Thursday, June 7, 2012

Tashreef rakhiye! :)


Last evening, I made sure I reached home in time. My dad and I had an appointment to keep—attend a wedding reception. There were two reasons why I was so keen on it. The groom’s father worked under my grandfather since he was 10-12 years old. His name is Abdul Jaffar Kareem and my father’s generation addresses him as Kareem. It has been five years since my Bauji (grandfather) passed away but he still pays his services to my Tauji (dad’s elder brother).

From what I hear, Kareem uncle and his team of boys were very well looked after by Bauji and they in turn have always been loyal and trustworthy. This makes for my first reason—if bauji were alive, he would have attended the ceremony come what may.

An Islamic wedding reception is called Walima. The food is prepared on wood fire and is known to be delicious beyond imagination. That was my second reason.

So I dressed up and we set about. We were addlepated by the route and we had to inquire with strangers. I quite enjoyed it. I call it a part of living-in-Hyderabad experience. I have never found a stranger who refused to guide me. Refusal is, in fact, out of question as they are always quite eager to help. Their gesticulations might seem vague, so might their wordings. That’s just how Hyderabadis give directions—“seedha jao, right lelo, left lelo”—without mentioning any landmarks whatsoever. Well, that’s the Hyderabadi way. It can get annoying in testing times but it is quite endearing, too.

We went through narrow lanes taking in mixed fragrances of raw meat, fried bhajji, flowers, cow dung, mangoes, camphor, incense sticks and many other unrecognizable ones. It was no Times Square but the lanes were bright and lively, alright! Even though the invite said 8 pm and we were late by 30 minutes, we managed to be the first guests to arrive. The next came half an hour later. By 10 pm, there were hardly 10 of us. Miraculously, the hall filled itself while we were inside eating. That, I was told, is just how it is at Muslim weddings. Come what may, a pakka Hyderabadi will never come on time.

Kareem uncle was delighted to see us and I think I saw some quaint pride on his face. May be it was my imagination but he seemed like a child showing off his favorite people to his peers, and to his favorite people what he had achieved. But then, it could just be my imagination. 

The hall was huge and lit. It was partitioned by a long curtain, on both sides of which, the stage was set with flowers in the backdrop and a large, red armchair. One part was for the groom and the male guests and the other was for the bride and the female guests. I being ‘apne hi ghar ki’ (as told by Kareem uncle) could conveniently sit with my dad in the male division.  

While he was busy being the groom’s father, my dad and I sat. My dad told me how he started working with bauji. I asked more about bauji and when he was young. I made a mental note to find out more about him from any possible source.

My father’s elder brother arrived. Though they are not on good terms, my father never fails to greet him cordially and respectfully.

After sitting for a long time and watching other workers greet my dad and tauji and their short small talk, my appetite was finally paid heed to. Kareem uncle insisted that we went in the dining hall with him. The table was set with crockery and food. I sat readily and wholeheartedly ate everything that was served. I was disappointed that there was only chicken and not a trace of mutton which I prefer. There were three kinds of kebabs with roti, hareesh (haleem made with chicken), hara chicken, a red chicken curry and biryani. For desserts, there was qubbani ka meetha and kheer. The kheer was the best I have ever had in this life
 Our table had not less than five attendants at every moment and we were met by ultimate mehmaan nawaazi. Food was served and offered several times. Dad and tauji hardly ate anything but I made sure I tasted everything.

While I ate, I felt each eye was upon me, the only person eating there, But I didn’t care. I wanted to eat. I wanted the experience. I was there for the daawat. I savoured it all—the daawat, the mehmaan nawaazi and anecdotes from my grandfather’s time.


Shalini Rao said...

Loved it! Man I miss Hyderabad. Home.

Summer's love said...

I love that besides mentioning all tacky food, you loved kheer. :P Just kidding, nice post. :)