed for the first time. He had not seen anything like this. He had not taught anyone. Grandfather of Ilaa had not left his house in past decade or two. Dharamguru took a minute or two and shook his head. He then turned to face the crowd.

“Saint has spoken! Our forefathers have called this tomb as ‘baherche nath’ (God outside the temple) and he wants us to follow his instructions” Dharamguru raised his hand as he spoke and the crowd folded hands in respect.

Dharamguru read the line written that day. It asked the village to collect sunflowers and place them at the feet of Eknath’s idol in the temple. They did so.

The next morning new line appeared on the wall saying ‘Nath (God) was unhappy with the village having abandoned his teachings’. Everyone looked at each other with puzzled faces. Trying his best to look confident of what was written; Dharamguru said, they should wait for next instructions to appear.

There was a week left for traders from Paithan and nearby towns to arrive. A week left for the village to celebrate the birth anniversary of Eknath. And this time the festival was to be held at even larger scale than before, for the God himself had walked along the banks of Godavari again.

That morning Ilaa stood next to Padma and Iravati along with their town men and women. All of them were looking at Dharamguru, who stood firm with his back facing them. Dharamguru’s face was bathing in sweat, his hands were trembling.

Bayaa daar ughad…(Oh Goddess open the gates)” he murmured the words as they appeared on the wall in front.

He finally turned and managed to speak – “Nath (God) has instructed. For us to be fortunate in trade for cotton, for our families to stay safe and blessed by him. He has asked us…he has demanded us to open the gates of the temple again. For women. For us to treat them the way we treat men. For the respect they deserve”.

There was a pin drop silence. The sound of Godavari’s water splashing the banks of village and thoughts of surprise, awe, and respect in everyone’s head played simultaneously.

Looking at the mute crowd, Dharmguru finally raised his finger pointing towards sky.

“Prepare to open the doors to our mothers and sisters on the auspicious day of Eknath festival”.

The crowd cheered in response. A faint smile spread across the Goddess’s face. She had once again shown the light to her people caught in the midst of darkness.

Hatred & Love

romance_after_the_fight

“Romance after the fight is the best romance in the world” is a pretty mashed up line now. And I do agree with it for starters. But what they don’t tell you is ‘why’. I think you have to look for the reasons in the fight. Hatred. Anger. The words themselves are so strong and the feelings so intense. I think it is the intensity of the fights that resides in our hearts, lurking like a molten lava challenging to be calmed down. You cannot. You could only channelize it. And what is the best stop apart from romance to get down at?

Call me crazy. Call me a lunatic. But I feel I am equally in love with her while she is screaming at the top of her voice and am trying to subdue it with my husky (clears throat) one. I think I’m oddly drawn to her flushed cheeks and her fuming eyes. I do not think I love her any less even when we are fighting. And the secret is neither does she. The anger burning in her tone only  tells me how much she believes that she owns me and cannot settle down to agree with any disagreement that may happen between us. The little things that she does not shy away from, tell me that it is the version of us belonging to this moment or the period of time we are battling and not us – whole ourselves. She inherently acknowledges this far superior worth of our bonding and knowingly or unknowingly she is careful about the fragile nature of it even when we are fighting. That knowing and yet not knowing part is what builds our castle of cards, our cloud of dreams. And each time we have an intense fight, we only prick away the least important clouds that we made together. We do have to sacrifice a cloud or two, though, each time we quarrel. That’s the rule of the game.

But hey, we have only been talking about the before romance – the fight part. Once you clear this stage of the multiplayer game, romance awaits you to rekindle few dying sparks and ignite the new ones. The fire that was set up by hatred, jealousy, possessiveness and all other motherfucking siblings of them, is now waiting to draw you close. Fucking close. It starts with her pushing you away. That is the first stage of it. Then there are more attempts from your end, marinated with sweet words of affection. The names you call her, you know. She says, Do not call me that! You then call her ‘that’ again. Next stage is your ego making an intermittent appearance questioning your pursuance of her. You ignore it at first and swallow it down at second. She then surrenders. Not completely. But you see the glimmering hope in her eyes with a reflection of yours. That hope is what we live for and die for. The hope in her eyes. Yes, that is the end. It starts with once upon a time and ends with hope and grace. Not ‘they happily lived ever after’. That is your job asshole. You write, edit, proofread that. Good fucking luck.

 

 

Evanescent Happiness

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Through my bedroom window the other day, I saw it was only a little time left for the Sun to set over Rock garden – and my favourite spot there.

I left home hurriedly & crossed the road to enter the garden located on the opposite side.
‘Hurriedly’ because I knew it was a fleeting, evanescent moment I had to catch. The Universe painting the sky with its blue, pink & saffron crayons, reminding us again that the nature is the biggest artist of all. And we both watched it together all those times, pausing for minutes, letting our silence appreciate that moment; for we knew it was a transitory one. We knew that the something so beautiful would last only for seconds stretched together before the darkness conquers the sky. Evanescent happiness.
But honey, we let the nature fool us by its artistic sorcery as if it would not return the next day.
It did, right? And we watched it again, enthralled by its magic. I watched your face yet another day, lit in the golden sunshine and the wind complimenting the scene by gently flirting with your hair.

So, I ran away to reach my spot and thought of all the times we could rewind the sunset and beat the so called fleeting happiness. The other side of the bench was empty though, as I let myself to be tricked by the Universe again as if I was Vikram & nature, Betaal.

The warmth of the setting Sun reminded me of your nudging me while I used to be lost looking over the horizon. And then you would shake your head like you always did, before you smiled showing an even row of teeth. I would ask how your day was…and while I rummaged through this past, I realised the biggest trick that Universe ever pulled on us was not hinting that ‘us’ sharing that time and space was the only evanescent moment of them all.

You know, I desperately bleed ink on the paper tonight, gasping for thoughts, hoping to preserve our memories, before the darkness conquers the sky yet again. Because every time I sit at my favourite spot, I remember so much and yet forget a little. That little is a scary part. I keep wondering if you remember the part of the memories that escaped my fingertips. For I am just a writer with a limited power to immortalise the part of us which I can recall. I sometimes wish you lend me few of our laughter & fights that I must have forgotten now.
Because I’m just a lover with an aching heart. If only we could become those purple sunsets and make a pact with Universe to let us meet behind the horizon. If only if we could blindfold the Sun and trick the time into thinking it isn’t yet the time to set apart. Because girl, I am just a writer…Not yet a match to beat the nature’s art.

 

Are you one of those people who press the elevator button twice or more, and truly believe that it will come faster?

Blogging

‘So, are you one of those people who press the elevator button twice or more in a period of less than 60 seconds and truly believe that it will come faster? I was one of you, and most of us are. In this Dolce far niente phase of my life, It was a cozy winter afternoon where I came across this question regarding pressing the elevator button. Within seconds, I found myself digging deep in the rabbit hole trying to know as to why do I (we) actually press the button and expect it to come faster? We have always subconsciously believed that the more number of times we press the elevator button, the faster it is going to come. Right? Wrong! Our subconscious self knows that the elevator has recorded the press and will arrive at its time, but in our material-driven, self conscious world we think pressing it again is going to help.

Maybe because most of us are so adapted to ‘do’ things constantly. We can’t stay still. We can’t do ‘nothing’. The moment we realize the elevator isn’t coming anytime soon, we start getting edgy. Then, we feel extremely edgy. Just even in a matter of a couple of minutes, we can’t stand just like that. Humans have been disciplined to prefer action over inaction. From the time we wake up in the morning right till we hit the bed at night, how many seconds do we just sit still doing ‘nothing’? Doing nothing is also an action, but at a different state; which we fail to practice most of the times. I’d also like to point out, we live in a society where being busy signifies importance and doing nothing is frowned upon. People are just a bit less busy than it takes to tell people they are busy.

This behavior is not limited to elevators, but also I could see people pressing the pedestrian crossing button over and over again, and we do it on our computers too while entering some command.

Is it because we want to take control over everything that is happening to us in our lives? It seems to me that we are too afraid to let go, sit back and watch things happen to us. It is too dreadful to think about this experience as something terrible might just happen. No?

Anyways, Is it wrong or harmful to press the elevator button twice or more? As long as it fulfills the purpose of making our brains calmer in that moment, why not just do it? We really know pressing the button MAKES NO DIFFERENCE and the elevator will come at its time. But yet, the more time the lift takes to come, the more number of times we press the button. It is said that we humans are the rational most beings on Earth. But has the hole over-flown now? Do you think we give way too much importance to rationality? I believe rationality is subjective and not one universal paradigm. And just calming your brain doesn’t seem to be irrational in any way or does it really? It isn’t about rationality.

It is about faith and trust. Patience is too cliché a word. I wouldn’t say it teaches us patience, which by itself it certainly does. But something bigger and beautiful beyond patience, it cultivates a culture within us, as individuals. We don’t need to take charge of everything that happens to us, because whatever is going to happen and can happen will happen anyway. There is thrill in giving (away) controls of your life. And we need to start trusting things, trusting the elevator, trusting the lift and trusting yourself for being able of developing trust. We need to shrug off our insecurities and simply trust.

Because the gospel, my friends, is that the elevator will not come early no matter how many times you press the button. Just press it once, and stay. Stay still and tell yourself that the elevator will be here soon, following its status, and in no time the elevator shall arrive! When I did this for the first time, I walked in the elevator with a pure and blissful sense of achievement. I felt calmer than I would feel otherwise. The main epiphany I had here is that being in control of yourself feels much greater and pleasant than trying to control other external factors. And every time you do this when you are waiting for an elevator, soon you’re going to get dang amused to see yourself feel free and lighter and cheerful. Trust me on this; it is one of the best feelings to see yourself develop a new habit that stays with you for life. The habits and cultures I’ve cultivated in myself at this age are the most memorable ones and are independent of any external pressure or brainwashing. I took the sole decision of it & it feels fascinating.

Just know what my sense of universe is trying to tell you, When you press the button of the lift , the lift is going to come, regardless of how many times you have pressed the button (You will get what you want). Also, if you keep pressing the lifts button twice or more, restlessly, it is Not going to make any difference and it will come at its time. (You will get what you’ve always got). I also just realized I have thoroughly and thickly endorsed dolce far niente in the lines I wrote above, unplanned so I believe it’s a pat on my back by the universe. Maybe…

About the author: 
Kiran Dave is a knowledge hungry, and a passionate lover of life. She believes as we love, we attract. She is fond of Expressing by the means of writing, practices meditation. She loves meeting people as she believes we all have a story to tell, and that there is happiness and inspiration that magnifies the positive level of your nature and psyche in everything we experience as Humans. Reading stories and current affairs of the world is one of her favorite amusement. She’s an aspiring scholar in the scope of International Relations.
Follow her on www.simplytac.blogspot.in

Mood swings of a restless dream

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Brain over heart. Job over sweetheart. Money over profile and Career over dreams.

Because we are supposed to. Because we are a part of the society, that trains us to be one amongst the flock.

Wisdom teeth start making their way in, while we are busy murdering the teenage dreams. High school crushes from the scrapbook make themselves seen after a long time, adding their honeymoon pictures online. Paycheques in your bank account have become a routine, finding their way out to somebody else’s wallet every time you buy yourself a pint.

Amidst thousand racing thoughts in your mind, you seek peace. Peep your head outside the bedroom window and feel the night kissing your cheeks. Moon is there already, slowly playing its tricks on you. One minute you are dreaming and the next it is your reality. You have a mind tickling realisation that you’ve been through your best times already. You wish, someone told you so.

In the world where most of us are looked as replaceable, you wonder how you still manage to keep few relations tucked safely in. ‘Friends’, such a fancy label given to those who enter your heart unexpectedly and carry a piece of it with them forever. You feel happy to have let them steal it.

Most look at themselves in the mirror, but you look for yourself. At your messed up hair and the dark circles underneath your eyes. You smile once and yet know this is not how you do it. Cold water drowns your eyes into a moment of ‘nothing’ for a minute and immediately throws you back to the present time.

‘Today’. And you know you have to deal with it. Alone mostly. A series of bad decisions do a mocking dance every morning and Sun tries its best to make you smile. Birds are still chirping like they used to and streets are full of smiles. Hoping you could see it.

Rubbing your eyes, you snooze the dreams yet another time and tell yourself, it is a new day.
Caffeine has become your drug and newspaper the first person you make eye contact with. Skipping horoscope section intentionally, you fold the newspaper back and leave. Hoping you will take a stand at least today. For yourself. And take a leap over the puddle of boredom. To the dreamy land. It waves at you.

Grass is greener on the other side. You know it. Because you fertilized it yourself in your favourite dream. We all know secretly where we have to be.

Heart over brain. That’s how it was always supposed to be.

Living life Nawabi style

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With winters kissing your cheek under the white moonlight, you are standing at a fairly busy street of Hazartganj on a Saturday evening.  Watching the shops and brand outlets draped in black and white clothes and a hoard of townspeople crowding them.

LUCKNOW. Like an old Bollywood film, the town welcomes you with its name flashing in front of your eyes in a big Times New Roman font followed by Urdu as you get down at Lucknow Junction.

After paying the rickshaw guy twenty odd rupees or so without much hassle or negotiation required, you reach Hazartganj Chowk or Chouraha as they famously call it here in pure Hindi. So, standing outside Royal cafe restaurant, one of the most popular ones – you watch several people relishing a basket chat and chatting about the week that just went by. A mixture of mashed potato, curd in a basket made out of sev is enough to satiate two rumbling tummies at a time.

Food is one of the many reasons why one shall visit this town. Not more than 200 meters from Royal cafe you come across Shukla tea stall, where you can spot the chap heating creamy milk outside a small restaurant and pouring it skilfully in already laid down glasses in rows. It is then topped with a layer of tea diving into milk, as he fills the glasses almost overflowing it. A delight to one’s s eyes as well as taste buds craving for some tannin.

And it doesn’t end there, my connoisseurs! Take a ride through this city in a cycle rickshaw. Through the busy streets of Aminabad, the rickshaw driver will take you to food joints like Tundey Kabab and Dastarkhwan. And while he drives through the crowded parts of Lucknow, he will narrate to you tales of their existence in town since pre-independence era. Both the places serve a mouth watering delicacy known as Galawati Kabab. A folk tale follows the dish that, once upon a time there lived a Nawab at Lucknow who had a weak set of teeth and hence ordered his chef to cook kababs accordingly. And so in process, Galawati Kababs were borne. Pick up a piece of these kababs gently with a spoon…gently because it is so tender to be broken otherwise. So lift a piece and wrap it neatly between the crispy buttery Mughlai paratha and simply rest them on your tongue. With the blink of your eyes, kababs shall melt in, spreading the mouth watering taste of it down your throat.

Apart from food, the city is known for its love for Hindi & Urdu language. And it is overwhelming to hear people speak purest of Hindi, marinated with respect. You won’t know respect until you hear an elderly Lucknow businessman speaking to a chap dropping him home for few bucks and thanking him in most respectful way you would have ever heard of.

As you ride your bike along with white fiat cars topped with blue lights demanding you to give them way ahead, an open bridge spreads its arms wide over Gomti river – separating the town into two distinct parts. And old and new Lucknow.
Old or new, the city wears a serene mask on its face and lets you do your job at peace. A fountain laughing a mouthful of cold water will welcome you at every corner of this town.

I am yet to see a town so careful to maintain the buildings and houses in their pristine form that even cafe coffee day paints itself black and white to be a part of its clique. Big clothing brands try and stand out with their showrooms taking shelter in white flamboyant architectures, reminiscent of its royal Nawabi past.

Wondering how to reach here? Simple. The capital city of Uttar Pradesh is just an overnight train journey from New Delhi and requiring a 24hours travel from Mumbai. Airlines hover around it every day, giving you a glimpse of wide gardens showcasing a tall statue of Buddha and several elephants standing in rows. So one can take a nonstop flight from metro cities or have a connecting flight from New Delhi/Mumbai from other towns to land here.

And yes, don’t forget to add ‘G’ to every surname that you come across here. After all, mingling with the local stream lets you appreciate the place even more.

Rest; there are plenty of places and faces waiting for you to arrive here – in Nawabi style!