The Other Lucknow
There are few cities in the world that evoke the same nostalgia among its inhabitants, visitors and historians as Lucknow. Perhaps, Delhi and Calcutta are the only two cities in South Asia on which more has been written. In the case of Lucknow, most of the published scholarship focused on 1857, historical monuments and the Nawabi palace life and culture. This fascination with the Nawabi era is largely responsible for the neglect of various other aspects of Lucknow such as its social fabric (castes, sects, occupational groups and communities), the subaltern and the marginalised sections of the society, problems and plight of the artisans, Sunni-Shia violence, local landmarks, vanishin/dying skills, its Bollywood connection, people from outside the state of Uttar Pradesh who have made Lucknow their home and have enriched it, several other issues and the virtual metamorphosis of Lucknow. This study is an attempt to grapple with the present but not severing ties with the past because the wholesale loss of memory makes a city characterless. The present study maintains that the nostalgia and the undying memories must be there in the face of modernization. In the process of transformation, Lucknow should not be allowed to become a ‘city of amnesia’. There has to be a closer association between the ‘tradition’ and the ‘modernity’. In a way, this study may also be seen as an ‘ethnographic portrait’ of Lucknow in the tone and tenor of ‘auto ethnography’.