Sunday, May 10, 2009

City Hangout – Zaki Cybercafé, Nizamuddin Basti

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Cyber Rats

Discovering globalization, halal style.

[Text and picture by Mayank Austen Soofi]

To be in a multinational crowd, you need not go to Maurya Sheraton’s lobby. Just head straight for Zaki Cybercafé in Nizamuddin Basti.

Tucked in a crowded lane, up an uncomfortable flight of 12 steep stairs, the moment you enter Zaki, you are overcome by claustrophobia. Two boxy rooms, eight assembled computers, four telephone booths, plus a third room serving as a sexologist's clinic. But we will limit ourselves to the cybercafé.

This is what you would see and hear here: mullah-like figures talking in BBC-esque English; black Africans in jumpers and jeans; fair-complexioned Kashmiris in T-shirts and capris. All men. They are either logged on to BBCsomali.com or chatting on Russian-language social networking sites or speaking Pashtun on microphones.

Who are these exotic foreigners and what are they doing here?

Owing to its famous dargah, Nizamuddin Basti pulls in pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. Some stay in guesthouses here, and when they must make a phone call or e-mail home, they come to Zaki.

"But most of my clients are from the markaz, not the dargah," says Mohamamd Ajmal Khan, the café owner whose youth is disguised in a long beard. By markaz, he is referring to the next-door world headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat, an apolitical Islamic organisation. It is puzzling that despite not being a Sufi-friendly brotherhood, the Jamaat set up its headquarters in the vicinity of Delhi’s most famous Sufi shrine, especially as the austerity-preaching Tablighis look down upon the grave-worshipping, qawwali-singing Sufis.

The Tablighi headquarters attracts Islamic missionaries from countries like the UK, USA, Germany, Holland, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Sudan and South Africa, most of whom patronise Zaki giving it an international feel. But it’s the local flavour that makes this café so entertaining. When the local boys are not exchanging locker-room jokes here, they are downloading Hollywood films for the sake of ‘scenes’. One young man was crushed to discover that Kate Winslet's The Reader had no good ‘scene’.

Try eavesdropping as the boys chat with girlfriends on Skype. Most of these friendships are made on the Internet with foreign women. On microphones, the boys speak their best ‘I love you’ angrezi and the girls from Indonesia or Morocco or Uzbekistan or Maldives, presumably as fluent in English as our boys, respond with their workable I-love-yous. The mix is great fun.

Where On the lane leading to Karim’s, Nizamuddin Basti

Where On the lane leading to Karim's, Nizamuddin Basti

9 comments:

BRUISED INDIAN said...

Did you say "Halal"?
What the hell do you mean by this? Even if its a way of entrapting readers thru your cynical humor I must comment that you absolutely have no Fucking right to mock this word and add it to your cliche's.

I absolutely detest your kind; however, have a whale of a time replying / bashing on your blog.

Prasenjit said...

Wonderful. Your blog opens small windows to the unknown alleys of Delhi. Love it.

Prasenjit

Putra Bertam Malaysia said...

Why not you join Tabligh Jamaat for a few day or sit with them at the Tabligh Markaz. Then only you know the beauty of this jamaat. In Malaysia We have a big mosque that built by our Tabligh jamaat brothers. I had been visited Nizammuddin Markaz in 1995, from there they sent me to Salem for one chillah about 40days to met our muslim brother.

Gallimaufry said...

As usual, your blog gives an insight into a little-seen aspect of Delhi. Wonderful. Pity your sense of humour is lost on some....

Ibanov, Sir Rekaf said...

So many people in such little space? Not sure I'd enjoy the experience.

Anonymous said...

"The Reader", in fact, has one of the more memorable nude scenes done by Kate Winslet.

Anonymous said...

MOULANA SAAD SaaB,jamat barkat,
hamara awaj aap ki pas.
PLS HELP MY BANGLADESH TABLIG.
HAJRAAT BANGLADESH KAKRAIL MARKAJ
KHARAB KHODGARJ SURA HAJRAT CHALARAHE IN KO TABLIG KI JARIA SE ROPEA DARKAR HE BAYAN KARTE APNA BARE BANNA OUR PURA MULK ME KAM KARNE WALE KO KAM INLOK DEGA NAHI.ASSAM KI JAMAT KA SATH KHOB KHARAP MAMULAT SURA HAJRAT NE KIA.
SURA APNE KO BAHOT BARA SAMAJTE. MOHAJERIN ASSAM KI JAMAT KO PAGAL JAMAT BOLA,IS JAMAT KO CHOTA DEHAT IN KI FIKIR KO AGE NA BARNE NA DIA HAMISA IS JAMAT KA SATH KHARAB AKHLAK KIA,JAMAT KI AMIR SAAB KHOB RONA LAGE, SAAD SAAB KI BAYANAT IN SURA PASAND NI KARTE, SIASATH HAMESHA KARTE RAHE , ALLAH WALE SATE KO IN LOK PAGAL SAMAJTE,

MOHD. HARUN UR RASHID, lalbag

zuhaib said...

MOHD. HARUN UR RASHID, lalbag................aap apna dawat ka kam me jude rahie...mat sochie k kon kese kam krta h...do as your ameer sahab says....sabko apna hisab dena hoga....unki fikar mat kren.....

Anonymous said...

dear brother assalamu alikum

pls this comment delete website pls
delete.....

MOULANA SAAD SaaB,jamat barkat,
hamara awaj aap ki pas.
PLS HELP MY BANGLADESH TABLIG.
HAJRAAT BANGLADESH KAKRAIL MARKAJ
KHARAB KHODGARJ SURA HAJRAT CHALARAHE IN KO TABLIG KI JARIA SE ROPEA DARKAR HE BAYAN KARTE APNA BARE BANNA OUR PURA MULK ME KAM KARNE WALE KO KAM INLOK DEGA NAHI.ASSAM KI JAMAT KA SATH KHOB KHARAP MAMULAT SURA HAJRAT NE KIA.
SURA APNE KO BAHOT BARA SAMAJTE. MOHAJERIN ASSAM KI JAMAT KO PAGAL JAMAT BOLA,IS JAMAT KO CHOTA DEHAT IN KI FIKIR KO AGE NA BARNE NA DIA HAMISA IS JAMAT KA SATH KHARAB AKHLAK KIA,JAMAT KI AMIR SAAB KHOB RONA LAGE, SAAD SAAB KI BAYANAT IN SURA PASAND NI KARTE, SIASATH HAMESHA KARTE RAHE , ALLAH WALE SATE KO IN LOK PAGAL SAMAJTE,

MOHD. HARUN UR RASHID, lalbag