Lucknow Gup: Place of many streams

The friendship between Lucknow and France dates back centuries. The artistic and cultural exchange between the two continues to this day. Meetings are regularly organized by the French cooperation network in India.

Lucknow is visited these days by Bonjour India, the French cultural festival. A French film and dining experience was recently staged on the sprawling lawns of a local boutique hotel that made the town oh la la!

On a balmy April evening, guests gathered under the silver-lit sky of a near-full moon. There was wine, plates of French delights and the screening of The Delicious, a delicious 2021 French film shown on the big screen outdoors.

Wall Art Festival also came to Lucknow. The colorful journey of French art stopped at the campus of the iconic Isabella Thoburn College to paint a section of the wall in more than just red. Artists from France and Lucknow came together and, in their common passion for street art, managed to bring a lot of color to the college.

As if meals, movies and murals weren’t enough, an evening of jazz music is set against the majestic skyline of Constantia. The majestic Constantia building became a palace for Claude Martin, the French adventurer who lived and died in Lucknow in the early 19th century.

Constantia is now the home of La Martinière, a boys’ college named after Martin.

The first Frenchman to take up residence in Lucknow was Monsieur Niel, a merchant. The house he built for himself was called Frankish Palace, which locals renamed Firangi Mahal, or House of Foreigners. The place was occupied by successive French traders who came to Lucknow to buy indigo from local farmers in large quantities.

Islamic scholars were handed over to the same house during the time of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Eventually, the school started in a corner of the Firangi Mahal grew into a leading institution of Islamic studies and the whole district of Chowk region in Lucknow became famous as Firangi Mahal. In the past, the curriculum of the Firangi Mahal school was such that students from all over the world were attracted to study here.

When Mahatma Gandhi visited Firangi Mahal in the first half of the 20th century, all the kitchens in the neighborhood decided not to cook meat without being forced to.

This was the kind of consideration that citizens once practiced in Lucknow.



Today quarrels between citizens are invented where there are none. Besides the growing tension around plant or animal meals, azaan and jaagran, there is resentment over language.

Language is still a common heritage of all those who use it as a means of communication among themselves. Language is not confined to one religion but to one region.

Those in Lucknow who believe Urdu is not their language don’t know any better. They do not know that Ghulam Hamdani Mushafi wrote at the beginning of the 19th century that the language in which he writes is Urdu.

Mushafi was born in Amroha and died in Lucknow. He started living in Lucknow from the end of the 18th century and was the first to call the language in which he wrote, Urdu.

Mushafi prayed to God in verse that the language he first heard spoken by Mir Taqi Mir and Mirza Sauda would be preserved, and which belongs to all of us.

khuda rakhe zuban humne sunii hai Mir o Mirza ki, kahen kis muun se hum, e mushafi, urdu hamari hai

The story of Sirajuddin Ali Khan Arzu, uncle of Mir is interesting.

Khan Arzu was a teacher who was fluent in Persian but was aware that it was not his native language. His mother tongue was Khadi Boli which was spoken in Delhi where he grew up. In Lucknow, he learned the local dialect of Avadhi. He found it absurd to write in one language and speak another.

Arzu inspired many of his students to look around, listen, and use the images and vocabulary of the local dialect they spoke at home.

Over time, literati included fewer Arabic and Persian words and foreign descriptions in their work, reviving a more authentic local language that felt much more intimate with one’s self.



This is why the late Rahi Masoom Raza of Ghazipur, Uttar Pradesh was hurt when the parish objected to a Muslim like him being chosen by BR Chopra to adapt Mahabharat into a TV series.

Raza burst into verse to call himself a son of the Ganges. He was fluent in the twin languages ​​of Hindi and Urdu. Because of his background and upbringing, no one knew India and its civilization better than he did.

He wrote that every child is born as a human being, but children are transformed into Hindus and Muslims and separated into different camps later in life.

If Raza, a student of Urdu literature loved to write in Hindi, then Raghupathi Sahay who studied English literature became one of the greatest Urdu poets of the last century.

He took the pseudonym of Firaq Gorakhpuri to symbolize the diversity of the different populations living in and around the Gorakhpur region.

A great fan of William Wordsworth’s poetry, Gorakhpuri wrote spellbinding verses in Urdu. Here he is willing to give up the gods of both worlds in exchange for his existence as a human being:

khuda-e doo jahan ko de ke hum insaan lete haiin



Who is Annapurna Singh?

Annapurna Singh, 48, is the wife of imprisoned muscleman Brajesh Singh. Brave Annapurna Singh is a school dropout having studied up to ninth grade. She ran as an independent candidate in Varanasi and made headlines for defeating the BJP candidate in the recent MLC elections. Sudama Patel, the BJP candidate lost his bail and garnered 170 votes while Annapurna Singh got a record 4,234 votes.

This is Annapurna Singh’s second victory from the same seat. She is one of two independents to have won the elections. Of the 36 seats it contested, the BJP won 33 seats, but it should be noted that the BJP lost in Prime Minister Lok Sabha’s constituency.

After her defeat of the BJP candidate in Varanasi, Annapurna Singh thanked the UP Chief Minister for his victory.

Now what does this mean?


James C. Tibbs