The remarkable Delhi instant.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
One late night The Delhi Walla entered the Suleman Tea Stall at Chitli Qabar Chowk. It was empty except for five men who occupied a table at the end.
They were all Urdu poets, but they depend on other professions to make a living.
Munir Hamdam of Turkman Gate Mohalla publishes E-books. Rauf Raza of Chitli Qabar is an interior decorator. Javed Mushiri of Ballimaran is a journalist with Siyasi Taqdeer newspaper. Javed Niyazi of Kucha Rohilla Khan has a “rubber business”. Iqbal Firdausi of Baradari runs a small factory that manufactures drum sets and harmonium parts.
All these men said that they discuss poetry, politics and cricket late into the night at this teahouse. They also said that their families are used to their nocturnal outing.
There was a awkward pause in the conversation, probably because of the new company.
Poet Munir Hamdam tried to break the ice by ordering yet another round of steaming hot tea for everyone. There was nothing of Old Delhi in the chai. It had less milk, less sugar and it was very strong.
Finally, Iqbal Firdausi, the oldest among the five poets, turned towards me and said in an extremely gentle voice, “Now, if you don’t mind, dear sir, please leave us with ourselves. It is time for us to share our new verses.”
It was a beautiful moment.
The midnight poets
1. (Poet Munir Hamdam)
2. (Poet Rauf Raza)
3. (Poet Javed Mushiri)
4. (Javed Niyazi)
5. (Poet Iqbal Firdausi)