I had started a series about the suburbs of Lucknow as I had observed in the early 1990s. I wonder how many of them still have a separate identity and have escaped being swallowed in the steadily expanding city, and still maintain a belt of undeveloped land – some trees – between the city outskirts and them. However, times change… and this sort of creeping, encompassing ‘development’ has become the norm. Anyway….
My first post which dealt with a couple of settlements towards the north evoked a fairly wide gamut of reactions from some who read it. “Haan, haan- I read some of it earlier……pata nahi kya, kya likha hua hai….Bazaarkhala- shala………” was the response of my Dear Big Sister. The Ma’am considered the account to have “too much facts and very little colour” and while the Ustaad (an opinion I greatly cherish) said: “i like ur writing style my only comment would be you take too long to lead into the subject. i often end up skipping a few lines to see what it is actually about…..”
(and I bet the beginning of this post would again prove the point).
I do concede that I along with my close kin – 18th century German philosophers, Victorian-era writers to cite the most relevant examples- do take a long (and some might say convoluted) route and time in getting to the crux of the matter but that is my identity, for good or bad. As far as the other point is concerned, I respond to it next while my Dear Sister’s comment is the sort of one that is beyond comprehension.
I was telling about the north route from Lucknow and had mentioned the qasbas of Bakshi-ka-Taal and Itaunja, which fall on the Sitapur Road – or the first km stretch of the Lucknow-Delhi highway, till it enters Sitapur district with a settlement called Atari (or Attaraiya) just over the border. The absence of colour can be due to the fact that I just cycled to Bakshi-ka-Talaab once (it was about 20-km plus from the city) and never to Itaunja, which was almost 50 km, quite close to the border with Sitapur. (I have of course motored down on this route quite a few times but that is certainly not the same as visiting it as the destination, walking around and feeling the atmosphere as I used to do those lazy summer days of 1992 and 1993.
Lets me take another route…. another leading into Sitapur but on a just a normal road, not even a state highway. This was the Kursi Road, leading to the eponymous settlement in Sitapur, much frequented at a few times since the Sports College – with its astro-turf ground – was situated on the road, near the settlement and rural police station of Gudamba.
Kursi Road could be considered to start from the Kapurthala crossing in Aliganj – actually the crossing was the interface between jurisdictions of the Mahanagar and Aliganj thanas. You turned right if approaching from Mahanagar and left if from the Aliganj side, passed through the crowded and chaotic Dandaiyya Bazaar and then past the fledging (at that time) Vikas Nagar colony on the right and the slowly approaching houses of Aliganj on the left till some time ahead you were free from all construction past that makeshift market ahead and plunged into the countryside. Then was a medium-breadth, tree-lined road leading on ahead. On the same rooa, came another parallel road but I will refrain from talking about it lest I digress. Maybe afterwards when we return…..
I have been on the road twice in those days. Once was when we went to see a hockey match at the Sports College but that doesn’t count since it was hurried going and coming. No, I remember that occasion when I traversed the Kursi Road alone, on my trusty bicycle, one summer evening a long time ago in those happy and carefree days of the early 1990s. In those years, roughly from late 1992 to mid 1996, each evening was an adventure in itself and…. but here I digress again.
Lets get back to the Kursi Road…. It was early evening when I left with the daylight still strong as I pedalled my way through Dandaiyya and the bustling crowds, feeling quite relieved as it left human habitation behind and came out in fresher air on the tree-lined road, giving on periodically to fields and just a occasional traveller. I must confess I was a slightly worried as I went on and through the lengthening shadows and my destination did not appear. It was quite near the point while I was debating it would be prudent to turn back and come another day, setting more early while a part of me was loath to give up at this juncture when I finally saw my goal – nestled in a small grove, the Gudamba thana on the left hand side of the road and mentally ticked off another goal. I rode another five minutes or so by my watch and then turned back for home, a ride in twilight and then then dark shadows till the growing distant lights grew nearer and nearer, welcoming me back into the city precincts.
To be continued….