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Friday, May 13, 2005

NOTES FROM ALL OVER -5
STRAINS FROM THE BEGUM BAZAAR GHARANA


Yeh faasle teri galiyon ke humse taye na huye
Hazaar baar ruke hum hazaar baar chale….

The heart of any Indian city beats in its markets. One might be easily misled by the glitz of its nouveau-riche Supermarkets and assorted malls, especially when the clientele is itself a breed that has only discovered itself in the last five years or so; but it is a city’s business and trading hubs that truly gives it flavour and feel. Hence for most Indians brought up the way I have, these playing fields are usually denied.

The Begum Bazaar of Hyderabad rests squat and secure in the Old City. It is indubitably the commercial hub of that part of the city, basking in its reputation as a time-tested wholesale market, alive to commercial concerns and teeming with plenitude and variety. Rumoured to be the single largest marketplace of the state, the Bazaar has three sprawling lanes, one poetically devoted to condiments and other spciy mysteries of the Orient; another to the more prosaic of human worries—pipes, drains, hardware, metallic utilities and the like: and of course, my zone of interest, the trading place where grocery, consumer goods, and food predominated.

It is understood that the Begum Bazaar stands nonpareil on price and choice-the preferred choice of many who find its pebbled streets perfect for striking up valuable deals, besides according a family the opportunity to finish off their monthly shopping in a trice. What it lacks in ostentation and sheen, it makes up by its unstinting commitment to pragmatic business. Of course, it essentially is a wholesale market as stated, and small businessmen use their knowledge of the prevalent prices and trends, relationship with specific wholesalers to pick up wares at the lowest possible rates.

My prepossessing mind had led me to believe that most pockets of the Old City would be Muslim-dominated: at least this was not. An equal proliferation of Hindus, Jains and Marwadi ensured that simian idols and pachyderm abstractions were matched by submissions to The Supreme One. Most traders I met were middle-aged, (not rotund) and comfortably secure in their finances and abilities; reasonably optimistic even post-VAT.
Crowded and dusky interiors, stiflingly narrow aisles made walking a ponderous affair

As ever, the traders of India were unflinching in their welcoming me—counted swigging water from as many as eight different sources, which coupled with endless cups of tea and juices, could have resulted in a gastronomic disaster. An enjoyable and memorable trip to a city that seems to have subsumed its spirit to the tech revellers.

Saw Kendriya Vidyalaya Picket in the afternoon, eyeing it with the ire of a Hewitt looking intently at Federer’s practice courts. At one time, it was the only competition for my school ( Ed-That would be “one of your schools”, surely !)us in the race to be the country’s best KV, and I think we bested them every single time.
Camped at some known establishments of Secunderabad- Ghanshyam, Ratnadeep etc., and made the long winding road to Moosapet to look at some container terminals.

Caught up with Navneet over dinner, and what else could old friends yak about but old times ? Glad I could spend more time, the last meeting was a hurried one.
And yes, the Bada Talaab of Bhopal beats the Husain Sagar of Hyderabad hands down.

























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