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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Almost full circle

Although Sabeen and I were there on business, the thrill of meeting our friends was always an overwhelming thought. And what a wonderful time we had. Four-and-a-half hectic days, working with some of the best people in Journalism, loads of Idli & Dossa at Sagar, great - and sensibly priced! - Espresso at Barista, interspersed with mad rushes through Mercury Records, FabIndia, PeopleTree, and - ooooh - those adorable and intoxicating little bookshops! However, for me, this trip to Delhi had a very special meaning. [C'mon guys, change the name: You have Kolkata and Mumbai ... why not Dehli, at least, if not Dilli!] ... We landed there on the 4th of October, almost 60 years to the day when Ummi (my mother) and I had left to visit her sister in BudgeBudge - an oil-bunkering station near Calcutta for ships on the Hooghly River - where my uncle was posted by the Indian Customs. I was just 6 ... and totally unaware that we were leaving our house for the last time, to become an unintentional part of the frenzy that was the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan. Before setting out for Dilli, this time, I had decided - very firmly - that I would formally begin writing my memoirs on that day ... even if it meant jotting just the first few lines. And, so, this is just to report that 'Ships and Shoes and Sealing Wax' has now DEFINITELY begun. One chapter will deal with a child's view of the 1947 chaos and may be of interest to more than just the immediate and extended family for whom these memoirs are being written. To whet your appetite I just want to say that my family ended up here not of choice but by fate. Abi (my father) came in from the Middle East - where he was posted as a doctor in some medical Camp for recovering soldiers - and went to Dilli to see how things were and judge if Ummi and I could move back there, because my uncle had 'opted' for Pakistan and would soon be sailing out to Karachi. He found that the house in Dilli where we lived, and had hoped to continue living in, was burnt and razed to the ground during the insane riots that accompanied the Partition ... so, we left with my uncle for Pakistan (after a whole series of adventures and dangers between Calcutta and Bombay - but, for that, "Buy the book!") ... not without almost an assurance by Abi's Muslim friends and leaders in the Congress Party, including my wife Nuzhat's grandfather, Dr. Syed Mahmud, that the madness would soon settle, that the two countries and communities would forget and forgive - there were even rumours that Gandhiji was planning to move and live in Pakistan - and we could shift back 'home' in a few months. Haah! My parents never did go back to the city they loved and had decided to make home - away from the qasbaat of Lucknow where they were originally from. Here is a poem Abi wrote. I did want to keep it in his own handwriting. It's been difficult to scan, but I hope it is, for the most part, readable. You may need to use the magnification tool in some browsers.

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Anonymous ragni said...


Reading your blog today made me want to jump and dance and celebrate at the thought of your decision to FINALLY write the much-awaited (at least in the Kidvai household) book!

I can't wait for all those Saturday (and later, Sunday) afternoon conversations about partition, landing up in Pakistan, family members, friends you lost along the way, merchant navy madness, etc. to materialize into a book! I couldn't be happier...

12 October, 2006 06:07

Anonymous Vickram said...

errr... quite.

Could your next jpg have the same thing translated into English, please [we will suffer your handwriting, if you can't bear to type it out]? Just for us urdu text-impaired folk, you understand.

12 October, 2006 08:51

Blogger Zakintosh said...

VIC ... I had written: I did want to keep it in his own handwriting.

I don't quite feel equal to the task of translating poetry. Maybe someone else could do that, if s/he found it worthwhile.

BTW, you did not need to link again from here and make readers go twice to the same page. A simple reference would have done. Netiquette, my dear!

12 October, 2006 09:59

Anonymous rayhan said...

Hum rahnay walay hein usi ujRay dayar kay!

12 October, 2006 12:38

Anonymous Ghazala said...

Hi ZAK, What a delight that "ships and shoes and Sealing wax is now DEF(NITELY on the front burner - never too late. We all await it with bated breath!!
Iam sure that the labour of love that it is it will be the most awaited book this side of the Suez in a lonnnng time.And what's even more important - will be an honest straight from the heart account of your life experiences. Am really looking forward to it like no other. Best of luck.

12 October, 2006 14:23

Anonymous rashid latif said...

It is very interesting to note that you are going to pen your autobiography. Whether Pen is mightier than Sword is true or not, I know for sure that your pen is sharper than the sword, so we may find quite a few personalities shredded to bits in your auto-biography.

12 October, 2006 14:35

Anonymous Vickram said...

@zakintosh: Ah no, you misread me: I meant put up a different jpg in your own write, preferably rendering the poem in English, but you have explained you would rather not, but then perhaps just spelling it out so we can try and get the sense of it.

12 October, 2006 21:05

Blogger moizza said...

I loved Barista and wandering around the streets and coffeeshops, looking at books lining the pavement. Although I almost ended up being handed at the border with a POW, I think I'd go to India again.

13 October, 2006 10:24

Anonymous Vickram said...

India has changed, and what better way to celebrate that change than to take a fresh look at Zak's chacha... just like the naya Internet though, you'll need a bit of bandwidth, be warned... and a sense of humor, but then, without that, you wouldn't be reading this, would you?

13 October, 2006 18:53

Blogger Faisal Khan said...

I guess good luck is in order... remember... the font has to be good! :)

16 October, 2006 19:57

Blogger Zakintosh said...

@faisal khan

of course it will. i am a mac user, remember?

16 October, 2006 20:23


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