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I am a Hyderabadi and I am proud of being one. Till the merger, the ethos of Hyderabad remained the same for all of us. Though we were of separate beliefs, we had faith in each other. We were Mulkis and this included our Muslims, our Reddys and all our others who lived in the Nizam’s dominion. The Mulkis have been part and parcel of our tradition and culture since time immemorial; to the extent that we together defined Hyderabadi culture. We all spoke the same Urdu and relished the sensitive yet delectable Hyderabadi cuisine in all our homes.
And then it all changed. The red chilli arrived. Post the merger, an influx of cold, ruthless businessmen from Andhra in the south, whose sole intention was expanding their bottomlines, at any cost, infiltrated this beautiful heaven and pounced on our vulnerable, eloquent and trustworthy populace of Hyderabad. The city of old was destroyed. Our cuisine ruined.
The migrants made an elaborate effort to absorb our culture but they couldn’t. They didn’t know how, so they bought it. And Hyderabad changed in front of my eyes. Frightened of the transformation, terrified of the Naxals, unable to bring myself to plunder my city like they were doing, I left for a faraway jungle. Behind my back, the population boomed. Construction erased the face of old and a new city emerged and gave birth to the multi-billionaire ‘Andhraite’. Enterprise and trade flourished and global investment arrived. Cyberabad was born. The richest became richer, the poor crumbled. The old Hyderabadi tried to pave a path for himself. Many did succeed but most just saw the juggernaut roll past. The city became a thriving metropolis, yet lost its heart and soul in the bargain.
Before I go on extolling the incredible virtues of our now-floundering Hyderabadi culture, let me confess that I don’t understand who or what Telangana really is. To me the true-blue person of the region is a Mulki. Change that to Hyderabadi and I have no issues but why bring in a new term, Telangana? I do hope that it’s not because the term Hyderabad and Mulki is associated with Muslims, for the Hyderabad of old never differentiated between religion, caste or creed. I hope and pray that the Hyderabad of new will be able to do the same.
To us Hyderabadis, life is simple. The last Nizam departed leaving us high and dry and ever since we have been rudderless and leaderless. And so we did what comes best to us. We became degenerate and laid-back. Not wanting to assert ourselves, we allowed others to trample over us and, as a result, today, post-bifurcation, have no dynamic leaders. We never thought we would get Hyderabad back and so we never worked on a leader. It’s as simple as that.
Charminar was already split into two by votebank politics, a clear-cut line dividing the Hindus and Muslims....
We Hyderabadis know that Hyderabad will take a beating if a new party takes over. It will need to fill its coffers like many others before it. The only difference will be that this time it will be our party and our people. We will continually advise caution. The Centre has certainly not assured us a coastline or even fertile lands to grow our own food but hopefully the Centre, in its eternal wisdom, proven yet again by the blanking out of proceedings in Parliament and of keeping hidden the option in the Sri Krishna commission stating there should no bifurcation, has assured us of a free and full supply of power and water and, if so, who will the bifurcation be bad for?
Certainly not for the downtrodden Hyderabadis who have been left out ever since the merger and lost plum posts to the Andhraites, both in business and in government. To us Hyderabadis, it will be a rebirth, albeit in difficult times, but a rebirth nonetheless. We seriously do not want the multi- billionaires selling our state and becoming richer whilst we continue to scrape the bottom. Now we want our pound of flesh. We want our own billionaires. We want our culture back. We want our Hyderabad of old back and we want it thriving. Any Indian can hold property and do business in both Hyderabad and Andhra. But if these wealthiest living in Hyderabad, and we are certainly not that, would like to migrate back, then they are most welcome to. We might even miss a meal and buy their train tickets.
I have one request to our politicians. Do continue buying and selling our country and our democracy in money. It’s been done before. It’s a peaceful endeavour and an established tradition endorsed by all those who live in glass houses. We understand that. We just hate the fact that you threaten to put us in jail if we don’t pay taxes, for no sooner we do that, a corrupt politician grabs the chunk of money reducing it to a pathetic nothing. Do all this but please, for heaven’s sake, please do not buy our India in blood. And please for heaven’s sake do not sell our India in blood. That we will not be able to tolerate.
I know the headline on the cover of this magazine reads ‘Charminar by Two’ but Charminar was already split into two by votebank politics. Here there exists a clear-cut line dividing the Muslims and Hindus, it’s a reality that disgusts and shames me. It’s a line that will never be erased for hatred is an emotion much loved by our politicians of today. But now that the same Charminar, like our good old Hyderabadi chai, will be shared one-by-four, hopefully the born-again politicians will erase this line. My final request is that before this election our Telangana politician agrees to take a lie detector test every six months. The question will be just one, have you taken a bribe or given one. We have the technology. Let’s use it. Let’s clean the streets of Hyderabad once and for all. Hyderabad, my prayers are with you, once again.
(Hailing from the royal families of Paigah and Pataudi, former Hyderabad batsman Saad bin Jung is the author of Wild Tales from the Wild and Subhan and I: My Adventure with the Angling Legend of India. He now runs safaris in Africa.)