City Hangout – Seema & Nasir’s Snack Stall, Ghalib Street
Stall of love.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It’s so appropriate. They live in a lane named after Delhi’s greatest love poet who penned many verses on mohabbat, mehboob and ishq.
Seema and Nasir Nabi of Ghalib Street in Central Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti. Theirs is a tale of long-time romance, still unfolding, and forever in bloom.
The middle-aged couple run a snacks stall on Ghalib Street. Seema, formerly a Kapoor, says, “We had a love marriage arranged by our parents despite the fact that we were from different faiths.” She is sitting tonight behind the counter with Nasir Nabi. “I still remember when we first met more than 30 years ago,” interjects the husband, a graceful man wearing a kurta with a beautifully embroidered collar. “She seemed to me a good insaan, somebody with whom you can share your life.”
Seema confesses she was taken in by Nasir’s impeccable manners. “I liked his andaz, and the way he would stylishly place his handkerchief on his shoulder.”
Now, the man and the woman lovingly hold each other’s hand while posing for a photo. It’s an unusual sight, for this is a part of Delhi where you usually don’t see a couple so openly flaunting their romantic vibes.
Ghalib Street begins at Lodhi Road and ends a few hundred metres further south at the marble tomb of Mirza Ghalib, the 19th century Urdu poet. The street’s various landmarks are like a poet’s couplets, each permeated with a dreamy mood but it finds its true essence in the life of these two love birds.
You have to stop by their unnamed stall for a cup of chai or may be a glass of sweet creamy lassi. There are parathas and instant noodles, too.
Mr Nabi says that the romance between him and his wife “hasn’t gone even a bit stale” since their marriage in 1987. He says that Seema works as much as him in running the eatery. The household chores are also shared equally between them.
The couple has three daughters—their teenage son died in an accident some years back.
“I often make khana at home,” Mr Nabi reveals, explaining in a voice overcome with emotion, “We are everything to each other. Sometimes I become a woman to her and sometimes she becomes a gent to me…. this is how we support each other and stay happy.”
Seema looks at her husband with a kind thoughtful gaze, the way nature lovers watch a sunrise or sunset.
Somewhere Ghalib must be feeling super happy.