Sunday, August 07, 2016

Considering Lucknow

I was asked recently to write about my own relationship to a city. I spent much of my childhood in small townships that qualify neither as towns nor as villages. And though I have lived much longer in Bombay/Mumbai, and Delhi, I don't have the same emotional tie to them as I do with Lucknow, the city where I may have spent a little over a year as a toddler, and then several months of summer and winter vacations through my schooling and college years.

The city is linked in my memory with grandparents, with the extended family, with childhood itself. But it is more than just a personal bond. There are things to admire about the city's culture, its casual, familiar awareness of its cultural capital, the genuine consideration that drives the surface politeness. This is what I've written about, but in addition to the anecdotes in this short article, there are many other memories that have been dredged up.

I had once signed up for a short course in computer programming, at Aptech. I was studying in Ajmer but transferred to a Lucknow centre for the summer months. I sat for a very basic programming test there and clearly, I had flunked. When I called the centre to ask about how I'd fared in the exam, my instructor came on the line but was too polite to tell me outright that I had failed. So he said, "It's gone for a six. You know? It's gone for a toss."

I didn't know. It took me a while to understand that he was trying to say that I had NOT cleared the test. But because he told me indirectly, and gently, that sense of having failed did not feel personal. Somehow, it felt more as if the exam itself, that sheet of paper attached to my name, had gone and done something it shouldn't have. By now, I had understood and privately accepted that computers were just not my thing, and I dropped out of the course soon after. But I have never stopped being grateful for the indirect gentleness of the teacher.

As for Lucknow, what it means to me, here is the article:


rj said...

Wow. A few more paragraphs to read apart from the main article. Many thanks. "the essence of being cultured is to be considerate." The word 'aap' is respectful indeed. This now makes me ponder over the huge difference 'aap' has against 'you' and a lot more that comes with it.

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