After a long long while, I finally decided to go back to the city of nostalgia, memories, and wounds - Lucknow. And what a trip that was - everyday flew off so amazingly like a perfect dream.
It started with the bus ride to Kanpur for the wedding of two friends - after six years of affairs, events, and struggle, SSS and Pavitra tied the knot. A beautiful evening in Bithoor on the banks of Ganges culminated into a wonderful dance night and ended with an early morning bus-ride back home. And the chain of happenings that started with a marriage ceremony closed with the engagement ceremony of another friend - Onu. Another wicket down!!
But what happened in between the two was even more amazing and never before kind, thanks to my Lucknow Book Club friends, specially Masto - the single point of all information and arrangements. First we had a 'nashist' (a setup of learners and learned of Urdu poetry) in the guidance of some doyens of Urdu poetry, like Bekhud and Ajiz saheb, also joined by the internationally renowned poet Khushbeer Singh Shaad.The next evening, I was listening the mushaira of 'Kaifi Azmi Foundation' and clicking Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar. And then another mushaira, where I also got to recite in the presence of over 40 poets and authors. It was beautiful to hear so much of 'zaheen-o-nafees' Urdu after so long.But the next one was the most fascinating - the first edition of our very own Lucknow Book Club's five day event - HABLAR (which means chit-chat in Spanish). HABLAR had discussions on the finer art of acting and theater, a play-read by the playwright and some stimulating discussions on Mohandas Gandhi, stage adaptation of Saadat Hasan Manto's story, comics as forms of literature, and select reading of two stories by yours truly on the final day. We also shared our own works and writings before we grouped for photographs and vowed to make it an annual event with a perhaps shorter version in winters also.
It may seem way too small a start with barely 12-20 people attending sessions but isn't that where Jaipur Literature Festival started from - six people in the first session? Well, whether we reach such fame and heights or not is for times to tell but the fact remains that I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of HABLAR and also this Lucknow trip - each day perfectly timed and filled with one of my many loves - literature.
I wanted to stay longer but perhaps, God does not play dices. So my trip was crafted as a perfect itinerary.... and till I reach the city of dreams, smiles, and memories again, this is what I read on my way back -
अब इसके बाद सुब्ह है और सुब्हे-नौ मजाज़
हम पर है खत्म शामे-गरीबाने-लखनऊ