It is that time of the year when the forty days of fasting commonly known as Ramadan or Ramazan in Muslims comes to an end in the form a massive celebration called Eid al-Fitr. Well, Eid is not celebrated among the general public in India as it is in other foreign countries. The irony is that though the marketplaces and malls get all dolled up for celebrating Valentine’s day but by & large this festival is neglected and not celebrated with equal fervor.
So this time around I made an attempt to visit the famous Jama Masjid in New Delhi for a food walk during the iftar time. The festive preparations and hustle-bustle in the masjid and Chandni Chowk market area reminded me of the well known Mushi Premchand’s story, ‘Idgah’. I felt like the small child in the story who wanted to explore it all. The scene in front of me was just too overwhelming!
Once the evening prayers were over a swarm of people emerged from Jama Masjid. Till today this festival for me was no more than enjoying a public holiday and eating seviyan made by my mom at home. However seeing the hundreds of people coming out of the mosque, for the first time in my entire life I came to realize how big and important this festival is. ‘Taqiyah’-clad (white customary cap) men and boys in white kurta pyjama along with their families eating and busy shopping for Eid while vendors selling dates, sewiyan, roths, meethi double roti was a great sight too.
Ramadan which falls in the ninth month of the Muslim calendar is a time for putting a self-restraint not only in food but many other spheres of life that can play with one’s mind like drinking, smoking .
For Muslims, it is a time to focus on fasting and prayers rather than worldly pleasures. Fasting during Ramadan is considered to be among the five pillars of Islam, others being Muslim declaration of faith, charity, prayer, and going to the hajj pilgrimage.
An unusual thing that I noticed in front of some restaurants was that many poor people were sitting in cue. On being asked by me about their purpose of sitting there, one shopkeeper answered that they will get food in charity. Well for once I felt so humbled seeing this great gesture that didn’t feel to click them!
But then a light call made to me from behind the camera brought me out of my thoughts. It was a teenage boy sitting at the shop selling dry fruits; he wanted his picture to be clicked which I happily obliged.
This set me and my camera in action mode and I guess we shot till our batteries literally got exhausted. That day, Delhi’s weather was very hot and humid plus the mad rush in this small lane of Matia Mahal road. Some of the khoon toh nahi but definitely paseene ki kamayi are displayed below here:
Finally I retired to have dinner in one some Aslam Chicken restaurant which was literally overloaded with people! My simple funda to have food at any new place is to see the number of customers it has. If the number is good then I simply walk in. I applied the same funda here also and entered the restaurant only to find a table to be shared at the fourth floor which again was jam packed. Trust me climbing the first two floors were claustrophobic, however, the hunger and the aroma of the seekh kebabs and chicken tikkas, gave me the much needed will power to continue till the fourth floor!????
The food was yummy and despite the rush their customer service was impeccable with walky-talkies and all.
While paying the bill I asked the waiter of the fourth floor, “how do you remember what order we gave?”
He simply smiled and said, “Experience!!”
I guess this post is the one that has the most exclamation marks used as against the older posts. Well, it is purely because of the experience being in Dilli 6 (also called as Old Delhi) at iftar time that overtook me! Be there to experience it yourself.
This post was originally published on 'the Other Brain Inc'.