When 26-year-old Yemeni student Adam Sawab joined Osmania University in mid-2013 to study journalism, he would often hear people talk about a Yemeni community residing in the city. Soon enough, his curiosity took him to Barkas, where he discovered that many of its residents were descendants of Yemeni soldiers employed in the Nizam government.
“I go there whenever I am free. When I am in Barkas, I feel that it is like home,” says Adam, who is from Ibb city in Yemen, which he describes as the “green province” of his home country. And to show this part of Hyderabad to his countrymen back home, he has made a documentary titled ‘Barkas – A Small Yemen in India’ as part of his course.
The project, which Adam started early this year, has even won offers to be aired on television in Yemen. “I got a few calls from channels, but I don’t want to air my documentary on channels affiliated to political parties,” he mentions, adding that the existence of Yemenis in India is not much known back in his country. His documentary, completed in just a few months, was submitted as part of his course’s project.
“I met many people in Barkas and they are very happy. But the main thing is that they have managed to preserve their customs,” explains Adam. He, however, points out quickly that though the older generation speaks fluent Arabic, youngsters in Barkas cannot. “I like the Yemeni kindness in Indian atmosphere here,” he says, when asked what he found to be most striking.
Adam’s documentary also throws light on interesting facts about the Yemenis settled here for centuries. Inhabited mainly by members of the Chaush community, who are direct descendants of the Hadhrami - military men in the Hadhramaut region in Yemen, there are 52 Yemeni tribes in Hyderabad, explains Adam.
Some of the Yemeni tribes settled here are those of Al-Saadi, Al-Nahdi, Al-Yamani, Barabaa, Al-aidroos and Al-Saadi. “During the time of the Nizam’s rule, the Arab population here increased and slowly settled mainly in the Army barracks, now Barkas, on the outskirts of the city,” observes Adam.
Adam states that there are over three lakh Yemenis settled here in India, in cities such as Aurangabad, Hyderabad and other places. He is yet to decide how to screen his documentary back in Yemen. “I have not uploaded it online as there is still some editing to be done,” he quips.