Meeting Sidhu Saheb in Delhi

Before I could write about meeting a fellow blogger in Delhi, Sidhu posted this account of our meeting. It was amazing to meet a friend in the blogosphere in person. Sidhu is a mild-mannered and intelligent person; and travelled a long distance to meet me in South Delhi where I was staying. There is much that we share: a common heritage, a language that removed all the social barriers and of course blogging. I am cross-posting Sidhuji’s piece below:

Wish fulfilment and a strange co-incidence

A few blog-posts ago, Raza Rumi had left a comment stating that he likes going for long walks, just like me, to which I had replied that perhaps we should go for a walk together some time in the near future.

Well, it just so happened that Raza came visiting friends in Delhi and also invited me to accompany him and some of his other local friends on a long walk. It was the eve of Urdu poet Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib‘s birth anniversary and a candle-light march was being organised to mark the occasion.

Earlier, Raza and I had exchanged mobile telephone numbers through email and, subsequently, traded text messages, as well as having spoken to each other to explore the possibility of arranging a meeting.

It was really good when we met, even though I eventually decided not to accompany him for the march, since it appeared that it could mean that I would have to ride my motorbike over the 30 odd kilometres from his host’s house to my own rather late at night, which would have meant cold weather and traffic constituted mainly by heavily-laden trucks.

As we spoke to each other in our common mother tongue i.e. Punjabi, we discovered that both of us had maternal grandfathers who had migrated from across the border in 1947. His had been a businessman in Amritsar and mine a medical practitioner in Rawalpindi, before partition.

He was also able to satisfy my curiosity, to a certain extent, regarding the status of the Punjabi language in Pakistan as well as some of the ‘Islamisation’ that has taken place in the country, over the past few years. For instance, the holy month of Ramzan is now known as Ramadan over there and people say Allah Haafiz to bid farewell, instead of Khuda Haafiz. These changes, he explained, had come about while General Zia-ul-Haq was at the helm of affairs of the Islamic Republic.

There was, however, a very strange co-incidence related to our meeting that is likely to remain well-entrenched in my mind for a long time. When Raza had called me to provide the name and address of his host, his voice had been somewhat garbled, probably on account of network congestion or fluctuation in the strength of the mobile telephone’s signal. So, I heard the last name of his host as Benazir and wrote it down as such on the piece of paper on which I had noted down the address.

Later on, after I had learnt that the actual name was different, I struck out the name Benazir with the same pencil that I had used to write it down. Within twenty-four hours of that event, I was watching television coverage related to former Pakistani premier Benazir Bhutto’s assassination! The piece of paper lies on my table even as I write this.

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About admin

Raza Rumi is a freelance writer from Lahore, Pakistan. He regularly writes for the Pakistani weekly The Friday Times, The News and Daily DAWN on myriad topics such as history, arts, literatue and society. Raza blogs at Jahane Rumi - a website devoted to Sufi thought, the arts, literature, and cultures of South Asia. Raza also edits a cyber-magazine Pak Tea House; and compiles the Development Industry blog . Specialties: Raza is also regular writer at All Things Pakistan, Desicritics, and Global Voices. Raza has worked in Pakistan and abroad in various organizations including multilateral institutions such as the United Nations.

  • Sidhusaaheb

    As I said before, it was so nice to see you! :)

  • nocturnal

    Allah hafiz, Khuda Hafiz???

    why do ppl make a fuss out of everything?

    why do you say RAB RAKHA in Punjabi then??

    Rab is a middle eastern word for Deity appeared in the quran as well, RAB-ul-ALAAMEEN in the first verse of the first Surah.

    In older times ppl used to say FI-AMAN-ALLAH so do you think ppl were more fundamentalists back then??

  • Sidhusaaheb

    Not only do Khuda Haafiz, Allah Haafiz and Rabb Raakha mean the same, but Good-bye is also supposed to be a derivative of ‘God be with ye’ that means the same, once again. The meaning of the slightly irreverant and now almost archaic Punjabi usage Allah Bailey is also somewhere thereabouts.

    God, Allah, Bhagwaan and WaheGuru mean the same, I believe. It is when the name of the Almighty is sought to be used to divide rather than unite people that the situation becomes unfortunate.

  • RR

    Sidhuji: thanks for the comment and elaboration.

    Nocturnal: Sorry if this seemed fussy- but the truth is that Khuda Hafiz was an expression used for centuries as an expression of a secular culture that did not make the greeting specific to Islam and Muslims only. Hafiz is a Persian word and so is Khoda/Khuda. The replacement of Khuda with Allah only shows a superficial drive of Islamisation where the important aspects of Islam i.e. social justice etc. are ignored and mere formalities are stressed.

  • Sidhusaaheb

    Thanks Raza! :)

    BTW, this post of Raza’s and one of mine that he has referenced here were inspired by friendship, amity, brotherhood, pleasant interaction and other such happier things…even if the comments above may have taken the focus slightly away from all that… 😛

  • Aadil

    What about mine, a day before yesterday I’ve got the previlige to meet Raza as well. It was one wonderful evening when I spoke to the man I admire a lot. So down to earth, so nice, and so much friendly that man found out to be; I just couldn’t imagine. And yes, I was lucky enough to have my hands on his freshly composed poem about Benazir which now one can see published on PTH. As our conversation for most part of our meeting centered around my issues thats why I’ll have to curb that desire to describe the meeting in a detailed post on my blog. Anyways, it was more than a pleasant surprise to find Raza in my vicinities.

    Khush Raho Raza Bhai!

  • Chintamani

    Allah, Bhagwaan and WaheGuru may mean the same for some people as SidhuSaheb says. But please read what the so called liberal Government of Malaysia has to say:
    The core of the problem lies in the issue that “My God is superior to yours and that my faith is the true faith”. If we accept that all religions are different paths to the same Almighty, there would be little problem. But are people willing to accept this in most parts of the World?

  • Twilight Fairy

    It’s always nice when you meet bloggers in person especially when you have had online interaction prior to it. BTW I also share that common heritage of being a Punjabi and both my sets of grandparents also migrated from Pakistan during the partition.