Monday, January 11, 2010

The Shias of Bandra West

in the heart
in the soul
of hussain
they nest
the shias
of bandra

a bond
in which
we invest
year old
that stands
head high
by yazid after yazid
whom we curse
as we beat our chest
with wave after wave
of ya hussain ya hussain
a crescendo in our breast
tears on the soul of humanity
that we have addressed
he gave his head
but not his hand
hands down
he won the contest
a thought a deed
through blood sweat tears
we have expressed
an army of peace
nation loving
human loving
brave defiant
black dressed
the shias of
bandra west

Marziya Goes to Her First Juloos at Bandra Mehfil 2009

Bandra Mehfil is a heartland of Shia women and Moharam Azadari at Bandra West Mumbai..The Mehfil belongs to Iqbal bhai and his close family , and the are in the forefront for daily womens majlis..during Moharam.

The Bandra Mehfil Juloos that begins with a majlis at the Mehfil sumptuous Niyaz , than culminate s from the gates with various Anjumans from town , Zuljana beautifully decorated , the Taboot of Imam Hussain was not in the procession this time..

The children did the zanjir matam, and Marziya watched all this for the first time , Marziya has never been to a Juloos in her life and she is two years old and well known among the Bandra Shia folks .

So this was an important chapter of Marziyas life and her path ahead, I was going to skip this juloos because of my aggravated foot injury but went there nonetheless ..and I missed Shakir bhai of the mehfil he was on urgent duty..

I dod not follow the juloos till the Shia Khoja mosque where it ends but came home after shooting a few frames more of Marziya and her first juloos of her life..

Facing Death in the Eye .

the butchers
or a speeding
train comes by
death where is thy sting
she let out a mournful cry
born to live and live to die
living on earth searching for
virgins in a heaven
in the sky
is he a shop keeper
that you kill innocent people
maiden to you as reward
he must supply
here the unborn child
buried under
the debris of hate
let out a sigh
we create children
access to better living
we deny
destroying the peace
on earth by hook and lie
misplaced martyrdom
suicide bombers
that rogue preachers
sell and buy
scriptures tainted in blood
when bombed mosques
keep asking why?
bleeding skull caps
muslims love killing muslims
to get a high

dedicated to mr ram jethmalani

Zindagi Ek Safar Hai Suhana

This is the quintessential peace quotient of Hyderabad , the lady in the ricksha is going to a Majlis, and majlis matam are two driving force for the Shia Hyderabadi Muslim that keeps her occupied..
Children are never questioned during Moharam even if they dont come as Shabbedari continues all night..And here I can imagine every Hyderabadi settled away from Hyderabad , thinking of his home city his Hussain with tears in his eyes.. yes even a Mumbaikar knows this yearning as a street poet who writes poems through the wordlessness of his camera lens.

And perhaps it was this quest born as a germ of my minds spiritual nativity that bought me to Hyderabad to shoot over 3000 pictures and tell you the life of a Hyderabadi Shia in the throes of Ghame Hussain...and its effect on his surroundings his neighbors too.

And Ghame Hussain is felt by a dead body buried six feet under the ground , and that is why the dead Shia to comes alive when the Shame Ghariba and the Chelum take place in local cemeteries..

So mind you dont under estimate the simple picture of a lady going to a majlis in a ricksha it might lead you to the Darbar of Imam Hussain itself..

And if you dont cry after you read my blogs than my tears too will be in vain..yes I cry when I write my blogs that are my tribute to Shias all over the world..

And my pictures after this will be of my house majlis that was held yesterday in my house thanks to my wife and my sons wives and my sole daughter ..

Hyderabadi Food

Whether you eat in a street side hotel like this or at somebody's house in Hyderabad , the food is exquisite , stomach filling and soul satisfying too, during Moharam , the people at Choti Bargah dont cook, its only the Niyaz that sustains your stomach and soul.

The Hazri on 8 Moharam at Sharyar Palace was something I had never tasted in Mumbai..
Lucknow and Hyderabad are both citadels of Nawabi influenced cuisine..I also noticed the simpler the food the more delicious it tastes.
And Khichda and dal and rice made on Ashura day have unique taste that you wont find at any other time..

My non Muslim friend humbly believes that Niyaz e Hussain is something he looks forward too , as it has holistic healing powers and properties..

And than I felt it is this pain that keeps us Shias alive , a pain we revisit year after year yes our New Year culminates in pain , and keeps us rooted to the reality of oppression and terrorism that was the Tragedy of Karbala..

My Favorite Home Away from Home

The Choti Bargah of Hyderabad a Holy shrine visited by the Hyderabadi locals of the area before going to work , and it is totally packed on Thursdays and during Moharam.

The people here are hospitable caring and love those who come to the Bargah from far places like me.

I had a room in a hotel and Naqi Bhai , had me leave it immediately and move into his house speaks volumes of their sincere and genuine caring nature..

Moharam binds us all and Hussain is the key that opens all doors of Life.

Here Qayam on my right offered me slippers seeing the injuries on my feet actually iit was Qayam who would apply the ointment that healed my feet fast , as a diabetic the process of healing on the feet is very very slow.

The only place in Hyderabad I found myself at Peace was the Choti Bargah and too some extent Hussaini Koti , but unfortunately I had no time on hand to thank them or visit them.

I did not even have time to visit the street gemstone stalls of Hyderabad nor the Sufi Bawas who sit near the Mecca Masjid , I meet them at Ajmer almost every year.

And my chances of going to the Hardwar Kumbh seem to be very bleak, unless I go there with my American friend Dr Glenn Losack MD ..who is going to shoot the Pune and Mumbai Chelum.

The Pune Chehlum is a day before the Mumbai Chehlum , so we will take a cab and return the following morning..Salman an Iranian boy my computer techie is taking us there at Shivaji Nagar I think..I have never shot the Pune Moharam , though I have a lot of friends in Pune , Neerav Panchamiya of E Square and his family that is my extended family too.
The Lucky Hotel guys of Mumbai too have a branch in Pune and are dear friends of mine.
Falling in love and blogging are two things you can do conveniently on an empty stomach too...

Mumbai Beckons

This finally ends the memories of my Hyderabad trip, having a camera I shot impulsively, street life or street scenes as I read and interpreted my way as a pedestrian poet of pain.

The only time I wore slippers was once I entered the train compartment , I had to as my feet was badly bruised , injured, my feet , my camera my will had never rested.. and I found sleep only welcomes you in her arms only in your own home..

In Hyderabad I hardly slept, things happened too fast, and thanks to my Choti Bargah friends I was always comfortable and taken good care of..

At my house this morning everybody is in deep slumber , the house majlis has taken its toll,the ladies of my house were all involved in the hospitality of the guests who had come for the majlis , packing extra food for close friends family and relatives.

The food was liked by everybody, kheema , chicken korma, rice chappati and sweet dish made of bread called Shahi Tukda..

Maulana Hasnain Karari recited one of the most thought provoking majilis on the Muslim heaven, and motherhood..

I shot a lot of pictures of my House majlis , the ladies were accommodated in my house, and the gents in my friend Teshin and Hadi Mukadams house..that has a glorious view of Bandra Reclamation.

Their house Imambada was moved everybody, beautifully decorated by their mother.

Marziya and Mehrin Mukadam had a ball before the majlis.

A Shia Bloggers Head

A Shia Bloggers Head

The Furrows of Faith

I am used to cuttng my head with the carbonized steel daggers of my dear friend Habib Nassers collection , that are used by his Anjuman on the streets of Mumbai both in Ashura and in Chehlum..

His Anjuman guys continuously keep cutting their heads non stop, from JJ Hospital gate till Noor Baugh ..I named this the Iraqi Kama Matam of Mumbai..

Habib was to come to my house majlis to give me his Ashura Kama matam CD but he did not turn up, instead Munna Kama gave me pictures on a pen drive of the Kaisar Bagh events in Mumbai..I will upload it once I finish all my other stuff..

My Kama Matam Hyderabad

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I had cut my head on Ashura day at Bargah in the morning , but after I tried to push it in deep , they pulled away the dagger from my hand had me bandaged up immediately.

Later in the evening I pulled away the bandage and cut my head leaping with the dagger in the air,a metaphoric moment that I call Tandav on the Soul of Shimr..and my camera hung around my neck...there was no one to shoot the choreography of my inner angst, my camera was a mute witness of my emotional journey as it flew winglessly with me in the air...

I was again bandaged up, as the bleeding would not stop due to my diabetic state, and I dont take my medicine or insulin at all when I am on spiritual trip like this..

I resumed my insulin and my medicinal dosage once I returned to Mumbai..

This picture was taken the day after Ashura , the day I was to leave for Mumbai I had got rid of the blood stained bandage , I had applied nothing not even rose water..

Locked Doors of Fate

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There was not much time , I was in Hyderabad for three days all totally packed , shooting Moharam 8, 9, and Ashura 2009 back to back, without rest , one event got over another began in the evening and than another in the night till the wee hours of the following morning.

I left the next day after Ashura for Mumbai and I had hurt my feet too, so I was less adventurous than I normally am, one of the reasons why my daughter Sam was upset, was my mowing the streets with my barefeet..

I had pictures in my camera but I was not willing to break the thread of my Hyderabadi Moharam blogs..

From the day I left Hyderabad till I reached Mumbai on 30 Dec, I shot pictures, of my grand daughters return from Lucknow , than the return of my son Asif from Karbala Iraq and other miscellaneous stuff,..

I shot a pack of hijras , who normally visited my old shop, I used to call them hijra impostors , but there are a few original ones among them..their lot is a very sad one begging to eke a living, and precariously perched on the kerbside of life..perhaps the doors that I shot unconsciously in Hyderabad tells the story of their fucked fate..totally locked from asshole to eternity.

I have completed the Hyderabad pictures, perhaps there may be a few on my camera memory card , I am downloading this today , it has taken me 10 days to upload all my pictures of Hyderabad 3084, non stop thanks to the slow but sturdy Flickr uploader.

Thanks to Richard Lazzara Shankar Gallery I dont have to unnecessarily break my head on the Facebook uploader , the bookmarklet and the link of the Flickr to Facebook sends my picture to its respective album at Facebook in seconds..I have to add text copy and paste .

In this memory card are pictures I shot of the street , Muslim beggar women that pursue me non stop, but yes we meet accidentally..their despair interlinked and locked to my photo blog.

Than I shot Reshma the Hijra from Lal Mitti , she was a a boy living in the nearby slum , I am told and blind Ismail Chacha looked after him as a child till the child reaching adulthood transformed himself into a hijra dance performer.

I shot the Bandra Mehfil juloos , in my injured state with my grand daughter in tow , this was the first procession of her life in two years..she saw the kids scourging their backs and other rituals that make up our religiosity of pain.

And this morning I shot my house majlis , that is the most important aspect of a Shia home and the Shia housewife.. this is a 4 GB card.

And I am happy to get out of the Hyderabad syndrome back to Mumbai mode , get back to my world of street life street pain as I see it on the viewfinder of my soul..

So what do I start with...???????

Well I just downloaded my memory card and there are pictures of Hyderabad that I will have to continue with shot on the last day in Hyderabad ...So I am back to Square one..and perhaps not ...