Netherfield Ball – Singer Madhumita Bose Awes All the Poets at Ghalib’s Tea Party Except for a Wahabi Short Story Writer, Ghalib Academy
The party secrets.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
All the men seem to be taken in with the stiff protocol demanded by the ritual of milky chai and two kinds of biskuts. Only an illusion, however. Actually, all the eyes are getting increasingly hysterical for the fairy-tale sight of Madhumita Bose, the ghazal singer with a respectable reputation to keep her admirers writhing in silent agony over tortuously long waits.
One evening The Delhi Walla attends a tea party hosted to celebrate Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib’s 219th birth anniversary at Ghalib Academy in Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti.
The evening’s most profound rumor is that the aforementioned biskuts have been ordered from a bakery in Bhogal.
The men are attired very unprose-like. The most breathtaking prospect is of Jatindar Lal Warsi, the retired professor of Behavioral Science. The pride of poetry parties, his hair has a gloomy eminence that could only be earned by a man who has devoted his best years in realigning his life to the verses of his most beloved poets.
Mr Warsi is also the only one here to show up in a tie.
A picture of comforting certainties, Poet Mateen Amrohi is in his ubiquitous black shervani. He wears the same dress every day and today is no exception. The host–Aqil Ahmad, the secretary of Ghalib Academy–has put on a blue jacket to mark the day’s solemnity. While poet Waqar Manvi is sitting alone beside the tea kettle. As always, he is chewing a paan with eyes closed.
The venerable poet Gulzar Dehlvi does not not offer any surprise in his sartorial extravaganza. He is in his customary artificial rose pinned on his sherwani. He has condescended to sit amid poet Naseem Abbasi, humorist Baba Kanpuri and critic Professor Sadiq (yes, everybody knows him as Professor Sadiq). Mr Gulzar is showing off his secular locket. Shown vertically, it reads as the Muslim Allah. Flip horizontally, and it resembles the Hindu Om.
Shopkeeper S. Fazal bin Akhlaque looks the most poetic–his white hair are streaming out from his cap and falling over his ears like the scented waters of Zamzam. He sells stationery.
Meanwhile, short story writer Anjum Usmani, true to his supposed Wahabi leanings, is growing scared about the catastrophic possibility of missing his maghrib prayer. He mutters his anxiety to the host. Alas, in vain.
The only woman poet to be seen is Urmila Madhav. She has no patience for social niceties and so is glued on to her mobile phone whispering sweet nothings about Raga Lalit.
Also spotted: the one-armed Noor ul Huda Nizami, Ghalib Academy’s official photographer.
At long last, a white Renault arrives. Madhumita Bose emerges into the world (see last photo below). The ghazal singer’s saffron sari has a green border. All the poets turn their gaze towards her. The very essence of enigma, she does not look at any of them, and enters Ghalib Academy with the swagger of Ghalib’s most challenging Persian verses.
Meanwhile, Mr Usmani is not to be seen any longer. Perhaps he has been lost to the neighborhood mosque.
1. (Jatindar Lal Warsi)
2. (Mateen Amrohi)
3. (Urmila Madhav)
4. (Waqar Manvi)
6. (from left: Naseem Abbasi, Baba Kanpuri, Gulzar Dehlvi, Professor Sadiq)
7. (Gulzar Dehlvi’s secular locket)
8. (S. Fazal bin Akhlaque)
9. (Noor ul Huda Nizami)
10. (Anjum Usmani, left, and Aqil Ahmad)
11. (Madhumita Bose)