Friday, December 6, 2013

Childhood Fears

According to Gabbar, whenever a child wept in a far away village his mother used to say “Chup hoja warna Gabbar aa jayega”.
This scary image by: akira_kev
I think parents in Amroha got highly inspired with this dialogue and they decided to implement it on their children. It was required for those naughty and mischievous children who refuse to stay inside even during foggy winter evenings and heat stroking summer afternoons. So parents of every locality invented some characters to scare their children and make them a little obedient. Here is a list comprising some of them and their characteristics:
  1. Chaukidaar: Children who refuse to go to bed are scared with chaukidaar. They are told if they don't sleep early chaukidaar will take them with him. And actually a chaukidaar used to arrive shouting " Jaagte raho", every night after 11 o'clock. It is a 100% working trick. Poor children don't even know "chaukidaar" is an Urdu word for night watchmen.
  2. Sai Baba: This name is given to beggars who sing and carry big bag for keeping food items they receive. Children are made to believe that if he find you playing outside your home during afternoon he will kidnap you. And he carries children in his bag, those who disobey their parents.
  3. Mauli Atta: A mentally disturbed person in a locality is named mauli. And there are many in the city. Their look and attitude in itself is enough to scare any child and parents make sure to use him on their children.
Apart from these local characters children are often scared with global ghosts too. Kala Djinn, Chhalawa, Aatma are some of them.

All these scary characters played an important role in everybody's childhood in Amroha. I know there were many others. Do you remember any of them??

Friday, November 8, 2013

Taste of Sufism

Sama Khana at Hazrat Shah Abban Rauza, Amroha
Three days after Eid, I woke up with sound of people singing Qawwali in a loudspeaker. That day was the beginning of four day long Urs celebration. Urs is the death anniversary of a Sufi Saint. The death of a Sufi saint is regarded as wisaal (union with the beloved), and it is celebrated as a wedding anniversary.

I was hearing that sound from nearby khanqah of Haz. Shah Abban Badr-e-Chishti. The Khanqah is a hall next to a mosque where he used to preach his disciples. In the Khanqah, Qawwali is performed in morning for continuous four days. It is a dimly lit place decorated with many old tughras and other sconces.

Qawwali begins at about 10:30 in the morning and ends at-least one hour before Namaz. After Qawaali Langar begins. In Langar, delicious Qorma and Naan are served. The gravy of Qorma is kept very dilute. Technically its “shorba”. After Langar, people perform Salah and leave to return in the evening for yet another session of Qawwali in SamaKhana at the Rauza (the dargah of Badr-e-Chishti near railway crossing flyover).

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Rice v/s Amrohvis

I remember, since childhood whenever I suffered from a disease, the first thing every doctor/hakeem advised to be totally abstinent from rice. Although, due to my mother’s fondness, lunch for me only means rice. I have had best seasonal Khichdis, Tahiri, Pulao, Biryani and Dal-Chawal whole childhood. However it was a rule not to eat any form of rice in dinner except sometimes during Ramadhan.
The point is, rice dishes are not considered a complete meal(You may not agree completely). Yes, I know how much everyone is fond of Biryani. But if you are invited for dinner and served only Biryani, its not considered good hospitality. It is believed eating rice in dinner makes you vulnerable to cough and cold. And also eating rice when you are sick is a completely no-no.

I used to blame Hakeems for this earlier. Recently, even a doctor advised my mother not to eat rice. She argued with the argument I have told her earlier that whole South India, Eastern India, Bihar, Eastern UP, and Kashmir eat rice for lunch and dinner both. The doctor replied, “It is a regional thing, they live on rice but if you start doing like them you will fall sick”. Hearing this I lost faith in Medical Sciences. :)

And its not just with Amroha it’s the same with whole Western UP and most of Delhi.
I think it is because we never combine rice with our heavenly gravies. Rice is always cooked as a separate single dish(e.g Khichdi, Biryani , Tahiri etc). We never combine plain boiled rice, like others, with separately cooked meat and vegetable(Dal is an exception). We need rotis or freshly baked naan with every gravy.

A simple test:
Imagine you are in Amroha. You are invited to dinner at wedding reception of a friend. There are two dishes on the menu: Naan Gosht and Biryani.
What will you choose?
Well, I go for Naan Gosht.

What about you?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Weddings in Amroha

The Weeding season for Muslims in Amroha begins just after Eid. Almost all marriages in Amroha happen within the city. So everybody in Amroha have a really big network of relatives. Earlier the city used to be spacious so the functions used to happen in a bigger house in neighborhood. Now there are marriage halls where people generally organize functions.

credit: david

In Amroha, like rest of India, marriages are a really big affair. All relatives and friends are invited. Everybody is served delicious food. People bring gifts for bride and groom and participate in Dua for their happy life.
Dry dates are distributed after Nikah.

Traditionally, naan-gosht is served to all guests. Naan-gosht is basically Beef Korma and fresh Indian Naan. Korma is specially cooked with grinned dry fruits and curd. The dough for Naan is kneaded with milk. Delicious Halwa or Zarda are served as desserts. Sometimes Beef-Biryani is also part of menu.

You can also expect Kebabs, Chicken Korma, Gulab Jamuns now a days. Enjoy this wedding season.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dilli Darwaza

The Delhi Gate in Amroha

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Eid ul Fitr @ Amroha

On the evening of 29th Ramzaan, the Moon was sighted in India this year. And this was confirmed by the loud sirens. That was the last time sirens came to life this year. Eid ul Fitr was celebrated the next day. People said Alvida to Ramzaan. That was the end of one month long fasting and the additional taraweeh prayer.

Markets were most crowded that evening. All shops remained open till 2 a.m. Women went out to finish their month long shopping. All Kurta shops were crowded with men. Tailors were trying hard to wrap up their work. Everyone was in hurry. Girls were busy buying their accessories and getting henna applied over their hands.

All aunties were busy preparing various dishes including Sheer. Everyone expects a lot of guests on Eid. The weather was very pleasant with clouds and cool breeze flowing. Most importantly there was un-interrupted electricity supply(if you were in Amroha, plz replace 'un-interrupted electricity supply' with 'fewer power cuts').

Eidgah Amroha after Eid Prayer
In the morning all roads leading to Eidgah were overcrowded. Thousands of men were moving towards Eidgah for Eid prayer wearing their new Kurta-Payjama. Due to rain that happened early morning all roads were wet. People were moving slowly saving their clothes from mud. After prayer and dua it again started raining and people reached home completely soaked in water. Rest whole day was spent visiting relatives and friends. And enjoying all the delicious stuff.

Amroha Eidgah
Many temporary Kebab-Samosa shops were opened in the city. All children received Eidi from elders. The whole city was in mood of celebration.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

When it Rains in Amroha

After facing two long months of summer.

 In the middle of June, relief arrives in the form of clouds. The first batch is scattered and white. But they keep coming in and filling the Amroha sky. They rise from where sky meets earth. Slowly dense grey clouds  replace everything white in the Sky. They bring with them cool breeze which is followed by droplets, so tiny that you cannot see them. But their moisture can be felt. This brings a new life to almost dead yellow leaves. All birds rise from their nests and form circles in the sky. Children come to their roof tops with their kites. Kabootarbaaz starts making strange sounds with more passion.

And within an hour the wind catches speed. Now, the kites cannot remain attached to their string. They become uncontrollable and detach themselves and decide to fly with the wind. The southern end of the sky starts turning dark. Rain bearing dark clouds called ghata are now visible. Slowly, they takes over everything. There are no clouds anymore but just one single black sky. This is the point at which it seems that the Sun has surrendered. Everyone starts looking in the sky and while waiting for the moment when everything comes to halt. Even the birds start looking for shelter. In a few moments of animation the sky falls. It comes down to earth in the form of water. These round big drops fall on earth and wash everything. The dust which got accumulated on the leaves and all signs of Loo, that have blown over the last few months, will be washed. Within couple of hours everything is new, fresh and green.

This marks the beginning of the Season of Mangoes. Market is full of these yellowish-green and juicy fruits. Jamuns seem to have absorbed the dark color of sky and accompany mangoes in their season.

Melons and Water Melons loose their sweetness. Even Litchi's time is over. Now, the King of Fruits rules the market.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Eid Miladun Nabi

On the birthday of Prophet Mohammad (SAW). Muslim Committee of Amroha organizes "Jaloos", a procession. Thousands of Amrohvis participate in Jaloos after Zuhar Namaz(Noon Prayer). It begins from Jama Masjid, Amroha. The procession moves along Bazar Naubat Khana , Tehseel, Bada Bazar, Guzri, Bazar Shafat Pota, Chahgauri, Maja Pota and Chilla to finally reach Chauraha Kot. People carry green decorated flags embroidered with the name "Muhammad" and "Allah".

Jaloos Eid Miladun Nabi, Amroha
 Many cars fitted with speakers are also part of this procession. They all collectively make such a noise that its really hard to recognize what people are speaking. Everybody is simply shouting slogans and singing in praise of Prophet Mohammad(SAW). It seems whole city is out on streets.

Children Participating in Jaloos Eid Miladun Nabi, Amroha
Children play a big role in this procession. They are the ones who carry the flags and posters. Children have their share of fun. Many people distribute sweets, sherbat and coffee when the Jaloos reaches their locality. Its a way of welcoming the procession. Women in black Burqa can be seen on all roof tops as the procession passes streets of Amroha.

Eid Miladun Nabi, Amroha
One of the popular slogan shouted in Jaloos is:
"Islam ki taleem sab insan". "Bhai-Bhai".
 I wonder if people really understand this. Or we simply shout it and forget it as soon as the festivity is over.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Madho Cineplex Amroha

Although Bollywood is entertaining Indians for last 100 years now. People in Amroha were always away from the culture of going to movie theaters for watching movies. One of the reasons was non existence of a decent place to watch a movie. People always preferred staying at home and watching T.V with family. There was always a need of a family entertainment point.

Arpit Agarwal, whose grandfather owned the Madho Palace, saw this great business opportunity and realized the potential of a good source of entertainment for Amrohvis.  Even Madho Palace was always better than other movie theaters in the city but lacked modern infrastructure which can attract educated families. As soon as Arpit finished his MBA and joined his family business. He decide to give that property a makeover. And within months he converted his idea into reality and imported the most modern technology and infrastructure from across India after a long research. And this way he gave birth to new “Madho Cineplex”.

Madho Cineplex - Amroha
Now, Madho Cineplex is not just generations ahead among all its competitors in the district but is also comparable to most good theaters in big cities.

The theater is now fully Air Conditioned and has Dolby Digital sound. The seats are comfortable and surroundings are completely clean. There is special security for handling drunks and stopping people from taking tobacco products inside. I was amazed to hear that people use some strange tricks for getting entry with “Gutkha”. Some of them were caught carrying tobacco in their phones after removing battery. Another guy was caught with a pen filled with tobacco. But the security is smarter and don't allow anyone to enter with prohibited stuff.

In all it’s a great experience watching a movie there with family or friends.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Winters in Amroha

Gajar ka Halwa- Winter Dessert

You can find very few people on roads after 10 P.M during dark winter nights in Amroha. Due to dense fog the visibility reduces to few meters. All Amrohvis decide to get into their homes. Even Chauraha Kot and Chauraha Naubat Khana are vacant. Groundnut sellers stick to the fire they use to keep the nuts warm. People can be found burning wooden logs as they discuss politics or cricket in early hours of night. Dogs decide to give up their possession of streets during night.

Shivering cold and dense fog is annoying. Its delicious food which excites everyone about winters. Gajak, Rewri, Til ke Laddu, Gajar ka Halwa, Egg Halwa, Steaming hot Gulab Jamuns are season's special. Even at home the menu becomes more delicious. As if its just the season to eat and sleep. Matar Pulao, Khichdi, Fish, Ras ki Kheer, Shakarkandi ki Kheer and many more delicious stuff become part of the menu. This is also the season of papaya, guava, oranges and grapes.

With lesser power cuts and mosquitoes. Amrohvis seem to enjoy winters.

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