Mission Delhi – Haaji Mian, Old Delhi
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
A pilgrimage to Mecca is, of course, a must for Muslims the world over. But many grow old and die without being able to realize this dream.
Haaji Mian has been far more fortunate–performing his first Hajj at age 2.
“Of course I remember very little from that trip,” smiles the 80-year-old hotelier. “But that’s when my grandfather conferred the title of Haaji Mian on me.”
Very few of his acquaintances know him by his real name, which is Fayazuddin. His establishment in Old Delhi, not coincidentally, is called Haaji Hotel where he’s now sitting behind a large desk and reminiscing.
The two-year-old headed to Mecca during World War II when the world map looked very different. No Pakistan—for instance.
His little family traveled on a through-train that took them straight to Karachi. There they boarded a ship that anchored in Jeddah eight days later.
“Friends received us there, and we drove to Mecca by car where my grandfather was waiting for us at a guest house.”
They remained in the holy city an entire month before alighting onto camels for a week-long trek to Medina where Haaji Mian’s grandfather had purchased a house. “But the place was being used to shelter poor pilgrims from India so instead we stayed for four months somewhere else,” he recalls.
They would have lingered even longer, but the ongoing world war caused complications. Later, he made two more Hajj pilgrimages. “And I’m planning on a fourth journey agar mauka mile toh (if I get a chance),” says Haaji Mian nonchalantly, while busily poring over his hotel papers.
[This is the 167th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
The story behind a name