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February 18th, 2006

17th February 2006

His name is Mustafa.
Mine Zainab.
(Historically, he is my grandfather of the Islamic legend and I, his granddaughter. In the contemporary moment though, I am his cuustommer and he, the chai maker!)

Mustafa is not there in the chai shop these days. During the month of Muharram, Mustafa takes off for ten days. The management and the running of the shop are handed over to other people. I am still not sure if Mustafa is the owner of the chai shop. I don’t know what his relation/standing with the shop is.
(And I also wonder whether a space is a space because of the presence of a certain person. Is it the people who define the space or is the space an entity by itself?)

The other day, A and I went to Khushaali. Two boys have been running the shop. They inform me that Mustafabhai’s sister has expired and therefore, he has not been coming to the shop. But they also tell me that he is eager to see his photograph which I have framed and brought for him.
(In the month of December, a photographer friend made a black-and-white picture of Mustafa which I have printed and framed for him.)

The boys know me. I am called ‘madam’. And I am treated as one too. For me and my guests, tea is served in tea-cups accompanied by saucers. For the rest of the crowd, tea is served in glasses.
(I don’t know what to make of this discrimination. I have happily accepted it.)

The other day, when A and I went to Khushaali, the shop was rather empty. We ordered tea. Cuustommers started pouring in soon after. The new boy who makes chai asked A and me to shift into the corner space, away from the ‘general public’. I wondered whether he was trying to protect us.
(Mustafa never did this to me!)
The cuustommers who had come in were Irani men, speaking in their language. After a while, they went away.

A was fascinated with Khushaali – the ambience, the décor, the furniture, the crockery. He said artists need to come and see this place. I was afraid if preservationist interventions would start to take place if artists visited this place.
(I have my own fears, assumptions and presumptions (and resistances too!!!)!)

A was awe-struck. He started asking questions. The questions for which I did not have answers, I began to direct to the people in the shop. That day, I discovered the following:

The two new boys are Muzaffar and Salim. Both of them are from Uttar Pradesh. They have come to this city two months ago.
The name of the man who runs the tourist agency at the back of the kitchen is Ramzaan bhai. Ramzaan bhai is from Jaamnagar, a district/township in Gujarat.
Mustafa is from Iran. He was married but a divorce took place. He has a daughter. The wife and the daughter live in Iran.
Muzzafar sleeps in Nakhuda Mohalla by the night and works in Khushaali by the day – 10 AM to 10 PM.

Muzaffar does not appear to care much for religion. While the fervour of Muharram is still burning in Imambada
(and nohas and majlis are being played to remind people of the month of mourning),
Muzaffar brings out a mobile phone. A is surprised. He asks me, as if questioning, this man has a cell phone!
So what, I reply back, even the maid in my house has a cell phone!
A calls out to Muzaffar, boss!
When Muzaffar turns around, A discovers that the instrument is not a cell phone, but a radio. Muzaffar is playing music on it. He appears to be the hedonist kind, pleasure seeking – who cares about religion. Let the world cry, I believe in a song for the moment.
Muzaffar tells us that by the corner of the streets in Imambada, the radio is available for sixty five rupees.
A is totally floored. He wants one too.

I am going to stop the description here and move on to raise the questions which have been surfacing in my mind for long now.

I look at the composition of the people in Khushaali – Mustafa from Iran, Muzaffar and Salim of the Uttar Pradesh diaspora in Bombay City, Ramzaan bhai from Jaamnagar
(and added to that the radio set assembled from different parts of the globe, produced in some part of the globe and sold in the streets of Imambada by a hawker)
And here is my set of questions taking from the above:
a). What is local? Is there one kind of local?
b). What is global? Is there one kind of global?
(Is a shopping mall in the city more global than Khushaali?)
c). Are the boundaries between local and global gradually blurring?
d). Is glocal a hybrid idea? Is there anything like the glocal?
e). Why do we end up glorifying the local?
f). What is the local?
g). What is the global?


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