Nostalgia … In an Unknown City

I know … this sounds like an oxymoron … but, its something i experienced …

The festival of Baisakhi is celebrated on the 14th of April … And, this is an occassion to visit the city of the Guru … Amritsar! Add to this the fact that the weekend was a 3 day weekend, we went for a visit to the lovely city. And, believe you me (or, if you dont believe me, see this picture) … The Golden Temple … is a sight to behold. And, a place of Eternal Peace. The waiting in the queue … Mattha tekkna at the Guru’s feet … Something which is an experience of Peace! Something i would like to do again … and again!

I have still not told you wh I was feeling nostalgic about the city I had never visited before. The first one … My grandparents got married in this city. Both my grandfather and my grandmother passed on to another life almost 2 years ago … the memories, of course, still remain. And, the city of Amritsar was a living reminder … and, a thought that maybe I should have gone there earlier. Much earlier. Another experience … collecting the Prasad … the smell, the look, and taste … Probably the only time i have ever been to a Gurudwara was with my grandmother. That, too, was as a child. And, then, whatever the Kadha that the Bhai ji gave to my grandmother, only little bits were available to the rest of the family, and the rest was for me. The smell of the Prasad brought back memories … smells of times when, as a child, i would eagerly look forward to going to the Gurudwara with my grandmother on weekends (weekdays, school was too early as it is …), mattha tekna, and then waiting for the Prasad … probably the only reason i went to the Gurudwara. Of course, now i dont think it was the only reason (considering that i would get it even if i didnt go). Which means the reason was more … And, this reason was something which peeped through the mists of time, to show me the thread of memories, the thread which lingers, no matter how time might try to erase it. The thread which reminded me of going to the Gurudwara, and the smell which took me back almost 30 years.

Another thought … my friend, Pavan got us a ringside view for the retreat ceremony at Wagha … The ceremony itself is an experience which one must have … but, i am not talking about that. There is a point during the flag-lowering when the flags of India and Pakistan are right next to each other … which gave me the feeling … so near, and yet so far! But, i am not talking about that either. What i am talking about is that sitting at Wagha, we are closer to Lahore than to Amritsar … Lahore … Another city which brings back memories from the mists … Memories not of something i have seen, but more of things i have heard … tales of Lahore. A Lahore where Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs lived together … a city they all called home. A city which was called the Paris of the Orient. A city referred to as “The City of Sin and Splendour” (a collection of stories about Lahore, edited by Bapsi Sidhwa). A city, which lives on in my mind’s eye, a picture etched, albeit dated, but a beautiful pitcure at that. A picture of the Lahore before it became a place out of bounds for lakhs of people who knew no other city other than Lahore. Looking at the road at Wagha … the road leading to Lahore … brought back these memories. Of course, the real Lahore of today may not have much to resemble the memories i carry (memories which i saw through my grandfather’s words), but definitely a city which attracts me. Definitely a city which i would like to see … though, on second thoughts … maybe not? It is better to travel hopefully than to … On other thoughts, a city i should have visited maybe 10 years ago.

As i have written before

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