Monday, 5 August 2013

Old city . . . .

Last Saturday was something else. Ramzan finally felt like Ramzan when the food I ate at old city finally entered my stomach. The day started off as usual, with me unable to get my ass of my bed; the lethargy finally forced me to take a day off work and I'm glad I did that, albeit I had to lie. But the day which began in the evening was probably the best I had, and it left me wanting for more.

Until few years ago, I would never understand why people flock there in spite of the filth and crowd near Charminar. Now I know why; it's because the kababs and the charm of Ramzan is something else. While I was cursing myself for trying to be a smart ass for taking a longer, and a usually emptier road there, the bonalu procession  gave me ample time to think about future plans while I was stuck in traffic for half an hour.

I don't even remember the last time I went to the old city at night with my friends. Most of my nights in Ramzan were spent helping my dad at his shop, and the rest of the time I was never interested in going. But over the last one year  my interest has been rekindled. I no longer see bad roads, I see old neglected monuments. I don't see lunatics spitting and dirtying the place, but I have found friendly faces, who now don't let me leave without at least having chai after meeting them.

Chai is another amazing thing in the old city. Not just the taste, but the concept of having tea itself. That's the least a person will offer, in fact you won't even be asked whether you want to have chai or not. The moment I sit with my acquaintances for a chat, chai automatically follows. Sometimes with Osmania biscuits as well, which are also ubiquitous little wonders for the taste buds.

While the place has its own problems, it's hard to ignore the aesthetic beauty of Pathergatti, and the areas surrounding Charminar. Old buildings, minarets, crumbling heritage buildings etc are just reminders of state apathy.Walking past the shops from Madina to Charminar is like walking in a dream, with old buildings surrounding you, until you stop at the 400 year old edifice, which stands tall in spite of the abuse it has taken over decades.

The temple and dargah inside the Charminar are again nothing but blemishes which belie what it represents now. Not to mention the infinite autos which stand parked on roads in front of Unani hospital, with the drivers sitting in their machines, pretending like there isn't any traffic jam everyday. But what more does the old city have apart from the old buildings and Charminar?

Suffering,  and a lot of it. Ramzan and the monuments in the area mask the problems there quit well. Behind the walls in areas like Sultan Shahi, the ugly face of reality shows up in the form of atrocities against girls, which go unnoticed. There are probably many nirbhaya's there, waiting for their story to be told. I met one such nirbhaya months ago, and since then the image of my oh-so-charming old city has been shattered, which is why last Saturday's trip was something else.

I did enjoy the kababs at Sheran and Shadab hotel, and definitely savoured the haleem at Nayab, but every time I go near Charminar, it reminds of that girl. That girl whose story can't be told, whose life, hidden behind the old walls of the old city will forever go unnoticed, like that of the several other girls. And yet, after few days, Ramzan will end, and normal life will begin, sans haleem and the other specialities.


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