A visit to Ghalib's haveli

The India Habitat Centre organised a walk to Ghalib's haveli

Walking in Ghalib's memory on a rainy Sunday, just four days before the poet's 137th death anniversary, from Town Hall to his haveli was a nostalgic event organised by India Habitat Centre.Ghalib died in what are known as Gulabi Jadey (rose-tinted mild winter) but this year's freak weather has made it as cold as mid-January and Mirza Nausha would have refrained from exclaiming: "Ab tau ji mei ata hai ke mar jayenge ham/Mar ke bhi chain na paya tau kahan jayenge ham (now it seems I'm going to die, but if I don't get rest even after death then were else would I go?).

Weather worry

Certainly he wouldn't have liked to die in this sort of weather just as he bemoaned that his brother had passed away at the height of summer during the Mutiny when the British had retaken control of Delhi and a virtual curfew order was in force making it difficult to even bury the dead. The walk from Town Hall, past Ballimaran to Gali Mir Qasim Jan, was not as pleasant as it would have been had it not rained so hard the previous day. For one long familiar with the area, many old places and people were missing. Mohammad Mian Akbar was not at his Boot House, chain smoking away the afternoon. Haji Hotel has vanished and so also Hafiz Hotel, where Dr. Zakir Husain used to eat before he became famous. The mianji who told tales of those days is also missing. Bhai Sadiq's shop is there but his grandson manages it. He is dead, so is his son and so too Akbar Bhai and the bearded owner of Hafiz Hotel. Bismillah Hotel is not what it used to be and the Kababwallah who sat at the gate of Basti Punjabian is also no more. Nobody else makes such delicious kababs. Uma Sharma, eminent Kathak dancer, who led the walk had to face some embarrassing moments at Ghalib's memorial (the poet would have certainly fallen in love with her) when a woman of the area got nasty. But things smoothened out by the time lunch was served after a Moghul times mushaira at the nearby Rabea Girls School, the erstwhile haveli of Ghalib's wife, Umrao Jan. R.V. SMITHR.V. SMITH

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