Monthly Archives: August 2017

Restoration of Humayun Mahal to begin soon

Chennai, TAMIL NADU :

HumayunMahalMPOs31aug2017

Estimate to be presented in 2 weeks

The Public Works Department (PWD) has set the ball rolling for the restoration of the historic Humayun Mahal on the Chepauk palace complex. It is set to submit a detailed estimate of the work necessary to renovate the structure in a fortnight.

After the successful restoration of Kalas Mahal, which will house the National Green Tribunal, Southern bench, from September 2, the PWD is now focussing on renovating the structure located next to it. This is the first structure that the new Building Centre and Conservation Division, formed by the PWD, will restore.

Constructed in 1770, the single-storey structure was once the residence of the Nawab of Arcot. Spread over 66,000 sq. ft., the building also has a connecting corridor to Kalas Mahal. Officials said nearly 50% of the roof has collapsed and needs to be rebuilt. “The estimate we will present will have details on the type of special materials needed, their availability and the special rates for renovating heritage structures,” an official said.

Unlike the other buildings, separate rates have to be arrived at for sourcing special construction material, such as limestone and flooring tiles. “We also need to collate data on places, such as Karaikudi and Virudhunagar, where these materials would be available. Once the estimate is prepared, we will be able to arrive at a uniform rate for the restoration of heritage structures,” the official said.

Based on the work taken up in Kalas Mahal four years ago, the renovation of Humayun Mahal is likely to cost at least ₹35 crore. The dilapidated structure once hosted various government offices, including those of the Agriculture Department, Social Welfare Department and the Directorate of Tamil Development.

Removing rubble

One of the main challenges is to remove the heaps of paper and rubble inside. Besides suffering the impact of the fire that ravaged Kalas Mahal in 2012, a portion of Humayun Mahal was affected due to a roof collapse and a minor fire in 2014. The search for funding is also delaying the project. Once the tie-up for funds is finalised, restoration work can begin in two months, the official added.

Meanwhile, the PWD is coordinating with various government departments to collate data on heritage buildings across the State.

source:  http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / bu K. Lakshmi / Chennai – August 30th, 2017

Barefoot footballer Ahmed Khan no more

Bengaluru, KARNATAKA  / Kolkata, WEST BENGAL :

Ahmed Khan. | Photo Credit: Handout E Mail
Ahmed Khan. | Photo Credit: Handout E Mail

Ahmed Khan, the last of India’s glorious generation of barefooted footballers who made a mark on the 1948 Olympic Games, passed away here on Sunday.

He was 90 and died due to age-related issues. Khan, who was also part of the Indian sides that won gold at the Asian Games of 1951 and went to the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, will be remembered as a gifted inside-left who mesmerised spectators with his ball control.

He played for East Bengal for a decade, and formed part of a feared five-member forward-line — Sale, Dhanaraj, Appa Rao and Venkatesh the others — nicknamed the ‘pancha pandavas’.

“His close control was so good that they called him the snake-charmer, for he could make the ball do his bidding,” recalled I. Arumainayagam, who turned out for India at the 1962 Asian Games.

“We used to call him paambati. His death is a big loss to Indian football.”

Khan was born in 1926 into a family of footballers. His father, Baba Khan, was captain of local club Bangalore Crescent, while two of his uncles turned out for Mohammedan Sporting in Kolkata.

Ahmed’s three brothers — Amjad Khan, Sharmat Khan and Latif Khan — all played football at various levels.

As early as 1938, Ahmed joined Bangalore Crescent, where he played alongside his father.

He is best remembered, however, for his role in the 1948 Olympics in London, where India lost its first-round match in heartbreaking fashion to France but made a deep impression on the public.

In a report for The Hindu dated September 25, 1948, A. Ramaswamy Aiyar wrote: “Raman and Ahmed, the left-extreme and the left-inside, hail from Bangalore. They showed uncanny control over the ball and had perfect understanding.

“It was a treat to watch them move with the ball, interchange positions and run rings round the defence. They kept the audience spellbound and moved with such ease that they were described as a pair of wizards.”

“After winning the Rovers Cup with Bangalore Muslims, he joined East Bengal in 1949 and played for the club for the next 10 years.”

In a statement, East Bengal general secretary Kalyan Majumder hailed him as a “barefooted genius” and perhaps the greatest player the club had ever seen.

“With outstanding individual brilliance the barefooted Khan was capable of deciding the fate of any match all by himself. Even after boots were made mandatory I recall his outstanding performance in the 1958 IFA Shield final when he along with Balaram destroyed Mohun Bagan to win the Trophy,” he said.

“One also recalls the spectacular goal he scored against Yugoslavia playing barefooted in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.”

Khan’s death was condoled by the Karnataka State Football Association. He is survived by his wife, Rabia Begum, and children Majid Khan and Parveen Begum.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Sport> Football / by Special Correspondent / Bengaluru – August 28th, 2017

Life at a funeral

Bengaluru, KARNATAKA / Kolkata, WEST BENGAL  :

AhmedKhanMPOs29aug2017

As Ahmed Khan is laid to rest, kin feel blessed to belong to the same family as the football great; contemporaries remember him as a humble man who loved the game

Amjad Khan sat quietly sipping chai, unmindful of the cacophony raised by a line of four-wheelers jostling for space on the narrow, single-laned Mackan Road. His brother Ahmed, arguably India’s greatest footballer who passed away on Sunday, had just been laid to rest and the mourning — for now — was over. The multitude, that had turned out to pay their respects and attend the funeral, had departed and house #75 — the house of ‘Ahmed, the Olympian’ — was slowly returning to ‘normal’.

A smile spread across Amjad’s face when he was asked about his brother. With every sip of chai that he took, Amjad’s eyes took on an even more vacant look as his mind went back in time. “What makes a man great? This is how I analyse it,” Amjad, also a former India international, said. “You could say Ahmed played up to 1958, right? Public memory is generally short. We watch a good movie and don’t remember it a month later. But if people remember this man, after 60 years of his playing career, then he must have done something extraordinary.”

There was pride in Amjad’s every breath. It was the predominant feeling shared by those in house #75. A feeling that stemmed from simply being associated with the bloodline of India’s greatest dribbler, fondly nicknamed ‘the Snake Charmer’ by the English media. Even Mannan, a grandson who was born decades after Ahmed hung up his boots, said he was “proud to just be born in the same family as Ahmed”.

Inside the house, Mannan proudly pointed to Ahmed’s trophies, a collection that was put on display just above the freezer box that contained Ahmed’s remains only hours ago. Numerous tributes by East Bengal, Ahmed’s club in Kolkata, were laid out. “The Padmashri has lost a bit of its sheen today because it was never awarded to Ahmed,” Amjad remarked on the conspicuous lapse of the Central government’s attention to a man who had bagged the gold in the 1951 Asian Games.

Among India’s greatest football heroes, Ahmed is right up there. As an inside-left (withdraw striker), Ahmed played in two Olympics (1948 and 1952) and won every domestic trophy that was up for grabs with East Bengal. “You know the thing about cotton? Whatever you throw on cotton, it never bounces back. That was Ahmed’s dribbling prowess,” Amjad said. “My father used to say that if Ahmed had not become a footballer, he would have become India’s best athlete. You know, when he was studying in the St Aloysius School in the city, he never used to carry books to the school. Instead, he used to take a small ball, a tennis ball, and practise dribbling on his way to school and back. That explains his gift.”

Ahmed was part of the deadly ‘Panchapandavas’ of EB, a forward line also comprising P Venkatesh and PB Saleh on the flanks, Apparao as the inside right and Dhanraj in the centre. When asked whether the gold medal was Ahmed’s top moment as a player, Amjad laughed. “That was just okay,” he said. “Have you heard of Sahu Mewalal, the guy who scored the winner at the 1951 Asian Games? Every year in Calcutta, where he used to play for Railways, he was the top-scorer of the league. Dhanraj wanted to overthrow Mewalal and asked Ahmed to do something for him. In one game, this gentleman (Ahmed) dribbled past everyone, even the goalkeeper, and called Dhanraj to the post to tap it in. That year, Dhanraj became the top-scorer. Scoring goals was Ahmed’s wish when he was playing.”

I Arumainayagam, the 1962 Asian Games gold medallist from the other time that India ruled globally, called Ahmed an inspiration. “We used to learn from watching him play,” he said. “We used to name ourselves ‘Ahmed’, ‘Dhanraj’, ‘Basheer’ and emulate their style. We, of course, couldn’t play as well as they did, but they influenced us greatly.”

More than anything, Ahmed was a fine human being. The 1952 Helsinki Olympics showed that. India were humiliated 1-10 by Yugoslavia and Ahmed repents that he was able to score only one goal in that game. Outside the Olympics, he often used to skip practice sessions while playing for East Bengal which made people wonder at his talent. He also preferred to play barefoot, shunning boots when the occasion afforded it. He was also fond of playing cards and often drew players from rival club Mohun Bagan into a round after a football game. During one such game, he was up against Sailen Manna, Bagan’s top defender of that era. “Manna was trying to convince Ahmed to play for Bagan,” SS Shreekumar, a former journalist and Ahmed’s friend, said. “This was in a room packed with footballers from Bagan and their supporters who were watching them. Eventuall, Ahmed agreed to play for Bagan. The entire room was stunned on hearing it. But Ahmed had one condition.

Manna asked him what it was. He told Manna that he will have to play for EB and the room burst into laughter.”

Shreekumar wonders what could have been had Ahmed accepted an offer to play for Swedish club IFK Göteborg. “He was named East Bengal’s best forward of the millennium,” Shreekumar said. “But when IFK Göteborg contacted Ahmed, his father asked him to consult his club, East Bengal. Jyotish Chandra Guha, a former secretary of EB who had scouted Ahmed, was worried about losing him. He downplayed Ahmed’s future in Sweden by suggesting it would be too cold and that the locals might put him down because he would be the only Indian there.”

While the tributes kept pouring in, Amjad’s tea was done. But the smile remained. “There are two things which makes football interesting – scoring goals and dribbling,” he added. “Ahmed found it interesting because of the second reason.”

Today, Ahmed Khan is no more. But ‘Ahmed Khan Olympian’ will live on forever.

source: http://www.bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com / Bangalore Mirror / Home> Sports> Football / by Aravind Suchindran, Bangalore MIrror Bureau / August 29th, 2017