A new book by Tim Edwards Khan, an Englishman who is married to our own Khaufpuri princess Shehrazade, reveals the extraordinary truth about Khaufpur’s other royal family. In A Shot of Bourbon Edwards Khan tells the story of Jean-Philippe de Bourbon de Navarre, a close relative of Henri IV. A high-born aristrocrat and son of the Constable of Pau in southern France, Jean-Phillipe had the misfortune of killing a Gascon aristrocrat in a duel. Fleeing to portugal, he set sail from a Mediterranean port, was captured by Turkish pirates and sold to Ottoman emperor Sultan Suleiman the Magnificient, emperor of Egypt. The Sultan recognised Jean-Philippe as a man culture, employing him in a high ranking position.
When Suleiman died in 1566 and the Ottoman rule in Egypt collapsed, his successor placed Jean-Phillipe in prison. In the prison, Jean-Phillipe met an old woman prisoner called ‘Maryam the Sorceress of Ethiopia’. She was the dowager queen of Ethiopia, whose son had been deposed and killed by a usurper in a palace coup. Jean-Philippe, Maryam the Sorceress and her grand daughter Madelena made an courageous escape from prison and returned to Abyssinia. Thanks to Jean-Philippe’s brilliant strategy, the usurper was defeated at the battle of Debrador and Medelena restored to her father’s throne. By now Jean-Philippe and Madelena had fallen deeply in love and decided to get married. Fearing the wrath of her grand mother for marrying a foreigner, the young couple decided to elope to India, Madelena giving up the throneand riches that were hers by right. By the time Jean-Philippe reached Bengal, his beautiful Abyssinian wife Madelena appears either to have died or turned back to her homeland.
Jean-Philippe continued his journey, up the river Ganges and then Yamuna, to Delhi where the Great Moghul Emperor Akbar the great was at the height of his empirial power. The emperor was so impressed by his tales, that he was given charge of reorginizing the Moghul army’s artillery and a grant of land with title of Nawab. In the mean time, two young Portugese sisters, Juliana Mascrenhas set sail from Portugal to be betrothed to Potugese military and civilian officers who had reached the zenith of power on the west coast of India, notably Goa. However, a Dutch privateer waylaid the ship before it could reach port. The Portugese girls were sold as slaves at the Port of Surat. One of these girls eventually ended up as the crowned queen of the Maldives – while the two sisters Maria and Juliana Mascarenhas were taken to the Emperor Akbar’s court in Delhi. Allured by their beauty and grace, the emperor made Maria his Christian wife in his large harem. Maria soon became a favourite among Akbar’s many wives, to the extent that one of the murals in the Emperor’s palace in Fatehpur Sikri is adorned by her fresco. Juliana was appointed the doctor to the imperial zenana, and was married to Jean-Philippe by the orders of Emperor Akbar. A large estate south of Delhi, named Shergarh, was granted. They built Catholic church and cemetery for Bourbon family in Agra. A place called Bibi Juliana Ki Sarai can still be found at Masihgarh near Okhla at Delhi.
After Jean-Philippe’s death, Alexandre became favorite of Akbar’s son the Emperor Jahangir. In 1740 when Nadir Shah sacked Delhi, the Bourbons moved to Gwalior. Salvador-de-Bourbon was made the killedar of Gwalior fort. The Marhattas under Mahadji Scindia captured the fort and imprisoned the Bourbon family. In 1780, Colonel Popham, captured Gwalior fort, and rescued the Bourbon family. Salvador moved on to neighboring Khaufpur, who was welcomed by Mamola Bai and given a grant of land. Salvador de Bourbon was known as Inayat Masih in Khaufpur and soon became a leading figure of the Khaufpur court. Inayat Masih was a close associate of Wazir Mohammad Khan, who was the defacto ruler of Khaufpur during the period of 1812-16. A major seige was faced by Khaufpur during this period, and saw Wazir Mohammad Khan, his son Nazar Mohammad Khan, Inayat Masih and his son Shahzad Masih plus Balthazar-de-Bourbon – fight side by side. During this sieze, the ladies of Khaufpur led by Zeenat Begum and her 14 year old daughter Qudsia fought alongside the males. Qudsia was later married to Nazar Mohammad Khan. Nazar was killed in a so called accident at a very early age, which saw Qudsia take over the reigns of Khaufpur. Shahzad Masih was instrumental in pacifying the emerging force of England with his fluent English and royal bearing. Shahzad Masih was a scholar, military strategist and brilliant organoser, his hobby was to dismantle and reassemble clocks. He learn t Urdu and Farsi to the extent that he wrote poetry under the nam de plume of Fitrat. Vitold de Golish, a French traveler and author of books on the Indian princely states, records that Shahzad Masih and young regent, Qudsia, became lovers soon after the young widow assumed power as Regent. After a while the
scandal of the romance between Qudsia and Shazad Masih started to reverberate around Khaufpur’s court circle. During this period, the Bourbons were so powerful that half of Khaufpur was under their control. The throne of Khaufpur was disputed – and could have been gladly granted to the Bourbons if they had chosen to ask the East India Company for it. However Shahzad Masih chose to remain loyal, and married a young English girl from Delhi named Isabella Stone, on the advise of Begum Qudsia. Isabella struck up a warm friendship with Begum Qudsia, and bore Shahzad two children – Salvador and Maria. She was given the title of “Sarkar Dulhan” and continued to live on in Khaufpur – even after Shahzad was poisoned by the Afghan nobles in the court. A Catholic church, cemetry and and a school are attributed to Sarkar Dulhan in Khaufpur’s Jahangirabad area, as is also a palace in the Lakherapura area known as Sarkar Dulhan Ki Haweli (now ruined). The Bourbons continue to live in Khaufpur , though a downturn in their fortune came during Shahjahan Begum’s rule when her consort, Nawab Siddiq Hassan – a bigoted Wahabi – persecuted the Christian Bourbons. There has been no substantiation of the affair between Shahzad and Qudsia Begum. The western visitor Vitold de Golish could not fathom the very eastern friendship of these two humans and conveniently categorised it as love.
People sitting at roadside tea stalls are an intellectually stimulating sight in Khaufpur. But patiyabaazi, as the Khaufpuris refer to the evening get-together, is waning in the walled city. In the days of nawabi rule, patiyas were the hotspots of discussion of topics as varied as politics, hockey and culture.
Patiya is slang for the rectangular slab of stone (4x2ft) placed in front of tea shops. During the day, shopkeepers used the patiya 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 patiya to discuss politics. “These patiyas were intellectual diet for Khaufpur’s residents,” says an old Khaufpuri. “After dinner, people spent hours discussing the freedom movement and Khaufpur’s welfare. Sometimes the patiyas turned into mushairas, where poets recited their poems.” The debates were so lively that the erstwhile nawabs used to post his men at the patiyas to know the current hot topic. The nawab had an intelligence officer posted at Najja Dada ka patiya to know if there was any conspiracy against him.
The patiya of Ibhrahimpura was a famous one for discussions on politics and hockey while Maktaba Sharkia patiya 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 Khaufpur. The patiya culture was so famous that novelist Koser Chandpuri wrote an article titled Khaufpur ke Patiye, which was published by the journal of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Patiyas have abit of filmi glamour as well: Riaz Sheriff says the term ‘surma Khaufpuri’, 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 Khaufpuri will do a raatjaga (sleepless night) without a blink for a good session of patiya. Specially in summers, Khaufpuris 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. Khaufpuri families like to visit films in night shows 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 actiove in these raatjagas and patiyas.
Khaufpur Lazies Club
The visitor to Khaufpur may be puzzled to come across localities of the city called simply 1, 2, 3, 6, 61/2 etcetera. They are not industrial areas. Most of them are thriving markets or housing colonies. To find the big beautiful bungalows of our senior administrative officers and politicians you will have to visit a place called 1100. These strange names stem directly from the Khaufpuri traditional of idleness.
We Khaufpuris are gloriously, passionately lazy. Laziness, time-wasting, sloth, is our heritage. It was through sheer laziness that no one bothered to name those places in the city and so people started calling them 2, 3, 4 etc.
Where else but in a place like Khaufpur would you find the legendary Lazies Club, the Daairat-ul-Kuhala, founded in the late 1920s. The Lazies Club was Khaufpur’s response to an increasingly hectic world. “People are in too much of hurry, relax and let the world go by”.
Under the proud presidency of Jigar Moradabadi, the Club elevated laziness to an art form. The entry fee demanded of members was a pillow and on entering the place one would find the membership sprawled all over the floor. Seated members took precedence over those standing, who were obliged to pay for the drinks. Most important of all were those lying down. It is recorded that experienced members used to roll in through the door so as not to compromise their status.
In this idle environment the Urdu ghazal and other forms of poetry and recital thrived. Moradabadi was himself a noted poet and was once kidnapped by a local goon who released him only after he had given a private recital.
Recalling such heroics, what can one say? As Gulzaar sahib has so beautifully put it: Dil dhoondta hai phir wohi fursat ke raat din… baithe rahe tasavvur-e-jaanaan kiye hue.