Satire in the Age of Letters and Technology- more than just a pinch of it.
By: Kanchi Malhotra
When people ask me, “Where are you from?” the answer comes as an automated response with a smile “I’m from Kanpur, it is near Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh” and people generally reply, “Yes, we know” and I mentally speak: ”No, you don’t”
Kanpur is in some way akin to a small town, but it likes to believe it is big. So be it. Kanpur is a mini-metropolitan. Some places have a charm and it’s like love at first sight. No,its not your Benaras or Darjeeling- Kanpur rarely brings that emotion to anyone. Don’t judge me, I don’t hate my city, I have a million reasons to love it, all I’m saying is that you won’t fall for it immediately. Its a classic love-hate situation, you don’t like it first, then you get to know it and realise it’s not half as bad and before you know it…WHAM! It’s your city! You can’t help but love it or at least reasonably like it.
Besides, its hard not to love a place where you have spent the most magical part of your life- your childhood. It’s hard to forget the one-day school trips to Moti Jheel, where the most spectacular sight unfolds every morning, all the Honda Civics and Skoda Superbs parked outside the premises of this jogger’s park and all uncles and aunties, after their exercise routines, go to Shanti Niketan and hog on yummy puris and kachodis and all kids did there was chase after ducks, eat countless packets of chips and fight over slides. Then there are memories of the only Water Park we have, Jungle Water World and the single screen cinema halls where we were shown Hindi dubbed versions of Flubber and Baby’s Day Out, much before the advent of multiplexes. Traveling around the city on humble rickshaws instead of grossly over priced autorickshaws, makes me happy, the small joys of life are indeed nonpareil.
Nothing matches the long drives and detours to my favourite ice-cream shop, Thaggu ke Laddu and Badnaam Kulfi (wondering where have you heard the name? Let me remind you. Remember the film Bunty aur Babli? Yes the same ice-cream stall where Bunty and Babli celebrate their first con), the only adjective I find apt enough to describe the taste is, heavenly or to the best chaiwalla in the world, Banarsi Tea Stall, a small shop which smells strongly of cardamom and earthen kullads. Shopping in Kanpur can be a varied experience- from the cobbled, overcrowded alleyways of Shivalay and the high-end shops at Naveen Market to Gumti’s flea market and to the three shopping malls we boast of.I can also recall the pleasant evenings spent in the freshly mown gardens of the RadhaKrishna Temple, famously known as the J.K Temple and those enjoyable boat rides on the various ghats of the river Ganges.
Well, I, as you already know, adore Kanpur and I’m proud of it. No, do not laugh at me. I am not proud of the choc-a-bloc traffic, or the roller-coaster ride you end up taking every time you decide to use your car, no I’m not proud of the mounds of filth lying around, or the illiteracy, but I am proud of its history, and the neighbourhood uncle who gives you a lift on his Vespa to chase the school bus when you decided to spend 10 extra mins in bed. I am proud that my city is the home to the best engineers and India has to offer (for those who don’t know, I am talking about IIT Kanpur and HBTI), yes, It makes me proud when I read Kanpur’s name in any of the school text books. There would be no other place, well maybe except Narnia or Hogwarts, I would like to be in. After all, there is no place like home, be it ever so humble.