Apna Hyderabad – Whose City Is It జూలై 13, 2007Posted by Telangana Utsav in Articles, Deccan, Hyderabad.
Have the winds of change sweeping across the city eroded the Hyderabadi identity? The transitional phase the city is caught in has ensured that one may no longer see a Hyderabadi in Hyderabad, says Roli Srivastava
Some miss Irani mutton samosas, others sorely miss the lazy pace of life the city once enjoyed and many pine for its lost ‘tehzeeb’. But, it is not just a food rarity or a state of mind or even the prompt ‘shukriyas’ that has gone missing from the city of Nizams. In this melee of ‘outsiders’— people who have moved into the state from across the country — and new cultures, it is the true blue Hyderabadi identity that seems to have gone missing from Hyderabad. While the city is just about becoming greater and bigger, old timers say it is a matter of concern that much of its identity is already eroded. Compared to other big cities that have survived the influx of countless job-seekers and migrants such as Mumbai, Hyderabad seems to be losing Hyderabadis to the crowd already.
“People from Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu have lived here for several years and some localities are in fact now known by these communities. But, they mingled with the city,’’ says M Bharat Bhushan, co-author of Hyderabad’s first citizen’s charter report, who now heads an organisation supporting a separate Telangana state, Telangana Utsav.
However, things started changing “post NTR era’’ as Bhushan puts it. “Hyderabadis are now a smaller number. And they are feeling isolated,’’ he says.
While some, like Bhushan, believe that it’s the “oppressive” nature of those from outside the city that is “suppressing” the Hyderabadi “pehchan’’, a few others such as advertising executive V Sridhar ditto the sentiment saying that a large number of Hyderabadis are now reduced to a “silent majority’’. “It is the vocal minority that seems to be articulating our beliefs, our culture, representing us in the pages of newspapers. But then, they are not the quintessential Hyderabadis from Mana Hyderabad,’’ Sridhar, 27, points out.
Describe it as a community that embraces all cultures or one not too confident of its own, the fact is that Hyderabadis have not been able to hold up their own.
“I wouldn’t be critical of what is happening. Hyderabad has always been known to absorb many cultures,’’ says city old timer Siraj Taher, but adds that while the city was once known for its “‘Ganga Jamni’ tehzeeb’’ — working of both gold and silver on jewellery — the analogy derived to illustrate co-existing cultures. The same may not be true now.
The missing sense of pride, say observers grudgingly, could be the root cause for the identity’s disappearance. For instance, while neighbouring states like Maharashtra have slogans of Jai Maharashtra, neither Hyderabad nor the Nizams have been given such tags of endearment, so far. A lukewarm Mana Hyderabad does not really make hearts flutter.
“But, Telugus in Hyderabad have no identity really,’’ says S Parthasarathy (name changed), a senior IT executive, who moved to Hyderabad a few years ago from Rajahmundry. After all, he says Hyderabad is known for its ‘tehzeeb’, its biryani or the Charminar — none of which actually belong to the Telugu community nor reflect its identity. “They reflect Muslim culture,’’ he says, adding that luminaries from the Telugu community have been relegated to mere statues even though politicians time and again have appealed to Telugu pride and coined phrases such as ‘Telugu Atma Gouravam’.
Nevertheless, sociologist P Kamala Rao insists that the city’s identity or that of its citizens hasn’t been lost yet. She admits, however, that it is now limited to the Old City and that the city does not really take pride in its identity and culture here.
“But, when they go abroad, they take pride and value their culture. They have associations like the Telugu Association of North America but nobody gives much thought to all this when here as they are busy with their daily lives,’’ she says.
However, the reasons for the fast eroding identity ranges from a large chunk of educated Hyderabadis moving to the US, the UK or other destinations such as the Middle East. The first lot of migrations out of Hyderabad in the fifties and sixties after the fall of the Nizams was the first casualty of what used to be the Hyderabadi identity. “Is it surprising,” asks an old timer adding that “if Hyderabad ceased to be a state where would be the question of a Hyderabadi identity ?”
Observers say that while many residents of Hyderabad moved out of the city soon after the fall of Nizams, quite a few migrated into the city in the initial years from UP and in recent years from all over the country.
“How could the Hyderabadi culture thrive when the cream had moved out of the city,’’ asks Shahid Ali Abbasi, professor of Islamic studies, Osmania University. He adds that the migration from Hyderabad wasn’t limited to foreign destinations. There was local migration too with “some of the effluent in the Old City moving to the other side of the river Musi’’, he says.
Also, the city never shared a common sense of identity. The Old City has remained separated from the new city and there is no interaction between these two ends, says filmmaker T Bharadwaj. “The Old City guys were steeped in Nizami culture, the ones in the new city brought in their own culture mostly the coastal Andhra variation,” an analyst adds.
Lack of political will, as in other issues, is blamed for failing identity as well. “GO 610, that protects locals, has not been implemented in the last 25 years. This is an example that Hyderabadis are not only being ignored but even being pushed out,’’ Bhushan says.
Sadly, it is the city’s lingo, Dakhani, which too has taken a beating with new cultures mingling in Hyderabad. While the lingo could have well acted as a common factor binding the two ends of the city, it is now used by a limited number of people. Urdu’s decline then becomes predictable.
Taher recollects a Christian priest friend whose conversation was peppered with ‘inshallah’ and ‘mashallah’. “That was the real Hyderabad when five people would collect and speak only Urdu,’’ he says.
The meaning of a real Hyderabad is clearly a personal one. While Taher speaks of the charm the city held for leading a comfortable even paced life with a fair sprinkling of weekend picnics, Bharadwaj can’t seem to forget the mutton samosas and Irani chai that were once so readily available. “I have been looking for those samosas for two years now. All we get now are the alu-samosas,’’ he shrugs. The perfect ‘pauna (tea with malai)’ too is hard to get, he says.
Bharadwaj admits that Telugu cinema has also failed to capture the quintessential Hyderabad, neither in its prime nor now. For the lingo, he says that Telugu artistes were not able to use it well enough and thus it never became popular in the regional cinema here.
So, while audiences saw Hyderabadis in actor Mehmood who hitched up his lungi and belted out ‘hum kale hai to kya hua’ or in Naseeruddin Shah, a colourful autorickshaw driver serenading a stiff upper-lipped Sanjana Kapoor in impeccable Dakhani in ‘Hero Hiralal’, such portrayals were missed in popular Telugu cinema. While the Hindi films and portrayals could have well been those of a cliched Hyderabadi identity that people agreed or disagreed with, the portrayals established an identity, nonetheless.
When Urdu RULEDEvery city owes a part of its identity to its educational institutions. Today Hyderabad could well be a mixed bag of languages from various corners of the country, but once many people here chose to speak in Urdu. City old-timer Siraj Taher reminisces about the days when people from all communities in Hyderabad spoke in chaste Urdu.From a Christian priest friend to a Punjabi, he recollects a wide range of people who spoke in Urdu with great ease.
Perhaps it was designed that the city spoke in Urdu. In fact, Osmania was the first university in the country to impart education in Urdu and had a dedicated department (Dar al-Tarjuma) to translate works in various languages into Urdu.
“The translation institution was established to cater to the needs of the students and people from across the country were invited to offer their services here and given handsome salaries,’’ says Shahid Ali Abbasi, professor of Islamic Studies, Osmania University. He says books in Arabic, Persian, Hindi among other languages were translated into Urdu.
“The books were on all subjects including engineering, medicine, history, mathematics, algebra, philosophy,’’ says Abbasi, who is also director of Dairatul Maarifil Osmania.
It all went on well until a “mysterious fire’’ claimed it all. “There occurred a mysterious electric short circuit and all the books and some important source materials and drafts were burnt to ashes,’’ he says.
Things started changing with time and soon English replaced Urdu as medium of instruction. The quintessential Hyderabadi culture of long chats over unending cups of Irani chai and mutton samosas is slowly becoming extinct
Source:: Times Of India Hyderabad, July 13, 2007 Page 2