Thursday, October 04, 2012

Leather City

Life in a Non Metro-2
Oh Kanpur!

Just like Mumbai is 'Maximum City' and Calcutta is 'City of Joy' I too felt like giving a sobriquet  to my city which I had visited as a child with my parents when my mother had come here to appear for an exam. I also remember watching Bobby in one of the theatres in this city. I grew up wearing Chappals made in Kanpur which my father bought whenever he came here on official visits.

After twenty five years I again landed here to stay. As a kid also I might have thought of the  name "Leather City" because of the leather footwear connection. But now for me leather symbolizes something warm, strong and flexible.

Kanpur, has a glorious past, but  now has all the negative adjectives given to it by anyone visiting it. The worst is the tag of 'the 10th most polluted city in the world.'. This article on Kanpur titled Denizen of Darkness also depresses me a lot, but they have genuine reasons and data to prove. People who come here to work also keep comparing it with their home towns/other metro cities and condemn it. I could never say anything against it because, like many others,  who condemn it, I too chose to live here.

I live on a  beautiful campus which has nothing in common with the city it belongs to. Last Saturday when I was feeling frustrated to see the pics of  some of my friends on FB, living near and far, having fun and here I was getting bored to death, I got a call from a friend to join a small get together she had arranged at her place. I don't drive so promised her to be at her place if I get a driver. Luckily I got one. I shampooed my hair changed my look and mood and  was on my way to be with my friends for the evening.

We crossed two crowded Railway crossings (no flyovers) and a stretch of bumpy road. After a turn ( at Gurudev Palace) the road was smooth and had less traffic.. We were driving along the Allen Forest (Kanpur zoo) I had just started to enjoy the ride when the car hit a big block/brick of concrete and cement,which was a part of the damaged road-divider. After a jolt the car stopped slowly. One of the tyres was punctured. Alok, my savior changed the tyre in no time. As we were about to resume, I stopped him and asked him to go and remove that block from the road. He got down,walked for a while and came back. I could see from the car window that someone else had already removed it from there.This is the Kanpur I love, after all it's the people that make the city. It made me happy and I thought of the  comment I read  on the article  Denizen of Darkness:

"The writer  sees us "Kanpurias" as "denizens of darkness", I wonder why he did not see a vibrant city of 4 million plus and their indomitable spirit to succeed despite years of political and bureaucratic neglect. True the large textile mills have shut down, perhaps for good, but other sectors like leather, plastics, chemicals are doing well, and for your information, Kanpur ranks at number 10 in terms of GDP. We are thriving and successful, because in the words of Iqbal:-
"Kuch baat hai ki hasti mitati nahin hamari,
 Sadiyon raha hai dushman Daur-e-Zamana hamara."
- Avinash Gupta

One more comment from a blog:
 'Thank you for the information about Kanpur. My son is at IIT Kanpur for the summer from rural Northern Vermont, USA. It’s a bit of culture shock for him but after three days he is adapting nicely and finds the people amazingly hospitable.'


Parnika Agrawal said...

Very nice post. For the first time, I have seen something positive written about Kanpur. Moreover, this is an honest post and not just sentimental or historical aggrandizement of Kanpur. Keep writing :)

vandy said...

Hi Parnika
Merci beaucoup :)
Great to see u here.
Just back from kavi Sammelen (Antragni)


Manish said...

Nice post, Vandana.

During my 4 year stay, the two most differentiating features I found was language, and the (lack of)cleanliness. The latter is common in most Uttar Pradesh cities, but in Kanpur, the degree was unusually higher. I hope the city has improved on that front.

The language was poles apart from what I had been speaking all my life with Tu, Tera, Tujhey, and of course, the liberal scoops of profanities. It is difficult to change this part.

vandy said...

Hi Manish
Coming from Lko ur complain seems genuine :) otherwise it's normal.
Abt profanities and (un)cleanliness
as I'm often told,"u live in IIT,how would you know?"