Mission Delhi – Muhammed Aaqib, Around Town
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Nobody is accusing Muhammed Aaqib of being ungrateful to his adopted city. It’s just that he is too partial to Nagina, his home town in Bijnaur, UP. “It’s a fact, Nagina is far better than Dilli,” the auto rickshaw driver insists, shortly after picking up a passenger in Lakshmi Nagar. The gentleman has been working in the capital as a rickshaw driver for a decade but his heart continues to belong to his native place. “Nagina’s very air, its water, its abo-hawa (atmosphere), the way people interact with each other, their style of speaking….” Plus, Nagina has something unique, he adds with a flourish as if this were to end all the Nagina Vs Delhi arguments—and that is Tularam’s sweet rasgullas.
Mr Aaqib is talking of his beloved sweet shop situated outside the town’s railway station. “Those black rasgullas are world-famous.” They tend to be so extra-soft, he claims, that they melt the moment you pop them inside the mouth. The rasgullas must be eaten when piping hot, he says.
The auto stops at a traffic light. Mr Aaqib graciously grants that Delhi too has some tolerable culinary landmarks. “Bhima’ Jalebiwale near Pari Chowk makes good jalebis.” He also compliments a chhole bhathure stall in Mayur Vihar. But no place in the entire National Capital Region, he believes, rivals Tularam’s delicacy, even though its standards have lately started to slip — “they have become less soft.”
In his mid-20s, Mr Aaqib lives in Mayur Vihar with a fellow Tularam loyalist—wife Nadiya. He frequently goes to his hometown, and each time visits the favoured shop at least once.
But if Nagina is such a civilised town and Tularam such a great gift to mankind, why live so far away. “Because there’s no rozgar (employment) in hamare (our) Nagina,” Mr Aaqib says with the logic of a frustrated maths teacher trying to explain why two plus two is four.
As he drops the customer at his destination, Mr Aaqib informs that there’s more to his Bijnaur district than Nagina’s rasgullas. “In Noorpur (town) you must try out Hukkawalon ki Manpasand Lassi… you cannot find a lassi as delicious in Dilli,” he declares matter-of-factly, totally unconscious of his home-district patriotism.
[This is the 423rd portrait of Mission Delhi project]