Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Visit to Charminar During Ramzan with Sagar and Jai

Jaideep Pal was our much loved and beloved skipper for the IDBI team when we played in 1995-97. The affable, wicket-keeper, batsman was on the verge of playing for Mumbai in the late eighties with names such as Sanjay Manjrekar, Sachin Tendulkar. Vinod Kambli and others. He was a wonderful captain, a fine human being who wears his heart on his sleeve and someone you can easily spend a lot of time with without getting bored. He has a good sense of humor and the capability to laugh at himself, has an easy persona, sings well and without hesitation, has opinions and stories and enjoys his food. Under Jai's captaincy, our ragtag team for IDBI with only about 6 proper cricketers (the rest were made up of boys from the canteen etc), starred in the final of the Times Shield in 1995. It was one of those unforgettable campaigns and one I remember fondly having done my bit to help our cause. Matches were interesting because we would play with full intensity and party with equal intensity after each win - beer and food and banter. I gave it my all and played with a damaged hamstring - in the semifinal and the final and did creditably. We lost the final sadly. But we carry memories of those times and time seems to stand still when we meet.
Butter idly and cheese dosa at Ravi bandi
So when Jai called yesterday and said he was in Hyderabad for some training and could we meet I suggested he join me and Sagar on a trip to Charminar. 'It's a good experience,' I said. 'You must.' Sagar and I had been to Charminar last year with Sunnie and I loved the experience. Jai did not flinch and true to his word landed up at 9 pm at Srinagar colony. He actually took a rickshaw all the way from Gachibowli because he could not get a cab! 'I wanted to make an effort to meet,' he said. 'We have not met for a long time. Otherwise I normally give up if it starts to get troublesome.'

We drove to Charminar talking about this and that. The big question of where to park was addressed almost immediately - huge signposts guided us to the Quli Qutub Shah stadium which offered free parking. So we went directly and parked in the stadium. Huge place, few cars.
Waiting for chai and tie biscuits at Nimrah Bakery
We walked along the bylanes towards Charminar and stopped at one of the gates near Mitti ka Sher. We spotted the same idli-dosa bandi and stopped for a taste of butter idly and cheese dosa. Jai loved it. In the final analysis, he said he liked the idly best. Was good without a doubt.

The song 'Ghar se nikalte hi...' reminds me of Jai. If some songs remind me of some people, this one is Jai's. He would hum this song which had just released then. I told him.
Skipper Jai and Me at Charminar
We pushed our way through the crowd and turned right to Charminar. The entire street was filled with hawkers selling stuff - watches, glasses, shoe, purses, bags, perfumes. Thousands thronged the street and one has to walk by carefully. The road has been relaid and the entire area around Charminar is now tiled. It should look a spectacle early in the morning. Earlier vehicular traffic was allowed around Charminar but now it was not so people just sat and ate and walked. We walked around Charminar and clicked a couple of pics while all the time we were focussed on Nimrah Bakery. Chai and Tei biscuits were had, though the young kid was more keen to sell us chai biscuit. After tea and biscuits, we stepped towards Mecca Masjid for Jai to have a look.
Some perspective
We cannot go to Charminar and not stroll through Lad bazaar. I remembered a kebab joint somewhere around the mosque - the shops were shut, the naan joint was there, haleem and dahi vada shops but no kebabs. As we turned round the bend we found a roadside kebab joint where we ordered some delicious pather ka gosht and naan. I nibbled a bit. Lovely stuff. All the items on display looked yummy.

Sagar was busy on his phone talking to his writer friends. He found a source - Jai's friend who could help him with his new script and they planned to set up a meeting. For a vegetarian, there is not much on offer at Charminar but Sagar enjoys the picture options and the rest of the food. Generally enjoys the experience. Good for me.
Juice at Tawakkal Nazeer Juice corner
We stopped at Tawakkal Nazeer Juice Centre for a bottle of water and found the juice and salad irresistible - I tried a mango malai that they were making right then, while Sagar tried a dry fruit shake and Jai tried a strawberry shake. I had a taste of the other two - fabulous and very filling. The owners told us they were open 24 hours a day. I will remember that. Good stuff.

Then we trooped back past Lad bazaar, past Charminar, and through the thronging crowds again towards Hotel Shadab where we proposed to eat haleem. Long walk done we stopped at Madina and not Shadab, just because it looked newer, cleaner and swankier - and ate haleem - not very good. We ordered a biryani which we decided was too ambitious even when we ordered it and ended up giving it away to a lady who was begging. A paan and another long walk to the car and we were good to go. It was 1 am.

Jai and I caught up on our friends - Parag for one. We recounted those games. He spoke of how he would like to go to Kolkata and perhaps even settle down there once his son found a job (he is doing his second year engineering now). Until you hear him speak Bengali you forget that he is actually a Bengali. He spoke of many of his friends who were into script writing, photography, movie making. You know he is well informed on the art circuit but wears it very lightly.
Waiting for Go...Haleem!
As we drove back to Lakdi ka pul which is where we thought we would split I asked Jai if he wanted to sing a song. He sang a fine number too (ek ajnabee haseena se, yun mulaquat ho gayee), beautifully, and was all set to sing another. We suddenly found that all our phones were losing charge and we had to book a ride to Jai to go back to Gachibowli. Jai's phone packed up first. Then Sagar's and just after we booked a ride, mine did too. There were a few moments of anxiety whether the can would come but Ghouse showed up dutifully and Jai left with him. Overall a fine experience. Jai was glad he made it. So did we. He told me to tell him when I was in Kolkata next and he would come too so we could roam about. I said I would.

Back home early at 2 pm. Lots of walking. Worth every bit of it.


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