Writer's Blog

Transient Thoughts

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Daag Dehlvi

My introduction to Daag Dehlvi was through Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy, in which 'Daag' is the affectionate nickname of one of the more likable characters. The book is peppered with translations of Daag's shers and ghazals. After I read the book I was on the look-out for ghazal albums featuring Daag's work. I was quite excited when I found one Ghazal by Daag in Abida Parveen's Ghazal ka Safar album:

Le chala jaan meri rooth ke jaana tera
Aise jaane se to beheter tha na aana tera

Tu khuda to nahi ae naaseh-naadan mera, (naaseh: adviser)
Kya khata kii jo kaha maine na maana tera

'Daag' ko yuun vo mitate hain, yeh farmaate hain,
Tu badal daal hua naam puraana tera.

Don't leave me quite like this sweetheart,
Do you want me to wish that you had rather not come?

You are not God, O naive adviser of mine,
But my mistake. When you spoke I should have listened.

She wipes 'Daag' away like she would wipe away a stain,
'Change your name' She says, 'I will soon be bored with you'

Daag's USP seems to be his simplicity. Not much wit, no mystique, no bitterness, no complaint, no cleverness, no irony, no sarcasm. Just simplicity. Daag's ghazals ooze a placid contentment - the kind you would feel if you lay with your face to the sun on a mild winter morning (Or, like I used to in college, in the only-way-out incandescent warmth of a 100 watt bulb on a chill rainy night).

Ghalib's shers might make you sit up and listen to each word and in the end rush a sharp thrill run up your spine or bring goose-bumps to your forearms; Daag's shers will make you sway your head to the gentle melody and in the end might make you nod your head in approval or bring a smile to your lips.

Here's another super amazing Ghazal I found in an album by Iqbal Bano (If you find two ghazals too much to take in one day, read this tomorrow, but do read it.):

Na ravaa kahiye na sazaa kahiye
kahiye kahiye mujhe bura kahiye

(Can't figure out meaning of the first line though the intent of the sher seems clear)

Vo mujhe katl kar ke kahate hain
Maanata hi na thaa ye kya kahiye

She sighs after she has done killing me,
"Bugger never listened, what can I do!"

Aagayi aap ko masihaa-ii,
Marne waalon ko marhaba kahiye ("Marhaba!" = "Well done!")

Hosh udane lage rakibon ke (rakib = rival)
'Daag' ko aur bewafa kahiye

Sunday, August 14, 2005


Its difficult to make a remake and make it appeal to people who have seen the original. I liked the Shahrukh Khan 'Devdas' perhaps because I had not seen the Saigal one or the Dilip Kumar one. Though I liked 'Sarkar' I found it quite insubstantial compared to the original 'Godfather'.

I read in the paper that J.P.Datta is remaking Umrao Jaan. With Aishwarya Rai in the title role and Anu Mallick giving the music. And Abhishek Bacchan is going to play Farooq Sheikh's role. Bad casting and bad music plus a director not world-famous for subtlety. Bana chuke yeh mahashay Umrao Jaan. If you recall the picturisation of the song "Zindagi jab bhi teri bazm mein laati hai hame" - Farooq Sheikh and Rekha in some misty, earthy environs and the understated, melodious voice of Talat Aziz - you will know what I am talking about.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

A Mid Summer's Day Dream

Chapter 6

The earnest freshie mischieviously called Chutti (see Chapter 2) lay on his cot, alone in his room, wasting his free slot before lunch, agonizing about the falling water level in his fifteen litre can of mineral water. Again the trip to the shopping complex, again balancing the heavy can on the behind-carrier of his cycle, again the slow ride back to the hostel lest the can fell off onto the road. Hmm. Again the hauling of the can up the three flights of stairs. Again the frequent, shameless, demands by seniors, room-mates, wing-mates. Again the trip to the shopping complex, again the balancing. Again. Again. Again.

How was it back home? The large earthern pot-drum with the steel tap. With the steel tumbler placed on the lid above. Anytime you wanted you went and drank a glassful of that pure elixir - that's how ordinary water looked like to him now - without having to worry about who would replenish the store and when. Towards the evening when a humid, inadequate dusk fell and he got restless and irritable, "Go drink a glass of water," his dad would say.

And here he was, in this Godforsaken place, having to fetch water from a distance and carry it like some village woman. He flinched at this self-description.

How were they at home? How were his sisters? How was his elder sister's little kid - his nephew? He had never thought that he would only think as rarely of them as he did these days. Over phone, his mother had mentioned pre-monsoon showers but he had not paid attention. The monsoons were hardly a month or so away. Thankfully the exams would be over by then and he would be able to go back home and enjoy the rains. The breeze-less heavy downpour that fell in an orderly file, like some determined regiment, washing the dirt off the coconut and the mango trees, making the small drain-stream next to their house gurgle full with water. The lightly-dark colouring when the clouds gathered in the middle of the afternoon.

He got up and emptied the water-can into his bisleri-bottle and then hid the bisleri bottle behind the clothes on his rack.

He wore his slippers and got out of the room into the corridor. He found the The Hindu on the wing cot and sought out the weather column. The satellite picture showed no clouds anywhere in the vicinity of Madras. Mostly clear and dry. Should have thought so, he said to himself, looking at the fierce sun beating on to the quadrangle. He remembered how following the newspaper-course of the monsoon had been a favourite passtime - especially in the years when the monsoon had been thought weak, he had taken a personal interest in knowing whether the entire country had received her annual share.

Still fifteen minutes to lunch. Should he go to the shopping complex now? It was too hot out...

He needed to invent some technique to make the carrying of the can easier. A collapsible trolley? A pulley and a rope hanging from the second floor to the quadrangle. No. Something simpler. How about two leather straps that you could fasten on to the can with buckles? Hmm. That seemed promising. You could carry the can behind your back like a school-bag. Your shoulders carried the weight, your hands would be free. And you could walk, with a proud stride, swinging your arms. Chutti got suddenly excited. Now, where would he find good leather straps? Maybe at the tailor's at the shopping complex. He decided to give it a try that evening.

Another thought struck him. There had been rumours that the Engineering Design course would have a final project - one had to identify a problem and propose an inventive solution. If that rumour were proved right, he, Chutti, would have his invention all ready. He started thinking about how he would arrange his presentation, how he would describe the problem and the solution, how he would show brusised fingers and pained faces. And then in the end he would have an actual implementation ready for a demo. Then, the highest grade would be his.

Sitting still on the wing cot Chutti thought feverishly happy thoughts for the next ten minutes. A malicious-looking grin broke out on his face. His palms became all sweaty. Then suddenly he got up and went down for lunch.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Gair len mehfil mein bosey jaam ke,
ham rahen yuun tashnaalab paigaam ke

(bosey=kisses, tashnaalab=thirsty)
My rivals kiss the wineglass in your mehfil,
While here I thirst for mere word from you

khat likhenge garche matalab kuch na ho,
ham to aashiq hain tumhare naam ke

(garche=if, even if)
I will write to you even if I have nothing to say,
I just love to write your name

Ishq ne 'Ghalib' nikamma kar diya
varna ham bhi aadmi the kaam ke

Love has ruined you O Ghalib,
Otherwise even you might have become something

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I am writing a lot these days. But none of it can appear on my blog. Not yet, atleast. Because it is all technical stuff and it is all going into a paper I am writing for TI-India's internal technical conference. Like all 'defined-output' writing projects I take up I did not at all enjoy writing the paper. Writing was laborious, a chore, a burden. But now that I have almost finished it feels like it was worth it. I am enjoying the writing in retrospect. Besides, all the writing was done using LATEX - that precision document creator which can even make junk look like Godspeak - with figures and diagrams which look as if they are only there for aesthetic value.

I hope someday ieee will agree to accept a paper from me and then I will be able to scan it and put it on my blog.