Netherfield Ball – The Golden Era’s Last Generation Throws a Biryani Bash, Anglo-Arabic School & Delhi College
The party secrets.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It is such happiness when old friends meet over chicken biryani, especially when the friends are very, very, very old.
One afternoon The Delhi Walla gatecrashes into a get-together of the Old Boys’ Association of Anglo-Arabic School & Delhi College. The capital’s oldest educational institution is just a short walk from the capital’s red light district—but we shall not dwell on this point.
The historic school building is like just another grand Delhi monument with its mosque, domes, and a great number of tombs but the old boys of the school look more monumental. Almost every second guest has a long white beard and each face is like a history book where one may read matters of the past. Some of these men ought to be be smuggled straight to the National Museum as permanent exhibits. These beings are the living souvenirs of that last generation that connects us to a Delhi that probably no longer exists.
The grandest man here, of course, is Mian Naseem Changhezi. At 106, Old Delhi’s oldest man is a direct descendant of Chengiz Khan and he has a detailed parchment to prove that—it safely lies in his atmospheric mansion in the Walled City’s Pahari Imli. Poet Amir Dehlavi is also seen—don’t tell anybody but he had a torrid affair with a married woman from Kashmir—she is long dead and he annually makes a pilgrimage to the valley to offer flowers at her grave.
Also spotted: the soft-spoken Haji Mian Faiyazuddin of Old Delhi’s Haji Hotel, the favorite hotel of late singer Begum Akhtar.
The most sentimental sight is that of Abdul Sattar—the Old Delhi scholar who has been famously working on a book on Old Delhi for many, many years. He is walking around with a photograph of Persian scholar Yunus Jaffery (see second last photo below). Mr Jaffery, who too was one of the old boys, was not seen—he died a few weeks ago.
The Golden Era’s last generation
2. (Mian Naseem Changhezi)
3. (Amir Dehlavi)
7. (Haji Mian Faiyazuddin)
15. (Abdul Sattar, left, and Yunus Jaffery)
What a truly lovely post in every way. The text is very moving and the faces in the photos are like maps
Mian Naseem Changezi is indeed one of our last links to the generation that produced such well-known Dilliwaalas as Ashraf Suboohi and Shahid Ahmed Dehlavi. Oh, the things he must have seen!
no one in pictures is smiling.
at times, i feel that Indian muslims are burned by the changing times
is it about minority psyche
but then why only muslims feel that way
hopefully everyone in India can find themselves to be part of India irrespective of their background
‘dard se mere hai tujh ko beqaraari haaye haaye
Kya hui zaalim teri ghaflatshuaari haaye haaye’
They are people on the death row. They’ve witnessed the passage of many of their contemporaries. They don’t know if they’ll be here the next time around. They miss spouses, teachers, siblings, friends, neighbours and more. Their hearts and minds are filled with memories of times spent under those arches and echo with laughter that time turns, always, into melancholy.
Mr. Ajay, please have a second look at these pictures. I can see at least three people smiling, Haji Mian, Abdul Sattar and a guest at the dining table. Why can’t you see their smiles? You see only what you want to see which, luckily, is not the whole truth. Which psyche should one call it?
Mayank, in fact, it is old boys like Dr. Aslam Parvaiz (V-C of Maulana Azad National Urdu University), Syed Arif and me (all 1971 pass outs) who belong to the last generation of the golden area. All the people in pictures here were our seniors by a few years. We have seen the times of principals like late M.M. Zaidi (the best and the longest serving principal) and Rao Shamshad Ali Khan. Dost Mohd. Khan, Founder Member and Joint Secretary of the Old Boys Association.
I shared this article on my Timeline on facebook. The immediate reaction from Dr. Aslam Parvaiz was that of anger against the disfiguring of the faces of our four esteemed seniors in the title photograph. Later, I was forced to delete that post because of protests from other quarters also and even phone calls from some of the old boys. Please replace or remove that repulsive photograph immediately.
There’s nothing repulsive about it. It’s the portrait of four elderly people juxtaposed with the image of diners that day.
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