Bhopal ke Patiye

Bhopal Ke Patiye has moved from the streets to the legends of Bhopal.
People sitting at roadside tea stalls are an intellectually stimulating sight in Bhopal. But patiabazi, as the Bhopalis refer to the evening get-together, is waning in the walled city. In the days of nawabi rule, patias were the hotspots of discussion of topics as varied as politics, hockey and culture.Patia is slang for the rectangular slab of stone (4x2ft) placed in front of tea shops.

During the day, shopkeepers used the patia to display products and seat customers; at night it served as a meeting place. People like late President Dr Shanker Dayal Sharma, former MP K.N. Pradhan and hockey player Aslam Sher Khan would gather at Najja Dada ka patia to discuss politics. “These patias were intellectual diet for Bhopal’s residents,” says an old Bhopali. “After dinner, people spent hours discussing the freedom movement and Bhopal’s welfare. Sometimes the patias turned into mushairas, where poets recited their poems.”

The debates were so lively that the erstwhile nawabs used to post his men at the patias to know the current hot topic. The nawab had an intelligence officer posted at Najja Dada ka patia to know if there was any conspiracy against him. Patia of Ibhrahimpura was a famous one for discussions on politics and hockey while Maktaba Sharkia patia was known for talks on art, culture and literature. “Hockey players even discussed the team members and the next day’s strategy,” says Riaz Sheriff, a resident of Bhopal.

The patia culture was so famous that novelist Koser Chandpuri wrote an article titled Bhopal ke Patiey, which was published by the journal of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. It has a bit of filmi glamour as well: Riaz Sheriff says the term ‘Surma Bhopali’, popularised by comedian Jagdeep, evolved from a discussion at a patia.

This tradition of batolebaji is still continued in the old city area. A true bhopali will do a ratjaga (sleepless night) without a blink for a good session of Patiya. Specially in summers, Bhopalis will go to sleep at 3 o’clock in the morning, till which time they would sit in front of closed shops and talk and talk and talk. You can see all street and roads awake till 3 am. Men, women, girls, boys all are sitting and talking. Even the chaats, pakauda and ice cream sellers do a brisk business. Bhopali family like to visit film in night show and it is not unusual to purchase vegetables at 11 pm.

Do not assume that this is a feature for the males, the ladies are equally active in these ratjagas and patiyas.

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5 thoughts on “Bhopal ke Patiye

  1. Its wonderful to read your lucid account of Taj-ul-Masajid. It is very informative as well. Though I have been fortunate enough to offer prayers there, especially the Eid ones, I never knew so much about it. Are you still in Bhopal.If yes I would like to meet you when I visit Bhopal. Contact me on my mail id w_khan50@yahoo.com

  2. Hi
    It seems we both share a love for Bhopal and though i have spend only 6 years of my life in Bhopal, but i can say safely today that those were the best years of my life and i look forward to the day when i can return and settle down in the city.
    You wrote that you are an ex journalist – may i know where yopu have been working and currently where you are located? Hope to hear from you.

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