A lot has been written and spoken about Demonetisation since 8th November 2016; how Demonetisation will be useful in years to come, its harmful effects on people, how people are happy, how people are facing problems on a day to day basis, effects of demonetisation on various strata of society, its economic consequences, its political consequences and so on.
Everyone has been talking about Demonetisation, from academicians (on its effects on retail and other industries) to management gurus, from politicians (how it would impact the dynamics in the coming elections) to learned economists (benefits in long term), even small children who have to part away with their savings.
But I could not find any one talking about the effect of Demonetisation on the Zombies (Zombies – I know you would ask me if I am in right frame of mind, do I really believe that Zombies exist? Trust me they do, and after reading further, you would also start saying that they are for real) and the Ghosts of British Residency, Lucknow or for that matter, ghosts of any lesser visited historical landmarks (including a large number of tombs, old forts etc.).
What? What am I saying? Effect of Demonetisation on Ghosts!!! Effect on people who have long ventured into the other realm, have risen or fallen down to a level beyond human understanding. How can demonetisation affect them?
Trust me demonetisation has also affected them. Everyone has picked up the cases of someone or the other but we have forgotten the plight of these poor creatures now in the nether world. Being in love with everything which is historical, I cannot let this happen, I will take it as an onus on myself to highlight the plight of these helpless pals (the Ghosts) from down under (no I don’t mean Australia), and the how demonetisation has been a boon for these Zombies.
As I live in this city and the Revolt of 1875 (or the so called Sepoy Mutiny) has always enticed me, I would start with highlighting the plight of Ghosts of British Residency (mind you, they are quite a popular lot even today – no ghost talk in Lucknow is complete without the mention of the Ghosts of Gora Babus and Memsahibs of Residency). Even the intelligent members of ASI working in Residency have vouched for their presence many a times-how they have been slapped by someone when they were sleeping in the compound (poor ghosts assumed that officials were not doing his/her duty diligently while they were actually performing the most important assignment). Every home in old Lucknow is full of stories of how they had or someone in the family had met a Gora Sahib asking for an English newspaper in the middle of the night or a Gori Mem’s wailing, sitting next to the entry gate.
Even after so much popularity, no one has talked about the effect of Demonetisation on them. I recently went on a visit to their lovable haunt (obviously post demonetisation) and was pained at their plight.
Visiting their favourite haunt is not heavy on one’s pocket – ASI charges only Rs. 15.00 for Indian Visitors. Enter through the Bailey Garad Gate (yes that’s the way we Indian used to pronounce the word ‘Guard’- perfectly fine because the Gora Sahib’s also pronounced a lot of Hindi words differently, Jaipur became Jeypore, Gujrat had two different spellings – Guzerat and Goojerat and so on). At the entry point, seeing what was happening I should have understood what was terrifying these lovely creatures, but I didn’t take it so seriously. The Gate has tell tale signs of what happened in 1875 (heavy shelling), I don’t want to be judgemental, yes the way Gora Babu’s and Mem’s had been treating us Indians, whatever happened was probably required. I can understand the thought of those days would have been enough to frighten these pals from the nether world, but even after all that, they had been still roaming around for centuries, so what has forced them into a shell?
There is an eerie silence in the compound occasionally broken by chirp chirp of the friendly squirrels and chak chak of the Multani birds. On the right hand is the Treasury house – a place which had once been the hub of everything financial and then had seen production of those wretched Enfield Cartridge, which have been given the status of being the root cause of Savoy Mutiny (Mangal Pandey and team revolted- they didn’t want to bite these cartridges covered with fat obtained from Cows and Pigs, they were looking at religious sentiments but the brilliant economically savvy Gora Babu’s were looking at cost cutting). This place had also served as a temporary hospital – people were falling left right and centre, obliviously so medical facilities had to be augmented. This was the place which gave me the first inroad on what was frightening my famous pals from the nether world, this was the place which brought me face to face with those Zombies, who till that day I thought existed only in fiction – two modern day zombies were trying to turn into one and that too pretty openly. These zombies were not even bothered that I had a camera and was clicking pictures; they went on with their ritual. They were not concerned about the pain which the creatures of nether world were having, all because they could not find a ritual through which they could be one soul (p.s. – they don’t have bodies anymore, so these lovely ghosts would have to do with souls only).
Shaken but not stirred, I moved ahead to Dr. Fayrer’s house, one of those interesting creatures, who was the surgeon in Residency. He and his house had stood strong during the Mutiny, Sir Henry Lawrence was brought here after he was wounded badly and two days later he had moved into the nether world. On a wall, there was a marble plaque which was telling me that Sir Henry Lawrence died here, just below that plaque, troubling Sir Henry Lawrence were two more modern day Zombies performing the ritual of fertility – one zombie planting seeds of life in another zombie (forgetting that one of them was using ample protection – after all this zombie had to perform the rituals with many more zombies and if it didn’t use ample protection, there would be an army of kiddie zombies – responsibility of whom this zombie would not like to take). I could see how shocked Sir Henry Lawrence would have been, he has not been able to perform this ritual for many centuries and it’s wrong to stroke emotions which cannot be fulfilled.
I had heard so much about the Banquet Hall which had been constructed in a lavish manner by the friendly Nawab of Oudh for his Gora friends, and was an architectural marvel in its time. I entered from the side entrance, couldn’t see any of my pals, in one of the rooms on the ground floor, a lone squirrel was struck to the wooden plank, shell shocked and in pain. On turning my head I could understand the reason for squirrels fear – those wretched modern day zombies again ……..in pairs one in each corner, preparing themselves for the fertility ritual. Disgusted and feeling hapless, I walked towards the main entrance of the Hall, the place where there is a beautiful fountain, the zombies had not left this place also, in full view they were already performing the fertility dance. Where were my pals who loved dancing and partying in this hall? Probably they had hidden as they were feeling ashamed of not being able to have been able to learn this new era fertility dance, or were they feeling frustrated as they were not able to be a part of these fertility dances?
A beautifully carved pillar erected in the memory of Sir Henry Lawrence and many of his brave men (bravery as defined by the Gora Babus) stands in the middle of the garden area which lies between the Banquet Hall, Main Residency Building and the tomb of a Muslim saint (yes, there are a lot of buildings of other religions also inside the British Dominated locale). My stomach and watch both were telling me that I should have my lunch (nothing English, only typical Indian meal of Parantha and Aloo (Potato Bhaji) with Tomato Radish Laccha (a unique way we Indians eat our raw vegetables – okay the Brit pals can call it a version of Salad). The Zombies had captured this garden area also; right in full view of the ASI officials. ASI camp office is located inside the main Residency building which also has the infamous cellar where during the Mutiny, the ladies, children and few men had been killed. Probably I could have met some of these lovely creatures in the cellar but that has been closed for general public and thankfully for the Zombies by ASI (the sign said under renovation). There was a pair who was copying steps from modern day movies, there was one pair where one of the zombies was trying to suck out life from the other zombie or my mistake the zombie could have been practising CPR. ASI officials were walking around oblivious to these Zombies and their activities, it appeared that the ASI officials were unable to see these Zombie’s, their eyes could see only normal humans like us or my pals from the nether world. Or probably ‘Demonetisation’ had affected them too – they were either too busy thinking about how and from where they would get some spending cash, how many hours they would have to spend in an ATM or Bank queue and what next, or probably because of ‘Demonetisation’ whatever paltry amount the zombies were giving was enough to keep their eyes closed.
I was sure that I would meet some of my pals, from the nether world, those famous Gora ghosts in the St. Mary’s Church and Graveyard area. But no, they were missing from there too……how could they compete with these modern zombie pairs who were trying various poses which had earlier been patented by Lord Kama and his sensual wife Lady Rati? (Probably they had forgotten to renew their patent, so in absence of a patent, all these poses were now free for all, a clear problem of not being clear about Patent rules and laws). The final resting places of many of them were now serving as a hard practising mat for these Zombies (I don’t think the hardness of these mats had any effect on the success of the poses, the zombies had already gained expertise on them, after all practice makes a man perfect, oops a zombie perfect). Imagine the plight of Ensign Arthur Chute, dysentery had forced him into nether world, not been cured and still suffering, he has now no space to relieve himself, or for that matter Lt. W.H.L Carleton who is hiding and needs some space to face the sufferings given to him due to small pox.
The story at Begum Kothi (which has now been turned into Begum Kotha by these heartless Zombies), Inglish quarters and even the Masjid and Imambara (please don’t confuse it with Bada Imambada and Chota Imambada or even Shanajaf Imambada, Lucknow has many Imambadas) was no different. My pals from the nether world were in shock and have withdrawn in a shell.
Tired and upset as I could not meet any of those famous people, I walked back. Just near the well (close to Dr. Fayrer’s house), a tiny squirrel stopped me, she was a friend of the creatures. Yes these creatures from the nether world understood that I was friend and not a zombie. I was thinking what has happened…..a whisper told me Demonetisation………
Yes, its demonetisation. With not much cash to spend, Rs. 30 is the best bet. In Rs. 30, zombies can do everything which earlier they were doing for Rs. 500-600 an hour in a hotel room or for Rs. 300 at a Multiplex. In all these places there were additional expenses also, including the high safety fees which one had to pay to the Security agencies, here there are no additional charges, it’s an all inclusive package. So, earlier when the British Residency saw only a few of these pairs of Zombies, and that too they used to remain partially hidden, post demonetisation it sees at least 50-60 pairs per day. They have become bolder and stronger now and are not bothered by the presence of mortals and immortals from the nether world. The numbers increase on weekdays. These pairs are in real sense Zombies- they cannot be humans, when every single human in India is concerned with ‘Demonetisation’, is busy exchanging currency, waiting for cash, standing in the never ending queues, unable to comprehend what is happening, seeing their businesses die a slow death, these pairs were not bothered and concerned. Just as because of ‘Demonetisation’ people have forgotten about caste, creed and religion (at least for the time they are standing in the queues) these Zombies have risen above all these – once outside the premises they would turn back to being Hindu and Muslims but inside they are casteless, creedless and religion-less.
The Ghosts of Residency who were not afraid of anyone have now withdrawn into a shell, Demonetisation has strengthened the Zombies and has made them feel helpless and powerless.
My humble requests to all concerned with Demonetisation – please, please understand the plight of these creatures from the nether world, the ghosts who had in the past made Lucknow very popular with the European visitors (especially from Britain-they are the Brit ancestors). Cash crunch has strengthened the Zombie army. Please understand that the Zombies would not leave anything…..leave anyone, the ghosts who have been properly shaken and stirred would be forced to leave forever.
I would request all my friends from the travel world to come up and stand together for the plight of the Ghosts of British Residency, people from organisations like INTACH, please, please look at these Ghosts with sympathy. ASI, please get yourself treated, get some equipment which can help you see these Zombies and the damage they are doing. Parents of the Zombies (yes they have parents, those parents who have taken the onus on themselves to create a society to their liking where everyone other than them and their family is immoral) to kindly see everyone in the same light.
Do something before we lose out on our favourite pals from the nether world forever, not to mention the tourism revenue.
(PS – This is technically not an article on Demonetisation, the author neither supports nor is against the decision of Demonetisation, this is just a satirical take on the activities which have been happening at British Residency Lucknow and how they have increased many folds because people responsible have turned a blind eye towards these activities)