Population: 2.7 million
Current weather: 77°F, October 9
Currently on TV: Yeh Hain Mohabbatein (“This is Love”, 1:30 AM local time on the Star Plus network) – this Indian soap opera follows the lives of a Tamil dentist and a Punjabi guy who fall in love but find that things get complicated.
Movie theaters in Kanpur: at least 10
Getting some good stuff on Kanpur proved difficult for the amount of time I had available. One of Kanpur’s nicknames is “the Manchester of the East”, but that really doesn’t help me. That’s like saying it’s “the Columbus, Ohio of India” – I just think of a big, bland city.
Kanpur is described all over Wikipedia as “an industrial city ” in northern India, about 430 miles from Kathmandu, Nepal. It’s in Uttar Pradesh, a name I’ve always loved, and supposedly the most heavily populated “country subdivison” in the world.
I’m learning as I go along that “industrial city” is just what people call a city when they can’t think of anything nice to say about it. Arts, culture, innovative cuisine – they’re probably in there somewhere, but you have to know where to look. I myself live in what you’d call an industrial city: there aren’t major tourist attractions, there isn’t a cutting-edge arts scene, but there are things for tourists to do, and there are artists doing interesting things. Just on a reduced scale.
Unlike most US cities, Kanpur really trades on its role as a massacre site. This is the kind of thing that’s often downplayed in the states – if we’ve got the site of an infamous and horrific mass killing we will, in many cases, try to paper over it. Not in Kanpur.
Listed on the tourism board’s site for this city is “Massacre Ghat.” Here, in June 1857, 300 British men, women and children were killed as part of the first war for Indian independence. A “ghat” is a flight of steps leading into a river, often with a religious significance attached – in this case, the river is the Sacred Ganges. So this ghat (which was not originally named “Massacre”) is commemorated today with a tasteful white temple – not a garish red one.