Saturday, January 29, 2011

More than just a walkway

Who says a leisurely walk in a bustling city is too much to ask for? Hazratganj has given you just that and much more and, in the process, gone back in time.

I never was a beat ka pakka reporter but spent time walking down that famous street.

Mostly alone.

Amid chaos.

All my kaam ki cheejein were there: the offices of NE and NR, DM's and Commissioner's offices, plus some more. I discovered (and now miss) several exotic food joints.

When I came to the city first, I was put up at the Halwasia guesthouse. I stayed there for months. The caretaker, who would wake me (and the office thought I was on the beat!) in the afternoon after bringing kulchhe from downstairs, still gives me buzz. He himself was once a small-time reporter and almost bored me to death with his stories. (This is true with all journalists. Why blame him?)

I never saw the old Hazratganj (how could I?) but it’s nice to know it’s changed for the better; that even cities such as Noida are thinking on those lines of makeover. (don’t miss reports on the sector 18 market plans here!)

When the makeover had barely begun I was in Lucknow. The commissioner’s office was one of my beats. He, along with many other officers, and the media played a crucial role in restoring Hazratganj to its pristine glory. From ensuring uniform facades of all multi-storey buildings to removal of hoardings and encroachments — beautification of the historically famous lane remained a top priority for many.

For months.

We even brought out a special edition dedicated to Hazratganj. The commissioner was never press friendly. (all commissioner office reporters also covered the DM’s office and, thus, manage information) I was suddenly told to interview him. Surprisingly, he agreed to speak and spoke at length.

We saw hoardings being removed (these were Anupam’s dear copies), power and data cables shifted underground, benches set up. Facades were resorted and painted uniformly. Traders agreed on a uniform colour code and size of signages.

I was particularly attached to the three-storey building housing the Northern Railway DRM (Lucknow) headquarters. Also being a railway correspondent, I often ventured into this one of the several architectural masterpieces in Hazratganj. Incorporating the best of British and Mughal styles, it harmonises with the architecture unique to structures of the Nawabi era.

I was surprised by the enthusiasm shown by DRM JS Sondhi. He helped immensely in putting together an article on the building for the special issue. He lamented the majestic structure, like several others in the famous lane, lost parts of the glory and grandeur to mindless commercialisation over the years.

He can rest easy now.

No comments:

Post a Comment