Saturday, June 18, 2011

Allahabad: Hometown Rundown

I visited my hometown Allahabad for a few days in the beginning of this month, a nostalgic trip.

This was very close to 20 death anniversary of my father and also me leaving Allahabad for greener pastures in Delhi. I am not sure how green my pastures turned out to be, but Allahabad looks ominously dull and brown. Not a blade of green grass.

It is not just that roads in Allahabad is dug up into deep trenches to facilitate the most ambitious sewage laying project this city has ever seen, will ever see.

The slow paced, musical and intellectual, holy city of Allahabad is fast turning into a concrete jungle, devoid of any character. Just tall, loud houses have come up, with nouveau riche ugliness, on the plots thats had huge bungalows where joint families lived in harmony.

I paid visit to 4, Strachey Road and 30 Muir road, two bungalows with fond childhood memories, they still stand, though deviod of any denizens, rich past, lonely present, staring at uncertain future, remind me, all good things must come to an end.

I remember as a kid, I would wander in the compound, aimlessly, in the scorching heat of May and June, when we would visit my grand parents for a month.

There was a big theaft, I remember, all the wrist-watches were stolen, they were all lined on the chest of drawers, some ten of them. The thief was never caught.

Over the next two decades some ten elders died in the family.

The structure remains, furnitures are there like timesless constant, dull and collecting dust. It seems like just yesterday, I, the naughty kid, running around, hiding behind a furniture for hours to cause alarm, sleeping under the tall beds, stealing my great grandfather's cigar boxes, climbing trees, fighting cousins, ganging up against neighbours grandchildren and routinely sleeping before the dinner was served.

There were people in this extended household that I hated, now dead and gone. I miss them the most.

Now I don't have any friends in Allahabad, they have all left the city like me, just some aging relatives and their young kids who are trying hard to reap greener pastures.

Sometimes I feel, the way things are in Delhi, the professional world, inflated egos, sinister motives, agendas, intolerance, that I need to rescue myself, quit everything and go back to Allahabad, and make a hunble living, and do things that I like doing, in the way I like doing. But that might not happen ever.

The Allahabad I visited is not like the city I grew up in. But my sister-in-law continues to make great food for us, sweating in the kitchen.



In picture: Shradha, Arthur, Mihir and Yash
4, Strachey Road
Photo: Arthur Dudney

30, Muir Road
Photo: Arthur Dudney

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