I have heard a lot of quawwalis over the years. Mostly filmy. But some original too. Like "dhalta suraj dheere dheere dhalta hain dhal jayega...." But over here (thanks to the cab driver) i heard some new ones, with topics ranging from "shauharparast" biwi to the praise of Mother. The driver had a pen drive full of such songs. When I got bored, he said aur bhi hain... and then started the bhoole bisre geet (as only drivers can play) - songs about judaai, bewafai, sangdil sanam - the best being the songs from Kishan Kumar's debut (and i think only movie) - Ishk main hum tumhe kya bataaien, kis kadar chot khaaye hue hain & Accha sila dia tune mere pyaar ka, yaar ne hi tod dia ghar yaar ka........ sob.....sob....senti ho gaya main.... Thank God for my mp3 player,Jagjit Singh, Ghulam Ali, Rafi, P.L.Deshpande and even Bryan Adams! Else i would have never survived those 1000 kms i covered....
For the first time in my life, i crossed the River Ganga. Twice, once near Hardoi, next time near Kannauj. Mom said I should put some coins it the river, dad said i should have prayed on the river (The driver did). I just wondered whats the big deal,looks like a big nalla. But the driver had immense faith in the river. Says the river is God (ok, agreed it gives water for irrigation and all and was a source of livelihood many centuries back), it can sure diseases and so on. It seems the water tastes sweet even at Kolkatta despite travelling over 1000 kms from Gangotri. Well, I believe him, just so that I don't have to test the claim.
The biggest disappointment for me was visiting Amethi. Its the the constituency of the crown prince - Rahul Gandhi. The Gandhi family has represented it for over 30 years in the Parliament. Yet, there is hardly any development. Even basics like roads are in a shabby condition. They say it was once a hub for small scale industries (In Rajiv Gandhi's era), but now there isn't much commerce, just agriculture and politics.
I always wondered from where do all the grains, potatoes, and other things we consume actually come from. Now i know. Never knew Farrukhabad and Kannauj are the potato capital of India. 50 kg available for Rs.135. Malihabad is the mango capital, the dasaheri type. You can actually see those mango trees as you land over Lucknow. Rows and rows of trees. In Malihabad,you are not big by money or the size of your house. How many trees in your plantation?Some of the bigger ones have 1000 - 1500 trees. Just outside Malihabad, you have rows and rows of bungalows. Holiday homes,people come here and stay in the summers enjoy the cool shade and the mangoes.
Chikan - Famous Lucknovi karigiri on cloth. Lovely but expensive.
Apart from government officers, UP is one place where Brahmins are respected. And rather expected to act like Brahmins. The driver couldnt believe i eat egg! The hotel boy - "aap to Tiwari hain, sharaab kabaab nahi lenge!" Now who will tell them, even if i don't, loads and loads of other Brahmins do.
I like Mayawati's interest in the Ambedkar Parks, some people said almost all government officials, politicians and goondas are gaining something or the other from them. And they are huge! I did a aerial inspection of the parks as i took off from Lucknow. In the distance i also saw Mayawati's helicopter doing the same. It seems its a Saturday routine. But the elephants look funny!
Now, lets see where I go next.......