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)