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Pedigree

The discovering of our lineage to Tipu Sultan did not fascinate me, or the fact that some of the famous Khan names have their twigs firmly entrenched into the family tree. What interested me, however, is that both my grandparents were creatively inclined, and therefore, I set about to prod a little underneath the soil, and what the excavation brought forth is what you will find in the passages below.

My maternal grandfather, Mr Meer Basheer Ahmed Khuraishi hailed from Mysore. Although he was a wealthy landlord, his family consisted primarily of fruit merchants. My great grandfather was a business partner with Lala Ghulam Sarwar, the father of Muhammad Yusuf Khan, who is popularly known to the world as Dilip Kumar. My grandfather carried on the custom by partnering with Dilip Kumar’s brother after the demise of my great grandfather. Grandfather was one of the founder members of the Indian National Congress, The Secretary Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Honorary Magistrate of Mysore and a Board of Member of Krishna Rajendra Hospital, Mysore.

The Gandhi family, the Maharajah of Mysore, the 8th Chief Minister of Karnataka D Devaraj Urs, Basappa Danappa Jatti (the fifth Vice-President of India), Sahukar Chennaiah, the Tata family were closer aides, and of course the royalty from different states coming from such a background himself. He was a great friend with Prithviraj Kapoor, the father of Raj Kapoor, Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor and the great grandfather of Ranbir Kapoor, Kareena Kapoor and Karishma Kapoor. Ifthikar Ahmed, Shahrukh Khan’s grandfather, was a relative as well as a close friend. His other close friends were the poet and actor Mahajabeen Bano, otherwise known as Meena Kumari. Kamal Amrohi who wrote Mughal-e-Azam and directed Pakeezah and K Asif too.

He was passionate about gardening, and held the Rolling Shield for Gardening for years on end, until he breathed his last.

My paternal grandfather, C M Abdul Gaffar Khan, was a prominent timber merchant of India. He was a great admirer of cabinetmaking and threw the doors open to Metro Furnishing House in Bangalore, that made quality furniture for more than two decades. My father, a solicitor, took charge of Metro Furnishing House after the demise of my grandfather. An educationist, my grandfather was the founder of Azad High School. It was the first English Medium School started by a Muslim in Bangalore in the fifth floor of the renowned Shoukath Building situated on Silver Jubilee Park Road. The school still exists. Shoukath Building, christened after my father Shoukath Ali Khan, was the first, five-storied building, constructed in 1946 in Bangalore. It was a landmark, and the tour guides made it a ‘must see’ attraction while showcasing visitors of the achievements of our city. The building had postcards made by the government as memorabilia. Sadly, no one in the family has retained any of them. If only someone were to find any traces of anything from that era regarding the building and its collectables, I would love to hear from them.

My grandfather had authored two books, one on faith, and the other on economics. Both can be found at The Central Library in Cubbon Park, and at various libraries across the country.    

One of the greatest influences from my paternal side was Mumtaz Ahmed Khan, the founder of the Al-Ameen Educational Institutions. He is married to my father’s first cousin Zarin Taj. Mumtaz uncle is somebody I have played with at home, been with right through my school and college years, and learnt immensely from. I was pleasantly surprised to discover from historians that those who revere him for what he has done for our country and its education address him as the Sir Syed of South India, and Wikipedia calls him Baba-e-Taalim. 

When telephones were not available over the counter as they are now, one had to apply and wait for years for one’s turn to show up. My father was close to the former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral and told him that he had submitted an application for a phone one evening over a meal. In a matter of weeks, the phone had begun to ring at home.

The 25th Chief Justice of India M N Venkatachaliah, Veerapa Moily, Madhavrao Scindia with whom my father had spent time loitering about at the palaces in Gwalior were some who seriously influenced me. Biren Das, art connoisseur and owner of K C Das, sitar maestro Ravi Shankar were just some of the people I most regularly met and had interacted with from my school days.

I am told some historians have written books on my maternal as well as paternal family. Have contacted some of the authors to share their books with me. Shall upload excerpts from them once I have them in my hands.

I recall going for dinners at Raj Bhavan when the Governor Khurshed Alam Khan was in Bangalore. His wife Syeeda Khurshed, mother of Salman Khurshid, is a dear friend of my mother Dr Taj Jahan Begum. My earliest memories of my mother’s charities are when she took charge as the head (honorary) of a 50-bed hospital in a slum of Bangalore. She was the Board of Regent Member of University of Agriculture and Sciences for 2 terms. Member and Secretary of Sarvodaya International Trust started by Pascal Alan Nazareth, the former diplomat and ambassador and brother of Margaret Alva. Founder Member Ford Foundation with police commissioner and politician L Revannasiddaiah.

The leading Muslim community heads from different fields, (editors, politicians, MPs), had nominated her for the post of Member of Parliament, but being a woman she was not inclined to politics because her father had advised her that politics is not a befitting occupation for women. I remember we had met Anil Shastri, the son of the former Prime Minister of India Lal Bahadur Shastri who tried to convince her that to have people with power in politics would be helpful for the community at large, but mother was rather unwavering on her decision, and so, relented from taking up the post of Member of Parliament.