Dewan House  -  Down  the  Memory Lane

Achchey Mian  and  others. – by Tare Sahab

From Acche Miyan

Any description or narration about events and people connected with Dewan House would be incomplete without mentioning of Achchey Mian mainly. Achchey Mian (AM) was a pal or a very friendly person of everybody from  relatives or relative`s relative, friends of the family or even visitors, of the age of 2 years to 80 years male or female. It is said that AM  came in contact with DH as  a youngster and became friendly with all and in particular with his age group and over a period of time became a part of DH due to his sense of humour, repartees, good nature and getting involved with everybody`s problems, very helpful nature and all most selflessly. On account of this he was most sought after, admired  and welcome person by everybody connected with DH. He always tried to help everybody through his connections and linkages particularly problems of parents of marrigeable daughters in our society and missed no opportunities, even used to go to long distances to help them. Two such instances come to my mind. He used to go to Nagda (MP) where Pyare Sahib ( Shri Brish Bahadur) my elder brother was working quite often. There he met two such parent during his visits there and helped in  fixing up the marriges at different times, one with my close friend Shri Satish Mathur Delhi and the other with the friend of Rai Sahib ( Shri Rai Bahadur) my youngest brother (Shri Sushil Agarwal owners of famous Caltex Petrol Pump Essresso Coffee Bar at Pul Begum Meerut (UP) on highway to Hardwar.

AM was very self-respecting person. He would do much more than needed of him on his own but cannot be made to do things against his will for any allurement or when he felt that he is being taken for a ride. He was free bird and his own master. He would stay at somebody`s as long as he was welcome but would leave if he felt otherwise. In addition to delightful company, he was very good in looking after you if you fell sick, a very good cook and very good in striking good friendship. In late fifties when we had just moved to Delhi staying near Ajmal Khan Road (Shri Bijendra Bahadur`s house my eldest brother) which was under construction AM had developed very good personal relations with all prominent shopkeepers who, off course,are very big now.  In DH in those days meat was cooked only in courtyard out- side the living quarters AM used to cook delicious dishes more so when Shri Surrender Bahadur ( Shambhu Sahib) used to come, an occasion for all to enjoy. In those days you were not allowed to enter kitchen with your shoes. Once Vinod Pandey, a friend of my youngest brother Shri Rai Bahadur and Pyare Sahib`s (my elder brother Shri Brish Bahadur) junior at Nagda fell from the bus while travelling to Delhi from Meerut and had a fracture of leg. Rai Sahib brought him to my house and he stayed with us for a week of ten days. AM nursed him day and night and Neera (my wife ), we had just then set up our house after marriage, looked after him inspite of her job. After a week or so his brother came from Nainital to take him. When we met Pandey recently after two decades or more he gratefully  remembered those times gratefully. AM  used to get involved with other with ease. When he was travelling with me om motorbike or car to Meerut, it was his habit to stop at every accident which were in plenty in those days, examine the site , talk to people nearby and enquire about the victims. Then he would discuss the probable cause and careless party of the accident and this used to remain in the back of your mind while driving. AM had great presence of mind. Twice while travelling to Delhi from Meerut by the last bus, communal riots broke out once following the speech of Sheikh Abdullah. It was quite harrowing experience for me. Jan Sanghis,BJP of those times, were going around in groups looking for muslims and assaulting them. AM was wearing achkan as usual. I suggested him that we run back home about 1 km away, he said that it will be risky. Then we went to a bus parked in a corner of the bus station in dim light. There AM made a bundle of his achkan and pushed under the seat and started talking to few other passengers in Punjabi ( he could speak many languages). Late in the night bus for Delhi was announced and we moved over to that bus and by then the things were under control. It was the most harrowing incident for me. The second time it was not so harrowing. In those days  mainly sixties AM spent a lot of time with my younger brother Raja Sahib (Shri Brij Raj Bahadur) at Mohan Nagar Ghaziabad, youngest brother Rai Sahib (Shri Rai Bahadur) at Meerut and elder brother Pyare Sahib ( Shri Brish Bahadur) at Nagda and all their friend and friend`s relatives were equally well known to him and enquire of him because he used to get involved himself with their problems and welfare. Anney Dada`s (my eldest brother Shri Bijendra Bahadur) house on Pusa Road was off course,his base. He was at home with all the members of DH wherever they were and welcome to their their home was his home.

As said earlier AM knew more about our extended family than many of us. Once AM,  Amma (Smt Shyam Devi) and myself went to Bhopal to see a match for my elder brother ( Shri Krishna Bahadur ). When we reached there and had settled down at the retiring room, AM as per his habit, went out for a shave and some other shops hoping to some known faces as many people from Rampur were settled there and returned after more than an hour and a half. On return he said that he has talked to Shri Lakshimi Narainji, manjhili bua`s son-in-law, who is DySP and posted here. He send us his jeep after reaching office which we can keep and meet him in the evening. He also developed sciatica pain (chuk) and was walking half bent in his achkan, a sight to enjoy. We had a good time at Bhopal and caught the train in the night to go Nagda. The train was running six or seven hours late and we assumed it will not reach before 9AM.We all went to sleep. It was a passenger train stopping at all stations and AM getting down at all stations to have a cigeratte and striking a conversation with everybody. At daybreak he took a round of dimly-lit station with no one in sight and asked somebody at a distance the name of the station. The other man replied it was Nagda. He was stunned so I was. He shouted to me to take down Nai Chachi, as my mother was called by others, and then we threw all our beddings and suitcases from the moving train.  He made a count of everything and then smiled at me and said `my back pain is now gone` He was a good companion while travelling.

Sometimes his where-abouts were not known for months and we used to make enquiries from likely sources. But on the days of marriges in our family, he always used to appear. On Bhukku Sahib`s  (Elder brother Shri Vijai Bahadur) marriage he appeared on the day of the departure of the barat and so on Kalu Ram Sahib`s (Elder brother Shri Krishna Bahadur) marriage. On Kalu Ram Sahib`s marriage the barat went from Meerut to Moradabad by bus. The driver stopped at the station to locate the place of `janwasa` the place of stay of barat. AM as usual went on to the platform to see some known people as Rampur was the next station and exchange pleasantries. He met nobody but when he was returning, he heard `Mian Salam`, he looked around he found Akhlas & Party qawwals well-known to DH in the compartment of the train sitting n the next platform. AM went there and asked them for their tickets to have a look. He then tore down the tickets and asked them to come and  sing at the wedding. It was possible in those days and taken in good spirit. BP and others had come from Rampur for the wedding. Akhlas  & party then asked for BP`s permission to start and asked for his choice or `farmaish`.  BP asked them to start with a `Natia` sort of bhajan and then sing  `sehra`. After the dinner we had a great sesson of qawwalies upto 4 AM. At about 6AM there was a big noises and shouting at the janwasa. We all who had just to sleep came out. There was a group of tall abd hefty enauchs or hijras creating all noises. While all were looking here and there AM took charge and asked them to sing and dance if they want `bakshish`. It was a great spectacle to watch AM dancing with tall and hefty enauchs with all his antics, he being only five and a half feet, it is still fresh in our memory. Even Cuckoo (Shri Gyanendra Bahadur, grandson of another brother of our grand father Shri Raj Bahadur) who was studying in Muzzafarnagar in those days and had come to the wedding with his friends, could not match with AM though in the marriage processon he was quite active. When my daughter Radhika was six days old, AM brought Akhlas & party who happened to be in Delhi to come and sing at my house. I cannot forget his affection.

AM was a great cook. AM helped Cuckoo (Shri Gyanendra Bahadur) a lot in setting up `Studd Beer Bar` at Khapoli on Bombay-Pune highway. It was very popular in those days and many films were shot there Many film personalities like Kaifi Azmi and others used to come there to enjoy the food cooked by AM. It was a very popular in those days.

AM had a sad end. After passing away of Anney Dada ( my eldest brother Shri Bijendra Bahadur) and AM being away to Khapoli for long he had moved in with the family of a big exporter from Rampur Shri Ahmad Jan Khan in Jama Masjid. He was suffering from TB of intestines and in the end shifted to RP Hospital of communicable diseases. I met his there twice but he did not allow me to sit there for long. Last time I went there Sahadat   people he was staying with, asked to tell AM not to eat so many eggs as he asked him for more though two days age he had sent him one dozen boiled eggs. AM asked me for bed pans and the one`s in the hospital were very dirty, I went to the market and got him new one`s then asked him not eat so many eggs. AM replied that he does not eat any eggs but the patients here are very poor and nobody visits them and he is distributing eggs among them. In a day or so afterwards he passed away.

A very lovable person and most of us at DH still remember him. Whatever I have written above were the normal way of life or a social life in those days well etched in our memories, it may look different to today`s generation.

Another very important, well learned and highly respected by all was our Priest or Pandit Ram Chandraji. Every ` Puranmashi` he used to come for `Satyanarainji` Katha or Puja. All horoscope matching for marriages was done by him. He was one person who could address BP by name and also pull him up.All senior even today remember the predictions made by him.  He was Raj Purohit to Nawab Raza Ali Khan who used to consult him and himself could read horoscope well.

Another visitor to DH I can remember was Shri Jagdamba Prasad a distant relative and an employee of Raza Sugar Factory, courtesy Babu ( my father shri Brij Bahadur). He used to visit DH everyday after his dinner. As none of the gents used to be in the house at that hour, he used to read news paper, talk of world war II, freedom movement etc to Bari Amma ( Smt Shiam Bahadur), Amma and another old lady in the house without realizing that they would not know anything beyond family matters, in between take a nap. We children used to study around them. His son Vijai was employed in UP Roadways courtesy Shabban Chacha ( Shri Satyendra Bahadur). He was famous for prefacing each of his sentences with `Baat eh hai ke…………( common abuse of those times). Once he said `baat eh hai ke…….shadi karna bhi ek toota (parrot) palna hai chaubees ghante ke tai tai` a great character. Another one was Janki Chacha a distant relative who was a seasonal employee in Raza Sugar Factory. He used to come and stay at DH during winters. He used to give all cock and bull story like `on Dadda`s order one tiger was killed everyday for him as hakim sahib had recommended tiger`s meat for him when he fell sick. When his father got sick of his wayward attitude and not seriously taking any vocation asked him `what he wants to do in life,he replied that he wants to become a ticket collector in the Railways. His father felt happy and asked how he can help him, he replied that he wants him to get a black coat to become a TC. His father got him one and JC became a much sought after person by relatives and friend who were planning to take barat by train with a request not forget to bring his coat. His son Arjun was a well known artist at AIR Lucknow. Those were the times which now look more like a story.

Another regular to DH was Shri Rafiquddin Khan probably a Peshkar or Munshi looking after court matters. He used to sit with BP for long hours. Two of his sons were employed in UP Roadways, again courtesy Shabban Chacha. Once he told BP that a Reader working with Judge Sahib wants a wrist watch with recoiless spring, sort of a spring pull out strap and we should give him as he has promised to help.It was agreed and a watch for Rs. 20/ or so was given. As was to happen the work was never done and BP pointed out this to him. He kept quiet and only said `not to worry`. On the next hearing he just called that gentleman out and when he extended his hand to shake hands he simply pulled out the watch and told him to go. Such were the times, justice was quick and undiplomatic and soon a matter of history.

Another gentleman who used to visit DH particularly when Shambu Sahib`s ( Shri Surrender Bahadur)stay was Shri Firasat Ali Khan popularly lnown as Lord Firasat now an honoured citizen of probably Ottawa in Canada. He was a man of very good personality, tall and little heavy. Whenever he visited, we youngster used to look and laugh at the tyres of his cycle which were almost touching the ground. He also used to play Badminton with Shambhu Sahib in the little courtyard outside the house both played good Badminton.

Once Munnawar, Nawab Raza Ali Khan`s barber came and started boasting about himself. AM was there and he started pulling his legs as usual and tried to cut him to size. He ultimately invited all of us to for mango feast at his farm. It was rainy season and a special variety of very delicious mangos called `samarbahisht`which grows only during rains. We all packed up in 3 or 4 cycle  Rikshaws with AM went to his farm. First he got a big lot of mangos and deposited the same in a big tub filled up well`s water and put 5or 6 knives. It was finished in no time, he got another big lot which was also finished then he got a big lot very small mango meant only for sucking. AM got all of us to stand and quit then threw a big smile at Munnawar.

Another notable person associate with DH was Vilayat Husain, tailor, permanently attached to DH for all types of stiching of suits, sherwanis,shirts and pants. He used to come for taking measurements at DH and he was a  master of trade and treated as equal at DH enjoying jokes at his or others expense. Last I met him was in seventies in old  Delhi near the Railway station. He was walking towards Jama Masjid. He immediately recognized and embraced me with tears in his eyes. He blessed me and said that he was returning from `Haj`. Bonding among the people of those era was very natural and pure. I will write about all this separately.

Another regular visitor to DH was Akbar the barber who used to come every Friday the weekly off to cut the hair of everybody. Our turn used to come after all elders had their hair cut.

I have talked about all that, I remember, came to DH. I will when I recollect more such persons.