Monthly Archives: August 2013

HAZRATGANJ II: A CENTER OF FASHION AND MERRY MAKING

(A truncated version of this article appeared in The Lucknow Tribune on 22nd August 2013)

The Offices of the Oudh Rohilcund Railway (present day DRM office, Northern Railways), 1870, Begum Kothi area

The Offices of the Oudh Rohilcund Railway (present day DRM office, Northern Railways), 1870, Begum Kothi area

The Colonial Period (Huzrutgunge)

Officially called Queensway, perhaps this period was the heyday of Hazratganj, when it became a centre of fashion, much merry-making, and a true commercial hub. The Prince of Wales Theatre (later Prince Cinema) was the first cinema hall of Hazratganj, which traced its origin from the Prince of Wales’ visit in 1876. In 1934, the Plaza (then Regal, then Filmistan, and present-day Sahu), came up in the parking space in front of Prince cinema. Capitol opened in 1937, all three halls serving the purpose of cinema as well as theatre performances. 1939 saw the inauguration of the Mayfair building, with the Mayfair cinema, a bar and a ballroom. The Ambassador Restaurant and Dance Hall came up subsequently In the ‘30s; Royal Café, then situated in the Halwasiya Court was famous for its live band. Valerio’s Tea Room and dance floor functioned from the present premises of the Gandhi Ashram!! An English departmental store, Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co. existed where the present LIC building now stands. Other prominent British shops included AN James & Co. (pharmacy), Murray & Co. (general merchants), SH Clarke & Co. (photographers) and Anderson’s (tailors). Among the Parsee outlets, Sohrabjee (wine merchants), Minoo & Dinshaw (watches, cutlery) and Taraporewala (sewing machines) were the most well known.

Drinking, dancing, seeing risqué live shows, enjoying (authentic) Chinese dinners, buying the latest trousseaus imported from London – colonial Huzrutgunge had it all. It was truly the place to be at that point of time. Perhaps Hazratganj will never see such Bohemian, carefree days again.

Independence and Afterwards

World War II and India’s subsequent Independence had a sobering effect on Hazratganj. From drinking, dancing and dining, people gravitated to coffee shops, confectioneries and sedate dinners. Stricter rules of censorship ensured that risqué shows like The Hotcha Girls faded into oblivion. Prohibition ensured strict control of liquor sales, use of electricity for commercial purposes was restricted, and construction of non-essential buildings (a Nehruvian concept) had a telling effect on Hazratganj’s carefree days. Who says that freedom doesn’t come at a price? For Lucknowites, freedom came, perhaps at the cost of another kind of freedom – the freedom to be carefree and enjoy life.

Novelty cinema opened in Lalbagh in 1947, followed by Basant in 1948. Restaurants like Kwality’s (Mayfair building), Ranjana, Annapurna and New India Coffee House (Prince building), Kay’s Kozy Korner (Jehanagirabad Mansion) and Chinese restaurants like Jone Hing and Simson continued to draw crowds of the indigenous kind. The most unique of them all was the India Coffee House, started in 1938, in the premises of the Jehangirabad Mansion, which became a center for the gathering of city intellectuals after independence. Post-partition, the influx of refugees from Pakistan created a drastic change in the market dynamics of Hazratganj. The customers’ profiles also changed. Kiosks, shanties and encroachments came up, changing the look of the market forever. An agglomeration of such kiosks before the regular shops in the Beg building (opposite the DRM’s office), created the now defunct, yet famous Lovers’ Lane, where the space between shops was so narrow that jostling and body-brushing became inevitable. Over time, Lovers’ Lane acquired an USP of its own, and people went ‘ganjing’ or loitering in the market, for the sole reason of crossing Lovers’ Lane, not once, but several times over.

Over successive decades, Hazratganj continued to evolve as a market, although it remained confined between the Vidhan Sabha Crossing and the Halwasiya Court – further development of shops being hampered for the obvious reason that there was no space for expansion. For some curious reason, contiguous Lalbagh could never acquire the touch of glamour and heritage value that Hazratganj had. Several landmarks of Hazratganj, like the Kazim & Co., Mayfair, Ranjana restaurant, the British Council Library, Benbow’s, New India Coffee House and Modern Novelties disappeared into oblivion; others like Mullicks, Cheap House, Rupani Bros, Whorra’s and Devi Radiogram survived, despite changing customer profiles and tastes. More recently, Saharaganj Mall proved to be stiff competition to ageing Hazratganj, but could not quite replace it. After all, there are malls and malls, but only one Hazratganj.

Hazratganj, 1970s. Note the parking in the middle of the road opposite Cathedral School

Hazratganj, 1970s. Note the parking in the middle of the road opposite Cathedral School

As a survival strategy, Hazratganj had two drastic make-overs, first in the late ‘70s and then in 2010-11. The latter needs no elaboration, since it is still fresh in the memory of Lucknow’s citizens. The earlier make-over, however, was no less drastic, under the leadership of Rajiv Ratan Shah, the then City Administrator. By the ’70s, Hazratganj had become crowded, unplanned and chocked with encroachments. It needed a fresh lease of life to survive as a modern market in the coming decades. Accordingly, the old-style manual traffic signals were replaced by automatic traffic lights, the pavements were uprooted, rationalized and laid with tiles with safety grills; all illegal shanties, kiosks, and assorted commercial establishments were demolished and most shop-owners were rehabilitated in the under-construction Janpath Market in the Begum Kothi area.

Two administrative decisions of far-reaching consequence were also taken during the make-over of 1975. The first was the complete demolition of the Lovers’ Lane in the Beg Building, and secondly, the adoption of the universal color scheme, in which all buildings of a particular area would be similarly colored. After many hiccups and protests, the pink and beige scheme was implemented in Hazratganj. It survives till today – thankfully no one has tried to create any controversy over this, as some people are wont to do.

It is heartening to note that the future Lucknow Metro Project has recognized the heritage value of Hazratganj and accordingly, will have underground lines in the area. The Metro line will surely improve connectivity, just like it has done for Connaught Place and Chandni Chowk in Delhi, giving a fresh lease of life to these perennially crowded markets.

Incidentally, for the citizens of Lucknow, the make-over of the ‘70s resulted in demolition of a heritage building, the venerable Begum Kothi (amidst much public outcry); the second make-over resulted in the demolition of the colonial Hazratganj Kotwali (again amidst much protest), which had celebrated its centenary year in 2009.

Evolution is indeed a continuous process, and the old must make way for the new. While looking forward eagerly to the future, we can but pause for a while in our busy lives, and shed a tear over the times gone by, good or bad.

Bringing the Cambridge Rickshaw Tour to Lucknow!

2012RTPteamIn 2010, I met the spirited young Nkoko Skete from Johannesburg, we were doing our MPhils together and he was the ‘big thing’ in theatre. Cambridge was overrun with posters of his ‘thinking’ face and the iconic role he played as Anthony Study. I never did see the play and he never did of course forgive me, but we had one too many wonderful lunch dates to care.

It was on one such lunch date at the St. Michael’s Church cafe, while breaking bread over delicious thick carrot soup that I told him all about The Lucknow Book Club, about JOSH and how Lucknow was a little secret because nobody really knew just how much potential it had for creative expression, what it’s heritage held, how proud and wonderful our artists are and just how badly we want to be abuzz like maybe Delhi (only better!). Being passionate about development, talk came to children and NGOs and work I had been involved in and around Lucknow. Stories about children who had no real futures, forget culture, fun, games or even access to school… Nkoko was quiet. He brought it up. He was the tour manager for the famous Cambridge Rickshaw Theatre Project or ‘RTP’ for 2011, he would be travelling to India- to Delhi and then Nepal with a group of crazy young students from the University, bringing smiles and laughter to the lives of children without… would we like to have RTP come to Lucknow?

OF COURSE! And without thinking twice, I said yes. JOSH and LBC would do it! And we did… Pravin, Masto, Ananya, Nitin, Dok Saab, so so so so many volunteers from JOSH and around Lucknow made RTP 2011 a reality. We worked with the wonderful children of the Mamta School, SEWA and Puran Shiksha Kendra. Deepak Saha of envisage communique and ACC cement made it possible for us to have a stage show, kids who had never been on stage found themselves in the spotlight- equal with and finally ‘above’ all.. who can forget the mad laughter, dancing, brilliant acting and tearful goodbyes? In 2012, because of the awesome response we had in 2011, RTP returned! To work with Puran Shiksha Kendra and Ehsaas with maskmaking workshops and more fun for kids at Mamta and games with KHEL. We also found a fabulous friend in Naheed Verma’s ‘Lucknow Homestay’, a safe home away from home for our volunteers from Cambridge who can afford to volunteer and live in Lucknow for 2 weeks only because of Naheed’s generosity and excellent yet cheap services! And now, in 2013, RTP returns for a third time! Lucknow and KHEL inspired RTP members to start another project, the Rickshaw Sports Project to play indigenous and international sports with kids as well as teach them life skills. RSP started its first ever workshop from Lucknow earlier this month. On the 25th, the RTP team will return to work with three partners, Puran Shiksha Kendra, Make A Difference (MAD) and Ehsaas.

We hope the team in 2013 has as much fun and makes as big an impact as the teams have made in previous years. If you would like to know more about the Cambridge Rickshaw Tour and read previous year’s reports visit- http://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/centres/cce/awards/rickshawtheatre/ if you would like to volunteer in the Lucknow leg of the tour or recommend a NGO that works with children in the 8-16 year age group or if you would like to donate to the cause and expenses related to doing the final show on the 6th of september, please contact Nitin Prakash (9839015751) or Masto Gaurav Srivastava (9336670006).

We welcome you to attend the final show put together by the RTP team, JOSH and LBC volunteers and the little star children from the NGOs on the 6th of September. Your presence and cheering would greatly encourage the children as well us the youth who give 14 days every year to make forgotten young children feel confident, happy and equal.

Sojourns outside Lucknow 1- Shaahi Talaab

Published in the Indian Express in 2006

Three kilometers away from the hamlet of KhurdaAt the talaabi, in village Maran Mau is a pond that dates its origins to the Mughal period. “The Shahi Talaab”, is where over four generations of farmers as little children have learnt to swim and dive. Every summer the skinny brown boys who take their cattle out to graze, like their fathers did, in the surrounding fields, find solace in enjoying mid afternoon and early evening swims in this talaab. “There are seven wells under this pond and it is about thirty feet deep, the water level can be observed by the number of steps it covers”, explains forty six year old Sageer, a mechanic whose family has lived in Maran Mau for over three generations. “When we were little children, we used to start running from that mango tree and dive into the water, I learnt to swim here and so did my sons and little daughter”, says Sageer pointing at a nearby mango tree.

Walking up to the talaab’s edge he elucidates why the talaab is divided into three zones. “The area on the right which is a little covered by bamboo foliage and the wall is meant for women, the central portion without stairs and a slope is meant for cattle whereas this area to the extreme left is meant for men and boys.” Standing on the edge of the stairs is a group of four friends, the tallest Sohail, a fifteen year old who works as labor, takes lead and jumps of the highest stair with a loud splash, the other two, Arvind and Virendra who say they are twelve years old and don’t go to school, jump into the talaab with their clothes on, leaving only dusty blue slippers near the stairs. The youngest boy, Mahendra, who works for Sageer and goes to school screams a lyric of a popular song and jumps in after them, “Look at me! I am swimming backwards!!” everyone laughs at the little boy.

Oddly, in the women’s quarter is a mazaar of “Syed Ali Baba”, it is said that he was the caretaker of the pond. Bathing her four year old son in the water is Sumitra, watching from the stairs is her father in law Ram Swarup who says, “He is my only grandson, the doctors say his mental illness is incurable, and he cant even walk, but we bring him here every Thursday to bathe.” The child smiles sweetly as his mother distributes Prasad to everyone, the little boys who dive line up for their share. Sageer enlightens us on the medicinal properties of pond water, “People with skin diseases and rashes come to get cured with this water, pond water helps cure those diseases and every Thursday, patients with ailments such as arthritis and mental or muscular disorders come here to bathe and offer Prasad at the mazaar”. Soon enough, a line of believers, women with little children, old men and young boys descend upon the Shahi Talaab to cure themselves. Ram Swarup says, “It’s cheaper than visiting doctors, my grandson responds well to these baths and is always happy to come and spend a evening here.”

The Shahi talaab acts as a community pond for fish rearing as well, the poorest villagers can avail from free fish here! According to the locals, the pond is incomplete because the gentleman who was making it died soon after the construction of one half of the pond. The other end has a slab or two for washer men. “This pond has been part of our lives for as long as I can remember”, says Sageer, staring at a black snake bird dive for a silver fish as everyone silently watches the ripples subside.

Regiment Bazaar

Published in the Indian Express 2006, the article takes the reader to ‘Regiment Bazaar’ in Lucknow Cantt

Huddled a kilometer away from the Army Public School in Lucknow cantonment, is “The Regiment Bazaar”, recently rechristened as the “V C Bazaar”, the “Veterinary Corps Bazaar”. The name is attributed to the regiments that were based in the area. A little further is “Topkhaana Bazaar” which is now called “RA Bazaar”, or the “Royal Artillery Bazaar”, home to the royal gunners. Another little settlement on the Rae Bareilley road is referred to as “Laal Kurti”, deriving its name from the red cavalry uniform of the British soldiers that resided there.

The cantt bazaars are home to some of the oldest shops in Lucknow, “We’ve been living here since 1885, we’ve seen regiments come and go but it’s the British ones we remember the most,” says Ganesh Gupta. His brother Dinesh and he own the local sweethouse in regiment bazaar. “This lane used to be called Johari lane and was lined with neat shops, there was a cycle shop here, some goldsmiths there and right opposite our shop was where the barber ‘Bauu’, Qasim Ali used to have his shop”, points Dinesh. The lane now is lined with houses, Bittu, a housewife feeding her cows says, “the old people have all re-settled now. Jangat Khan, who had a shop around this corner left with his family for Pakistan. Lalla Madan Lal, has been here since the British times, his ration shop is more than sixty years old.”

Remembering the days when the British soldiers would come to their sweetshop, “We used to have three servants who would attend to the shop. One sold milk. The other sold sweets and the third would guard the shop, the soldiers were a rowdy bunch, they never paid for what they ate!” laughs Ganesh, who was in school at the time. His father Mahadevi Lal and great grandfather were the most famous halwayyis in the area. “The British soldiers were extremely fond of our dudhiyaa barfi, that was a very milky and sweet mithai, we’d sell kilos everyday!” remembers the halwayyi. It’s been five years since the Guptas decided that a sweetshop wasn’t enough. “We started our PCO, it’s the only one in the bazaar. People don’t buy sweets everyday! The dudhiyaa barfi isn’t even made anymore”, Dinesh replies.

Around the corner Manvir Singh, the local rickshaw puller is drinking his third cup of tea. With his worn out green cap, titled to the left, the sixty six year old cheerfully remembers how colorful these streets once were, “The Britishers would walk down here and always create some chaos, I was a little boy at the time and my father was a hawaldar in the Police.” He pulls out his ration card to show a picture of himself clean shaved. “The most popular shop here other than the Gupta sweethouse is the barber’s, Gore-Nawab urf Usmaan Ali.” His brother Bauu urf Qasim Ali, was famous for shaving the British soldiers beards at 4:00 a.m. while they were half asleep. He did it with such precision that the sleepy British soldier wouldn’t even notice he was done!

Gore Nawab, who is eighty years old, sits in his yellow tarpaulin roof with two ancient wooden chairs, a basin that is fifty five years old. “Earlier, the troops would come to have their hair cut and for a shave at 4:00 a.m. before their parade, but these days, the soldiers come after their parade at 6:30 a.m.”, states the barber who earned his ‘Gore Nawab’ title because he shaved the British soldiers. “I had to shift from the salon as we didn’t have enough money to pay the rent, I don’t have many customers these days… young men prefer long hair and styles that I don’t know or want to give!” he exclaims.

Looking at the empty lane, Gore Nawab, says, “Iss 70 saal ki yojana ke hum bhaagi hain…” He sits waiting for customers that don’t come anymore, staring at a lane that isn’t crowded with red cavalry jackets and boisterous soldiers eating fresh barfis from the Gupta sweethouse.

A good summer read !

“Everybody needs inspiration,
Everybody needs a song,
A beautiful melody when the night’s so long,
‘Cause there is no guarantee that this life is easy”
An emotional journey through these printed black letters, The Last Song is the story of seventeen year old Veronica Miller and the circumstances that lead to her rediscovering of love for her father and family. Written by Nicholas Sparks, the book is well received after its release in July 2009.
The books of Nicholas Sparks are among the bestsellers in the international market. Sixteen of his novels have been published and seven of his novels have been adapted into movies. Some of his other books are, A Walk to Remember, The Choice, The Wedding, , The Guardian, The Notebook, and Dear John.
Being a hopeless romantic and an avid reader, I belong to the Nicholas sparks romantic series fan club and I enjoy reading all his books. When my sister told me about the book I couldn’t really wait to read it and I was totally in love with it. Despite the serious theme, the novel has a light humour that would genuinely make you laugh, and the characters are easy to fall in love with.
The Last Song shows family life and how we value things sometimes only when we are about to lose them. The bond of a father with his daughter is beautifully written.
Veronica aka Ronnie is a brat. She is totally shaken when she learns that her parents are divorced and that her father has left them. She remains angry and hostile towards her parents, particularly her father. Then on her mother’s initiative, Veronica and her brother go to their father’s place to be with him for the summer. Veronica starts loving the place and also finds a boy with whom she falls in love with. The rest of the story is about her first love, the tragedy that envelopes the family, the circumstances that lead to the changes in their lives, about Veronica’s attitude towards her father, and the relationship between the parents and the children. It is about how relationships can influence one’s life.
Intricacies of life should never be missed – a must read for all those who haven’t yet rejoiced each and every moment of life!

HAZRATGANJ – A PEEP INTO THE PAST

The Begum Kothi, 1858

The Begum Kothi, 1858

(A truncated version of this article appeared in the Lucknow Tribune on 12th August 2013)

Lucknow in the times of Asaf-ud-Daula was a medieval city, with magnificent Nawabi structures, interspersed with squalid habitations of the general populace. While the Nawabi buildings were concentrated along the Gomti and its environs, it cannot be said that the citizens of Lucknow had similar access to a reasonable civic infrastructure. In due course, Asaf-ud-Daula moved out from the medieval Machhi Bhavan fortress, to his Daulat Khana complex, which consisted of a series of palaces, few of which are extant today. He, of course, was responsible for the immense Bada Imambara complex, which consisted of the renowned Imambara, the Asafi Masjid and the Shahi Baoli Palace, together with the Rumi Darwaza. His successor, Wazir Ali, had short innings, and ultimately, it was Asaf-ud-Daula’s half brother, Saadat Ali Khan, who was coerced by the British, to occupy the Oudh masnad, as the next Nawab Vazir.

The Nawabi Period

Saadat Ali Khan had spent his youth in Calcutta; he was thoroughly westernized, with a sincere admiration for Colonial architecture and town planning. One of his first appointments was that of Sir Gore Ouseley as his aid-de-camp, under advice from the British Resident. It was Ouseley who conceptualized the Dilkusha kothi for the Nawab; the kothi was inspired by Seaton Delaval, a country house in Northumberland, England. Possibly based on his experience with Calcutta’s Chowringhee, Saadat Ali realized that a proper arterial road was necessary for his capital city. Without disturbing the older buildings, this new road would cut across the city and connect Dilkusha to the recently re-located Residency. This arterial road was to form the nucleus of the Hazratganj we know today. It was an ambitious and far-sighted project.

Historical accounts of this new road of Saadat Ali state that there had been two impressive gateways at its two extremities, with markets at right angles of the road, and a chowk or crossing in the middle. Adjacent to the new road were the cruciform Chaupar stables on the north side and the Shifa Khana (Darul Shafa) on the southern side. No details or photographs available on the physical appearance or even exact location of these two gates. Perhaps they resembled the Rumi Darwaza; perhaps they resembled the later-to-be-constructed Hussainabad Gateway of Mohammed Ali Shah. The Gates were reported to have had a Grecian front on one side and a Moorish one on the other. Today, we can only conjecture about these magnificent gateways, now lost forever.

It is often conjectured by the un-initiated that the name “Hazratganj” is in honor of Begum Hazrat Mahal, for her contribution to the Uprising in 1857. This is far from the truth. In fact, Ghazi-ud-Din Haidar and his son Nasir-ud-Din Haidar concentrated their energies on the Bada and Chota Chattar Manzils – the ambitious road of Saadat Ali Khan terminating abruptly at these palaces, instead of reaching the Residency. Under the rule of Amjad Ali Shah however, there were significant developments, including the establishment of a grain market in the area. (Incidentally, Amjad Ali’s Chief Minister, Amin-ud-Daulah, is credited for having founded the Aminabad market).

Amjad Ali Shah was also responsible for building the Sibtainabad Imambara (popularly known as Maqbara nowadays). Due to his pious nature, he was commonly known as Hazrat. In all probability, the name, “Hazratganj” came to be adopted after Amjad Ali was buried in the Sibtainabad Imambara, after his death. Amjad Ali had also erected the massive Begum Kothi for his first wife, Malka Ahad in this area. The Begum Kothi was an immense complex, comprising of many palaces, a mosque, tombs, imambaras etc., and stretched right up to the Sibtainabad Imambara. With the ascent of Wajid Ali Shah, Nawabi building activity was at its prime; in the tradition of his predecessors, he abandoned the palaces occupied by his ancestors, and built a magnificent palace complex called Kaisarbagh or Caesar’s Garden. He, however, took special care for the care and maintenance of his father’s mausoleum in the Sibtainabad Imambara at Hazratganj.

The Uprising and its Aftermath

During 1857 – 58, Hazratganj stretched right from the Begum Kothi, and if we go further east, till the Kothi Hayat Baksh (now Governor’s House). It did not extend till the Dilkusha, however. In the west, it extended upto the Chattar Manzil complex, where it was cut short, instead of proceeding straight to the Residency. Hence it was only an abbreviated version of Saadat Ali’s road. The Begum Kothi itself extended till the Sibtainabad Imambara, which occupied the area followed by the Kothi Nur Baksh (present DM’s bungalow), then the Cheeni Bazar (today’s China Gate).

On the opposite end, the first important building that one encountered after the Chattar Manzil complex was the Taron Wali Kothi (present day SBI) with the Khurshid Manzil (now La Martiniere School for Girls) and Moti Mahal behind it. Further east would be the Ainon Wali Kothi (present day Hindi Sansthan), followed by the Kankar Wali Kothi (present day Post Master General’s Office, Habibullah Estate and Halwasiya Court). This would have been contiguous with the Chaupar stables (today’s Lawrence Terrace and Lucknow Club).

The Kankar Wali Kothi, 1870

The Kankar Wali Kothi, 1870

After the British took control in 1858, they cut large swathes across the city, smashing through palaces, gateways and natives’ quarters alike, under the supervision of Colonel Robert Napier of the Bengal Engineers, who had earlier carried out a similar exercise in Old Delhi. Palaces, kothis, even royal gardens, or “enemy property” were declared as nazul, and taken over by the British for themselves, or simply sold / auctioned off at throwaway prices. For example, Badshah Bagh (now Lucknow University), which has been laid at the cost of Rs 53 lakhs, during the times of Nasir-ud-Din Haidar, was auctioned off for Rs 35,000/= . It was indeed a sorry state of affairs and a black period in the history of Lucknow. In the Hazratganj area, the ire of the British was naturally directed against the Begum Kothi, where they had suffered maximum casualties. The boundary walls of the Kothi were demolished; the main building of the Kothi started functioning as a post office and the Kothi Inayat Sultan within the complex, was bought by Munshi Nawal Kishore for establishing the offices of his publishing empire. Nawal Kishore also built his own house in main Hazratganj. This building, with a clock tower, now houses the premises of the Central Bank of India. The Chaupar stables were demolished, to make way for low-cost housing for Anglo-Indians (Lawrence Terrace). One arm of the Chaupar, however, survived as the Lucknow Club, maintained by the British for their non-gazetted officers. A new road started from the Gomti, cutting across Sikandra Bagh (now part of NBRI). This road, christened as Outram Road (now Ashok Marg), continued as Abbot Road (now Vidhan Sabha Marg), which cut across the Begum Kothi compound. New roads viz. the Lawrence Road (now Nawal Kishore Road) and Oliver Road (now Sapru Marg) were laid parallel to main Hazratganj.

The Anglican Church (now Christ Church) was consecrated in 1860, in the memory of fallen British soldiers in the 1857 insurrection. The St. Joseph’s Church was built in 1862, which later metamorphosed into the great St. Joseph’s Cathedral we know today. A portion of the Begum Kothi compound made way for the offices of the Oudh Rohilkhand Railways (now DRM, Northern Railway’s Office) in 1862. The outer boundary walls of the Sibtainabad Imambara, had been earlier razed to the ground, to make the area more accessible, as well as to establish shops and housing units for Anglo-Indian families. In 1871, the Commissioner circulated a blue-print for the design and layout future shops to be built in Hazratganj, which was being gradually built in the form of a Civil Lines. Hazratganj was to be a commercial hub, on the ruins and remnants of old kothis and palaces, which had earlier lined the road. In effect, the British had actually revived the arterial road laid earlier by Saadat Ali Khan, when they cut across the Chattar Manzils, so that Dilkusha and the erstwhile Residency were once again connected directly. It was an irony of sorts.

(to be continued)

Study Hall Reading Club and LBC – face to face

Study Hall, Gomti Nagar is already organizing regular activities in zero period – Book Reading, Creative Writing, Debating, Pottery.
LBC had the privilege of interacting with the lovely children at their Reading club and Creative Writing club.

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Dok Saab initiated the talk by turning the concept of their club upside down. He suggested that passive reading at the book club be reduced/done away with, to be replaced by activities like discussions on books and authors.

Prashant asked the children to name some books which had moved them deeply.

Masto stole the show as always with his great style and flair, as he guided his speech from Gulzar to a career in journalism/writing, to how to improve your writing.

The meeting broke up with promises for more such get togethers.

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