Irshad Mia, Aadab, wherever you are

You may call this a web-age  message-in-the-bottle,  tossed out into the sea, waiting to be found.  This post,  addressed to a long lost friend Irshad Panjatan, is done in the hope that if he were to Google this piece,  he would know how to find me.  Irshad and I haven’t been in touch for nearly five decades now.

He was nowhere in my thoughts till the other day, when I watched this 2007 German movie  on Lumiere channel.  Irshad plays a role in Reclaim Your Brain, about a bunch of social outcasts, out to revolutionise German TV by meddling with ratings monitors connected to people’s TV cables. Despite ageing  his face –  the only Indian in the film – seemed familiar, though I couldn’t put a name to it till the end. The film’s credit-lines settled it.  He was  Irshad Panjatan

Irshad and I used to meet in New Delhi  Janpath coffee-house in the 60s.  Then an upcoming mime,  Irshad was into the theatre movement; I was on its fringe, and, as an aspiring reporter, I had access to rehearsals by artists of  The Hindustani Theatre,  at Shankar Market. They rehearsed, after-hours, at office space loaned by Mr Anand, a benovelant archtitect with a flair for theatre. 

We had a couple of common  friends and coffee-house regulars –  O P Kholi,  M S Muddhar who ran a youth magazine –  sustaining  our contact ,  though I had little interest in mime,  which was Irshad’s passion. Of these three Kholi is no more and I am not in touch with the other two.  Another friend T R Kini,   blogged about his first encounter with Irshad – in mid-60s.  

Kini,  then a reporter in  New Delhi daily,  Patriot , was sent to interview Irshad. Describing him as a mime artiste in the mould of Marcel Marceaux,  Kini blogged:  Irshad had hitchhiked from New Delhi to London via Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Italy and France and Germany.Irshad earned money by performing his unique art of mime in local schools and colleges.He had an easy time traversing half the globe both ways, getting written about and interviewed by local newspapers along the way and had a bulging Press cuttings folder to prove it. His audience realised that mime broke through boundaries of language and,indeed,needed no language to communicate.

Irshad’s return from his adventure travel through Europe  occasioned the newspaper interview.  And Kini observed that Irshad seemed in good health, ‘none the worse for the months he had spent on the road with a rucksack on his back’.  And when Kini mentioned his own plan to hitch-hike  through Europe,  Irshad  offered to write to his brother in Anakara – an economist seconded by the UN to the Turkish Government.  Months later, when they hitch-hiked  from New Delhi to London,   Kini and his friend Subash Chopra  were given ‘interim shelter and care ‘ in Turkey by Irshad’s brother.


3 Responses

  1. I do hope he reads this and gets in touch with you.

  2. I wish you meet your long lost friend.

  3. I do hope we will get to read Chapter 2 of this story!

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