Grandpa Amr Bahabara, telling the story of his travels to India and his work and study of the language in the Indian sultan castle located in Mumbai, India.
Omar Saeed Bahabara
From the city of Mukalla, Al-Salam Neighbourhood.
I was 6 when me and my three siblings, Awwad, Mohamed and Ahmed, moved to Mukalla after my mother died in the city of Gaiel Bawazir. Soon after we arrived to Mukalla city, our father died, may God rest his soul!
After that, all roads closed on us and we had to find a way to make a living. And thank god, me and my three siblings got through with what we could.
In the Sultan Castle
Grandpa Omar in the Sultan Saleh Bin Ghaleb Al-Khaietie
Brother Yahya Ali Bin Ali Al-Haj, whom we call ‘Safi’, told me that the Sultan Saleh wants active boys to work in the castle and run private errands from the market. He then took me with him to go through a test with a group of other boys, and I was one of the boys who passed the test. Afterwards, I continued to serve at the sultanate castle with the sultan Saleh.
I studied at the Sultan Saleh Bin Ghaleb Al-Khaietie castle, under the supervision of one of the private tutors who were brought by the sultan Saleh to teach us. I still remember the name of the tutor who taught us, his name was ‘Awwad Omar Al-Ammary’, and it was an intensive study.
The Travel to India..
The cruise trip from Mukalla to India
After a while working in serving the sultan Saleh in the castle, I traveled with the Sultan to India. We traveled from Mukalla to India by a cruise called ‘Radwan’, we sailed from the port of Mukalla to India and it took us 6 days to arrive to India. Regardless of my young age, I was assigned as a private attendant to the sultan as the sultan used to depend on me to run his errands from the market. I was 16 years old when I traveled to India with the Sultan, we spent 4 years there and we went back to Mukalla in 1949.
Cinema and learning the Indian Language
While accompanying the sultan Saleh in India I learned the Indian language through the cinema theatres in India. I was very fond of the Indian movies, and I used to watch them so much that I could speak to the people in Indian language. I traveled to Saudi after I got married in 1951, and worked as Indian language translator with one of the Haj arrangement companies for the Indians. I settled in Saudi for three years, until I went back to Mukalla in 1954 to start my own business in Candy production.
The return to Mukalla...between the illness and the candy making
Soon when I arrived to Mukalla from Saudi, I opened a small candy factory. Then the Bahabara family was famous for candy making, and I continued in this business until I had my heart disease in 1974. At that time, there were very good services for the local citizens, and soon after I was diagnosed, there were orders to transfer me to Aden to get the medical care needed under the supervision of an Indian-American mission. And thank god, I got treated and went back to Mukalla. I did not own a house then, hence I had to rent an apartment in the Salam Neighbourhood. The rental fee was 25 Shilling, until I bought a land and built my current home in the Salam neighborhood in Mukalla, next to the ‘Basaa’r’ mosque.
The old neighbourhood folk stories in Mukalla.
The truth is that there are memories that bounds me to the ‘Basaa’r’ mosque. I remember when I moved to my house, the mosque was built on a foundation of palm trees, and the water used to be drawn from the private well through ‘Alsanawah’, which is a bag made of leather and is hanged by a thick rope. This bag is then dropped down to the well and is pulled out by a man who ties the rope around his waste, this man is called ‘Alsani’. Today, this mosque infrastructure has completely changed and the water comes through pipes, and that is all through God’s blessing.
There are other memories that connects us to Al-Salam Neighbourhood, especially in the month of Ramadan. During this month, there would be gatherings for Quran recitation in the mosques open yards, and where candy is sold and distributed and this continues until late hours at night. These gatherings continue until the 28th of Ramadan, to then start the preparation for Eid celebration!