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'He has been sitting here for a long time, marry him'

After waiting the entire day for Sameena’s call, we called up Qazi Zakaria, to find out if he had got any suitable proposals for Shabnam.


An Arab client at the Qazi’s office in Do Tanki

Zakaria called us to his office informing that some Arabs are about to visit him in a while and that we should bring Shabnam with us, so that the bride and groom can see each other face to face.


Done for the night: The Arab exits the Qazi’s office and soon after a taxi driver follows him with a girl. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar

As we entered the room we saw three Arabs sitting in the dingy 10x10 sqft room, along with three girls (burqa clad), the Qazi and an assistant. The Arabs looked at the girls and ask preliminary questions in Arabic

Arab 1: Firstly, tell me your relationship with this girl?

Arab 2: Are you married to her? Is she married?

Bhupen: She is a friend.

Arab 3: What is her name? How old is she?

Zakaria: (Talks to the Arab) There are these three girls. There are total 5 girls. But you see these now. One girl is from Grant Road, one from Bombay Central. After a discussion with the Arabs, Zakaria informs one of the girls in her mid 20s, that the Arab has chosen her. Here is what he said:

Zakaria: Udhar mat dekh, idhar dekh. 1,000 kohli, 14 honge.

Victim: Kitna?

Zakaria: Rs 14,000. Itni der se baitha hai bechara, karle shaadi.

(One of the three Arabs gets agitated and asks the three girls to leave).

Zakaria: Give the girls Rs 500 for the trouble.

Victim: Kitne din ke liye?

Zakaria: (Shouts at the girl) Bol diya. Samajhti nahi tu. Jab bolu to samajh jaya kar. Hogaya.

(The Arab rolls out two notes of Rs 500 and hands over to Shabnam and one another girl who had been rejected) Zakaria asks where is the driver.

Zakaria: (points to the girls) You leave now. Tomorrow we will see.

(Finally after much humiliation, one of the Arabs chose one of the three girls for marriage. The deal was struck for Rs 14,000 for around ten days. One of the taxi drivers had mediated the deal for them. As we waited outside the Qazi’s office, we saw the taxi driver accompanying the girl who was selected for the marriage. He took her to the cool cab parked close to the do tanki police chowkie and was soon followed by the Arab who married the girl.) 

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