Charting digital history


Personality – A historian turns to digital avenues to reach the audience


Mozzam Jahi market in 1930s by Mohammed khalidi
LEGATEE HISTORY Mohammed Khalidi clicked this image of Mozzam Jahi market in the 1930s


A few days back, there was a buzz in the Urdu Hall in Himayatnagar as a historian took the audience down a path of Hyderabad they thought they were vaguely familiar. A building here, a monument there, a bit of biographical information later were unveiled through a power point presentation.


Historian and a power point presentation and not a tome? But then Omar Khalidi is not your everyday historian willing to follow the beaten path. A Hyderabadi, who now works as a librarian at the MIT, he posits the contrarian view and succeeds in being heard. Years after he wrote Hyderabad After The Fall and then the controversial Khaki and Ethnic Violence in India, he is now exploring the digital avenues of spreading a word about history. “Printing books has become very expensive, distribution is also a problem and digital publishing is the future and is the path to follow. Physical libraries are passé,” he says.


In June this year he posted his collection of photographs on the MIT website showing the Hyderabadi architectural heritage (which formed a part of the PPP in Hyderabad).


Among the photographs and the text is one showing the Mozzam Jahi market frontage with wide open spaces, credited to Mohammed Khalidi. “That was clicked by my father. Many of the photographs are inherited but a number of people helped me put together the collection including Hans Winterberg, Anuradha Reddy and M. A. Nayeem,” says Omar.


Perhaps leading to a book or a research paper, Omar’s historical journey is not without heartaches that Hyderabadis have when they see history disappear in front of their eyes.


“It kills you when you see such disregard for heritage. It is a shame and awful shame. The Badshahi Ashur Khana ought to be an international heritage site and is now occupied by auto drivers, mechanics whose lame excuse for overrunning the place is that they have been living there for a long time. They should be provided alternative housing sites. We should keep our historical record for the future,” he says.




Source: The Hindu, Metro Plus Hyderabad, Tuesday November 11, 2008