While looking for my friends’ updates on Facebook, I came across a group called Bareilly. I went down to see the posts as I belong to this city and home for me has always meant Bareilly. That is when I came across this beautiful piece written by Ms. Anuradha Khandelwal (Click here to visit her Facebook page). I don’t think I have ever read anything that describes my city, the life and the culture so vividly.
I want all my friends and people who have lived in Bareilly or have memories connected with it, to read this. This article will take you all down the memory lane and think of magical times that make them want to go back to this wonderful place again and again. Ms. Khandelwal, thank you for writing it. Here it goes:
All the people who have ever lived in Bareilly and are displaced all over the globe have this constant hankering of what Bareilly was…so I thought…lets just try and remember it all and post it for posterity!
For the layman Bareilly comprises of just Civil Lines…which kinda sums up half of Bareilly and Rampur Gardens and then comes Cantt. The interiors like Badey Bazaar, Shyamatganj, Alamgiriganj…are the Puraney Sheher ke illakey! Did a jhumka really fall in the Bareilly ka bazaar? But it made Bareilly a well-known name allright! So once the Bans Bareilly becomes the Jhumka wala Bareilly while Rae Bareli is the Gandhi stronghold…not to be confused with our Bareilly…okay?
Dina Nath ki Lassi which has every native or in transit bareillyite drooling! Liquid platinum topped with malai and a few chironji danas –cold and the ideal sip for weary travellers, tired shoppers, the college crowd and anyone and everyone…the great leveller! From the Rickshawalla to the Honda Civic Tribe, everyone loves Dina Nath ki Lassi! Next door is Ram Bharoosay ki Chaat…and next to that Tyagi Restaurant…yummy choley, aloo-puri and a runny meethi sonth! And two shops away is Ramchander – the best curd in town! And hot milk and hot jalebis and samosas throughout the day!
All these places have been around for decades and decades and nothing has changed except the prices and the person behind the cash counter! Father, then Son and then Grandson; and behind the counter are the garlanded photographs! These places have survived but many have closed down too.
Rios…the name itself will conjure up lots of images for a lot of people. In the midst of this North Indian Culture of puri-aloo-jalebi-chaat, came Rios…like a whiff of fresh air. A kinda takeoff from Flurys of Calcutta…a tea-room! The huge keema samosas or aloo-matar ones served with tomato sauce and green chutney on a plate with a fork and knife! Rios took eating a samosa to another level altogether! And they weren’t the run of the mill samosa…They were huge and delicious! The smell of pastry hit you as you entered Rios cool interiors – dim lights, brown lush furniture and air conditioning – and the Pineapple Pastries…melt in the mouth stuff…and huge tumblers of cold coffee with ice cream!
A generation of Bareillyites actually has spent their youth lolling around there every day at three o clock to have their tea and snacks! And the fabulous food! I have had the best Rogan Josh ever there…and the best Club Sandwich. After I got engaged, we had a lunch party at RIOs…It was THE place. But as it faded away into a shopping complex, many of us still remember the good times, the scent and smells and the lingering taste our palates are trying to recall. Thank you Mr. Pant for one of a kind RIO. Nothing has come anywhere near it as yet!
Miglanis near Hind Cinema had Salami and Sausages and such stuff. Panditji ki Chaat near the Iton wala Dharamsala in Alamgiriganj – now shifted to Baatashey waali gali…still the best Baniya Chaat in the world. I say Baniya because the other people in Civil Lines have onions in their chaat. Though they all have their clients…Cheap Chaat and cheap Chinese!
Buns and Omelet outside Fabrikraft (the first boutique in Bareilly I think…which is still going strong!) and chanas and Hansmukh Chacha ki Dal Chana mix with a dollop of butter and a crumbled papdi. Ganesh Juice and Deepak ki kachori and sabzis in the morning followed by Prakash’s little crisp jalebis, Kebabs and Biryanis and Pepper Chicken and kati rolls…Host, Shadows (which was considered shady so haven’t been there [;)] and Pindi for Tandoori Chicken and daal roti, good wholesome dhaba food in unwholesome surroundings. But who cares when one is young??? Kipps ki Mithai, Glory ke rasgulley, Gera ki Chenna Murki, Beharipur dhaal ke swaal aloo. Hot milk at the kila shops on cold winter nights and Khurchan from there or rabdi! And Holi Chowk babaji ka samosa, moong ki daal ki pakoris. He has died, so that is an end to this. Bless him! And ahead was the best Emartis! And everyone at sometime or the other must have had the Payal Seekh Kebabs!
Shopping was Rawalpindi stores. I think it began and ended with Rawalpindi Stores. Even today, now rechristened RawalPindi Modern has the best Sarees in this part of the World. And the older generation all remember Shyamji, while we all swear by Bunty! No one has better taste in sarees, this I can say with experience. Every saree in my wardrobe is from there…from my engagement saree onwards! Barring a few I pick up from Kolkata and with Mipakshi joining in there are other stuff too. And the men’s wear was really good which became Origins. With its closing I am sure a lot of people including me feel the lack of a one stop shop for menswear! I miss Billa and Amit. It was such a pleasure going there!
And who can forget Syndicate…better known as Syndi…A generation has grown up graduating from baby books to heavy duty fiction, under the watchful eye of Mr. Verma (God bless his soul) and now his wife Santosh who runs the place still and has a good knowledge of books. Lots of books have been bought as gifts and she knew who reads what. Keep the written word flag flying Santosh!
For white goods one went to Parmanand Chicker for Godrej or PD Gooba near Khadi Ashram. The Chickers now have an all girls’ school. And where one got Godrej Fridges, one can buy Levis now! Bareilly Club was elegant but a trifle world weary, torn black leather couches strewn. But now its become proper and lost its elegance though! Its okay, nothing much – the fish fingers have become like fish thumbs – quantity is less, quality is down but everyone makes trips there…nostalgia!
B. I Bazaar was on the hit list if you had a car and everyone had to stop at Alphas to pick up videos of the latest movie…Pappu Chawla had a good stock, was always pleasant and spoke well to everyone. May he rest in Peace! After he died, Alpha lost its sheen. Hakimji (he still hasn’t returned my silver that he had taken to polish. I wonder what can I do about it…it was substantial). Gera and London Book Depot were the other stops! Ferns Bakery for the mutton Pattis on the way out from the Cantt area!
Bareilly was green and beootiful and uncongested…And then they started felling the trees…making ugly structures…and see what we have now…A horrifying town full of dirt and garbage and heat waves emanating from the bare lands! I remember the cool Bareilly when April Showers were the norm and temperatures always came down fast. Now there is no respite for days on end!
Give me back those days…when Hanuman Mandir was a small place and between Ayub Khan Chouraha and Chowki Chouraha there was a broad road lined on both sided with huge trees, a quaint little church where the eyesore Butler Plaza stands…and the imposing huge Red brick Church…and nothing more. Far to your left, you would see the lights of the Mission Hospital, an imposing structure gone to rot and now being revived. Mission Hospital has played home to one of the Nobel Laureates who did a stint here. This year list…so Bareilly has something to be proud of besides Priyanka Chopra, Baba Sehgal etc.
Now the crowds tend to get to you. The generators on the road send out hot signals to the already hot atmosphere, the sidewalks are chockablock with hand carts selling everything and anything…and there is no parking anywhere. Every shop has its wares on the road. People spit, throw plastic and garbage on the road, shops are swept and the rubbish is piled up on the roads. I think we need an SOS for Bareilly…SOS!!
Please save Bareilly’s Soul!