Friday, April 10, 2009

Osmania Biscuit XVI--Part III:Of Martand Rao, Osmania Biscuit, and the Richest Man in the world

continued from part-II

Osman Ali Khan Siddiqui, the last and most famous Nizam (ruler) of the princely state of Hyderabad, was the Richest Man in the Whole World at that time, the Richest Asian Ever in the recorded history, and the 5th Richest Man Ever in the recorded history. His entourage of the rolls royces, his buildings, jewels and queens, and most importantly, the fact that he was the only Indian ruler allowed under the British Rule to have his own currency--simply too grand to behold. Naizam, or the territory ruled by Nizam, covered almost the whole of TelangaNa, some part of Maharashtra, and some of Karnataka.

But all was not well. The Nizams who had their origins in Arabian Peninsula (Kurdistan, Iraq) treated the local Hindus like second grade citizens in their own land. Very few administrative posts were reserved for them and they could not rise above a particular level. The state languages were Urdu and Farsi and were mandatory. Telugu, Marathi and Kannada suffered unparalleled neglect. In fact, many schools did not even bother to teach them.

The most conspicuous aspect of Nizam rule however, were the Razakars, a private army led by Qasim Rizvi, a supporter of Nizam. They instilled terror and wrecked havoc wherever they went. Loots, rapes, murders, kidnappings. And they are still hailed by some in the old-city as religious warriors, heroes, lengends. They wanted Hyderabad to be a separate country. And when talks with Sardar Patel failed, he launched ‘Operation Polo’, to annex Hyderabad state into the Indian Union. In the meanwhile, as a blackmailing tactic, Razakars started a campaign of terror of unknown precedence. Several areas were burnt, looted, pillaged. Women raped, children massacred… to force Sardar Patel into withdrawing his advancing forces.

But then, all of a sudden, within days of launching Operation Polo, Nizam surrendered and Hyderabad was liberated from Nizam’s rule and integrated into the Indian Union.

A very rarely told legend from the old city states how it happened--
A young muslim working in a bakery, unable to digest all this violence upon his Hindu neighbours, wanted all of this to stop and the only way that he knew was to appeal to the taste-buds of the Nizam. It was well-known that Nizam had a penchant for new tastes and different dishes. He wanted to make a new kind of biscuit, one that could appeal so much to Nizam that he should put an end to all this terror at once. But the already available karachi biscuit was a hot favorite of Nizam and he knew that he had stiff competetion to beat.

But he didn’t give up easily. After thinking about it day and night, he suddenly got up from his bed around midnight. He had came up with a solution. It seemed so obvious to him. He went to his bakery with his young assistant and started working frantically as the violence continued unabated outside. After a couple of hours, as he removed the tray from the traditional bhatti oven, he knew he had done it. But as he was about to take it to the palace, he was hit by a stray bullet in his leg. So his young assistant volunteered to take it to the Nizam in his stead. And so it was that the boy carried his treasure in a paper cover riding his bicycle as fast as his legs could manage it.

He reached the palace gate panting, showed what he had, and the smell of the warm biscuits brought by a known face instantly alerted the guard and they allowed him to pass without question. And he ran into the palace like a man chased by hounds and collapsed just outside the royal room, where the Nizam used to come for breakfast. His outstretched hand still holding the paper cover. The maids recognised his purpose and promptly carried the paper cover over to the Nizam’s breakfast table. It is said that along with the biscuits, the cover also contained a letter addressed to him in High-Persian praising his benevolence and delcaring that if he liked the biscuit, it would be named after him and his name will live in this land forever. In return, it begged him to stop the Razakar violence. Moved by the taste of the biscuit and the high ethics of the baker, he indeed put a stop to violence and surrendered himself.

Jumman Miya, who was silent till now, wiping off tears from his eyes with his sleeves, slowly said that it was he who had carried the Osmania Biscuits on the rusty bicycle and ran through the palace. Not a day passes when he doesn’t regret that it was his men who had indulged in such bloodshed. Nevertheless, those of his kind who think back nostalgically of those good old days of Nizam are still many. This saddens him even more.

And Tubelightla Srinivas, who was returning home a lot wiser and a lot older, finally made an attempt to understand why Lingam Yadav likes Osmania Biscuit.

It is true that many cultures and religions together make up the unique culture of Hyderabad. But it is not wise to believe that things have been this way since a long time. And it is even more foolish to believe that things will continue to remain this way in future. Having a liking to some artefact should not blind one from the times and conditions in which the object was made. Unless we grow older by studying the lives of our ancestors, it is difficult for this new breed of peaceniks to understand what I am trying to say. But the bitter truth is, unless and until each of our families experiences a personal loss, we cannot unite against those cults which explicitly ask their followers for complete obliteration of others.


Vasundhara said...


Gandaragolaka said...


Karmasura said...

I almost dismissed these posts of yours as fiction until I thought would give it a try..

Looks like I must read other osmania biscuits as well!!!

Gandaragolaka said...

dont... the others are indeed fiction.