1 October 2023

An evening transported by a “Thumri”

The beauty of the words can only be bested by the tune. Both of which are from Rabi Guha Majumdar. While there are many renditions of this song – and most would say Feroza Begum is the absolute authority on this, I would lean equally to the one by Kaushiki Chakraborty.

Translations of any poem never can carry the whole impact since emotions find it infinitely more difficult to cross language bridges than words do. That said, it might be instructional to remember here that while the song is ostensibly about the moonlight, metaphorically, it is referring to the person the poet loves.

Also, if you are not familiar with the traditional Indian dress “saree” – it is a long flowing piece of cloth that women wear with great elegance.

Anyways, the words of the first stanza go…

“জোছনা করেছে আড়ি
আসেনা আমার বাড়ি 
গলি দিয়ে চলে যায়,
লুটিয়ে রুপোলি শাড়ী”

Roughly speaking, (improvements welcome)

“She is upset with me like never before
For no more does she grace my abode
Quietly, she moves thru the neighboring lane
Sweeping all along with her saree’s train”

9 September 2023

This brought back some memories of my brother and sister

It was 1982. I was in tenth grade. My sister was in eighth and my brother in fifth. Early that year, every loudspeaker in any event in the neighborhood worth the flickering tube-lights that adorned them had the “Zamaane Ko Dikhana Hai” songs blaring at decibel levels that would make a steam engine back off. There was a particular one – “Hoga Tumse Pyara Kaun” that had completely gotten into the heads of us three siblings. We used to sing the song all day long.

The lilting tune was set to the rhythm of a steam engine’s motion. I have not seen the movie – or any that you can name – but I can imagine the scene had a man and woman singing on the roof of a train or something like that. I may not know my movies but I do know my steam engines. The instruments bring out a steam engine’s sounds extremely well while keeping the mellifluous flow of the words.

In our house, while growing up, watching movies (specially Hindi movies) was a big no no. Listening to Hindi songs was frowned upon grimly. Parents called them “lareylappa“! Not sure how to translate that – uncouth? boorish? lout? But this song got to my mom too!! I recollect she mentioning she had heard that song on her way to school and the tune was nice.

That was all the license we needed to sing the song whole day long!!

17 June 2023

Some old Mohd. Rafi classics to start off the day

“হারানো দিন বুঝি আসিবে না ফিরে
মন কাঁদে কেন স্মৃতিরও তীরে?
তবু মাঝে মাঝে আশা জাগে কেন?
আমি ভুলিয়াছি, ভোলেনি সে যেন
গোমতীরও তীরে পাতার কুটিরে
আজও সে পথও চাহে সাঁঝে ”

Quickly translated (improvements welcome)

The lost days are not coming back
Tears well up as memories roll by
Yet, sometimes the hope surfaces
Maybe she has not forgotten me fully yet
In that small hut by Gomti, perhaps
She still awaits at the sunset

(Gomti is a river – a tributary of the Ganges – in India)

11 May 2023

An evening with Iqbal Bano

Iqbal Bano – the Malika-e-Ghazal – had the perfect voice for classical ghazals. Born in India, she married and moved to Pakistan. Sang some unforgettable numbers in her career.

Did you know April 21st is known as the Black Sari Day in Pakistan. Look up the reason – how she rebelled against the military rule that was curbing women’s freedom to dress as they willed and as a result was banned from any national programs by the (military) government.

This rendition is of a poem written by none other than Mirza Ghalib.

“Taskin ko hum na roen
Jo zauq-e-nazar miley,
Huraan-e-khuld mein teri
Surat magar miley.
Apni gali mein mujhko na kar
Dafan baad-e-qatal,
Mere pate se khalaq ko
Kyon tera ghar miley?”

Roughly translated…

I will not be crying for comfort
If I behold your approving eyes
Should I perceive your countenance
Among the virgins of paradise

Do not bury me in your own street
After you have slayed me (with your beauty)
Why guide others to your address
When they come looking for me?

1 April 2023

Throwback to those years when we had a big house

And I had my own music room to practice my tabla. She was out for our dear friend’s birthday. That gave me a chance to get in touch with my inner self…

In the poet’s words…

“Mere aansuon pe nazar na kar
Mera shikwa sun ke khafa na ho
Use zindagi ka bhi haq nahi
Jisey dard-e-ishq mila na ho”

My rough translation…

“Please do not look at my tears
Please do not get upset with my complaints
You do not even have a right to life
If you have not gone thru the pangs of love”

18 March 2023

Saturday evening calming down

An evening by myself with Habib Wali Mohamed. I expect very few listeners today to recognize him. He had focused most of his time on studying and running his family business. But in between, when he recorded some songs, they were golden. Born in Yangon (Burma), he lived twice in India, twice in Pakistan and twice in the USA (first time he got a MBA from Syracuse and the second time was in his sunset years – he died surrounded by his family in Los Angeles).

This rare LP is one more that I inherited from Deval’s dad.

Thank you Deval, Krupal and Shaku : without your magnanimity, this evening would have not happened for me.