City Life – Sabiha’s WhatsApp Circle, Old Delhi
A woman’s cellphone world.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Like many women in Old Delhi, Sabiha Jhinjhanvi feels obliged to maintain a smoothly running household.
And so she does. But then there’s her WhatsApp group, keeping her glued to the cellphone day and night. Consisting of 11 sisters and cousins, their chat is ongoing during Ms Jhinjhanvi’s waking hours, and even during mandatory Islamic prayers.
“We got started just two months ago,” she explains, briefly placing her mobile to one side. The conversations continue at bedtime when “we recite shayris (Urdu verses) to each other.”
This evening the 45-year-old housewife is animatedly chatting away while reading the holy Quran, a daily exercise. And the relatives keep tab on one another throughout waking hours. “Sometimes you suddenly hear one or another group member interfering in a conversation I’m having with my husband or sons.”
The interference is taken kindly and Ms Jhinjhanvi returns the favour every now and then.
Recently there was a crisis due to a rift between “Sabuhi Baaji and Aamir Bhai for leaking our private gossip to relatives outside the WhatsApp group.”
This group of nine women and two men do get together in real life. Recently they met for a picnic on the India Gate grounds, with each member contributing a homemade dish. And Ms Jhinjhanvi not long ago hosted dinner for the lot—who all tend to be musically inclined. They often sing film songs to each other and also play antakshri on phone.
At this very moment Ms Jhinjhanvi is sprawled across the carpet, mobile switched on, listening to Ruhi Baaji singing that fine old Hindi film song Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai.