I have many tales to tell about Jajeer
I am not sure, if it stages a comeback. It has almost disappeared from the social scene and no more makes its presence felt by its aroma filling the air in old time ‘bhahtakhs’, da’wa khanas or modern day drawing rooms. Its musical sound no more mixes with songs of thrush and doves in the old vineyard - once abodes of mystic Kamal Sahib. It is no more much sought after centerpiece in “parliament” as a tailors shop near Naid Kadal was known for remaining abuzz with political discussions after the dusk. There were times- not that far away just in our childhood, when Hubble-bubble reigned supreme like a monarch in our society.
In our childhood- childhood of a whole generation, one could hardly imagine a house without a Jajeer in my birthplace. I do not know exact etymology of this word. If it is, an indigenous word or corrupted form of word Nargile derived from Persian word narghile meaning coconut. The Hubble-bubble is known by this name in countries such as Armenia, Syria, Turkey Greece, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Palestine and Israel. Imprints of culture of some of these countries more particularly Central Asian are traceable in our society even to this day. Thus making me believe that the name Ja’jeer given to Hubble-bubble by us has its origin in word Nargile. Some do believe that it made its way into Kashmir along with the Moguls. History testifies that a Persian physician Abul-Fath Gilani at the court of Akbar first passed the smoke of tobacco through a small bowl of water to purify and cool the smoke of tobacco and invented the Hubble-bubble or hookah as known in India. It might have come to Kashmir along with the Mogul caravans but it took an indigenous shape at the deft hands of our potters. Terracotta is something that we had perfected at over centuries.
I have many tales to tell about Jajeer- the greater conqueror that had conquered equally royal courts, mystic havens and thatched shelters. Many times, I look at Jajeer as socialism incarnate that recognized no status, stature and class, and allowed the nobles and paupers, aristocracy and artisans and patricians and peasantry to enjoy a puff of smoke with equal equanimity.
That reminds me of a shop of a silversmith - a lone communist in our locality that always remained filled with clouds of smoke coming out of always-roaring Hubble-bubble. I rarely saw him working but found him always engrossed in political discussions with some of our neighbors who often visited his shop for enjoying a smoke from the Hubble-bubble. Many times as curious child, I often stood in front of his shop to listen to the discussions taking place inside. As I can make out today the discussions would often revolve around debate over Kashmir in United Nations and Soviet Union vetoing one after another resolution on Kashmir in the Security Council. Out of resentment against the Soviet Union’s role about Kashmir some boys taunted people sitting inside his shop and casting aspersion on the owner.
Elders had nicknamed his shop as “shoda-pend”. Notwithstanding, people out of resentment calling silversmiths shop as shoda-pend (Hashish-parlor) a good smoke from Hubble-bubble was great stimulant for lively political discussion inside shops of barbers and tailors. For many in our part of city discussions on Kashmir on shop fronts or inside shops had almost become an addiction. An evening without discussing Kashmir problem or programs like Zarb-e-Kaleem and Manet Dab broadcast from the Tradkhal station of Azad Kashmir Radio would cause sleepless nights to many people.
Talking about tailor’s shop named as ‘parliament house’ in our neighborhood a friend remembered his doctor brother. Narrating his story, he said that after returning from his duties he would not directly return to home but visited the tailor’s shop. He took out his necktie and coat, hanged them on peg on a wall of the shop, and squatted in a corner inside the packed shop. Before joining the discussion, he filled the chilam with fresh tobacco and picked up ash-free embers with a pair of tongs for placing on top of the chilam. After having his lungful smoke and allowing the smoke pass out through nostrils like mystic in a meditative mood he joined the discussions. The unending political discussions on Kashmir, UN Sheikh Abdullah, Jawaharlal Nehru and General Ayub Khan would last for hours. It was by ten or eleven the doctor would return to his home.
The story of doctor brother of my friend was not isolated one, it was in fact a common phenomenon in our part of city that was also known for manufacturing best Jajeer’s and good nalchas.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 13 Apr 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 13 Apr 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 14 Apr 2013 00:00:00 IST
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