Ravi started the walk by providing me with another malai makkhan. Instead of telling him that I already had one in the morning, I kept quiet and gobbled the treat. Next, we entered the gol darwaza and Ravi started telling me the history of buildings and vendors. He took me inside the small lanes to show the workshops where Lucknow’s famous chikan embroidery work was being done. He also took me to small colonies besides the market called ‘Tolas’, which have only one entrance and one exit. He gave me the history of the kathak dancers, whose art was greatly admired by the Nawabs of Lucknow. From delving into the history and methods of preparing paan to learning the story behind the local flower sellers who moved from depending upon the kathak dancers as their major customers to the local hindus, Ravi went into a lot of details. We stopped and looked at old houses and their architectural design. We also stopped at several shops, including the one where countrymade perfume or ‘itra’ is sold. I smelled a variety of aromas and couldn’t stop myself from buying one. The range of the perfume for a 10 ml bottle can vary from Rs. 400 to Rs.1200 to Rs. 24,000!!! You read that right. The most amazing part was that the owner of the ‘itra’ shop had a couplet or sher for every single aroma he made me try. We sat down at several places to have tea, or just talk and there was no sign of any hurry from Ravi.
As directed by hotel staff, I took a shared auto from Hazratganj and reached chowk within 20 min. My friends had told me to eat at ‘Shree’ and therefore I asked a pan shop owner for directions. However, they suggested that being a tourist I should actually try ‘Sewak’ ki poori. I decided to trust their recommendation, and entered the main market through ‘Gol Darwaza’ and reached Sewak’s shop. They had just opened for business and gave me freshly made poori and hot sabzi. Devoid of any breakfast, I quickly gobbled two plates of poori and sabzi and didn’t even burp. Next, I tried the ‘kali gajar ka halwa’ for the first time in my life and it was simply amazing. As I walked back towards the chowk and crossed the gol darwaza, there were several vendors selling malai makkhan’, lassi and rabri. Now malai makkhan is like ‘Daulat ki chaat’ in Delhi’s Chandini Chowk, but lucknow one is lighter and tastier.