Archive for October, 2009

I was thinking about the pain of love and the poet who celebrated it through his lines.

Love is pain. It gets into your veins and poisons your heart. It tricks the neurons in your brain until you think about the same person all day long and meet him or her in your dreams. Pretty scary thing, I should say.

Love varies with the person, with the circumstances; so does the way it hurts. Unexpressed love, unrequited love, unattainable love, sacrificed love… There are more, I’m sure. But great works of art was born out of this feeling.

The universal feeling of love remains the same, and its expressions, timeless.

When one is away from his beloved and is remembering the times they spent together, when one ponders on the ways to express love, when one broods over the unhealed wounds of love… a Ghazal is born.

The Arabic meaning of the word Ghazal is ‘conversation with the beloved’. This from of poetry consists of rhyming couplets and a refrain. The from originated in the 6th century Arabic verse and became a prominent from of Persian and Urdu poetry.

What I love about Ghazal is it makes the pain of love even more beautiful.

Raziya quotes-

Dil-e-naadan tujhe hua kya hai
Oh my naive heart, what has befallen you?
Aakhir is dard ki dawa kya hai
After all, what is the remedy for this pain?

Main bhi muh mein zabaan rakhtaa hoon
I too have a tongue in my mouth
Kaash pooche ke mudda’a kya hai
If only I was asked about my view

Ham ko unse wafaa ki hai ummeed
I have hopes of faithfulness from her,
Jo nahi jaante wafa kya hai
Who knows not what faithfulness is

Maine mana ke kuch nahin “Ghalib”
I admit that it is nothing, “Ghalib”
Muft haath aaye to bura kya hai
What is bad if it comes to hand gratis?

Raziya once told me, had she lived in the era of the author, she would have definitely fallen in love with him. She idolizes him (and thus makes me envious).

He is Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan (1797 – 1856), better known in his nom de plume Mirza Galib.

The legend of Galib is as alive now as it was two centuries back. The spontaneous overflow of his powerful feelings, the emotions recollected in tranquility, stood the test of time. His poetry is addictive, I admit, just like good wine, even though I have no knowledge of Urdu or Persian.

Mirza Galib was born in Agra, India (love and Agra, you know the connection!). He ruled the empire of the most poetic language on earth- Urdu. They say what Shakespeare is to English, Galib is to Urdu. He is one among the most admired poets of all time, one among the greats this country has ever produced.

He began writing poems at the age of ten. He wrote in many genres of Urdu and Persian but fame came, posthumously, through the Ghazals he wrote. Galib pushed the Urdu language forward and created magic through to expressions of life’s numerous pains and philosophies. This made Ghalib’s poetry a masterpiece. He made the language beautiful and bestow life into it. His works have been translated into several Indian and foreign languages. Films and television serials were made on his life and writings.

Though he was an angel of love his personal life was tragic. He was an alcoholic and faced financial difficult. The death of his children added to his misery.

A few of his lines Raziya likes.

Dil he to hai, na sango-khisht,dard se bhar na aaye kyun
rooyen ge hum hazaar bar koi hamain sataye kyun

It is a heart after all, not a stone or a brick; why should it not overflow with emotion?
We weep a thousand times, why should anyone make us cry?

Jab woh jamaal-e-dil firoz, surat-e-meher-e-neem roz,
kya aap hi ho nazaaraaye soz, toh parde mein moh chupaye kyun

When you are a sweet heart, your face is like a half visible moon,
When you are the most delighting scenery, then why hide your face in veil.

_ _ _

Daam har mauj mein hai,hal-qaeh sadqaam nihang,
dekhen kya guzre hai qatre pe, guhar hone tak

There are storms in every tide, crocodiles everywhere,
Let’s see what misfortune and obstacles befall in the way of the drop of rainwater which finally turns intoa pearl by reaching into the shell

_ _

ghuncha e naa-shagufta ko duur sey mat dikha key yuN
bosey ko poochtaa huN maiN, munH se mujhe bataa key yuN

Do not pucker up and show me: ‘like this’
I ask about a kiss, show me with you lips.

jo yeh kahey ki reekhta, kyuN kar ho rashk e farsi
gufta e ghalib ek baar, paRh key usey sunaa key yuN

If anyone asks, ‘how can urdu compete with farsi? [in poetic beauty]’
Show him the verse of Ghalib and say: ‘like this.’

The Big Eyes…

Posted by on Oct-25-2009

The sun was rising, spreading its light and wiping the darkness out.  The ship began sailing…

I was on the deck, gazing at the port.

We were moving away from the port, the sights were becoming smaller. I could only see the light house.  It was just the size of my finger. Then I saw the ship’s binocular.

I zoomed in… then zoomed out… tried to adjust the knob… I was able to see, but it wasn’t clear. I tried to focus … everything was crystal clear now.

I could see them in there normal size.

Binoculars are really amazing, bringing things closer from a distance.

While gazing through the binocular I felt like a private detective, trying to prove a case as in all formula movies.

I slowly turned around… nothing… but I could see the sky and the blue ocean… Like in the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge I chanted

“Water water everywhere but no drop of water to drink”.

I could only say that as I could see only the water and blue sky touching the ocean at a distance.

I focused through the binocular again. I could see the dolphins at a distance, fizzing out. Jumping and enjoying. It looked like they were taking a sun bath.

Ship’s binoculars have a magnification of 20-power, with an apparent field view of approximately 70 degrees. They are mounted on a weight adjustable carriage. Ship’s binoculars consist of the binocular assembly, carriage assembly, and the pedestal.

Binoculars in general are a pair of identical or mirror-symmetrical telescopes mounted side-by-side and aligned to point accurately in the same direction allowing us to view with both eyes.

We can see what ever we want to see with those “big eyes”.

Time’s winged chariot

Posted by on Oct-16-2009

The river was flowing to meet the sea, the winds were blowing to meet the mountains and I was with my beloved Raziya. She was with me holding my hands gazing towards the west where the sun is setting down. She was bit disturbed with the hair that’s falling on her face driven by the west wind.

She was looking as beautiful as when I saw her the first day. Even I live for a thousand years I could not describe how much I love her. I feel the time is slipping from my hand and soon we will grow old. The time is flying like a winged chariot and it is chasing us to grow us old.

This reminded me only of these few lines.

Time’s winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound

I can only describe it through these few lines by Andrew Marvell through his poem To his Coy Mistress. The poem contains many striking images, is very intense and uses many strong metaphors.

He is a marvelous metaphysical poet in the 17th Century. Marvell’s poetry is often witty and full of elaborate conceits in the elegant style of the metaphysical poets. Many of his poems were inspired by events of the time, public or personal.

To His Coy Mistress is a witty metaphysical form of poetry. The poem is often considered an argument for the concept of ‘carpe diem.

Birbal’s Kichaddi

Posted by on Oct-10-2009

Of all the art forms are man has ever invented, cooking is the best.

Or so I think right now, sitting in the living room, waiting for food to be served…

Unfortunately I was flipping through a tabletop book of recipes and the multicolor photographs of dishes were adding to my appetite. Nice good thing to do when you are hungry!

There was no sign of anything from the kitchen. I thought I should go inside and do an inspection myself. I was thinking of things like ‘If cooking is an art my Raziya is Pablo Picasso in it’ to say. But no, it’s not wise to provoke her right now.

Entering the kitchen what I asked was this “Are you making Birbal’s Kichaddi?”.  Slip of the tongue.  How else can I justify it?! But fortunately Raziya like that story. This time I’m tell the story.

One day Akbar asked Birbal “Will a man do anything for money?”

Birbal replied, “Yes”. The emperor ordered him to prove it.

The next day Birbal came to the court along with a poor Brahmin. He was so poor that his family was starving.  Birbal told the king that the Brahmin was ready to do anything for the sake of money.

The king ordered the Brahmin to be inside the frozen pond all through the night without any attire if he needed money.  The poor Brahmin stayed inside the pond the whole night. He returned to the durbar the next day to receive his reward.

Akbar asked “Tell me Oh poor Brahmin! How could you withstand the extreme temperature all through the night?”

The innocent Brahmin replied- “I could see a faintly glowing light a furlong away and I withstood with that ray of light.”

Akbar refused to pay the Brahmin his reward saying that he had got warmth from the light and withstood the cold and that was cheating. The poor Brahmin could not argue with him and so returned disappointed and bare-handed.

Birbal tried to explain to it but Akbar was in not mood to listen.

The very next day Birbal was missing in the durbar. Akbar sent a messenger to him to enquire. The messenger came back and said that Birbal would come to the court only after cooking his khichdi.

As Birbal did not turn up even after 5 days, the king himself went to Birbal’s house to see what he was doing. Birbal had lit the fire and kept the pot of uncooked khichdi ten yards away from it.

Akbar questioned him- “How will the khichdi get cooked with the fire ten yards away? What is wrong with you Birbal?”

Birbal replied, when it was possible for a person to receive warmth from a light that was a furlong away, then it is possible for this khichdi, which is just ten yards away from the source of heat, to get cooked.”

Akbar understood his mistake and rewarded the Brahmin.

Moral of the story- I was hungry that I forgot to think. You find out and mail me.

My Raziya was cooking ‘Raziya’s Murg Noorjehani’.  I will tell her to post the recipe here.

The proof of Murg Noorjehani is in the eating.

Bon appétit to me!

An Ode to the Nightingale

Posted by on Oct-3-2009

The yellow colored light was flickering on Raziya’s face, the light from the camp fire.

Evening. Chilling breeze. Starlit sky.  Raziya.

She is beside me, but she is away.  Raziya is contemplating.

She has bound herself in a chiffon shawl. I can barely see her eyes.

I waited for her to break the silence. And she does.   She softly raises her voice and says a few lines. A poem this time.

Here, where men sit and hear each other groan
Where Palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs
Where youth grows pale, spectre thin and dies,
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow,
And leaden-eyed despair
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eye
Or new Love pine at them beyond tomorrow.

Yes I can recollect it; it is from the Ode to the Nightingale by John Keats.
I asked Raziya why did she whispered these few lines.

She slowly raised her voice and said- “Yesterday when I was sitting on the bank of river. I heard a nightingale singing and this reminded me the great ode by Keats. My thoughts went wild and I started thinking about life and death”.

Raziya’s words turned me speechless.  Nothing is immortal and everything has a painful end.

Ode is a lyrical verse. ‘Ode to the Nightingale’ revolves around the concepts of immortality, the problems of being human and Keats desire to join the nightingale. The nightingale represents perfection, everlasting beauty and its immortality is a stark contrast to the temporary nature of a human life. In this Ode he suggests two ways to immortalize the blissful moments. First, he wishes for an ‘easeful death’ at the blissful moment to eternalize the bliss. Secondly, he wants to take the help of ‘the viewless wings of Poes’, that is, poetry, to perpetuate happiness.

Keat’s odes are fine examples of a perfect paradox. The idea of joy in immortal beauty and acceptance of transience form the basis of Keats had mastered the technique synthesizing the two. Thus, the theme that recurs in all the odes is transience versus permanence. Keats is one of the romantic poets apart from William Blake. Ode to the nightingale is based on the nightingale who had built its nest near his home in the spring of 1819.

The poem was the second of the five great odes of 1819. In his odes Keats is emotionally concerned with the fleeting nature of beauty, joy and love. He is always pre-occupied with finding a way of perpetuating the ephemeral.

Death is accepted as something inherent in the cycle and ripeness implies dissolution. The problem of transience and permanence, thus, vanishes. Keats finds an earthly, human, natural paradise which ‘whoever seeks abroad may find’.

Now, yet again, Raziya is silent. I’m waiting…