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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