January 9, 2012

The Last Nizam- Part 2

In 1972 Mukkaram Jah saw some disquieting writing on the wall- the abolition of privy purses to princes and maharajas – he decided to look to other countries and lifestyles for his future.
Researching into some journals of 1980s and rare interviews to Hugh Schmitt. One can get into the mind of the last Nizam of Hyderabad on why he selected Australia as his next destination.
Why the down under - “I wanted to retain my individuality, and knowing and respecting Australians as a nation of individuals, I decided to come here. But I chose Perth quite by accident, “ Mukkaram Jah told an Australian newspaper 12 years after he landed in Perth.
After he was told about Government of India's stand on the rulers – Mukkaram sitting around with a personal assistant at his Chiraan palace in Hyderabad was discussing his next move. Suddenly he remembered he had two friends in Perth. Both doctors whom he met at Cambridge. Next week he was on a flight to Perth.
Jet landed at Perth at 2 am – and Nizam suddenly wanted to go ahead to Sydney rather than visiting Perth. His assistant made him stay in Perth. He was booked into the Transit Inn about 3 am on Sunday morning and at 12:30 pm he walked into Pier Street.
Easy going life with clean and uncrowded city – was the punch to Nizam to stay here. That's how his long association with Western Australia began.
People in the region respected him and he made it sure that they addressed him Jah rather than Prince Jah.
Mukkaram loved the sea – not the sea between Fremantle and Rottest, but the open sea.” “I once sailed my yacht Kalbarrie from Fremantle to Port Moresby, which is more than a trans-Atlantic crossing,”he said.
He was dismayed when the Federal customs department ordered his 300 tonne converted US minesweeper Kalbarrie to leave Success Harbour in 1982 because it did not conform with Department of Transport Regulations.
In Western Australia he is known as a sheep farmer who liked to tinker with heavy machinery and ride motorcycles cross-country on his 200,000 ha station called Murchison House, which is near Kalbarri.
He always was in the offence whenever someone spoke about his grandfather reputation as a mean man who smoked discarded cigarette butts, despite an annual income of more than $500 million. He responded strongly - “Seventh Nizam was not mean. He might have been frugal in his own way but what is frugality,” he would question.
Mukkaram never directly spoke to his grandfather. “ I never spoke to him directly,” he recalled – I was in his presence, but spoke to him through a chamberlain. “My grandfather would ask to the assistant: Ask my grandson how he is doing at school,' and he would ask me the same question.
“I would respond with something like: 'My honoured grandfather. I did well in my term exams.”
Born in France of a Turkish mother, he made it clear that he is more Turkish than Indian – and he looks to it.
He avoids media. Because he doesn't want any publicity. He knows that he is the Nizam of Hyderabad and that's all matter.
“I am enjoying my second marriage to Ayesha much more than the first.”
NEXT: On his wives and controversies.