Thursday, September 2, 2010

My University Town : A decade after

I am not surprised why I never bothered to come back to Allahabad once I passed out from the University almost 15 years back. Even now, it is compulsion of official work that brought me here. I am sure readers of my blog know what a big sucker I am ,of old memories and nostalgia. But somehow, I was never fond of this sleepy conservative town. My association with the city ended after my graduation from the university. I have already confessed in one of my earlier posts my ignorance about a lot of things associated with the history of this city . Somehow , I was so disappointed by its tardiness , lethargy and typical regressive attitude that I failed to see the beauty …even when it was in front of my eyes. Its not that I never had good times here, it was just that I missed some aspects of the town, which I would have liked otherwise in any place . But today when I go back there , I have an insuppressible urge to visit my University. Somehow, I want to be sure of what I remember about the place. I finish off my official work and almost forced my friends from Univ days to come along . Somehow sometimes even memories need company to be talked and thus sound real . So we reached the science faculty ( former Muir Central College) and once again walked through the corridors of this impressive stone building . Department of mathematics—our department, the place where we spent many years talking , teasing and at times, ignoring one another . Its so amazing that not much has changed since then. The maintenance is as poor as ever. The stone building and our favorite Vijayanagaram hall stands as tall as ever . Even the students look much like those days. But three of us visiting the place, were changed. The big world outside this town changed us. We talked incessantly about our batchmates, mimicked our professors and joked about the famous oddballs of our times. Interestingly we found ourselves talking about topics we would have not talked when we were here. Crushes, heartbreaks , complexes, fears and much more. It was so weird when my friend Prasoon pointed out that he never noticed how tall I am . And immediately he added in very matter of fact voice that anyways, it was impossible for him to measure my height by standing next to me in those days . We laughed about how some of us were terribly scared and uncomfortable in interactions with other sex. We laughed out loud about the conservative times – times when our mixed group was scolded by a professor for sitting together on stairs in front of the department . It was considered very indecent . We wondered how from that kind of life most of us went and conquered the world without much problem. It was so heartening to find that from that small group almost everybody is so well settled in life and career today.I find it amazing that most of us connect somewhere so deeply despite our professional, locational and other differences. Probably unknown to us, the city and the university taught us something that stayed and become part of us. I am not talking about the mathematical equations and statistical models , of course.
After this , I moved on alone exploring the town I hardly remember . It was kind of empowering not to belong here.I had few hours of a lovely evening and I knew no one and cared for no one this time . I started from the rivers. After all the presence of these holy rivers and their confluence is one of the biggest claim to fame for this town from past many centuries. I climbed stairs for the new Naini bridge and looked around the beauty of the river . The fort built by emperor Akbar was visible from there . Except for occasional fishermen trying their luck the ghats were almost deserted. The rivers were full with monsoon supply and the setting sun provided excellent background.
On my way back I looked for the Gora Kabristan ( The British Graveyard) at kydganj . It was difficult to resist visiting this old cemetery . But with ASI in charge , the gates were locked and no one was around except the blue board declaring it a protected monument .I cursed ASI once again . But then when have I considerred closed gates a bar for y curiosity– specially if they are gates to a such an old cemetery . So while my driver looked incredulously , I jumped the gate . In a very touching gesture, protectively, he followed suit- nodding disapprovingly all through . The place is a must go for anyone tracing history of the place . This being an old cantonment town, the graves are usually of army officers and their families. Once again like the Park street cemetery of Kolkata , the age profile of the dead is generally below 30 . Mostly the tombstones were missing . I could read one , remembering Margaret, 23, a wife and mother who succumbed to disease in 1808. It is somewhat moving that these people died on a foreign land young vulnerable to heat and mosquitos . From there , I went to see All Saint Cathedral – my favorite stone church and found that locked too. To my driver’s relief I did not jump anymore gates. The church compound was green and untidy with the undergrowth of weeds and grass. But somehow despite all the mess, the building is a stunner . I looked the evening light on it mesmerized . I think I had more than enough share of replenishment for my memories of this town for one evening .
I know, I still do not want to live in this town…but at least now, I do not miss the beautiful British bunglows lining the civil lines , the old trees around the cathedral and most of all , my alma mater- the university .

(Find more pics of my visit here )


Tanu said...

NOSTALGIA !! OMG, lovely writeup
will be reading many more times.

Akshat Lal said...

You have criticised this place by actually hinting it to be a superior town...!! I think you are not into living at peaceful places.. but Allahabad is heaven for those who dwell here... its a city which has no match in India.. Be it culturally, historically or politically... it is a premiere town for sure..!!

Anyways I liked your writing skill although you and I share a very antagonistic approach n perception too...!!!

Guyzz see his university town from another angle... visit..