March 05, 2007

Different Shades of Mirza Ghalib.

There is no doubt why so many admire him and look at him as the most wonderful poet both Urdu and India has ever produced. He indeed was the most famous among them all, not only during his own time but even 150 years after his death. I myself don’t understand Urdu a lot but as an UnLearner I am very much interested in his works. My intention is purely academic and that of UnLearning. Pundits of Urdu poetry say that the best way to feel and understand Urdu is to understand Ghalib. A man of great stature he stands out among great Urdu poets like Mir, Rumi and Hafiz. He was even better an expressionist than all of them. Not so elegant or graceful in expression I am unable to express what I feel about his greatness.

Ghalib was his pen name which literally means conqueror in Urdu and without any doubt he conquered uncountable hearts. What Shakespeare is to English literature is Ghalib to Urdu. His contribution not only to Urdu literature but to the world of literature in general is immense.

I am unable to decide what is better in Agra, Taj Mahal or the feeling that Ghalib roamed around those lanes of the city. Faint feeling of his presence must be there in the air of Agra and Delhi. Though his theme style and way of expression was different from Kabir, he was true descendent of him in many senses. Unlike Kabir his path was of love and devotion rather than Bhakti or worship, but the essence or meaning was and is one and the same. Today we can regret that we neither have poets like Ghalib nor Delhi-Darbar Mushairs but ruins of his words with us. Posterity of Urdu literature can never forget these lines from the maestro.

Piyoon sharaab agar khum bhee dekh loon do chaar
yeh sheesha-o-qadah-o-kooza-o-suboo kya hai?

[Khum = wine barrel; qadah = goblet, wine glass; kooza/suboo = wine pitcher]

When you drink look at the empty bottles around you. What is this wine barrel and wine glass?

No translation can express what can be expressed so well in Urdu.

Wine was the other great love of this great poet, besides the beloved. For him beloved were his lover and God alike. God was feminine for him. Urdu language has this beauty of describing things beautifully and more poetically than any other language. For Ghalib, wine was more important than anything else in the real world around him. For him it was an art as important as poetry itself, or may be more than that.

I can see few striking similarities between him and few of the literary giants of his time. He also was an aristocrat like Leo and Oscar. May be there is this strange relation between aristocracy and good writing and poetry. Genuinely I confess that most of the writers or poets I love are either from aristocratic backgrounds or they are very rich. May be only rich can have all the time and patience in the world to write about such things at length and they get admirers too. In last few days I have experienced this personally. They were rich not only in monetary terms but also in their ability of expression of feelings and understanding of human nature. They all were rebels. They never made noise about the social reforms because they knew that nothing much could have been done with the society. Their work just reflects how well they understand life.

Famous American journalist and literary critic Burton Rascoe rightly said, “What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window.” Leo experienced this during earlier part of his married life. Just in the beginning of War and Peace he put these words in Prince Andrew’s mouth, "Never, never marry, my dear fellow! That's my advice: never marry till you can say to yourself that you have done all you are capable of, and until you have ceased to love the woman of your choice and have seen her plainly as she is, or else you will make a cruel and irrevocable mistake. Marry when you are old and good for nothing or all that is good and noble in you will be lost. It will all be wasted on trifles. Yes! Yes! Yes! Don't look at me with such surprise. If you marry expecting anything from yourself in the future, you will feel at every step that for you all is ended, all is closed except the drawing room, where you will be ranged side by side with a court lackey and an idiot!... But what's the good..."

Ghalib’s relationship with his wife was even worse than this. Married at the age of 14 he was a true rebel while his wife a god fearing woman in worldly sense. Some of the most popular and the best work he gave the world were created between the age of 13 and 17. By the time he was 17 he said that he was ’through’ the poetry. He was born a wise and old man I imagine. Just like Leo and Oscar he also passed through mental agony during later part of his life. May be, knowing too many things too early in life was a cruse he suffered from throughout his life. Ignorance is really bliss. More and more you know more and more you suffer until you attain the fountainhead of ultimate truth. But that is a process, you have to know more and more in order to UnLearn things you have learned all your life. I think Ghalib failed here. It seems from the incidents in later part of his life as if all his efforts went south and he was unable to hold his frustration. This gaazal by him describes that better.

Those faces of death I see sometimes
in the rose and tulip but only a few

Daughters of the sun behind that sweeping dress
what were you thinking coming naked to the night

He is the one for whom sleep has widened
on whose arm your hair is lying

We made breaking the pattern a pattern of living
when friends kept dying faith overtook us

I have wept for all I have seen I am young
these cities should sleep in the dust of desires

Few of his letters have been translated in to English by Ralph Russel. Ghalib also contributed in the development of Urdu prose writing and gave it new directions. Few of his letters translated are also available for online reading.

This Shar best describes his rebellious nature as a lover.

Ragon mein daudte firne ke ham naheen qaayal
jab aankh hee se na tapka to fir lahoo kya hai?

You can listen to all beautiful songs and Gaazals by Ghabil sung by various famous artists here, including famous songs from movie mirza ghalib:

This is one very long Soundtrack, around about 10 hours of Gaazals. Drag-Drop progress bar on player to listen to different songs.


Urdu and Hindi or Hindustani are very similar to each other and evolved side by side for almost 500 years.They are sister languages. They developed from the same indo-european branch of languages and have similar words and grammar. Both of this languages borrowed words from Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian and Prakrut.

Poet's full name:
Mirza Assad Ullah Khan Ghalib written in urdu as: Image Hosted by

Glossary for non urdu-hindustani speakers.
Sharaab-Wine, Sheesha-Glass, Qaayal-Bound, Ragon-veins, Aankh-eyes, Lahoo-Blood.

© 2007 Creative Commons License 20Box

March 04, 2007

Colors of Life

Holi Celebrations.
Smell the color, feel the color, taste the color.
March Celebrations Continue.

March 03, 2007

Curious about Colors of Life


Holi HallaBaloo

Tomorrow is festival of colours. Usually in my youthful days, I use to enjoy the nuisances of HOLI. But as I am growing older I have uncomfortable feeling of being drenched in water colours and sprayed colours in my body, just because it would entail rigorous scary bath. What shall we do tomorrow is yet to be decided. But it sure we will indulge in liquor and chicken binge in the evening. Great reformer of all ages Dr. R S strongly propounds the consumption of chicken during weekends. We will perhaps get some nice delicacies from landlord or tiffin service. May be some over enthusiastic neighbour may come to play holi with us, but we will not bum around. We would stay at home with Dr.R S reading his DICTIONARY and I may be browsing through Sunday Paper. I hope all my friends in some way would enjoy the colours and feast. Best of luck to them. My dear Dr. saheb is coming to CST, where I work, to buy a DUMB-BELL. He wants to broaden his shoulder and tone up his muscles. He believes power lies in muscles. I will help him to carry the massive 10 kilo bumb-bell to home.
Enough for today…

Holi hain…

March is here and things have started hotting up. Is holi today or was it yesterday? I don’t know. The other day I was invited to play holi. I refused immediately. Reason? Even on normal days I don’t like to take bath and it takes a lot of effort to clean you after playing holi.

The union budget was a disappointment. On the B-day, I woke up early and switched on the television. The finance minister started his speech at 11:00 a.m. Things went on smoothly for about one and a half hour. But, as soon as the FM started talking about taxes, our wise electricityman decided enough is enough. The current went off. When the electricity came again, the speech was over.

However, the railway budget was great fun. The best television entertainment I had in the last one year. Lalu Prasad Yadav, the turnaround hero of Indian Railways, announced the budget in his inimitable style. The opposition was shouting like hell and didn’t allow him to speak. But, he was undeterred. In fact, it seemed he was enjoying it.

Global stock markets are nervous these days and our market is also not immune. Strengthening yen has kick-started global equities sell-off. Investors are turning away from risky assets. Thankfully, the inflation number which came yesterday looks decent. Interest rates are rising and will rise even further if the rate of inflation doesn’t come down to reasonable levels.

My mobile phone has suddenly gone on silent mode without giving any warning. Now it only vibrates. God know what has happened? My guess is it has become tired and wants to take some rest. I respect the decision. Anyway, nobody call me except some telemarketing guys.

March 02, 2007


Taking a break from humdrum life of Mumbai, I have made up mind to blog today. My life here has getting stable day by day. I think I getting accustom to daily work and traveling and weekend binges. I think my life is stuck in a rut. But, there is no time to relax. I have to be on the toes at work and make war-footing effort to meet my ends. How I am doing it..god only know. Energy seems to be floating in the air of Mumbai. I have never worked so hard in my life for any purpose or cause. I have been live life of privileged ones, now I realize. What made me come here sometimes I contemplate. But what is the point in thinking it. Actual point to ponder is what the hell I am doing in this world. Leaving aside the philosophical aspects of life I will discuss worldly matters. Sabu is now a ball of fire. His marathon writing and now what he has started posting colorful images and pictures is laudable. He speaks his mind and his mind speaks what has been written in all archaic books he has been reading all the time. But Blog is quite happening now. Anando Baba who likes to call himself Anando Rocks has gone in hibernation, once he was quite active and forthcoming. I think his LT is sick. It’s good to go on sabbatical when there is nothing worthwhile to write. I am again looking forward go on vacation with my oldies in Baroda. But Anando is silent in this matter. He was supposed to take leave in March but no communication further in this regard. I really don’t have any peg to write, I am drifting from one topic to another. Dr. R S has again rekindled his passion of Dictionary reading. Unlike us he is truly studious and laborious. He has all the qualities to become successful except will power. We are planning to buy a TV to watch the upcoming world cup. If we could get one, I hope till world cup there will be good TP. few days back I got strange news that Rajat ( my ex-classmate) was making fortune in KBC. I immediately rushed to the neighbor’s house to see the episode, but he was not Rajat. It was his brother Rakshit who was sitting on the hot chair. Both are twins and look similar. SRK was pretty impressed by his wealth of knowledge. He picked away 12.5 lakhs. Rajat made Special appearance through phone when Rakshit took his last lifeline(phone to friend option) and Rajat had as usual answered question correctly.

logging out....see u soon.

March Moods

I suffer from this not very common and incurable disease of I have all the time and patience in the world syndrome. I am brainwashed. Don’t you use any advanced search options to find the culprits as I accept I am the only one. I am in such a state for past sometime now that it seems as time doesn’t exist inside my room. I have not moved out of this room for almost a week now and I am not tired of it at all. I am in meditative mood. Reading is my favourite time pass here in Ahmadabad. Clouds of pollution are not as thick as they were before two years still I prefer to stay inside.

For a change I read short stories for quite some time now. Few of them are very old and few even older. From Aristotle to Gogol and Panchtantras to Pushkin they try to preach me things. Funny. They say they know where the sheep are and who the wolves are. I don’t understand these words as I have not learned anything from those stories that had been taught to me during my initial stay on this planet. Since my childhood days, way back in 1007 B.C., I have seen government agencies bombarding this kind of advertisements on Indian Television. They say that mother’s milk and grand mother’s stories are most important for a child’s growth. Even my childish day dreaming can not allow me to imagine I can have either of them now. I don't read those stories for the reasons they describe. They just help me to kill time. That is all.

These stories never impressed me much though I understand their importance in a child’s psychological growth. These are not just fables or ancient stories. These are the initial steps to prepare a child for his first lessons in social and so called moral conditioning. For centuries they have successfully used this shrewd ways to corrupt beautiful minds. Cultures world over have tried this tactics down the centuries to organize and form more and more obedient societies. And for that they need obedient children. These stories just help them to prepare more hypocrites. But rebels have left their trace in all ages.

I have just finished one other not so short story – The Coffee-House of Surat by Leo Tolstoy. It is in no way related to whatever I just have written but the story was not very interesting. Neither the presentation was impressive. I have read and heard thousands of stories, especially of this kind of, since my childhood days (remember my age) and I knew from the very beginning that what could be the end of it or what the moral of the story is. India is the motherland of this kind of stories and may be that is why Leo chooses Surat - a small port city in western part of India as the location for his story.

The story begins with a conversation between a Persian theologian and his slave, and they discuss about existence of god. This one line description is enough for my very old and wise friends. By now you must have understood how the Chinaman, the student of Confucius, answered all the questions asked by visitors of the café including Italian priest that evening. Or if not than you can download this little short story with few other stories here. It is only less than a half MB and takes few seconds to finish download.

And now. First time in last year or so I have not smoked for the stretch of full ten days. My laziness and meditative reading mood prevented me to go anywhere outside. I have no cigarettes here and am in no mood to go out and purchase. Only once daily I go out of this room and my house and that is when I go for my early morning exercise. Thirty minutes from now I will be riding my bicycle on the shimmering roads of Ahmadabad. My main motive behind all this exercise is not the exercise actually. I am not very health conscious. I am not health conscious at all. I just enjoy dew, mist, fog and fresh air.

Here in Ahmadabad I miss them a lot, morning mist and fog of Phursatgunj, but I don’t miss my old companion. My cigarettes. I have decided not to smoke too regularly for sometime in near future. At least until colors of life celebration ends on the 20box. Unlike it happened in past visits to home my health has not improved this time even though I have quit smoking. I also exercise in the evening. May be I have consumed a lot of energy in reading late nights. My body is not that youthful and not jives anymore. May be I have consumed my body. After all I am not a Youngman any more. I am 3014.

March 01, 2007

March Celebrations

Second in the Series are two colorful posters of summer noon. how wonderfully they describe the subtle nuances of sensuous summer afternoons.

welcome the summer sun

A Sensuous Summer Noon

March Celebrations

I have decided that i am going to celebrate the month of march by posting few bright and brilliant posters here. They say such beautiful things that i am forced to post them all here. First in the series is one COLORFUL poster preaching PEACE. Theme for this March Celebrations is Colors of life. If you have any suggestions about this theme please feel free to comment me.