Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Other Lucknow

This book. The Other Lucknow: An Ethnographic Portrait of a City of Undying Memories and Nostalgia (New Delhi: Vani Prakashan, 2016) by Nadeem Hasnain – I would call it detailed resume of a city that has already carved a permanent position in popular imagination – from Premchand’s Shatranj Ke Khiladi to Guru Dutt’s Chaudhvin Ka Chand, from Lucknowi biryani to the traditions of intricate embroideries. To have a book like this, filled with details after details of the city in the context of today’s time, in this age of Wikipedia and quick fix information, is a blessing. A must have addition to any self-respecting bookshelf, to be savoured over time, and to discover unknown treasures on its pages, like finding the iconoclastic Urdu poet Yaas Yagaana Changezi, who wrote: “Takra ke dekhein tum kya ho hum kya/ Jeete toh jeete, haare toh hare.”

And you remember Mohammad Rafi revel in the Shakeel Badayuni verse: “Yeh rang-roop ka chaman/ Yeh husn-o-ishq ka vatan/ Yahi toh woh muqaam hai/ Jahan avadh ki sham hai/ Javaan-jawaan haseen-haseen/ Yeh laknau ki sar-zameen/ Ye laknau ki sar-zameen.”

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