The Anglo Indian community of Hyderabad adds a significant flavour to the city’s culture through their charming lifestyle
‘Hey brother, so, I asked the bugger to get me extra helping of ‘daul’ and the chap said he saw a ‘bandigot’ pass by…’ if this doesn’t help you identify the people in question then there is a good chance that you aren’t a Hyderabadi or you haven’t come across the happy-go-merry people — The Anglo Indians.
The Anglos who agree that they are a happy-go-merry people, however insist that they do a lot more than just dancing at the drop of a hat or breaking into a song and dance when they are bored.
A happy bunch of people, the community members say it’s their nature that makes them stand apart and though they like to sing and dance, they are also adept in sports. For long, the lanes opposite Railway Degree College in Lalaguda were more easily identified at Little England, than by their lane number identification. If anyone was from South Lalaguda, it was taken for granted that they came from Little England. Also because they look distinctly different, the Lalagudians are also asked ‘are you really Indian?’
“The charm isn’t the same any more, most families have moved out or have migrated to the countries like Australia,” says former national cycling champion Maxwell Trevor.
Trevor and his family have been a part of Little England ever since the Anglo-Indians started settling there. The peculiarity of the lane is that, while one side there are the old railway quarters, the other side houses the homes of the Anglo-Indian families. Old timers of the lane say celebrations were not limited to any one house, the lane used to transform into one big family. “There was no restriction to walking and in and out of each other’s houses. Christmas was one time when celebrations and the spirits were at their peak,” adds Trevor.
Are they aware of the jokes that are cracked on Anglo-Indians? “Of course we do. We enjoy them, because we relate to them. Like our children ask why the everyday dal is called daul and why Nagapatnam is pronounced as Nagapatam and Nizamabad as Nyzamabad. We are aware of the ‘bugger’ jokes as well but it’s part of our everyday lingo,” says Malcom Taylor.
Of the 1000 odd families that nestled in Little England, only a few remain and the houses that was typical to the lane have all made way for tall concrete buildings. But the community proudly boasts of their honesty at work and agrees that “nine out of ten Anglo Indians are honest and not corrupt. Sadly we are just a bunch of 50 or 70 families here in this area. Most of them have shifted to other areas like Sainikpuri, A.S.Rao Nagar, Saket etc but we all meet on occasions ,” smiles Mary Ann.
Settled in Hyderabad when the Britishers came to India, the Anglo community still continues with its food habits but the cuisine has gradually got Indianised over the years. Gene says, “Beef and pork is still a staple part of our diet. Cakes and pies are a must during Christmas as is the guava cheese, along with goodies like rose cookies and cakes.”
Every Easter, Christine Lazarus makes it a point to plan a lavish breakfast at home. Easter breakfast is a ritual they have never missed getting together for. “Except once, when we all went to the Secunderabad Club. Another childhood memory that rushes to my mind is the instance when our aunt came visiting for Easter and our mother didn’t have enough eggs to be presented as a treat to the over 20 children who were all gathered. Our dad came up with a plan— he made us sit for a painting competition and we were to draw our own Easter egg. There were no prizes but each of us were given a chocolate bar each. After that we were made to share the eggs and eat it after decorating it the way we wanted to.” She adds, “As a community Anglo-Indians are very pious. When it comes to prayers they are God-fearing and ardent followers of their faith. Meetings and gatherings are a must for us and then we are a happy bunch. Helping and serving is another of our priorities, followed by singing and dancing,” laughs Christine.