Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Small Town of Farrukhnagar

From Dauhla, we went for a day trip to Farrukhnagar, a small town near Gurgaon to help students' understand that transition from rural to urban, before we finally came back to Delhi. The trip also gave us a chance to bond with our students'. With semester system everybody is in a rush to finish the syllabus, usually there is little time left to establish rapport between students and teachers.

One student from Benaras has taken a loan of 6 lakh to study architecture (it is an expensive course!) as family was poor and wanted him to take up a more secure job in the Railways’. His ordeals and survival tales were inspiring in themselves. Sad part was the disconnect he now felt with the family.

A SC student spoke about how he had applied to another institute where the teacher while filling his form, had put in another course from what he wanted. When he tried to correct the teacher, he was told “Tum logo ke liye yehi theek hai” (This is better for you people). And our boy decided to opt for a better institute where his choice would be respected and his social identity will not be a factor in choosing any course.

A girl who was her parents’ only child, (father was a very wealthy trader) always had “a driver uncle” shadowing her everywhere including this trip. Students’ knew about it but we found out later. Students' had even arranged for a room and food for him on this trip. To return favor by students, driver uncle often gave lift to students' to different places in the big car which followed our girl. I even spoke to the father but he was paranoid about his daughter’s safety! She had a brother but nobody ever shadowed him, special treatment for the girl cause father thought 'times are bad'. My colleague told me that when she draws, her drawings are very dark,probably some pent up resentment or maybe we were assuming too much.

We had rented two buildings situated at some distance for stay (with separate rooms and attached bathrooms). These felt like luxury post-Daulah. We had spoken with a restaurant wala to provide for all meals for our group. We were back to Chowmein, Chhola Bhatoora, Rasmalais etc. Some of the students who found the Village difficult to adjust actually liked it here.(City Kids!)

Faujdar Khan established the city in 1732, the first Nawab of Farrukhnagar and a governor of Mughal Emperor (1713–1719) Farrukhsiyar in 1732. Farrukhnagar flourished due to its salt trade till the late 19th century, and was abandoned in the early 20th century, during the British Raj.
Farrukhnagar had a few tourist spots, a Sheesh Mahal where there was no Sheesha left but restoration was going on. We met a INTACH uncle here. He was old and as he spotted our group, volunteered to take us around town. He told us the city's composition changed post- Partition as most Muslims moved out of the city. Uncle was a teacher and he had found his audience in our students'. He explained about the restoration work of Sheesh Mahal, the salt trade for which the city was famous, his family and kids. The rest of the town did not match his energy. It was a sleepy place where we saw most men playing cards or just lazing around.  

He took us to the erstwhile Jama Masjid and refused to come inside and left us at a distance. The place was overtaken and now had a Mandir with almost all Gods, Sai baba, and even a gurugranth sahib. The people around did not want much publicity for the place or it would lead to trouble, so they discouraged outsiders visiting the place (our assumption!).
Uncle disagreed with them obviously. It was quite shocking to be honest. The place was restored and had the potential for riots but it seemed there was no Muslim                                                             population left in the town to object.

Once we were done at the "Jama Masjid's darshan" we found Uncle waiting for us. We almost forty of us went through lanes and by-lanes to reach the town's famous Baoli. In hot sun, it felt like a long walk but once we went inside it was quite a sight and absolutely beautiful.    

We sat there took mandatory photos and selfies and then it was time to leave Farrukhnagar. We went to the restaurant for lunch and then students took a train back while faculty hired a taxi for Delhi.

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