We may have sketched the real coordinates of the world, but the mind still maps places like an imaginative medieval cartographer. Based more on intuition and collective memory than on sextants and satellites. It's this blurring of boundaries between the real and the mythical that lends some places an abiding mystery.
Rampur, famous for its eponymous chaku, falls in that twilight space-time. In fact, when we say Rampuri, it's not the place but Hindi film villain Madan Puri brandishing its most famous (in the dominant social memory, that is) symbol, the knife, that comes to mind.
It isn't easy to make Rampur's acquaintance. Pushed to the fringes of contemporary history and obscure to prominent geography (about four hours and 180 km from Delhi en route to Bareilly, there is nothing inviting in the city's outward expression to pull one off the highway), only serendipity or design can reveal the true personality of this former princely state.
We snake our way through the labyrinthine narrow streets in our quest for the chakuwali gali. It's the month of Ramzan and...