They may talk of a comet, or a burning mountain, or some such bagatelle; but to me a modest woman, dressed out in all her finery, is the most tremendous object of the whole creation.
It was the day after Christmas. We were in Lucknow for our vacations and for 20 odd days, the only outing we had had was to our relatives’ homes, visiting them and playing cards. It was nothing like we didnt’ have time but that
we I chose not to go out all that often. YES, I am the stay at home boy and I prefer spending my free time with movies, books and myself. So naturally, I am a misfit with the family and they keep passing all those comments on me in ill temper. But as it turned out on that day, things were a bit different.
A female cousin of mine, someone I hadn’t seen in like a year was home for a Christmas break. And my own sister had been bugging us all those days to visit the ‘Bada Imambara’. She had just gone to college and when people used to ask her ‘What’s in Lucknow?’, she was at a loss of words. So that day, she wanted to get this out of her way and it being a Saturday, convinced everyone to visit, EVERYONE but me. And so, she plotted. She began by telling me that we were going to visit my cousin’s home and see her. Then, if she agrees to accompany us, we would go visit Imambara.
Now I was all too fine with visiting my cousin as she would be leaving in a day or two and we wouldn’t be meeting for another half an year or so. Also, the prospect of visiting the Imambara with her family and ours didn’t seem all that bad. Without further thought, I agreed. We reached her home at 1 p.m. We sat about for a while, did some catching up and then my sister threw in the dice. She asked my cousin to come with us to Imambara and the ever so peppy girl she is, agreed without the slightest bit of hesitation. The game was on.
We reached the Imambara at about half past 2. It’s a rather tough drive towards the older part of Lucknow and you have to navigate your way through fares, shoddy crossings and what not. Now the Bada Imambara isn’t just a single building but it has multiple structures within its premise and in the tour. It has the Bhool Bhulaiya, the Imambara, Art gallery, Chhota Imambara and Bouli. Also, before you enter, you have to buy tickets firsthand, that is to say, if you want to visit just the Bhool Bhulaiya, buy ticket for that but you cannot buy another ticket inside if your mind swings to visiting the Imambada too. Careful not to make any mistakes, we bought the complete package tickets (which were more economical too) and went in.
The first structure we visited was the Bouli. The guys on the entrance slashed the Bouli part of our tickets and let us go. We hired a guide, something you must if you really want to enjoy the tour, and went about. After that, we got rid of our footwear at a shoe-place there and went for the Imambara tour and finally Bhool Bhulaiya. It was quite good actually with the guide trying his very best to amaze us by telling about the mysterious and magical engineering and architecture of them all. There is the ancient surveillance camera, the sound navigation systems inside walls and the intricate architecture of the Nawabs. But I remained doubtful at times, triggering his desire to convince me more and more so as to impress me. Finally, at well past 5, the tour was over and I thanked him. He asked if I enjoyed the tour and with half a heart, I said Yes.
Then we collected our shoes from the place and just as I sat putting them on with my cousin and sister on either side, I saw the most beautiful girl I had ever laid eyes on. Now you probably might have heard this phrase many a times, my dear reader, but this is not something that I use all that often. This was the girl that leaves an impact. Hell, I have seen my share of pretty girls, all dressed up well and good with boys crooning around them. But this wasn’t just that kinda pretty girl. She was the frigging Helen of Troy. And I am not exaggerating when I say that. Talk about launching a thousand ships, this girl could bring the next Apocalypse.
Oh how should I tell you about her! Nabokov once said how it takes a murderer to write a prose style as poetic as to describe a beautiful girl. Maybe you should stop reading, my compassionate reader, for I don’t think I can really describe that girl, standing there, trying her boots on that blessed winter evening. But for your sake, I will try. She stood at about a 5 feet and two inches from the ground and she was clad in a pink parka jacket. And she had the eyes of that infamous doe that can only be bettered by thick framed square spects. Luckily she had them on too. You could tell she was from the elite class.
In that state of mine, I confided in my cousin how beautiful a girl this one was. She turned to where my eyes were and said “Yes, really”. I turned and saw her looking at some little girl in her mother’s arms. I laughed and slightly dunked her forehead, turning her face towards the Helen. For a minute, she looked, really just looked at her. Then she remarked something about my birdwatching. I told her she was the most tremendous thing I had ever seen and she didn’t seem surprised. I asked her to come with me and take a photo of the girl (coz, I don’t use a smartphone). She hesitantly agreed. By this time, she was making her way with a VAST family group towards the exit. We tried to rush there but at the first stairs my mother called us, asking to come to her. I felt disheartened but went back.
My mother asked me where we were going and I told her- “There is a very beautiful girl out there and I am going to get a photo with her”. She asked me where she was and I told her she couldn’t see from there. I then asked, “Can I go? no problem right?” and to my utter surprise, she said “Yes, go on”.
I grabbed my cousin’s hand and we again rushed in her direction. On my way, my cousin asked- “So…we are going to take the picture without her knowledge right?”
I laughed at her and said, “How can I get a decent picture WITH her without her knowledge. I am going to ask her for it.”
My cousin got a bit freaked out and said, “Hey, I don’t know you OK. She has so many brothers they are all going to kick you in the guts if you do that”.
I told her what I wanted to tell her,”I want to make her realize that there is the Bouli behind her and then there is Imambara and further Bhool Bhulaiya and on top of it, the whole view of Lucknow city. But here I am wanting a picture not with any of them but with her.”
She still seemed skeptical but didn’t say anything. Soon as we reached where her group was, near the Bouli, they went inside. Now we, having already visited Bouli couldn’t visit again! So we waited there, for about 15-20 minutes but she was nowhere to be seen.
By then, our families were returning to the other way to the exit. I looked at the Bouli and my heart ached. I remembered the guide telling me that nothing can be seen from the outside of Bouli and nothing escapes the eyes of a person inside it. As it turned out, I was screwed by an architectural masterpiece.
My parents called me to return and my cousin rushed back without stopping for me. With a heavy heart I returned too. On the gate, I handed the parking ticket to my father and asked them to carry on as I wanted to buy some bhelpuri. They did as I went to the Bhelpuri stall. Someone had just ordered 12 packs and it was taking time. By the time my number came, his puffed rice was over and he went on to open another packet for me . Just as he returned with the packet, I saw that girl returning with her big big family and mounting a chariot of some sort they were to take a groupie on. I looked at her, for the final time and took a mental picture.
I still haven’t forgotten her face.
This blog post is inspired by the blogging marathon hosted on IndiBlogger for the launch of the #Fantastico Zica from Tata Motors. You can apply for a test drive of the hatchback Zica today. This post is about the impact girl. For another post that refers her, click here.