Sunday, August 05, 2007

City Secrets – Islamic Volleyball at Hazrat Nizamuddin

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Playing the game with a halaal touch.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Besides its Sufi shrine, Thursday qawwalis, and Karim restaurant, Hazrat Nizamuddin has another attraction – Islamic Volleyball. Each evening young Muslim men collect in an open courtyard called Urs Mahal to play this American game. Many of these players have long wiry black beard; some are clean shaven with chocolate looks; all have strong arms, powerful fists, quick feet, and deep voices.

Their sports attire is most unusual. Most are dressed in shalwar-kurtas; few prefer lungis; and only one man, Raahat, likes to show off his Salman Khanisque body in blue-colored jeans and body-hugging T-shirt. No one is ever in shorts or even bare-chested.

As the match starts, the skullcap-wearing audience starts trickling in through the ancient stone doorway. Unknown tombs, littered here and there, are the coveted seats. Kid-missionaries from the nearby headquarters of Tableeghi Jamaat, an Islamic organization that preaches austerity, are the noiseless fans who remain standing during the course of the evening. Paan-chewing non-Jamaati men, sitting on the stairs, are the noisy ones who cheer or hoot their teams passionately with every point scored or lost. An armless beggar, a daily fixture with a yellow-teethy smile, has a permanent corner with excellent view. Though there are no women, the neighborhood windows hints of them.

During the game, the brick walls of the surrounding houses echo with the cries, shouts and exhortations of the players. Their spirits frothing out with youthful vigor, the players hit the ball, run around, trip and fall, curse each other, laugh frequently, and sometimes even answer their mobile phone calls - without interrupting the game!

Once the sky goes dark, and the battle is lost and won, the courtyard empties out. The silence returns and the Sikh guard locks the gate. Till tomorrow.

It's Coming!

v1a

It's Exciting

v4a

Will He, Won't He

v3a

Backseat Audience

v8a

Hit It!

v2a

Break from Allah

v9a

High Tension Moment

v7a

No Arm, Will Watch

v11a

Look There!

v12a

The Coolest Guy

v10a

Other Distractions

v13a


Where Urs Mahal, Near Ghalib’s Mazaar, Hazrat Nizamuddin Timing 6 pm to 7 pm

5 comments:

indscribe said...

Wonderful photos. It is this aspect of Delhi that never gets mentioned in news or captured...

Rakhi said...

Hi Mayank,

You have beautifully captured the vibrant life of Delhi in your pics.... Well done. Would love to see more of such photographs. Good Job!
Wish you all the best!

Rakhi

mohammad said...

I KNOW ITS A BEAUTYFUL CAPTURED BUT U DONT KNOW WHO'S THE PEPOLE PLAYING NOT ONLY VOLLBALL B'COZ THE ALL PERSONE FITNESS PROBLEM HE WANT TO FIT A BODY .. U SEE A NIZAMUDDIN GYM ITS NOT A GYM ITS LIKE A SMOKE CENTER R U CAPTURED A NIZAMUDDIN GYM BY THE WAY ITS A BEAUTIFULLY SNAP B'COZ I M IN THE SNAP .......THANKS TO U (ZUNAID)

Anonymous said...

Salaams people. Those pic bring back great memories of india and delhi. I am from south africa. Im not sure if its the right place but the place where you guys are play volleyball is just across the road from banglawali masjid and they usualy perform janazah namaz in the court yard ? Am i correct? Next time im there i will join you for a game of volleyball.

Vishal said...

2 out of 10

A bad post:

1. Irrelevant title: I’m sure anyone from any religion can join. It’s not deliberately Islamic or halal.

2. Bad reporting in text, where are the guys in pics with board shoulders and Salman physique? Please do not glamorise when there is no Bollywood glamour in there. Or was it written for CineBlitz or StarDust. A very bad attempt at writing Shobha De style reporting.

3. Ok pics (that is why this post gets 2).