Of Old and Bad Coins
NOSTALGIA BY ZGM
Ours was a small world-- it was a world of four miles radius but it had its own beauty. In this small but beautiful world, I had discovered my own wonderlands, which excited me, thrilled me and filled my hearts with all joy. The Siraj bazaar- with shops of fur boots, bridle makers, sports goods, musical instruments, ankle bells (ghungroo) reminiscent of old times of Hafiza Nagama – belle dances that were once part of cultural landscape of Srinagar city was one of such wonderlands. I had once called this bazaar as my Oxford Street- truly it was so far me. Another wonderland for me was attic of our house and yet another was the Maharaj Ganj – the busiest market of the city that throbbed with life like a human heart round the clock.
In this biggest mall of the city, it were not the big wholesale shops with Khojas and Lalas reclining against big white bolsters, rows of munshies squatting behind ornate wooden desks writing on massive red ledgers that invited my attention. It was not bales of cloth, packed to fill with gunny bags of tea, groceries and rock-salt (Pakistaan-noon) inside these shop that caught my attention but what attracted me the most in this market place were some small kiosks of old coins along the wall of Budshah’s Dome- the mausoleum of mother of greatest king of Kashmir Sultan Zain-ul-Abidan. Whenever, I visited this market for buying slate chalks, farsi-kilam or four-line notebook and Zed nib from famous shop of Ghulam Muhammad Noor Muhammad Tajrian-e-Kutab, I spent lot of time at these kiosks- watching hundreds of old coins, of different denominations spread over a big copper plate. I didn’t understand what he was doing with these coins and why he was buying even bad-coins (Khuhta Pasia).
Many times out of annoyance the owner would drive me away from his stall and ask me harshly, “Go home- your mother would be waiting for you- don’t loiter in the market”.
The coins do tell history but I was too young to understand that the coins on the copper plate were telling stories about the British colonizers and their agents in the states. And it was not history but the images of the kings on the coins that caught my imagination and many times drowned me in reveries. I have graphic impressions about the coins during our childhood. It was in second or third primary that we were taught and made to cry louder in Urdu, one Rupee is equivalent to sixteen Annas, One Anna is equivalent to four paisa and one Paisa is equivalent to three pies. We also sang ‘deafeningly’ in our mathematics class, One Maund is equivalent to forty seers, one seer is equivalent to sixteen chahtang and one chahtang is equivalent to five tolas and One tola is equivalent to twelve Masha- the cries; Bari Masha Ki Eik Tola resonate in the hinterland of mind to this day.
One Rupee coin was a big amount and it carried images of King George 1V and King George V- and the rarest one Rupee coin where those that carried images of Queen Victoria and King Edwards. Then there were coins of other denomination that carried the images of these British emperors, Eight Annas, Four Annas, Two Annas, One Anna, Half an Anna (Taka) and one Paisa. The one paisa coin was of copper. It had had been minted in two types, one round that we called as double-paisa and another with a whole in the middle called as There were two denominations of one Paisa Gaadhdar-paisa . The coins on one side carried image a British emperor and on the other side was embossed with image of a lion. I remember King George’s portrait on one Rupee coins replaced by the Lion Capital of the Ashoka Pillar and the lion on the reverse side by sheaf of corn- but the coins with portraits of British kings remained in market for many years.
I remember when I was in class two, I would get taka (two paisa coin), unlike one paisa coin which was made of copper it was of brass color – taka was sufficient to buy me a loaf filled with red beans… there is more about our my tryst with coins..
Lastupdate on : Sat, 15 Oct 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 15 Oct 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 16 Oct 2011 00:00:00 IST
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