?Janab, pahle main? | india | Hindustan Times
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?Janab, pahle main?

MY JOB, as I suspect of many others like me in the primarily-an-agrarian-country we live in, is only to contribute to the consumption of produce cultivated and which, FCI food bins are touted to be overflowing with. But by stating the obvious, I do not wish to take away credit from the rats and other rodents, which the FCI has fostered, pampered, even nurtured in its food reserves. But then there are times one thinks beyond surviving this rat race for survival and where to get the daily bread.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2006 00:28 IST

Ae shahr-e-Lucknow, tujhe salam hai.
Tera hi naam doosra, jannat ka naam hai.
Aasman ki kya hai takat jo hamse chhudaaye Lucknow,
Lucknow hum par fida, hum fida-e-Lucknow.
— Somebody

MY JOB, as I suspect of many others like me in the primarily-an-agrarian-country we live in, is only to contribute to the consumption of produce cultivated and which, FCI food bins are touted to be overflowing with.
But by stating the obvious, I do not wish to take away credit from the rats and other rodents, which the FCI has fostered, pampered, even nurtured in its food reserves. But then there are times one thinks beyond surviving this rat race for survival and where to get the daily bread.
In one such vacant and in pensive mood, when on my couch I lay (did you hear Wordsworth say ‘ouch’?), I began to ponder on the not-so-healthy changing face of the city. That it was as the couplet above describes it WAS true; that it remains so, couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Am’fraid Lucknow — a city oozing culture, humility and sweetness of language —exists only in books and as material for folklore. Today the brash, the loud and the wannabes, hold fort (forth?). Gone are the Fiats with the butterfly doors and the Austins, which used to adorn city streets. They exist all right, but are probably ashamed to be seen in the same lane as the glinting-with-neauvu-riche-wealth Citys, Accords, Accents, et al. Last known, they were passing days hiding under a dusty and discoloured tarpaulin.
Through school and college history we learnt how our motherland embraced people after people and their culture, giving rise to a solid amalgam. But like always, there arose a question: Did it only absorb or did it also influence the ‘settlers’ to imbibe its goodness. The answer as it arises from within me, is a resounding ‘Nooohhhhhhh!’ with an echo to boot.
The endangered species, those that still hang on to the hem of finesse of language and sweetness of etiquette, and that inherent subtlety in mannerisms, get smiled upon indulgently. The more brusque and raw don’t consider it worth their while to deem such creatures worthy of even that indulgence. They just walk over them, like one would unconsciously step onto ants and such crawlers.
Have you noticed? A gentle tone and a smiling demeanour is today taken as a sign of weakness and the man opposite you is all ready to loudmouth you into submission, unless you can be a louder mouth than him and can browbeat him into giving way. The rule applies everywhere: in queues at banks, ATMs, cinema halls, Railway reservation counters et al, on the road while driving and even at the grocer’s. At times such as these, one can’t help but smile wryly at the truth in what Ghalib said a few hundred years ago,
Har ek baat pe kehte ho tum ki ‘Tu kya hai’ Tum hi kaho yeh andaz-e-guftagu kya hai?
So where does one go from here? Grin and ‘beer’ it, or frown till you drown in your own mass of brows? I suppose the former would be a healthier option, going by what the health freak advised: Tensun nahin lena ka.
In any case there are two other advantages in exercising your smile muscles: the wife loves it and so does The Boss!