The ebb and flow of life around Charminar and Madina, days before Eid, is an experience and a commentary on life, finds Serish Nanisetti
It is 11 a.m. and the streets are deserted near Manjli Begum ki Haveli. They are deserted near Shahalibanda. What happened? You look at the watch to be certain that it is the middle of the day and not early morning. The few two-wheeler drivers on the road drive as if they have all the day in the world to reach home and not like as if they have to dash for food. The roads appear oh-so-broad.
Mohammed Bashir is uncovering his heap of readymades while talking to a friend near Charminar Bus Stand. What time did you close the shop yesterday? “3 a.m. and now it is 11 a.m., that is enough time to sleep. Isn't it?” he asks rhetorically.
“It is not that these things will not be available near Bahadurpura, but we prefer to come here for the variety, for the experience and the best thing is you don't have to bargain. You have to stand and someone will come along and bargain and you pick up the item at that price,” says Syed Yousuf, speaking on behalf of his wife, a few women relatives and children, as they catch their breath and tote up the damages.
“The shop is dull not because of the rain but who will come to the shop selling dress materials one week before Eid. Obviously we do more business during Ramzan, try coming here after 1 p.m.,” says Mohammed Saleem selling his wares at Rikabgunj.
Only a few hours earlier, it appeared as if the whole of Hyderabad was here shopping, selling, buying and eating stuff ranging from bread omlettes to toasted sweetbread to tricolour coconut barfi.
There were people lounging and sitting on the Gulzar Houz as a steady drizzle tried to hurry up people in the midst of shopping. The full scale assault of senses began near Madina which the police has converted to a no-go zone for autorickshaws, just like Laad Bazaar, crammed as they are with pushcart vendors from all parts of the city. There is Rizwan who has reached this place from Kattedan pushing his handcart loaded with artificial gold jewellery, plastic hair bands and rubber bangles. “So many people come here and it is easy to sell everything. Though I may have to sell at lower price in comparison to elsewhere because of the competition, but I can go back having done a lot of business,” he says. As the lights come on in the night (don't ask how, but avoid getting your head tangled with the overhead wires), the shopping reaches a frenzy and stays that way till early morning. “Dus ka teen, dus ka teen, chavanni bhi kam nahi honga,” shouts a boy standing on his pushcart waving white plastic tea-strainers. One man sits inside his ittar shop playing with powdered kohl. One girl insists that she has to have the blue masakali dress. The heaps of sevian at Mahboob Chowk and near Afzalgunj appear bigger. And we are ready for Eid.