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Delhiwale: Last days of the way we are

Riyaz’s shop is a relic: everything from its fixtures to its machines is working but out of date

delhi Updated: Jan 18, 2018 11:27 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
Delhiwale,Dilliwale,Muhammed Riyaz
Muhammed Riyaz in his shop in Old Delhi.(Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

Whatever you may think, this isn’t an exhibit at the National Museum.

Instead, we find ourselves in a musty bookbinding establishment steeped in the very essence of the Walled City. Everything looks, well, out of date, and “everything works beautifully,” according to Muhammed Riyaz, the bookbinder himself.

We encounter him standing alongside his machine, bare feet atop piles of paper shavings. “I know, this machine is dated, so dated that the manufacturer’s name on that little metal plate has long faded,” he says.

“We’ll be getting something new very soon, and even replace those old wooden beams holding up the roof with real PoP (plaster of Paris),” he adds.

This is an old family enterprise inherited from his father, with part-time assistants who’ve worked at the press for decades. But change is on the way. “I have to modernize, brand-new really! My children are growing up,” notes Mr Riyaz.

Some of the old fixtures are so impressive that they look like a collector’s artefacts. The ceiling fan, for instance, should be a drawing room showcase. Though the establishment will be modernized, “that’s a very very old fan, but still giving us hi-fi breeze.”

It stays, Mr Riyaz confirms.

All this modernization takes place in about two months. Until then, visitors are encouraged to drop by, here in Old Delhi’s Galli Chooriwalan.

First Published: Jan 18, 2018 11:26 IST