February 22, 2020
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Meet The Mathurs

Meet The Mathurs
WE had barely recovered from a spate of opulent weddings in Delhi when we were invited to attend yet another. This one was one in Allahabad and the bride, Munshi Premchand's great grand-daughter. The English bridegroom and his barat of some 40 firangi relatives and friends were thrilled with it all: a charming family home, great Kayasth food, plenty of beer and Spring. They swore that Indian weddings should become a brand. I think they have a point.

Best known as the city that produced the largest number of our prime ministers, Allahabad's famous university at one time supplied more civil servants and diplomats than any other Indian educational institute. Many may not know that in 1858, it was here (then the capital of the United Provinces) that Lord Canning read out Queen Victoria's famous charter outlining Pax Britannia that transferred political power from the East India Company to the British Crown. A gentle air of nostalgia hangs over most of Allahabad today. The stately Indo-Saracenic buildings of the university, once dubbed the 'Oxford of the East', are pock-marked with posters and advertisements of political parties. Tents are pitched in its gardens where the Provincial Armed Constabulary is parked. Striped chaddis are spread out to dry on the hedges of the Senate House lawns, in a rustic disdain for these noble surroundings that is almost Lalooesque. It seemed to me that dhobis have taken over the halls of residence as well: Holland Hall, Hindu Hostel, ssl Hostel and GN Jha Hostel have flapping laundry festooned all along their verandahs.

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