Special – A House for Mr Musharraf
Pakistan’s former Prez should return to his hometown Delhi.
[Text by Mayank Austen Soofi; photographer can not be traced]
Amid speculation that is exiling former Pakistani President Mr Pervez Musharraf’s to different corners of the world (US, UK, Turkey, Saudi Arabia), The Delhi Walla proposes that he should come back to Delhi, the city of his birth.
Neher wali haveli in Daryaganj’s Saad Ullah could be the ideal locale for Musharraf to set up his retirement home. It’s the place where he spent the first four years of his life. In these solemn times, those childhood memories would provide him succour. Recently, an old cobbler in Daryaganj boasted to a Pakistani TV channel that Mr Musharraf had been his childhood buddy and that they both used to play in the haveli. If true, this could be a reunion of long-lost friends.
It’s a happy coincidence that the haveli is just behind Golcha cinema. Mr Mushararf is said to be quite fond of Bollywood films (In 2005, Ms Rani Mukerji was the show-stealer at prime Minsiter Mr Manmohan Singh’s dinner for him).
Still happier is the fact that Matia Mahal market is a rickshaw ride away from the haveli. Pakistanis are supposed to be great breakfast eaters and the Al Jawahar restaurant there offers some succulent mutton nihari whose each bite suffuses the diner with strength and vigour. What more could an army man want?
However, concerns abound. There are two families – Jains and Golas – squabbling over the property, with the Jains putting it up for sale for a whopping Rs 6 crore. Would Mr Musharraf, whose father sold the haveli for Rs 562, find it a good bargain? Can somebody used to a cantonment lifestyle feel at home in Daryaganj’s dingy lanes?
“A bungalow in Malcha Marg will be a better choice,” says a Pakistani diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity since “it’s a very sensitive subject”. “Each time the General’s heart beats for the fatherland, he would just have to take a short walk to Shantipath and gaze at the blue dome of our Pakistan embassy.”
During days when Mr Musharraf would miss good friend George Bush, he could hop over to the nearby American embassy and spend an evening with the ambassador listening to Barbara Streisand’s The way we were. Better still: Chinese embassy, lying next to Malcha Marg, could be a comforting presence. In his state trip to Beijing in 2006, Mr Musharraf had described friendship between Pakistan and China as “deeper than the ocean and higher than the mountain”.
However, Mr Musharraf’s Lucknow-born wife Madam Saheba might not be able to exchange notes on chikan-kurtas and chicken-do-pyaza in the Malcha Marg society of mademoiselles and frauleins.
How about Lodhi Estate? It’s near Khan Market, which would keep Mrs Mush happily occupied. Khan Market also has good doggie stores (Mr Musharraf flaunted his two Pomeranians after his military coup in 1998) and IIC is a 10-minute stroll away where the ex-prez can attend lectures of visiting Pakistanis and later down whiskey in the high-brow bar there.
So General sahib, all’s forgotten. Come home. “What! It is a completely impossible idea for Musharraf to live in Delhi,” says Ms Jugnu Mohsin, publisher of Friday Times, Pakistan’s weekly newspaper. “He will never do that.” Prove her wrong, Mr Musharraf.