Excerpts from an article published on The Sunday Indian. This article deals with how different Indian communities such as Telegu, Kannada, Benarasi and Kashmiri settled in Dhaka are passing their days.
Whether they are in slums or chandeliered living rooms, Indian communities add to the cosmopolitan sheen of Bangladesh’s capital, says Saurabh kumar Shahi……
….With the Banarasis in Dhaka, I didn’t face any language barriers. They are fluent in Awadhi lashed Hindi. Most of them live in Mirpur Benarasi Palli. Impressed by their finesse, Nawab Salimullah settled 5,000 sari weavers in the late 19th century. Today, they number around 1,00,000. When you hear the sounds of the handlooms from afar, you know you are approaching the Benarasi neighbourhood.
Israel Jolaha’s home is at the end of the road. Unlike Telugus and Shankaris, Israel isn’t much amused seeing an Indian scribe. However, few sentences in Awadhi broke into his scepticism. What followed was a stupendous Awadhi meal, and yes, paan. Drowned by readymade salwaar-kameez, Benarasis are finding it difficult to sell their fine pieces of art. But today, with an Awadhi speaking stranger around, Israel doesn’t want to discuss “depressing” things. He poses several questions, most of which I answered, much to his satisfaction. “My son Ishmael doesn’t want to learn this traditional skill. He works at a readymade garment factory at Adamjee EPZ. But I am happy, at least he took weaving as his career,” says Israel with a nervous smile. There were other non-Bengali communities in the locality too. Kanpuris and Jabbalpuris were prominent among them. Israel brings a few of them to me. They looked much the same, but speak a slightly different tongue. There are less than 10,000 of them, living in Tikatuli locality. Most of them are businessmen and have small shops.
Khwaja Atique Alam’s living room is old world grandeur… chandeliers, Itradans and mirrors of all types and makes, a truly Nawabi ambience. Atique’s ancestors migrated from Kashmir during the reign of lesser-Moguls. While many settled in the Kashmiri Tola, Atique’s great-grandfather Khwaja Allimullah settled at the celebrated Ahsan Manzil. One of his great-grandfathers, Nawab Salimullah was co-founder of Muslim League in pre-Independence India. Please click the link below for the article in its entierity-