The Biographical Dictionary Of Delhi – Naseem Mirza Changezi , B. Old Delhi, 1910
The definitive directory of great Delhiwallas.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Old Delhi’s living encyclopedia, he knows the stories of its every street and alley, and he is probably more important to the well-being of this city than the Red Fort or Jama Masjid.
Anyone in Pahari Imli can tell you that Naseem Mirza Changezi is the 23rd descendant of the great Genghis Khan. At 106, Mr Changezi is Old Delhi’s oldest man. He traces his family’s roots in the city to early-17th century when Mughal emperor Shahjahan laid its foundation—of course, then Old Delhi was known as Shahjahanbad.
Mr Changezi has been the subject of a number of TV documentaries and newspaper features, most of which repeat his passing encounter with the legendary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh. Even the venerable BBC has been to Mr Changezi’s house—it is a picturesque conclave of minimalist arches, flute-shaped columns and breezy terraces.
An alumnus of the historic Anglo-Arabic College, Mr Changezi passed his years collecting books in Persian and Urdu. His collection includes a parchment that minutely details his lineage to the Mongol conqueror. The Delhi Walla, however, has prepared a parchment that traces the grand old man to blood connections that are nearer to our time.
Mr Changezi’s father was Mirza Afrasiab Changezi, whose father was Sohrab Beg Changezi, whose father was Mirza Shah Beg Changezi.
Mr Changezi fathered seven daughters and two sons. They all live in Old Delhi (except for a daughter who lives in South Delhi and a son who is in Pakistan. One daughter, who moved to Gujarat, died twenty years ago).
Raeesa Khannum, Mr Changezi’s eldest child, lives in Chawri Bazaar. Rukhsana Begum lives in Pahari Bhojla. Ghizala Begum lies buried in a graveyard in faraway Ahmedabad. Mirza Sikander Beg Changezi, the eldest son, lives with him in Pahari Imli. Farida Begum lives in Farrash Khana. Mirza Tariq Beg, the youngest son, lives in Karachi. Uroosa Begum lives in Katra Gokul Shah. Rubina Begum lives in Zakir Nagar.
Mr Changezi has 20 grandchildren.
He is married to Amna Khannum (see photo 2 below). In her 90s, Ms Khannum spends her day looking after Mr Changezi as he recovers from an injury. A few days ago, while returning from Seetaram Bazaar, he fell down on a cramped alley and fractured his hip bone.
It will be unwise to judge the state of his health and his liveliness from these pictures below. Mr Changezi hopes to recover soon and is looking forward to resume his daily walks.
The forever Mongol