Hyderabad: Smiles were back on the faces of Hyderabadis. Weekend cheer stretched to Monday as mirth and merriment descended on the city. It is the time of the year when a sense of humour prevails as Zinda Dilan-e-Hyderabad (ZDH) holds its annual programme. Hyderabadis simply let their hair down and laugh, whatever the situation.

Last two days saw people blowing away the blues with humour and satire. The most eagerly awaited event lived up to its expectations as ZDH unleashed a bagful of humour in diverse forms - prose, poetry and jokes. Of course, there was an entry ticket and it was pretty exorbitant. The audience was expected to walk in wearing a smile. Perhaps this condition played a spoilsport. The usually crowded Ravindra Bharati and Exhibition Grounds presented a near-deserted look. However, some brave hearts defied the winter chill to indulge in full-throated laughter. The two-day programme was organised by ZDH in association with Telangana Tourism.

Be it the Adabi Ijlas, Mehfil Lateefa Goee or Mizahiya Mushaira, there was mirth unlimited. The best of humour writers from all over the country ensured that people laughed their hearts out. Nadir Khan Sargiroh, who came all the way from Saudi Arabia, mesmerised the audience with his unique style of humour prose. His short and proverb-packed write-ups came as a breath of fresh air. The piece 'Pay-e-dar Paye' spread over ten lines had as many muhaware (idioms) and their timely use bowled over everyone. Nadir succeeded in creating humour by playing on the word 'paya' ( meaning goat's legs) by coming up with related phrases in Urdu. For instance, he read out: Badi der tak paye aag par aur hum intezar main galte rahe (for a long time the lamb trotters on fire and me in waiting kept roasting).

The write-up on biryani by Dr Halelema Firdous of Bangalore also proved a hit with the audience. She recounted so many uses of biryani to find a way out of tight situations that some in the audience were heard asking whether the lip-smacking dish would be served after the programme. Articles 'Khavind Bacho Tehreek' of Asad Raza, 'Terrific Traffic' of Dr Farzana Farha and 'Uf Ye Macchar' of Abbas Muttaqi were simply terrific.

The Mahfile Lateefa and humorous mushaira on Monday proved to be the icing on the cake. The joke session commenced behind schedule but its convenor, Aleem Khan Falaki, said the delay was deliberate lest it turned a joke that the programme started on time. City's senior artist, Daulat Ram, who is on the wrong side of 80, let out the secret of his health. "I never stop spreading laughter", he confided.

If Hyderabad lays claim to be the humour capital of India, it is largely due to ZDH and the humour journal, Shagoofa. For more than half a century they have been enlivening people's lives with humour and satire.

J.S. Ifthekhar

J.S. Ifthekhar is a senior journalist with nearly four decades of experience. Ifthekhar cut his teeth in journalism at the Indian Express before he moved to The Hindu. He was also associated with the Siasat Daily, Telangana Today, Deccan Chronicle, Onlooker magazine, Newstrack, Detective Digest and a few news agencies. He has written on different subjects and aspects of Hyderabadi life. However, his passion remains literature in general and Urdu poetry in particular. He is equally concerned with culture, heritage, civic affairs and problems confronting the man in the street. As a journalist he has taken up cudgels on behalf of the underprivileged and many of his stories in The Hindu saw the government promptly taking corrective measures. Ifthekhar has authored two books - Hyderabad - The Nawabi City on The Move and Haj - The Spirit Behind it. He has also translated two books from Urdu to English. Currently he is working on his third book - Poets and Writers of Deccan. Loves to write and writes to live. Can't imagine doing anything else.

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