Many Hyderabadis these days tend to look at the past and wonder whatever has happened to the good old times when men were men – warm, friendly and broad-minded. Times have changed; so have people. They lament the demise of cosmopolitan spirit- the Dekhni tehzeeb – that characterized life in the past and shaped my own upbringing.
I was born in Nizam’s Hyderabad and lived my first 15 years in a big house opposite Barkatpura chaman. In this big house, our neighbours were Maharashtrian, Tamilian and Kannadiga families. We lived, shared food and played like kids in the same family.
In the forties and fifties, this part of the city was a serene haven of peace inhabited by the Nawabs, the aristocracy and ministers. Chief Minister Burgula Ramakrishna Rao’s house was directly opposite ours while Ministers such as Dr. G. S. Melkote, Gopalrao Ekbote, D G Bindu, Annarao Ganamukhi and Srinivasrao Ekhlikar, prominent freedom-fighters Ummetthala Kesava Rao and C.V. Chary resided in close proximity. Chary used to tell us in the circular park stories of heroes of the freedom struggle. Nawab Zain Yar Jung, Ali Raza, Shah Alam Khan of Golconda cigarettes were among other bigwigs of the area. As a kid, I used to wear sherwani like my father and play with Muslim kids of the nobility. Hameed Sultan of Deccan Shoes, eminent surgeon Hyder Ali Khan, Abdul Mannan Khan, editor, bureaucrat Nizamuddin, singer Junaid Mohiuddin, Olympian footballer, Latif, were among father’s friends. A mule-drawn coach used to bring supplies (as a boy I learnt it was food and other material) to the devdi of a nawab located near Kacheguda X roads. This environment of harmony helped us imbibe the Dekhni tehzeeb and learn to respect and love people of other regions, language and faith.
The happy ‘undivided family’ of Anand Bhavan broke up in the wake of formation of the integrated state of Andhra Pradesh in 1956; the Deshpandes moved away to Maharashtra (then Bombay State) and the Kadloors to Mysore (renamed Karnataka). The Hyderabad State was thus trifurcated. The parting of families who had lived together for over a decade and a half was heart-wrenching. Memories remain green despite the passage of time.
I always wonder woh din kahaan gaye bataa, jab is nazar me pyar thaa, pyar thaa …..(Lata’s number from Tarana, a Madhubala starrer 1951), knowing well it is wishful thinking.