Eid Mubarak

There is something about growing. When you are young , you want to become an adult as soon as possible. But once you are old, you want to regain your youthful looks. But there are some things which are timeless. For instance, Elvis songs will never go old, a Picasso painting will never be out of fashion. A somerset Maugham will still warm your heart.
As a child, two of my favorites were Maugham’s ‘ The Luncheon’ and Munshi Premchand’s Idgah. More about Maugham some other day.
Munshi Premchand was the master of understatement. His signature style was his simplicity. He could go deeply in very complex human issues and yet retain his simple narration. I read almost all his stories and novels but my favorite remained ‘idgah’. It is the sublime story of a four year old orphan’s touching story about sacrifice and love. He conquers his temptaion and buys a pair of tongs for his grandmother whose hands get singed every time she bakes chapatis. The only other story that comes close is ‘ The Gift Of Magii’ another brilliant story of love and sacrifice.
Eid brings a lot of fond memories. Bakr Eid has always been my favorite . Just loved the aromatic pulaos and the sheer. The sheer is normally not made on Bakr Eid. But my mother was a pure vegetarian. It was made specially for her , not that we complained. Those were the times when the neighbors were thoughtful and sensitive. Today the pace of life has killed that relation.
Food is the bridge that connects people. It gives the festivals a meaning. I have a lot of Muslim friends. Unfortunately the distances have meant that we simply exchange greetings over phone. So now the celebrations are more of the commercial kind. Gone is my friend’ mothers loving touch.
Hyderabad is a glutton’s paradise. You can have mouth watering delicacies like the succulent biryanis with the mirchi ka salan and raita and polish it off with the delightful khubani ka meetha, a kind of pudding made from apricot. For the veggies too , there is always the delectable bagara baingan.
But for me the Ramzaan holds a special place. That is the only time you get the mouth watering haleem and the special nihaari. Haleem is a porridge made out of wheat and lamb meat. It has very high calories and eaten by the Muslims after breaking the fast. The speciality of Haleem is that it keeps you hydrated and full till the next evening. Nihaari is made out of lamb bone and tongue. Both these dishes need infinite patience and is cooked on slow heat for hours and hours together.
In UK, our neighbors were some very nice and considerate Pakistani. We lived in perfect harmony. We received platters from the kind neighbors. The food looked so artistic in presentation that it broke our heart to eat it.
Times have changed and so have our priorities. We all are always running chasing a mirage. These festivals are like speed breakers. They bring back the perspective and remind us that there is more to life than ambition. There is something simple yet important – Enjoyment.
A happy Eid to all the readers.

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