Half-a-dozen communal flare-ups are de rigueur in UP when the Dussehra and Moharram processions coincide but Lucknow still lives by its Ganga-Jamni tehzeeb, thank god. This year, as always, when the Ram Baraat (victory procession of Lord Rama) was being taken out, Muslims in big numbers came out to shower petals on the characters of Rama and Bharat. And when Shias mourned the martyrdom of Hussain the next day, Hindus gave a break to the Dussehra revelry to give a peaceful passage to the juloos of tazias in the old city.
Idol burial on the banks
While Yogi Adityanath participated in the Rally for Rivers, Lucknowites found a novel way of saving their Gomti from pollution due to the immersion of thousands of Durga idols after Puja. All idols were sequestered at one spot on the riverbank of the Gomti and the plaster of paris models were buried in a huge pit. Only the eco-friendly idols were allowed to be immersed in the river. That’s aw so sweet, but that’s not nearly enough to save the Gomti.
As it passes by town after town in the alluvial plains of UP, the Gomti serves as the receptacle of industrial waste, and by the time it passes by Lucknow it’s more sullied than the Ganga at Varanasi. The CAG report last year said the Ganga has improved in recent years but the Gomti has worsened. It will take more than a stop to the idol immersion to save the Gomti.
Still Sachin, Sachin!
The Virats and the MSDs may be the flavor of the month in cricket but Sachin is Sachin. Lucknow is not in any hurry to forget the Master Blaster, now retired. When he touched down here at the Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport on his way to Barabanki on Wednesday, scores of fans turned up for a dekho, screaming ‘Sachin, Sachin!’ The cricketing legend is now into noble causes.
He was here to distribute solar lamps and LED lights to 300 zardozi and chikan artisans. He seemed overwhelmed by the welcome, and went nostalgic remembering his 1994 visit to Lucknow. “I have come to Lucknow after several years and I have fond memories of the city. Years ago, in 1994, I had come to play against Sri Lanka and the love I got from Lucknow back then is the same even now,” he said. Kya, tere bhi aankhon mein nami to nahin?
Morning has broken
The smog days are here in Lucknow and the mornings haven’t been great this week. A thick haze settles over the city through the night and lasts late into the morning. The monsoon is in retreat and the temperatures have begun their winter dip. Particulates from last week’s Ravan dahan are said to be still floating around and the vehicle exhaust completes this dirty soup. The aforesaid CAG report said the state capital has twice the number of vehicles than Varanasi, and therefore the air ain’t great either.
The author is the correspondent of the New Indian Express in Uttar Pradesh.