By Ambiya Saleem
High School, Naperville, Illinois.
After many long years of hard work, dedication, imagination, and anticipation, the tireless efforts of many came into fruition in front of hundreds just last weekend. On Saturday, September 15, over 500 Hyderabadis from across the US and Canada gathered at Ashyana Banquet Hall to celebrate the 10th anniversary of CharminarConnection.org. Its hard to believe that the Charminar Connection has already been around for ten years. Growing up, I would always hear about Charminar Connection and the various events that it hosted, but I never really understood the magnitude of it until very recently. This past summer while visiting my grandfather, Mirza Ahmed Baig, in California, I witnessed all of the behind-the-scenes planning that went into the 10th Anniversary Dinner. He was constantly on the phone and answering emails, making sure everything would gosmoothly, and boy was it a success!
Mr. Pervaiz Baig, founder Charminar Connection, welcomed the great gathering of Hyderabadies. The celebration, which was emceed by Mr. Hyder Syed, kicked off with the presentation of flowers to Mirza Ahmed Baig, Pervaiz Baig, and Faiz Khan by Mr. Malik Khan. This was followed by a fashion show, which was sponsored by Raaz Boutique. The theme of the fashion show was a traditional Hyderabadi shaadi, complete with a bride, groom, and bridesmaids, not to mention traditional Hyderabadi attire. The dresses were beautiful, of course, but the highlight of the night was the hysterical skit written by Ms. Laiq Owaisi, and performed by four hilarious ladies, who had the entire party laughing until there were tears in their eyes. After the introduction of all present Charminar contributors, and countless others who made the event possible, then came the presentation of several awards to those who admirably represented the Hyderabadi community in arts, languages, medicine, literature, community service and architecture. The night concluded with a wonderful performance from Javid Raza, who serenaded the audience with their favorite songs from Old Bollywood.
As someone who was born and raised in the US, I was more than happy to embrace my Indian heritage.
The CharminarConnection 10th Anniversary Dinner epitomized Hyderabadi culture at its best. Everyone showed up in shalwar kamis and sherwanis and rumi topis, and for a moment, it was as if the room had been transported back to Old Hyderabad. Everyone was having a good time and socializing, and I finally understood why my Nana is so enamored with the city. Itâ€™s not often that one witnesses such a fine display of oneâ€™s own culture, especially after moving half way around the world. As the waiters passed around copious amounts of lukhmi samosas, the entire hall was full of the appreciative croons of hungry guests. The dinner included two types of biryani, kebab, bagara baingan, and warm, soft, buttered naan. Everyone received a parting gift of delicious, sweet, Badam ke jaali, artfully prepared by Vilayath Sadiq.
The anniversary dinner went off without a hitch, and I am extremely proud of my grandfather and my uncles Pervaiz Baig, and Q. Ali Yar Khan, for what they accomplished that night. Not only did they manage to host a successful, entertaining celebration, but they were also able to bring people together. My Nana, for example, proudly told me about friends that he has managed to keep in touch with since high school, finally seeing them in person for the first time in almost fifty years on Saturday. The Charminar Connection Anniversary Dinner, much like the CC website, miraculously brought together old friends and new ones, and helped build and sustain long-lasting relationships through the bonds of tehzeeb and culture. Others whose contribution led to Saturdayâ€™s success include: Sabera Yar Khan, Mr. Hasan Chishti, Zaineb Ekbal, Mr. M.A.K. Iqbal, Laique Owaisi Khan, Mr. Khaja Kamaluddin, Zehra Rahman Khan, Mr. Sharafat Hussain, & Asfia Iqbal.