Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Old city - A dying Hyderabad

Behind the facade of Charminar, biryani, and irani chai, we don't think of anything more when it comes to the old city. Apne ku old city boleto sirf haleem aur khana malum, aur shayad famous ice cream. Kya toh bhi yaaron. And oh yeah, baigan, Hyderabad is also the land of biagan, not the vegetable, but the other baigan which translates into a word we use literally to describe everything we hate.

Toh the semblance of the 'beauty of the old city' probably lies inthe majestic Charminar, no doubt that it is still an edifice that towers the entire place one you cross Nayapul. Hyderabad is Charminar. However, once you go past that, past the awesome hotels, you'll start to feel cut off. For the people in the city still remain to shut themselves out. It's been a year since I've been going to places, talking to people and what not, but I still don't feel a part of the city, my own city.

Perhaps because I'm not really a pucca Hyderabad, but  gujju. How I wish I would have been born in Hyderabad, the land of baigan, my land. My job allows me to explore the place every now and then, and everything there only brings out the worse qualities human beings have. Not the people who live there, but how the people there are governed. I still don't understand, how, even more than 60 years of our so called aazadi, that place has managed to stagnate and remain the same, while the rest of the city is moving on.

We want and like the friendly old chichas who help us, but we don't want to write about their problems. We want to eat tasty old city food, but we don't want to know how many people have problems just to get a square meal a day. We want to see charminar, mecca masjid, chowmahlla palace and what not, but we turn a blind eye towards the slums filled with people who live in pitiable shanties.

Below is what I wrote a long time ago, it's crude, but it's what I felt when I went there initially and I still feel the same way.

As I entered Sultan Shahi, I felt like I was entering a village, or a place cut off from the city in some corner outskirt. It reminded me of the pathway to my grandfather's house village in Gujarat. But it wasn't a village, nor was it an outskirt, it was an area right after Charminar and not even deep inside. It felt more like I just lost all contact with civilization when I realised that that was how lot of places were in old city; and it was pitiful.

As I went in further, I closely examined all the people who I could see. Two young girls were washing clothes and utensils in their school dress, while some children were playing on the road. It was then I noticed an old man sat outside his home, his face apathetic. I could make out from his face that he had seen it all, that he had lived there all his life. I was in Sultan Shahi to find victims of the 1992 riots that took place in old city. Little did I know that the task for finding someone for a story for work would finally connect me back to my city more than ever. For once, I found a sense of belonging, that, that was where I should have been.

As I looked further to find a victim, I managed to get some information; remnants to say the least. However, I did learn one thing, that no one there was, is or will be the cause of any riots. They were and are just victims. "I don't know anything, please don't ask me,", was the first reply I got from the owner of a Kirana shop. I understood that like him, many could help me, but they didn't want to. I  received help from a very enthusiastic person, who did help me quite a bit, and that is how I finished the task.

My work, to say the least, is all about finding a story for the to fill the page of the newspaper I work for. It seldom gives me the chance to go in depth about anything. I have realised ever since I started working that journalism has no place for compassion, nor does it have place for to actually show the real problems faced by the majority of the people. What is there is actually what newspapers want people to read, that's it/

 It's a strange feeling that I get when I go old city these days. I've found a new liking now, and I don't hate the place anymore. All these jumbled up feelings will perhaps make sense to me one day. I've hated tradition and I still do, but I  surely do not want to get old watching the old city lose its culture.

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