Friday, March 18, 2011

India part 23: Lucknow

Our afternoon stop in Chandigarh was short and sweet. Our journey to Lucknow was long and painful. A bitter wind swept through the carriage and under my ultra-thin sheet, while an unruly bunch of men on our bunks kept striking up conversations in the night, listening to music out loud on their phones, and cracking jokes like they were 12-year-olds at a sleepover. One was even smoking beedis in bed.

Still, Lucknow had its moments. It was here that I realised I had come to love gulab jamun, a sort of Indian sticky toffee pudding with added sweetness, although at the sweetshop/restaurant where we ate, the waiter initially thought I'd ordered soundalike veg chow mein, an entirely different proposition.

After food, we went to see the Shah Najaf Imambara, the tomb of one Ghazi-ud-din-Haidar, who doesn't get a very good write-up in the Rough Guide: "decadent and profligate", apparently. He had a good taste in tombs, though.

Shah Najaf Imambra

In stark contrast, we then tried to go and see The Green Hornet at the cinema, but we'd missed the start, so got a rickshaw back to our hotel. Generally Sarah and I are all about the walking - our stroll in Amritsar led us to a great little tea stand, this place, plus what we thought was a man weaving turbans, but which we later realised were kites. But when your feet can't take it any more, there's nothing like a good autorickshaw ride through a busy city, and our trip back provided a feast for the eyes: two men having a surreptitious conversation by the roadside; a pair of white donkeys sharing a meal of garbage with a dog; a cyclist in a pink shirt and woolly orange tank top; lone women looking stately in the back of cycle rickshaws; fed-up fruit and veg vendors; carts loaded up with freight ten times their realistic capacity... Lists like this could go on for pages, the stolen moments stack up until there are too many for your memory to hold. 'Feast for the eyes' is wrong, actually - it's more like speed-eating tapas.

No comments: