Hyderabadi identity – Bakthiar Dadabhoy బుధవారం, డిసెం 23 2009 


Quo Vadis, Hyderabad?

Whatever happens, the Dakhni in their souls will unite the people of this city

Bakthiar K. Dadabhoy

OUTLOOK The Weekly Newsmagazine, December 28, 2009

Union home minister P. Chidambaram’s declaration on the midnight of December 9 that the Centre would initiate the process of forming the state of Telangana seems to have thrown most Hyderabadis into a severe identity crisis. The last major upheaval relating to Telangana was in 1969. Forty years on, Hyderabad finds itself caught once more in the political crossfire. In the case of Telangana, it has not been ethnicity but socio-economic deprivation resulting from political exclusion that has powered the sinews of the demand for a separate state. Language and culture are no longer a focal point of identity in the dynamics of federalism. It is economics which determines the new federal politics. Telangana and Andhra speak the same language but their economic interests are diametrically opposed. In fact, the latter accuses coastal Andhra of exploiting its resources.

There was a feeling (which still persists) that people from outside (read Andhra) were carpetbaggers and not stakeholders in Hyderabad. In part, this feeling can be explained by the fact that the feudal culture of Hyderabad was unable to deal with the entrepreneurial spirit of the people from Andhra. Their aggression and drive proved more than a bellyful for the laidback Hyderabadis. Anyone who has lived in Hyderabad will testify that ‘parsaun’, which in the Hindi heartland means ‘the day after tomorrow’ can stretch from a week to never. To live by such lexical precision is to create avoidable tension, and ever since I moved to Secunderabad, I have tried to liberate myself from the tyranny of the calendar and the clock in such matters.

Hyderabad has been the meeting place of many different cultures and traditions. It has over the years developed its own distinctive ‘Ganga-Jamuna’ culture. Hyderabad is a cosmopolitan city: people never identify themselves by their religion but only as Hyderabadis. Dussehra, Diwali or Sankranti are all meant to be enjoyed, whether one is Hindu or not. And Id brings celebrations not for a single community but for the entire city. Faith is a personal matter and what unites one is the sense of belonging to Hyderabad. (Old-timers say all this is a thing of the past, but I believe such pessimism is unwarranted).

Language is not a problem. The unique lingua franca, Dakhni, one of the most identifiable markers of Hyderabad, is a delicious blend of Hindi, Urdu and Telugu, with a lacing of old Marathi. The plural character of the city dates back to its founder, Quli Qutb Shah, who was also a Telugu scholar. Geographically too, it is inclusive: the twin cities, Hyderabad and Secunderabad, do not exhibit the cleavage in environment that divides, say, South Mumbai and the suburbs, or the Calcuttan whose life is confined south of Park Street. And now there is also Cyberabad, as the 400-year-old city constantly reinvents itself. (మరింత…)

Migrants make Hyderabad a concrete jungle శనివారం, డిసెం 5 2009 

Hyderabad: The good, bad and ugly

Radhika Chhotai,

New Indian Express, Hyderabad 04 Dec 2009

One of the biggest changes that has transformed Hyderabad is the continuous traffic snarls with the congestion going from bad to worse. There was nearly no traffic earlier and we could reach from one place to another, in not more than 30 minutes.

Being a fashion designer, another thing I hate the most is the fact that Pochampally weaving and Ikkat art is dying. Earlier, each house in Pochampally would have a loom in their house but today only five to ten houses have looms. Though at one point in time, Hyderabad was famous for Pochampally weaving and Ikkat art, today the demand has gone down.

Also, earlier if you went to Charminar, you would find traditional embroidery everywhere around you, but now it is not that easily found. Very few people sell that traditional embroidery. They are more interested in selling modern and new designs, catering to the demand.

But, one thing that I like about the city is that it is very accepting. Coming from Tirupati, they not only accepted me, they made me feel welcome and at home. When I came, Kalamkari was a dying art, but because of the renewed interest of the Hyderabadis, I could bring it to the level that it has reached. Today nearly 45 to 50 families depend on Kalamkari art for their livelihood.

I also like the sensibilities of Hyderabadis. They have a very unique taste that blends tradition with modern. Hyderabadis are very traditional at heart, but still are open to new things, and this openness leads to a fusion in the type of clothes they prefer.

One thing that has not changed about Hyderabad is its passion for cinema. People are as crazy about movies and cinema, as they were ages ago. Even today, you see long queues to book tickets on the first day of a movie.

Also, the ice-cream shop that I used to hangout in my childhood, Rasranjan, near Abids, hasn’t changed a bit. They still have the best vada pavs in the city and their ice creams are as delectable as I remember them to be. They have ice creams with natural fruits and its quality is the same.

But Hyderabad has become a concrete jungle, it has no open spaces where we can just go and sit in peace. A lot of people from outside Hyderabad have set shop and the city has become overcrowded.

Earlier Abids used to be the hot joint for youngsters, but today hardly anyone visits that area. Though it is still my personal favourite, the area has lost its fame over the years.