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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Lessons in Tehzeeb

Amidst the routine hustle and bustle of the railway station,the porters,vendors,taxi and auto rickshaw drivers of Lucknow’s Charbagh railway station have suddenly found a novel dimension to their work.

Written by SURBHI KHYATI | New Delhi |
April 15, 2012 12:33:43 am

Amidst the routine hustle and bustle of the railway station,the porters,vendors,taxi and auto rickshaw drivers of Lucknow’s Charbagh railway station have suddenly found a novel dimension to their work.

Amidst the routine hustle and bustle of the railway station,the porters,vendors,taxi and auto rickshaw drivers of Lucknow’s Charbagh railway station have suddenly found a novel dimension to their work. They are the newly-discovered ambassadors of etiquette for the guests to the city of nawabs. The tourism department of Uttar Pradesh is training them on tehzeeb,which Lucknow is famed for,and educating them on the history of the city’s monuments,in order to draw tourists. Manoj Singh,secretary,UP tourism department,says,“Taxi drivers and coolies are the first point of interaction for tourists,but are often known for wrong reasons. Training them aims at improving the overall tourism in the state.”

The department plans to train all 250 coolies,75 vendors,100 auto rickshaw drivers and 43 taxi drivers registered with the Northern Railways at the Charbagh station. Since the four-day training programme began on March 25,in collaboration with Manyavar Kanshiram Institute of Tourism Management,Lucknow,120 people have been trained so far,in four batches of 30 each.

The trainees are excited about their newfound importance. “For the first time,someone has thought of training and imparting knowledge to people of humble backgrounds like us,” says Virendra Kumar,a coolie at Charbagh,who has not visited a single monument in Lucknow in his two-and-a-half years of stay in the city but now hopes to “confidently answer passengers’ queries about historical sites” after watching a 15-minute documentary on the city’s heritage.

The classes are held within the station’s premises; the students listen with rapt attention to Manoj Dixit,director of the programme,as he doles out lessons in tehzeeb. In one such class,he begins with teaching them the “simple formula” of winning the guests over with a greeting. “Greet a Gujarati with a ‘Jai Shri Krishna’ and address a Bengali as ‘dada’,” Dixit tells his students,even as he also explains the significance of “aadab”,the traditional Lucknowi way of greeting. He tells them not to overcharge customers,or give them incorrect information about which hotels to check in or which markets to ­visit. Anecdotes related to the city’s monuments,such as the two Imambaras,Bhool Bhulaiyan,Roomi Darwaza,Hanuman Mandir are narrated. The class rounds off with Dixit’s “guru mantra”: “People go to Agra to see the Taj Mahal,visit Varanasi to witness the beauty of the ghats; but come to Lucknow not to see the monuments,but to witness the way we behave — woh humari tehzeeb dekhne aate hain.”

The programme is aimed at reviving the city’s fading “pehle aap” culture,explains Dixit: “Lucknow’s famed etiquette and laidback lifestyle have been on the wane for years. But visitors still expect to experience a slice of such tehzeeb. We hope to give them that through our trained coolies,vendors and drivers. A big motivator for trainees is to link politeness with increased income. It will preserve our culture,and help them earn more.”

Mohammed Ashraf,a taxi driver at Charbagh for the last eight years,hopes to make more money after the training. “Most tourists want to know about places to visit. If I can provide them authentic information,and behave politely with them,I can probably earn a few extra bucks as tip,” he says. He rounds off in poetic Urdu: “Main ab unki khidmat mein har waqt haazir rahoonga (from now on,I will be at their service at all times).” It seems the tehzeeb lessons are working.

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