Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Just a harmless Intro...

Ragging is now officially banned in most educational institutions but it hasn't ever existed at AMU for ages. Though, a milder form, fondly known as “Intro” has been prevalent ever since AMU came into existence. The rules of “Intro” were quite clear: No physical assault, Abusive language prohibited, and Room-mates can’t ask you for an Intro. It used to be mostly around word play and sense of humour. A little bit of leg-pulling on etiquette (Aligarian Tradition) was sure to happen.

Even before I got an admission, my elder brother used to intimidate me of “Intro” stories, basically how a Lion could be turned into a Chicken by a mere command – Ban Murga... I would hilariously laugh at it and find it amusing, until I found myself within the boundaries of Allama Iqbal Hall. On a random night, when I felt an uncomfortably silent atmosphere in the corridors, I was reminded that it’s - The Saturday Night. Hurry up! Find a hiding place! Either go for All-Night study in the Central Library or get away with your fellow freshers for any damn movie where you wouldn’t even be spotted. Another resort could be to spend the night with the Local Guardians… Then someone told me – You can’t run away. If you are found absconding, you will be called for a Suppli (supplementary) Intro on Sunday afternoon. It is more dangerous because you are alone and there is pack of hungry ‘Seniors’ ready to feast on you. I got so petrified. Besides, for how many Saturdays, would I be able to beat the inevitable... I decided to face it. There I was, dressed in a kurta-pyjama, waiting in my lonely hostel room, awaiting the horror of my life. Knock-Knock.. Bang!! Opened the door... And, to my surprise, I found my saviours and not the predators! My brother and his gang had come to take me along in their shelter... Looking at me, he just had one question: Intro dena hai kya.. Why are you dressed in a night suit? :D

Well, Not everyone was lucky enough to have a brother like mine... I heard gory stories week after week and everyone prayed for the day when it would stop. Here is what people had to go through...

You would have to wear a kurta-pyjama unless you are hunted down while trying to run away
* All freshers lined up
* A pack of Khaiyyad seniors (5 years +) seated across on chairs, stairs etc
* A group of Not-so-seniors (3+) also present there

The first question: Introduce yourself (Name, Class, Father’s name, Place of origin, Hobbies)
The twisted part: Introduce yourself or describe a day’s life by including a prefix or suffix for each sentence like - Darwaza khol ke, Naada bandh ke, paijama utaar ke etc.

One should be able to use the right prefix and suffix for father’s name, for example Dr., Mr., Janab, saheb. If one fails, he must squat and become a “murga” when a senior shouts – Ban Murga...

Another question/task could be:
What was the recent movie that you watched? Narrate the story by addressing the lead actress as your “apa” (sister).

Questions/Tasks on hobbies:

* Singing: Sing a song in a female voice, sing one song on a different song’s tune

* Reading: Take a book and read it aloud until asked to stop

* Sports: Play the game using imaginary sports gear with other freshers as players

* Telling a joke: Asked to tell a joke and no one would laugh at your jokes. They would rather laugh out loud at the most unexpected places to embarrass you. I remember some seniors only by the pitch, tone, and variation in their animated laughter. I never dared look at them to recognize them. Well! That reminds me, all through the Intro sessions, you should only be looking at the third button of your shirt or kurta. If you would be wearing something didn't have buttons then look at the imaginary 3rd button. ;)

Give a pelvic thrust (thumka, of course) to your right when the senior says chawanni (25 paisa), to your left on Atthanni (50 p) and forward when he says – Rupaiyya. Every time, you are wrong, you know what you are supposed to do… Don’t you? Very simple! Right?

When you say Right, it’s wrong. It’s never wrong when the senior says the same thing.

What else you could become, apart from a “Murga”? The answer could have been: Go, stick to the wall, and be a Lizard.

Slowly, things became bold... In a Medical college intro, a fresher was asked to yell a movie dialogue from the cafeteria rooftop. In a separate session, a fresher was being asked to dance on the ground floor... The fresher at the terrace shouted – “Basanti, In #$%#@ ke saamne mat naachna...

Sunday morning scene:
The scene at the wash basins would be like a typical jungle water-body scene, where the chickens would avoid a brush with the Lions and some of these chickens had been Lions a night earlier... ;-)

Hope this reminds you of something of your time... please share if it is worth sharing!

~ Qais (qaismujeeb at gmail dot com)

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

How to spot an Aligarian

When I was at AMU, I never bothered to figure this out but once I was away from AMU after completing my education, I always looked out for Aligs. So, what are the traits that hint at the other person being be an aligarian, too. The question is: How do we search for an Aligarian when we are travelling, staying in a Hotel, visiting public places, and so on. In other words, what rings a bell...

Let me pen down the traits that I use to spot Aligarians in this crowded world.

I look for:
  • Someone who carries an AMU tarana ringtone on the cellphone.
  • Someone who speaks good Urdu.
  • Someone who looks graceful in appearance.
  • Someone who greets people with a loud "Salam Alaikum" without feeling shy about revealing his identity.
  • Someone who eagerly responds to a "Salam alaikum" with a "Salam alaikum" and not an obvious "Walekum As-Salaam".
  • Someone who respects seniors, older people irrespective of their economic status like waiters, rickshaw pullers, or porters.
  • Someone who is young but wears Sherwani, maybe, without a cap :-) (Like our Aligarian student union leaders).
  • Someone who can crack the humorous one-liners while watching a movie in a theatre.
  • Someone who can talk about any topic under the sun with the same interest and intensity as for his hobby horse.
  • Someone who uses words like jugaad, bhasad, intro, backing, lobby, dhaba, chay, +2, PUC, and mass bunk in his/her conversations.
  • Someone who adresses other unknown people of his age with "partner" as in: Partner, ye bus kahan jaaegi..
How about you? What do you look for?

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Reminiscing the Glorious Old Days :: Visit to AMU :: December 2008

हर शाम है शाम-ऐ-मिस्र यहाँ, हर शब् है शब्-ऐ-शीराज़ यहाँ;

ज़र्रात का बोसा लेने को, सौ बार झुका आकाश यहाँ;

ख़ुद आँख से हमने देखि है बातिल कि शिकस्त-ऐ-फाश यहाँ ............

यह मेरा चमन है मेरा चमन, मैं अपने चमन का बुलबुल हूँ.......


No prose or poetry could better describe the essence of our glorious alma mater, Aligarh Muslim University, than these celebrated verses of Taraana-e-Aligarh (our University Anthem), composed by Asrar-ul-Haq Majaz. So great is the essence of this anthem that it is relished and savored by Aligs and non-Aligs alike. However, you have to be an Alig in the true sense to authentically feel the spiritual imprint of this anthem. You have to live, and continuously relive the traditions, customs, and ambience of the glorious alma mater.

Not every Alig gets an opportunity to visit the AMU frequently; even Aligs living as close to AMU as Delhi often do not happen to visit AMU. Same had been the case with me; I have been living in Delhi since long (have kept on moving from place to place, though!); however, I could not visit AMU in the past 6 years. Then, it was finally time to visit the great alma mater once again, on December 20, 2008!

This was my first visit to AMU after I got married. In fact, my getting married is an important prelude to this memorable visit! We (my dearest mother, wife, and me) had been to Aligarh to attend a wedding reception (Waleema) of one of my in-laws. I was really looking forward to this trip, more so because it was a radiant opportunity to relive my days at AMU!

Our journey started off from Mayur Vihar in Delhi (where we are putting up these days); and we took the route through Great NOIDA Expressway to Dadri, Sikandrabad, Bulandshaher, Khurja, and finally Aligarh. The only noticeable difference was the grand gala drive on the Greater NOIDA Expressway. As we entered Dadri, all the previous trips to and from Aligarh to Delhi (I had been a frequent visitor to Delhi while at AMU) came back live and kicking. The same bumpy roads, the same pavements, the same posters on the walls ;-) , the same stalls on the roadside, and the same gush of honking horns of the UP state transport buses! Just after entering Aligarh, a visible distinguished landmark flashed – Grand Surjit. This was a development that had taken place after my last visit to Aligarh, so it was a novel sight for me! We finally reached the Kathpulla, and took the turn towards Tasweer Mahal (towards the University Road). Then, all the surprises came full swing on board!

The road from Kathpulla leading to Tasweer Mahal now has a well-maintained divider. Lots of new constructions have sprawled up, and for a moment, I looked confused as if I had lost the way! But we soon arrived at our destination – Amir Nishaan of course (where my aunt stays)! That was around 10.45 in the night. We assembled at our aunt’s home and started our recollection of those glorious old days of our student life at AMU with my cousins (who also happen to be pure Aligs :-)). At the same time, I desperately waited for the morning, so that we could launch our spree of reliving the days on the Campus!

Next morning, we started off towards Baab-e-Sayyed, to get a good stroll of the Campus, as it was now. However, we were a bit unfortunate since it was a Sunday and the winter vacations had almost started (you know what it feels like on the Campus during winter vacations). The streets were pretty deserted, with the exception of a few groups of students who had assembled on the lawns of Maulana Azad Library. We first decided to visit our Department (Department of Economics).

The building of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences now has a prominent entrance (an iron gate just outside the campus of the building. An average but noticeable board read “No parking, fine Rs. 100”. That was something – I recollected how the roadside of the building used to be clogged with bikes and bicycles during our days; it was not the same now perhaps. The fountain in front of the building was a little less dirty as compared to our days – perhaps because S.S. Day had passed recently! Otherwise, the building looked the same, inside and out. We took some quick snaps of the Faculty and marched up to the Department of Economics, which would obviously be closed on a Sunday. I marched across and beyond the Department, viewing the notice board, trying to take a peep inside the closed door of the Seminar, and finally peeping through the closed doors of the lecture theaters trying to get a quick glimpse. Few more snaps, some with my “wifey” obviously :-). Then we proceeded to our next destination, Maulana Azad Library.

The building of Maulana Azad Library was the same from outside; the same barriers towards the entrance, the same lamp posts, the same parking lot, and the same lawns where small groups of students were busy in collative studies (:-)). From the inside, though, a lot had changed. Right at the entrance, there was a beautiful dummy of Baab-e-Sayyed, deftly exhibited in a glass show case. The Magazine and Newspaper division has now been shifted to the ground floor, besides the entrance to the Research Division. The Research Division, straight from the entrance, was also looking different. Oh yes! I could see numerous computers along the wall of the Research Division, for accessing the catalogs online!

As we climbed up to the first floor, another shock awaited me! On the first floor (which used to be the Magazine and Newspaper reading area earlier) was a magnificent Computer Section and Online Journal Lab! My next stint was the famous lamppost just outside the main entrance of the Library. It felt so nostalgic to sit on the base mound of the lamp post and recollect this most famous smoking spot for us… I simply couldn’t resist taking a snap here! Fortunately (shall I call it fortunate now??), I did not get a chance to smoke out there, since I have embarked on the "Quit Smoking" drive, meticulously sponsored by my wifey (more so because she was there with me only)!!

We speedily moved on towards the General Education Center (GEC). The fountain opposite to the Department of Museology was so tempting indeed! All those beautiful moments of chatting and having tea with friends and classmates while sitting besides the fountain thronged back into my memories. Kennedy Hall looked equally glorious and inviting; however, it was closed and we could not go inside. The weather was also pretty foggy, so the pictures did not come out well. How can I forget the antique but alluring University Canteen! Well, the same old iron rod chairs, most of them broken, the same old groups of students sitting with cups of tea; with few alterations.

We had thought of exploring the Campus more; however, it was getting late as we had to get ready for the wedding reception. Unfortunately, we had to cut short our mesmerizing visit; we decided to take a quick trip towards Zakir Hussain College of Engineering and Technology, towards the Athletic Ground, backside of Sir Ziauddin Hall, towards JNMCH, and then returned back to Amir Nishaan (where we were putting up). We had not expected that the gala trip would come to an end so quickly. We had to attend the wedding reception and leave early the next day to join office. However, the trip was a rare one; perhaps one of its own kind. Let’s hope we get some more time to explore the magnificence of our Alma Mater soon in the near future :-)


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Abdullah Hall

It would not be unfair to say that Aligarh has two old and historical forts namely, Aligarh Fort and Abdullah Hall (Fort). I can’t comment much about the first one but the second one fascinated the imagination of most aligs of my time.

Abdullah Hall is a miniature walled city in its own. It houses several astabals (hostels), granaries (Dining Halls), aslah-khanas (Warden Houses), arenas and training grounds (playgrounds). Replenishment and supplies for the residents of this fort are procured in a highly secure arrangement. Besides this, I have heard that punctuality and attendance are two important customs there. There is a bell (ghanti) before all the meal and tea timings. All the inmates are counted before putting them in well-guarded pavilions. There are only two gates: Lal Diggy Gate and Marris Road Gate. The whole fort has 2 feet wide wall painted in brick-red colour. One side of the Fort wall is exposed to a road leading to Marris Road crossroads. But, this doesn’t compromise the security of the fort as there is 8-10 feet wide Nallah between the road and the Fort wall. I always wondered that this nallah might be inhabited by some unseen crocodiles ;-) While riding my bicycle on that road which has Zia compound on the other side of it, I always fancied the world on the other side of fence, rather “the Great Wall of China”. I never knew how it was in there but was always curious. To tell you the truth, these were the thoughts of 90 percent of the Aligarian boys of my time.

Recently, I got to know that this dream can now be fulfilled and scores of people have already had an aerial view of the mysterious Abdullah Hall. Someone told me that this year Aligarh Numaish had a brand new item (tamasha). They were offering a Helicopter ride for 1200 rupees. The helicopter gave an aerial view of the entire Aligarh city and two rounds over Abdullah Hall. The popularity of this khel can be deliberated by the fact that the charges went up to Rs 1800/- towards the end of Numaish this year.

People from all parts of the country visit Aligarh to meet their relatives (especially the Aligarian cousins) based in the fort. I have also had a few chances of seeing the Provost’s office at Abdullah Hall on a few Sundays. I would love to share the uncommon but common experience. Obviously, uncommon only for non-aligs and common for all aligs.

8:45 AM IST Sunday
Gentlemen dressed smartly waiting at the main entrance on Marris Road for the gates to open for common public.

9:00 AM IST Sunday
The Gate opens. Motorbike riders zoom in their bikes along with their pillion accomplices. Bicycle riders, slowly and shyly, follow them.

Scene outside the Provost’s office and Hostel Main Gate
The visitors can be seen posing with their bikes. Some of them sporting designer sunglasses and watches. The air seems to be filled with concocted fragrance of perfumes and bodysprays. The bearers are ready with their respective Hostel Registers and bicycles. Well, because the Fort is so much spread out that they actually need bicycles to reach a hostel quickly. One can see them screaming the name of the hostel they are assigned to (Sultania Hostel, Waheedia Hostel, New Hostel, TW Hostel and MJ).
Visitors grab the registers quickly and make the entries.

A peek into the register makes everyone notice that the relationship column has maximum instances of "cousin" followed by a double quote indicationg ditto.

9:15 AM IST Sunday
The girls start coming out to meet the visitors or to go out for the “Outing (The official word!)”.
To describe this, I need help from our Tarana. “Har sham hai sham-e-misr yahan, har shab hai shab e sheeraz yahan...” I would love adding to this… “Har itwaar hai jaise Eid yahan” Dressed in their best outfits, some of the girls start coming out of the small side-door, next to main gate, as if the stage is all set and the ramp has been laid down for them.
While the visitors wait for the person they want to meet, they don’t mind observing and discussing other people around. This is the time when one comes to know that “The world is round and a very small place”. Everyone seems to everyone here. If you haven’t known them till today, it’s time you recognize them and add them to your list of knowns.
After a while, it becomes a sport to identify the “visitor” and the ‘visited’ by either their names or their relatives. In no time, it is Noon.

12:00 Noon IST Sunday
Closing time for visiting hours, first session. If you couldn’t meet the person you wanted to, please come back at 3:00 PM when the second session starts. If you have already met the person but aren’t done with your chat, kindly leave the premises. Milk Bar and Kwality could be where you are heading, now.

Fast forward to 5:00 PM IST Sunday
End of visiting hours for the day. Visitors sitting in the lawns, verandahs, near the fences, over the benches are disturbed by the guards of the Fort. Bibi…chaliye.. visiting ka time khatm hua….
One can hear the contesting voices: Abhi to paanch minute baaqi hain.. bhaeee… or Haan han, bas ja rahe hain….

That brings a visitor’s visit to an end. Only the privileged ones who are related to wardens get to catch the inside glimpse of Abdullah “Fort”. Others return contented after the meeting with their relatives and counterparts in Abdullah Hall.

~ Qais

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Aligarh Numaish

This is my tribute to the Great Aligarian Numaish. I regret not being able to attend this grand carnival of Aligarh for the ninth consecutive year in succession.
The Rajakiya Agriculture and Industrial Exhibition, Aligarh better known as Aligarh Numaish, is one of the priceless memories Aligarians carry in their hearts. This event has been timeless in its own way because the fun experienced by aligarians of my father's time was the same as what I did.
Every year, this exhibition is held at a particular time of the year (26th Jan - 15th Feb). This is the time all aligarians wait and plan for, with passionate fervor. The families wait for the numaish for buying a lot of fancy stuff while the students of AMU have their own fancies. ;-)

There were some people who could boast of 100 percent attendance at the Numaish, meaning they didn't miss even a single day. Some were not so regular so they visited on alternate days. The most boring ones waited for the Exhibition Dinner sponsored by the University. When the day same, even these ‘most’ boring ones were seen dressed up in their finest suits, sherwanis and blazers as if they were about to attend a wedding reception. The age told AMU tradition has been to walk all the way to Numaish ground (That’s what we call the exhibition ground, precisely). Now that, some Halls (read hostels) are constructed really far away from the Numaish ground so people ride their bicycles or drive down in today’s context.

AMU Proctorial Team
Now, this exhibition was the time when these guys really got to know or flaunt their importance. I remember seeing a band of Black Sherwani clad young and dashing boys moving around in a group. They used to ask all AMU resident students to leave the exhibition ground by sharp 10:00 PM (which hardly ever happened). In case of any Bhasad (read crisis), these heroes of AMU Proctorial Team flung into action just like we have bouncers in discotheques and pubs. Anyways, it was always considered a worth-taking-pride job as it sometimes involved escorting the girls from Abdullah.

Abdullah Hall Visit
The day when all the glitterati were supposed to have descended upon the precincts of the grand Exhibition ‘darbar’. Too much!!!! Right?
Yes, that’s how the response has always been to Abdullah Hall visit to Exhibition for their official dinner. Speculations were made for the day when this would happen. The Provost and wardens of Abdullah Hall kept mum about the day. One evening, the girls would be asked to get ready and march towards the fleet of buses waiting to carry them to the place where all eyes are waiting for them.

Well, going into the history, this happened for the last time in 1994, which was my debut visit to the Numaish. Because of unexpected rains, it became unmanageable and the authorities decided to repent and never bring all the girls together. That spoilsport rain!!!! But, anyways I was lucky to be there ;-) Then onwards, it was one hostel of Abdullah at one time, until I was in AMU.

Jhanda Hotel and Nazeer Hotel
These are the names of two restaurants which participate in the numaish every year. The Halwa-Paratha and Tea at these joints is out-of-the-world. During the Numaish days, all the B’day treats, and the bets are settled for this Halwa-Paratha. Another specialty of these joints happens to be the cabins meant for families. They offer a nice place to meet aligarian cousins. Do we need elaboration here?

Saree suhag – saree suhag
While the students used to enjoy looking more at people than at the items meant for numaish, the 3-rupee softy ice-cream seller was making a fortune out of it. The popcorn seller was not far behind though. Amidst all this, one could hear the advertisements aired on the numaish radio: Saree suhag – saree suhag, mere hathon mein nau nau choodiyan hain…” These ads would come to a halt abruptly and the announcer would say: ek ladka jiska naam sonu hai aur usne laal kameez aur neeli nekar pehni hui hai, numaish mein kho gaya hai, jis kisi ko miley wo usey control room pahucha dey.. Ting Tong”

The Fountain (Phawwara)
A common meeting place in the exhibition ground. If you can’t find someone who is lost in the crowd, wait for him at the Phawwara or rather request the control room guys to make an announcement for him to find you at the Phawwara.

The Assembly of Poets (Mushaira)
Every year, a grand mushaira is organized and the most renowned poets from all parts of country are invited. It is something very enticing for all Urdu lovers and most of the Aligs were such that they were ready to do anything for a seat in the auditorium.

Gadbad jhala
Who wouldn’t remember stepping into this complex and getting lost in the noise and commotion of people and loudspeakers? The Giant Wheel et al…

The Great Indian Variety Show!
Lastly, the adventure part!!!
Sadly, I never had the courage to see that part of the world. As it was something to be SEEN, therefore, the lesser said about it, the better.

Hope this took you through a nice roller costar ride down the memory lane. If you liked it, don’t hesitate in leaving a comment on the blog or dropping a line at qaismujeeb@gmail.com

~ Qais

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Titles, Nicknames and Suffixes

This post comes after a long hiatus and it has been triggered by the comments of appreciation i continue to receive from my Alig brothers. So, here goes the caravan of memories, alive, once again.

This post is dedicated to all those aligarians who took immense pleasure and interest in naming people. Not because the people given new names or titles has unusual names which were tough to spell or pronounce. It was merely for the love and fun of it.

The logic behind this 'Nomenclature Theory' was based on the following three parameters :)
  • The person's appearance
  • His/Her habits and mannerisms
  • His/her dislikes and objects of disgust

At times, these names were given to identify different people with a single name, for example, there were many people who had the name "Salman" and three differnet people with this name were named as Salman Topi, Salman Ghoda and Salman Maulana. Some people didn't mind these titles and took them in lighter vein while a few went berserk if anybody even used "that" word in their presence.

To name a few titles which are impossible to forget, I would like to mention the likes of Papa Miyan, Aalia Dada, Nafees Bakra, Kamaal Anda and Mulla churri. No one was spared from this activity. These names and titles were given to everyone including Vice-chancellors, Proctors, Provosts, Wardens, Professors, Readers and Lectureres. Friends, Seniors and classmates were the easiest targets.

Some other titles and suffixes which are on top of my list are: Katta, Mouzer, Comrade, Choori, Lamba, Naata, Ganja, Bura, Goraa, XYZ ka driver, Pilot, Bakra, Ghoda, Totaa, Chhila aalu, Qawwaal, Nautanki, Anaconda, Godzilla, Hitler... This list can be a long one if I press too hard on my memory.

I would also like to share an anecdote here which i heard from some of my seniors. Once a famous professor went to a grocery shop. While he was buying a few things, a girl stepped into the shop and asked, "Andey hain?" The shopkeeper replied, "Nahee!" To this, the girl responded, "Kamaal Hai, Andey nahee?" :) I am sure some of you could get the point she wanted to make.

Hope you can recall the Anda, Bakra or Aaloo of your time :)

~ Qais

Friday, August 04, 2006

We call them "Traditions" at AMU

All Old and prestigious educational institutions have some things in common. They have good old buildings that boast of their being emblems of modernity in the past, their unique and distinct culture and their distinguished alumni. Likewise, my beloved alma mater - AMU, has these things as well.

AMU has a history of its own. It has old buildings with marvellous architecture. And it has a set of traditions for its students to follow. These are unwritten rules which are passed on by students to the later generation of students. While the student pursue their academic goals, they take out time for the AMU traditions so much so that it hardly takes anything to follow them. They become one's lifestyle. Most of these age old traditions must have been written by the first generation of AMU students. Some of them must have been added by, later, as and when felt.

I am listing down some of which I remember. It is just to fulfill my task of passing it on to the younger lot.

1. Knock before you enter
Knock and wait for an answer before you enter anyone's room except for your own though.

2. Greet everyone with common muslim greeting - Salam alaikum and try to grab the opportunity of being the first to do that. Probably, that's one reason why Aligarians seldom give the common reply "wa- alaikum as-salaam". Even if they fail to greet first, they reply with Salam - alaikum.

3. Following the dress code everywhere.
Step out of Hall/Hostel premises in Shirts, trousers and shoes. No folded sleeves. If wearing a kurta pyjama, sherwani is compulsory. The same rule applies for Dining Hall and Entertainment Room ("Common Room" as we call it).

4. Black sherwani, kurta -pyjama to be worn on all important occasions and university functions.

5. Introduction (a name given for a very mild ragging) is mandatory for all freshers even if they join university for Ph. D.

6. A student who spent at least 3 years is eligible to sit and watch the Introduction sessions. A 5 year senior can ask questions but a senior of 7 years or more actually leads the Intro sessions. A fresher's room-mate can never sit in his room-mate's Intro session.

7. If a student moves to another Hall then he has to give Introduction in the new Hall as well.

8. Respect the seniors (Senior students)

9. Queues for everything and everywhere. Seniors to be given preference.

10. Addressing another aligarian with the word "partner" in case one is not aware of other person's name.

11. Men can't carry or use umbrellas. They are supposedly meant for ladies. Raincoats/Rainsuits are allowed though.

12. Men shouldn't be found running or panicking when it starts raining. Walk gracefully to the nearest shelter.

13. Shouldn't call dining hall attendants as waiters. Ask for their name and add "miyan" or "bhai" to their names. The idea is to treat them with complete respect.

14. Tea, after meals
Tea after lunch and dinner is almost like a tradition. One who doesn't have tea is looked down upon. It is disgraceful, shameful and very Un-aligarian not to have tea at all.

15. "A guest is a guest". Any student's guest should be treated as a guest by all.

16. Share home-made food with room-mates and hostel mates.

17. Chausanth (64) chawanni ka fatiha
Give a treat to friends/roommates by spending at least sixteen rupees. The denomination is set to 25 paisa coins so as to make the figure look big and respectable.

18. The procedure was to get sweets and read fatiha for Sir Syed and then distribute the sweets. It served many purposes:
- Homage to the Honurable Founder of AMU
- Sweets for the craving ones
- The victim can strengthen bonds with the predators.

19. Going to Aligarh Exhibition ( Numaeesh)
Going to Aligarh Exhibition at least once a year was mandatory for all students. It was preferable that students go all the way walking. I know people who used to have 100% attendance there.

20. Tipping the postman if you received a money-order, a parcel or registered post(which means a bank draft).

21. On a Dhaba, Cafe or in any canteen, a senior has to pay if a senior and junior are eating together.

22. In Students' Union elections, the electoral candidates need to prepare and distribute their election manifesto.

23. During election campaigns, Campus walls shouldn't be used for painting or pasting posters/bills etc.

24. Use of four-wheelers is also banned in elections.

25. Candidates for the posts of President, Vice-President and Secretary, have to give a speech from the dais of Union Hall. It is the most decisive event in AMU students Union elections. The final speech can turn the tides in anyone's favour.

26. Before the Final speech, the candidates are carried on the shoulders and their supported take three rounds of Union hall cheering for their candidate.

27. One must cover his/her head at least while addressing a public gathering at AMU.

28. To begin all public gatherings, functions and events with recitation of Quran and ending them with University Tarana (Aligarh tarana).

29. See-off tea
How can I forget this one?
People have to treat everyone who came to see them off with Tea. And Tea could be not just it. It could include biscuits and other snacks. Later, it also meant soft-drinks when i was in Aligarh.

30. A vanished tradition - Mock Convocation was conducted by students as a part of extra-curricular activity. A leaflet was also brought out giving the details of the degrees and certificates awarded and their claimants.

The list could be longer, I know, but I need help from other Aligs. I will be happy to be told about the traditions i missed mentioning here. You can email me on: qaismujeeb@gmail.com

~ Qais

Monday, July 17, 2006

Kennedy Hall

Kennedy Hall is the Central Auditorium of AMU. Apart from screening the award winning movies during the Film Festival, it hosts a plethora of events. The events include Musical Nights, Plays, and interactive sessions with University guests, high-profile alumni and dignitaries visiting the campus.

Performing at Kennedy auditorium is a feat in itself for AMU students. Anyone who could repeatedly perform successfully on this stage would be good enough to face any kind of audience. It's a platform which brings out the best of talents in the country. For that matter, it is not only about Kennedy Auditorium. It could very well be Strachey Hall or any other Literary and Cultural event stage at AMU. AMU audience is ever ready with bouquets in one hand and brickbats in the other. I can go on to the extent of claiming that AMU also nurtures the best critics on acting, singing and oratorical skills. One who is carried on the shoulders for his outstanding talent at AMU has the potential to make it to one of the India's best talents.

My memories of Kennedy Hall include the Film Festivals where the students shouted their favourite movie dialogues in chorus even before the actor would deliver them in the movie scene. I also remember the occasion when the students coerced the Vice chancellor into wearing a cap while addressing the gathering as it was an age old AMU tradition.

~ Qais

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006


It happened to me, and this could not happen anywhere else except AMU!! As a member of the University Literary Club (ULC), I was closely involved in the day-to-day functioning of the Club and the General Education Center (GEC). Initially, I did not have a very good opinion about the university staff assigned for the GEC, however, this incident changed my perspective altogether.

It was my hobby and passion to write, and in those days I wrote on almost anything and everything. I tried never to miss any opportunity to participate in essay writing, self-composed poetry recitation, and similar such literary events. In the sequel to this, I once participated in an essay writing competition on the eve of Sir Syed Day. The even was organized by the ULC, so I was not expecting an award. However, to my surprise, my essay was declared second best, and I won the second prize!! Since the event was organized by the GEC, it also carried a cash prize of Rs. 500.

In retrospection, Rs. 500 was a huge amount at the time!! An average student would normally lead a comfortable life on the AMU campus with Rs. 700 a month. I was rather excited about the prize, and more about the prize money. However, one of the members of the ULC told me that it was not always an easy job to collect the cash from the GEC people. He told me about the different kinds of hassles the staff creates if one goes to collect the cash. And going by my initial opinion about the GEC staff, I believed him.

This, however, did not stop me from walking into the GEC office and putting my claim for the cash prize. Before coming to the office, I had crosschecked and verified that I was carrying my identity card (the ULC ID card as well as the Student ID card)!! When I entered, I was routed to different desks – this in spite of the fact that I was a member of the ULC. Then, I finally went to the correct desk where I was supposed to the collect the cash, I learnt that Mr. Ashraf (I don’t exactly recall that person’s name, but will call him Ashraf, because what he did to me was really Ashraf, GREAT!!) had gone out for his evening tea.

I waited at the desk for some time, rather impatiently and uneasily. It was getting high on my nerves and my patience was giving way when Mr. Ashraf returned back from the University Canteen. He was a middle-aged person, probably in his late 40s or early 50s. Wore spectacles, which were rather old fashioned and just well-suited for a person of his age. At a glace, he looked rather cheerful, cooperative, and ready to help. However, I had my own opinions and reservations about the GEC staff.

I somehow upheld my patience and enquired him about the cash prize. He promptly took out a register, checked into it, took out an envelope from his drawer with my name written on it, and then looked at me. Next, he asked me for my ID card, which I produced. Then he asked me to sign the receipt of the cash and handed me the envelope, which contained the GRAND 500 bucks!!!! And all this happened in less than 30 seconds…

Well, I was so impressed with the professionalism and promptness shown by Mr. Ashraf that I instantly took out a 20 rupees note and passed it on to him. I said, “Here, this is for you. You can buy sweets for your children with this.” Mr. Ashraf looked at me with a sparkle in his eyes. Then he said, “Beta, yeh koi sarkaari daftar nahi hai, yeh Aligarh Muslim University ka GEC office hai. Hum yahan par aisa kuchch nahi karte hain. Yeh sarkaari officon mein hota hoga, par hum apne bachchon se kuchch nahi lete. Aap mere bete ki tarah hain, aur yeh paise aap ko inaam me mile hain. Is par sirf aap ka haque hai. Main ismein se kuchch nahi le sakta. Allah aap ko aur taraqqi ata kare, aap deen and duniya dono mein khoob naam aur shohrat kamayein. Aur main Allah se dua karunga ki meri aulaad bhi bari ho kar aap ki tarah taraqqi kare!!” [Son, this is not like any other government office, this is the GEC office at Aligarh Muslim University. We do not accept undue favors/bribes, which might be common in other government offices, but not here. You are like my son, and you have all right to this money, as you have won it and you deserve it. I cannot take anything from this money. May Allah grant you success here and hereafter, and may you attain name and fame. And I will pray to Allah that my children become like you when they grow up!!]

I was left speechless for a while, and did not know how to react. And when I looked back at my self-made perceptions and opinions about the GEC staff, I could not summon up enough courage to look at him in the eyes. I could feel the numbness slowly climb up my body. So, it’s not always the students at AMU who define what Majaaz proclaims as Khuld-e-Bareen in the AMU Tarana. Surely, a blessed establishment having the stature of AMU should have a mark of consummate distinction at every level!! I had realized this, and with tears in my eyes, but with a light heart, I held his hands for a while, and then slowly walked away towards my hall.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Tasveer Mahal

I haven't updated Aligarhnama for last two months and all this while I had been craving for leisure and peace of mind coz it is like... Think AMU, think Leisure. Anyway, I am here now and I am here with another wonderful snapshot from Aligarh.

Saturday night... Beginning of a month... You received your Demand Draft from your folks... A wonderful movie running at Tasveer Mahal.... A friend's long due "Treat"...

And there you are... At Tasveer Mahal for a Vegetarian Dinner at Neelu's Dhaba and a movie at Tasveer Mahal.

Well, enough for the imagination of AMU Alumni. For others, Tasveer Mahal is an old Cinema Hall in Aligarh. Tasveer Mahal has been very popular among AMU students because of following reasons:
  • Proximity to AMU campus
  • Cheapest Ticket
  • You get to watch those of your favourite old movies which u missed out

Watching movies at Tasveer Mahal had always been fun and having food at Tasveer Mahal had been a luxury at that time. I remember we never bought a Balcony Ticket at Tasveer Mahal coz it was considered foolish to buy a balcony ticket at Tasveer Mahal. Another special trait of Tasveer Mahal was that it was completely a Boys' Cinema theatre. Girls never stepped in without a bet.

I remember that we used to frequently visit the railway station and while coming back, we would quite often stop at Khandelwal's Tea shop, just outside Tasveer Mahal. Apart from good Tea, Khandelwal offered wonderful Gulab Jamuns and hot Samosas. Of course, it wasn't free with the Tea.

Even at the fag end of the month when most of us went bankrupt, we could afford to go for a movie at Tasveer Mahal although we preferred going Dutch.

I thank Afzal Usmani saheb for providing the photo seen above.

Monday, January 09, 2006

A Tribute to Majaz Lakhnawi

"Majaz" or "Majaz Lakhnawi" who's original name was Asrar-ul-Haq, was the poet who composed the unfogettable Aligarh Tarana. Unfortunately, he is not too often remembered by those sing the tarana written by him.

Majaz never got his due while he was alive and died a tragic death. Fortunately, people are slowly realizing his importance and a couple of functions were organized to commemorate his 50th death anniversary which fell on 5th December 2005.

Here's a tribute to Majaz, penned by a senior Aligarian based in Muscat. His name is Jawaid Iqbal and his nom de plume (takhallus) is Jawaid Badauni as he hails from a place called Badaun, situated in Uttar Pradesh, India.

Gaatey haiN log shauq se gana "Majaz" ka
HonToN peh aaj tak hai tarana “Majaz” ka

Yeh bhi hai gulsitaN se mohabbat ki ik miSaal
Bulbul chaman ka Khud ko banana “Majaz” ka

Ik umr unki yaad meN roti rahee Ghazal
Marg-e suKhan tha duniya se jana “Majaz” ka

BAAd-e Majaz samjhe haiN log unki manzilat
Hai kitna dardnaak fasana “Majaz” ka

Kuch jaandaar GhazaleN theeN kuch shandaar geet
Duniya meN bus yehee tha Khazana “Majaz” ka

MaiKhana ilm-o-fun ka bhulaye to kis tarah
Sahbaa-e fikr-o-fun men nahana Majaz ka

Tu so gaya tarana tira jaagta rahaa
Kah de koii hilake yeh shana “Majaz” ka

Jawaid, yeh “Majaz” ke naGhme ka hai aSar
Dil sub ka ban gaya hai diwanah “Majaz” ka
~ Jawaid Badauni

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Ba-naam Talba-e-Aligarh

I got this nazm from someone who's a student of Women's College, AMU Aligarh. According to the sources, this nazm has been quite popular among the residents of Abdullah Hall. For now, you all can enjoy reading it...


Abbu ki dua aur Ammi ka pyaar, lekar maen Aligarh aaya
Saturday ki thi woh raat, Jab ladkon mein naya josh paaya

Maine poocha " Bhai, aaj baat hai kya kuch khaas
Jo raat me kar rahe ho kapde wash

Mujhe dekha, muskuraye, aur kaha " Lagta hai naye ho,
shayad Abdullah nahi gaye ho"

Sunday hota hai outing ka din
tabhi to hath mein hai mangi hui shirt aur Rin

Hamari kya auqat hai
Wahan ke logon ki chandni raat hai

Maine kaha-Kya bhai, "S.N" apka nishana hai?
Wo bole- Tu kya pagal, sanki, diwana hai?
Bhala buzurgon se bhi koi ishq ladata hai
Apna dil to Abdullah ke naam par hilta hai

Sunday ko AmirNishan mein khilti hai rang birangi kaliyan
Hum hi ko dikhati hain, hum hi se nazar churati hain

Hamara Khushi se badh jata hai wazan
Jab woh muskura kar kehti hain, wo hai mera cousin

Din bhar ghoomti phirti hain, kharch karati hain pai pai
shaam ko kehti hain, Achcha, khudahafiz, Phir milenge bhai!

Courtesy: Inmates of Abdullah Jail, Marris Road, Aligarh

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Aligarh Tarana

Aligarh Tarana is to Aligarh Muslim University(AMU) what any college song is to a college. When I was at Aligarh, I used to hear a story behind the Aligarh Tarana that went like this....

When Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru visited Aligarh Muslim University, he enquired the students and authorities about their college song or something like it. Having got no concrete answer, he expressed his surprise by saying, "It is very strange that a prestigious university as AMU doesn't have its own college song. " These remarks put a student to unrest and he spent a restless night on this idea. The very next morning, he was ready with a masterpiece which went on to be reckoned as AMU Tarana after being sung at the Strachey Hall for the first time. What a tribute from a disciple to his Alma Mater !!! What a face saving act !!! That great student was Majaz Lakhnawi - the poet.

Edit (Nov 2017): Please read the following article by Inam Abidi saheb posted on Aligarians.com if you are looking for information that is backed by references too.


The lyrics of Tarana are here for you to relish. The urdu is impeccable but when sung in chorus with all the vigour, it can move mountains and create waves in the most placid lakes.

I thank Mohib Ahmad - the owner of Aligarians.com for the Tarana Lyrics in Roman Script.


Ye mera chaman hai mera chaman, main apne chaman ka bulbul hun
Sar-shaar-e-nigah-e-nargis hun, paa-basta-e-gesu-e-sumbul hun

(chaman: garden; bulbul: nightingale; sarshaar: overflowing, soaked; nigaah: sight; nargis: flower, Narcissus; paa-bastaa: embedded; gesuu: tresses; sumbul:  a plant with a plesant scent)

Ye mera chaman hai mera chaman, ye mera chaman hai mera chaman
Main apne chaman ka bulbul hun

Jo taaq-e-haram mein roshan hai, wo shama yahan bhi jalti hai
Is dasht ke goshe goshe se, ek joo-e-hayat ubalti hai
Ye dasht-e-junoon deewanon ka, ye bazm-e-wafa parwanon ki
Ye shahr-e-tarab roomanon ka, ye khuld-e-bareen armanon ki
Fitrat ne sikhai hai ham ko, uftaad yahan parwaaz yahan
Gaaye hain wafa ke geet yahan, chheda hai junoon ka saaz yahan

(taaq-e-haram: a niche in the sacred Kaaba in Mecca; roshan: glowing; shamaa: candle;
dasht: wilderness, desert; goshaa: corner; juu-e-hayaat: stream of life; junuuN: frenzy;
bazm: gathering; vafaa: faithfulness; shahr-e-tarab: city of mirth; Khuld-e-bariiN: sublime paradise; armaan: hopes; fitrat: nature; uftaad: beginning of life; parvaaz: flight; saaz: song on an instrument)

Ye mera chaman hai mera chaman, main apne chaman ka bulbul hun

Is bazm meiN taigheiN khencheen hain, is bazm meiN saghar tode hain
Is bazm meiN aankh bichhai hai, is bazm meiN dil tak jode hain
Har shaam hai shaam-e-Misr yahan, har shab hai shab-e-Sheeraz yahan
Hai saare jahan ka soz yahan aur saare jahan ka saaz yahan
Zarraat ka bosa lene ko, sau baar jhuka aakaash yahan
Khud aankh se ham ne dekhi hai, batil ki shikast-e-faash yahan

(teGh: sword; saGhar: goblet; shaam-e-Misr: evenings of Egpyt; shab-e-Sheeraz: nights of Sheeraz, a famous city of Iran; soz: pain; zarraat: dust particles; bosaa: kiss; baatil: evil; shikast-e-faash: clear defeat)

Ye mera chaman hai mera chaman, ye mera chaman hai mera chaman
Main apne chaman ka bulbul hun

Jo abr yahan se uthega, wo saare jahan par barsega
Har joo-e-rawan par barsega, har koh-e-garan par barsega
Har sard-o-saman par barsega, har dasht-o-daman par barsega
Khud apne chaman par barsega, ghairon ke chaman par barsega
Har shahr-e-tarab par garjega, har qasr-e-tarab par kadkega

(abr: cloud; juu-e-ravaan: flowing streams; koh-e-garaaN: big mountains; sard-o-saman: open and shelter; dasht-o-daman: wild and subdued; qasr-e-tarab: citadel of joy)

Ye abr hamesha barsa hai, ye abr hamesha barsega
Ye abr hamesha barsa hai, ye abr hamesha barsega
Ye abr hamesha barsa hai, ye abr hamesha barsega
Barsegaa, Barsegaa, Barsegaaa...

~ Majaz Lakhnawi

~ Listen to Aligarh Tarana

~ Nazr-e-Aligarh - The complete nazm of which the Aligarh Tarana is an abridged version.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Bhasad: An Omnipresent Phenomena at AMU

Ruckus, Chaos, Pandemonium and Tumult are a few words which can very vaguely represent the Hindi word - Bhasad. Actually Bhasad goes much beyond the realms of simple noise or commotion. It is much more than that. Generally, it happens out of desperation but many a times, it is very well planned and executed. Sometimes, it has a clear objective and an ulterior motive.

In Aligarh of my days, Bhasad used to be a ubiquitous activity at all public gatherings. Broadly, Bhasad prone events included - Hall Functions, Hostel Functions, Exhibition Dinners, Sir Syed Day Function, Distribution of Railway Concession Forms, Allocation of positions like Senior Hall Monitor, Senior House Monitor, Senior Food Monitor etc.

Bhasad was an opportunity for the ever ready pranksters, to launch their attack without the fear of getting caught or identified. Bhasad didn't need a valid reason or an excuse, all the time. The most surprising thing was that even the people who were considered as academic-oriented and gentlemen, also loved to participate in Bhasad. If nothing much, they would always love to witness every bit of it and prepare a spicy and sumptuous eye-witness account to relish upon.

Some instances of Bhasad which I can recall are -
At a dinner, somebody couldn't wait for the service spoon and he put the entire dish in front of him. Looking at him, another guy didn't hesitate in using his hands to take out chicken pieces from the chicken curry.

People went berserk at Eid Party at VC's Lodge and very few people got to eat anything despite the fact that there had never been any shortage at a party hosted by the Vice Chancellor. Some people were seen eating directly from the service bowls in their control.

And, the most alarming thing is that this despicable act of bhasad is also taken up by some Professors, Readers and Lecturers in various parties held at Staff Club.

Stage artists face an extra-ordinary stage fright while performing anywhere on AMU campus. The Bhasad-causing elements spring to their full force if the performer isn't very good, gets nervous or stumbles somewhere.

The horror of bhasad terrifies the organizers, gives them awful nightmares and sleepless nights before the event they are going to organize. On the lighter side, one who can successfully organize a bhasad-free event at AMU campus, can do amazingly well in Event Management.

Quite exciting enough, when I tried searching the word "Bhasad" on the Internet, I found it on various Alumni fora like that of IITs, IIMs, and XLRI. Someone has gone to the extent of saying that "Bhasad" can originate just to break the monotony at college / university campuses. So it isn't really a bad thing I guess. After all, this is what we fail to forget of our college days.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Chaey Garam !!!

My previous post on "Café culture at AMU" definitely points to one common trait of aligarians, that is, most of them are addicted to Tea. Before and after every important activity, they would prefer having a cup of Tea.

For Aligarians, Tea is the drink of all moments and times. If they want to celebrate, they have Tea. If they are unhappy about something, they have Tea. If they want to tell you something, it will be over a cup of Tea. If two disputing parties want to reach a consensus, it will happen on a Tea table. Even if they are very busy, you can catch them catching up with their cup of Tea.

When aligarians are asked about the kind of Tea they would prefer, one can get a common answer - "kam shakkar, tez patti" which means strong Tea with less sugar in it. That's when they have a choice but in times of Tea crisis, they can get along with anything that is hot, looks and tastes like Tea but may not be Tea, actually.

This aligarian love for Tea is best visible on the campus. Wherever you go, you can find a Tea outlet close by. Famous hangouts for Tea-guzzlers are - AMU central canteen, Hostel canteens and Cafés like Café-de-phoos and Café-de-laila. Apart from these, one can find ample roadside dhabas on Anoopshaher Road and Medical Road. These dhabas are removed every year but they come up like mushrooms soon after. Not just this, their comeback is coupled with some quality improvements like good quality Tea and Hi-fi music system.

Then there's See-off Tea which is a very vital part in an aligarian's life. Whenever an aligarian is planning to set-off on a journey, he should be ready to treat his friends with See-off Tea. It's called so obviously because you offer this Tea to all those who have come to see you off.

The cup of Tea is so ubiquitous in AMU campus that it wouldn't be a hype if you call it the cup of life at AMU. Hype is when they say you chop off an aligarian's finger and you find Tea instead of blood. In the end, I will not withhold the fact that this blog entry has used the word "Tea" for 23 times.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Café culture at AMU

In the good old days of AMU, students didn't have too many options for a place to have some good tea, with some snacks and plenty of discussions. But I heard from my seniors that there were few spots which were treated as special by the students. These spots did exist in my time as well i.e. till 1999 but they had lost their charm by that time. To avoid any further mystery-making, I must disclose that I am talking about Café-de-Phoos and Café-de-laila.

Café-de-Phoos was located between the hockey ground and AMU Post Offiice (Opposite SS Hall - North). Café-de-Phoos was termed so because of the use of straw material (as used in building huts) in building the Café. This Café was popular for the fried daalmoth which was the USP of this place. Students used to spend the long evenings - sitting, chatting and relishing the tea with fried daalmoth.

Café-de-laila was situated near the Union Hall. I can't tell much about its history but I remember having been taken to this place for the first time, by a senior student. He used to live in SS Hall (South) and i went to give him a letter sent by one of his relatives. As it was time when i had just taken admission in Class XI, so I preferred taking a friend along because of the fear of getting caught for Introduction ( "Introduction" as Aligarians know, is a very sublte form of ragging). The person we visited had a standing of more than 10 years which frightened us very much. But, our fears died as soon as we met the person. He was a thorough Gentleman who treated us with great respect and took us out for tea. And that was the first time , I had tea at Café-de-laila.

A little different from these two Cafés but brining something new to Café culture was Kabir Tea House. It was located in University Market, which is now called Shamshad Market.

Well, that was the time when the Aligarian Traditions were followed religiously by very few people and so these places which were reduced to mere 'signs' of the "class" maintained by AMU students. Of late, this "class" has been replaced by a "mass approach" which has promoted the outgrowth of roadside dhabas all around the University campus. There was a time when tea was served in ceramic cups and saucers and now they have been replaced by small and tranparent glasses. It seems as if the good old Café culture has been completely overtaken by the not-so-sophisticated Dhaba culture.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Locks & Pyjamas

Aligarh Locks
There are a couple of more things that have the name of Aligarh associated with them. To begin with, Aligarh is famous for locks. The lock industry is one of the major sources of employment for the economically weaker sections of people, in and around Aligarh. Aligarh Locks are very famous all around the country or wherever in the world, there are some aligarians.

Aligarh Pyjamas
Aligarh pyjamas are also very special in their own way. They reflect the perfect balance in aligarian style of clothing. Usually, the old-fashioned pyjamas that were worn in North India were of two types - the wide-bottomed and the chudidaar.
The wide-bottomed (also called Elephant pyjamas) had very wide bottoms while the chudidaar used to be very tight at shanks. In urdu, chudi means a"bangle" and so the chudidaar pyjamas are supposed to have folds at shanks, resembling the bangles.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Masood "Tommy": A Forgotten Cult Figure

AMU, being a residential university, has a set of rules and etiquette for daily life, also referred to as "traditions of AMU". These rules have been there ever since AMU came into existence. No single person can claim its ownership. It must have grown over the years, a new rule must have been added as and when our very old students of AMU felt its need. The primary need for such traditions was discipline, of course. Apart from practicing discipline, there has been an overpowering urge among AMU students "to stand out from the crowds, masses and hordes of people". To have a distinct identity, one needs to have a distinct and unique style. This thought must have become the guiding force for writing down these unwritten rules of and by AMU students. The best thing is that most of the AMU Alumni try and maintain these traditions all their lives. That is what gives them pleasure and pride.

Going with the AMU traditions, there has always been a good room for humor. Till mid eighties, humorous activities were very much appreciated and held in good taste. But, slowly they seem to be losing their place. Almost, every student of AMU must have heard about some humorous incidents from their seniors or the alumni of AMU. For every period of time, AMU has seen some heroes who mastered the art of rib-tickling humor.

Well, one of such heroes of AMU happens to be "Masood Tommy". I believe "Tommy" must have been the nickname given to him by his contemporaries. I heard a lot of stories about him. He had a very ingenious sense of humor. He was a master of wit & repartee. Once his Urdu teacher rebuked him for not writing Urdu properly as the nukhtas (the dots used in Urdu alphabets) were not used properly. He took his notebook to correct his mistakes and came back in sometime. Looking at his notebook this time around, the teacher went berserk and asked him, "Why did you put so many dots in the top margin?". He retorted softly, "Nukhtay hain. jahan jitni zarurat ho daal lijiye" (They are dots, use them as and where you want).

Another incident from his life is about the time when the British Viceroy of India was scheduled to pay a visit to Aligarh Muslim University. Tired of Masood Tommy's tricks, the Vice Chancellor (VC) of AMU decided to send him off to his native place. When asked to do so, Masood Tommy expressed his paucity of funds. So, he was given train fare to his town. After getting the fare, an idea struck his mind. Instead of going to his native place, he started off for Delhi. He went to Rashtrapati Bhawan and told that he was a students' representative sent by AMU VC, to accompany the Honorable Viceroy of India on his visit to AMU. The Viceroy was impressed with this. All through the journey, Masood Tommy tried his best to impress him further more.

When they arrived at Aligarh, AMU VC and other officials were surprised to see Masood Tommy alongside the Viceroy. Masood Tommy introduced the AMU staff to the Viceroy and it was a shocking and embarrassing situation for them. To avoid further damage to the honor and reputation of AMU, they wanted to get rid of Masood Tommy, as soon as possible. Masood Tommy himself walked away innocently. After a while, when asked about his journey, the Viceroy remarked, "Oh! The Gentleman you had sent to accompany me gave me a very pleasant company. He kept me busy talking about his Alma Mater, its staff and students. I would want him to be with me during my stay. By the way, where has he disappeared?" Hearing all this, every body lost their nerves and search for Masood Tommy began. He was found but only after a lot of persuasion, coaxing and cajoling, he relented to join the Viceroy of India on his Aligarh tour.

Such were his charming manners that even though, he wasn't a very good student yet he was successful in impressing the Viceroy of India and creating a good reputation for his alma mater. The Aligarians of his times must have thought that Masood Tommy will always be remembered for his witty remarks and tricks but here he is, about to vanished in the deep dark valley of oblivion. This write-up is just a humble tribute to the quintessential humorist and the spirit of Aligarian Humor.

~ Qais

Monday, February 28, 2005

Marris Road

Marris Road is indeed one of the most important streets in Aligarh. The distnguished status of this street comes from the beautiful, large and palatial bungalows and Kothis situated on the both sides of this road. According to a very senior Aligarian in Hyderabad, there used to be days when Marris Road was called Paris Road because of the rich and elite who inhabited those bungalows. All of them were highly educated, cultured and sophisticated and had an exquisite taste of art and literature.

Coming to my time of Aligarh, most of these kothis and bungalows had lost their charm and grandeur but some of them simply couldn't resist telling the stories from their glorious past. With vicinity to city's railway station and the most happening commerical area - Centerpoint, most of these kothis are now being shrouded by shops and shopping complexes coming up on the roadsides and in some way, helping the majestic bungalows in hiding their pitiful state.

While, there is one reason which accounts for the loss of value of Marris Road, there is another gaining importance and momentum. The Women's college and Abdullah Hall (AMU Girls' Hostels) have their main gates on Marris Road. Most of new and happening Eating points and dating spots are like adding more taste to the relishing gravy.

So, the reasons may change but M for Marris Road remains the same - the place to be, that is.

~ Qais

Muslim University

One of the Famous 'M's stand for "Muslim University". Obviously, it refers to Aligarh Muslim University and it is Aligarh city's primary attraction. When in Aligarh, i used to say that Aligarh minus AMU is a village and it wasn't much exaggeration. If you happen to visit the old city of Aligarh which is called sheher (Ironic ! Isn't it?) by people living near the university campus, you can know it yourself that bad state and poor maintenance of infrastructure and basic public amenities have reduced the city to a little over a village.

In contrast, the roads, drainage system and proper town planning do really exist in and around the University area. The lush green AMU campus is a visual treat for morning walkers/joggers who are found strolling/jogging/running on the campus roads.

To compliment the greenery, there are a lot of old and new beautiful buildings which draw your attention with one or two unique aspects of architecture. So, this is what makes it deserve a place in Famous 'M's.

~ Qais

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

"M" for Aligarh

You surely must be thinking that i had something wrong in my nursery school education. No it isn't. I know that the word "Aligarh" starts with Alphabet 'A' but the most popular things Aligarh (to be more precise - AMU) was associated with, have thier names starting with the Alphabet 'M'.

In my times, I was told that there are 5 'M's in Aligarh which are very famous. Later in my life, when I met a very senior and impressive AMU Old Boy (an AMU alumnus is always called so), I was told they used to be 7. He counted all 7 in a row. I was startled. How can a person who left AMU in 1960's remember all this, so well. These 'M's could have been more than 7 or might have gone down to 3 but as per my knowledge, let me try to enumerate them here.

  • Matri (a crisp and round biscuit which looks like a compressed bun)
  • Machchar (of course, that ubiquitous creature which irritates u with its buzzing sound)
  • Makhkhan (the 20 gram piece of butter from CDF - Central Dairy Farm)
  • Muslim University (the reason d'aitre to be in Aligarh)
  • Marris Road ( a road which would look like any other road but isn't so)
  • Mumtaz Apa (Principal of Women's college around 1964-65), and
  • Masood "Tommy" ( A hilarious person who used to have oodles of wit and humor)

  • Well, this was my list, with a little bit of descriptions. And now an appeal to my fellow alumni.

    You can correct me wherever I go wrong. And i know you can't resist that. So, just shoot me a mail on:


    Please keep visiting this space to look more of such trivia. And do try sharing some of what you have of Aligarh. I'll publish it here with due credentials.

    ~ Qais

    Monday, February 21, 2005

    Chaman-e- Sir Sayyad

    This Blog is dedicated to the educational institution which was started by Sir Sayyad Ahmed Khan as a college called Muhammadan Anglo Oriental (M.A.O.) College. This college which was started in 1885 went to become a University in 1920. Since then, it is known as "Aligarh Muslim University". This university is also known as "Chaman-e Sir Sayyad" since he was the one who sowed the seeds and watered the plants of this chaman (garden).

    ~ Qais