Localities in Lucknow may find their namesakes in London, Honolulu, Tehran, Melbourne, Lahore and Delhi, but often, the name's all they have in common.
Lucknow's localities find a parallel in Indian as well as foreign cities, at least in name.
The City of Nawabs vibrates to a different cultural note from Australia's Lucknow, which was the epicentre of the Goldrush, and different again from Canada's really green Lucknow. Similarly, localities in Lucknow may find their namesakes in London, Honolulu, Tehran, Melbourne, Lahore and Dhaka or even in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kanpur, Jaipur and Jaunpur back in India, but very often, the name's all they have in common.
Victoria Street in old Lucknow can be found in, where else but London, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Singapore, California, Durban and (you won't come close to guessing this one) Honolulu! Now, that is not news, given the colonial sway of the Queen's sceptre, but if you thought that our hugely popular Aminabad with the aroma of kebabs and sheermaals, had no twin, welcome to Tehran's very own Aminabad!
Choori Wali Gali in Chowk may be a Lakhnawi landmark, but its namesake in Lahore, echoing with the merry laughter of women on a shopping spree, is no less. Lahore also has a Baroodkhana area, like we have in old Lucknow.
Looking at Chowk itself, the locality's name may be replicated in Varanasi or Allahabad, but "the feel of Lucknow's Chowk is unique," maintains Chowk resident and librarian Pratima Kapoor, who has also spent two decades in Varanasi. "The Chowk in Varanasi is far more crowded than the one in Lucknow," she adds, favouring her present home.
Ganeshganj in Mirzapur, Maulviganj in Aurangabad, and Nazirabad (a city this time) in Afghanistan, Rakabganj in Agra, Mavaiya in Mirzapur and Aishbagh in Bhopal, Aliganj and Indiranagar in Bangalore, Gomtinagar in Surat and Alwar (even though there is no Gomti river there!), Narahi in Nepal and Vidhan Sabha Marg in Mumbai... Reeling already? There's lots more to come.
The fact that areas in rajdhani Dilli share far too many names of localities and roads will not come as a surprise to most.
You can sight various familiar signboards in Delhi like Kalidas Marg, Janpath, Sarojini Nagar, Lajpat Nagar, Lal Kuan, Tilak Nagar, Moti Nagar, Malviya Nagar, Rajendra Nagar and even a Phool Wali Gali! However, Kalidas Marg in Delhi's Shastri Nagar and another one in Gulabi Bagh bear no semblance to the VVIP area that the Kalidas Marg in Lucknow is.
And, Delhi's Sarojini Nagar, thick with pedestrians, shops and goodies strikes a chord more with Lucknow's Janpath than the residential area by the same name.
If Lalbagh in Lucknow is where you go to get your car fitted with burglar alarms, you'll be surprised where the auto driver takes you to if you ask to be dropped at Lalbagh in Bangalore, or even Dhaka for that matter! Lalbagh Botanical Gardens in Bangalore are much sought-after for a nature walk. And Dhaka's Lalbagh Fort, built by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb's son is no less a tourist spot, set amid sprawling greens.
Talking of greens, one can't help but turn to the green environs of the Cantonment area. Major Gaurav Mathur notes, "There's an MG Road, Cariappa Road, Nehru Road and Cavalry Road along with a Sadar Bazaar in almost all Cantonment areas across the country."
But a common name does not usually ensure any other kind of similarity. As Prof Nishi Pandey puts it, "The cultural tone of the area around Delhi's Jama Masjid is distinctly different from the area around Lucknow's Jama Masjid.
Names of places may be same, but a common name doesn't call for similarities in the character of the place." So, when somebody asks 'What's in a name?' you can simply say – nothing!