7 November 2020

Weekend music session

This one is from Gulzar. We grew up listening a lot to this song. I think this was featured in a Hindi movie. (not an expert on Hindi movies – so not sure of it though)

Naam gum jaayegaa, 
Chehra ye badal jaayegaa,
Meri aawaaz hi pehchaan hai,
‘Gar yaad rahe

Roughly translated…

My name will be lost to your memory
And I will look very different too
But my voice will still be recognizable
Only if you are able to remember it

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4 November 2020

Jhorna!! (Bengali alert)

This morning mom reported that amidst the continuous pain my dad is going thru (he is having a real rough time), he had a bright spot when my sister came over and talked about his recitations. My dad used to enjoy reciting Bengali poems – mostly Rabindranath Tagore’s poems. (as in any self-respecting reciter born in the early to mid 1900s Bengal would do).

Looks like he gave it a shot at reciting when my sister brought up the topic.
I asked mom “Which poem did he recite?”
“Nirjhorer swapnobhongo”, she said referring to one of his old time favorites.

Just to engage mom, I asked “What does Nirjhor mean?” After a couple of minutes she gave up. And I let her know the meaning of that Bengali word is a “waterfall” (cataract, cascade).

She immediately asked me “Onno jhorna-r kabita ta mon-e aachhey?”. She enquired if I remembered another famous Bengali poem describing a waterfall. I did remember the one she was referring to. My dad used to recite that one too.

Written by Satyendranath Dutta – often referred to as the Wizard of Rhythm – it is an absolute masterpiece. Each and every word is golden. But the cadence/tempo of the words as you recite them is impossible to forget. There is no amount of translation that can do justice to the words. Certainly there is no way of carrying the rhythm in any translation.

I did remember the first paragraph. It has been impossible to forget ever since our Bengali teacher in eighth grade – Mrs. Gita Mitra – had taught this poem. Such lilting and catchy is the tempo.

Later looked up the whole poem. Turns out I had forgotten most of the rest of the poem. Which is a shame. It is an absolute gem of a poetic talent. Here is the whole poem for my Bengali friends…


ঝর্ণা ! ঝর্ণা ! সুন্দরী ঝর্ণা !
তরলিত চন্দ্রিকা ! চন্দন-বর্ণা !
অঞ্চল সিঞ্চিত গৈরিকে স্বর্ণে,
গিরি-মল্লিকা দোলে কুন্তলে কর্ণে,
তনু ভরি’ যৌবন, তাপসী অপর্ণা !
ঝর্ণা !

পাষাণের স্নেহধারা ! তুষারের বিন্দু !
ডাকে তোরে চিত-লোল উতরোল সিন্ধু |
মেঘ হানে জুঁইফুলী বৃষ্টি ও-অঙ্গে,
চুমা-চুম্ কীর হারে চাঁদ ঘেরে রঙ্গে,
ধূলা-ভরা দ্যায় ধরা তোর লাগি ধর্ণা !
ঝর্ণা !

এস তৃষার দেশে এস কলহাস্যে-
গিরি-দরী-বিহীরিনী হরিনীর লাস্যে,
ধূসরের ঊষরের কর তুমি অন্ত,
শ্যামলিয়া ও পরশে কর গো শ্রীমন্ত;
ভরা ঘট এস নিয়ে ভরসায় ভর্ণা;
ঝর্ণা !

শৈলের পৈঠৈয় এস তনুগত্রী !
পাহাড়ে বুক-চেরা এস প্রেমদাত্রী !
পান্নার অঞ্জলি দিতে দিতে আয় গো,
হরিচরণ-চ্যুতা গঙ্গার প্রায় গো,
স্বর্গের সুধা আনো মর্ত্যে সুপর্ণা !
ঝর্ণা !

মঞ্জুল ও-হাসির বেলোয়ারি আওয়াজে
ওলো চঞ্চলা ! তোর পথ হল ছাওয়া যে !
মোতিয়া মোতির কুঁড়ি মূরছে ও-অলকে;
মেখলায়, মরি মরি, রামধনু ঝলকে
তুমি স্বপ্নের সখী বিদ্যুত্পর্ণা
ঝর্ণা !
—-

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30 October 2020

The other aftermath of Zeta

The other day, the weather forecasters warned us that Storm Zeta will be going thru where we live. Which got me thinking how many storms have we had this year? US storm naming has an interesting pattern. Every year we start with the letter A (first storm is named starting with A – it was Arthur this year) and then go thru B, C … The names alternate between male names and female names. The starting name alternates between male and female every year. Did you know you can submit your own names to NOAA?

Back to the count. There are no names with Q, U, X, Y, Z any year. So, there are 21 names every year. What happens when we have more storms like we did this year? Turns out, we give up all pretensions to innovation and go straight for Greek Alphabets – Alpha, Beta etc etc.

Back to Storm Zeta. The Greek letter (upper case) for Zeta is “Z”. This is where my confusion started… Did we have 45 storms this year? (21 English names and then 24 letters in the Greek Alphabet).

It was Sunjay Talele who reminded me that “Z” is only the sixth letter in Greek Alphabet. Which, in turn reminded me that, once upon a time (my ninth grade to be precise), I had found all the Greek letters enumerated in a page in the back of the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary my dad had bought for me. I had even learnt them by rote.

I figured, 40 years later, might as well learn once more the letters and how to write them in lower case and upper case. After four days, I can now write all the letters backwards (omega to alpha) and can ace all the quizzes on Greek Alphabets – at least the ones I could find on the internet.

Will see how much recall I have a week from now…

The confusing letters for me included eta (“H”), zeta and xi (cannot write the letters in English script). And I always get confused with “o”. Tend to think of it as omega rather than omicron.

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17 October 2020

Weekend decompression: Yeh Na Thi Hamari Qismat!

This one is from Mirza Ghalib:

Yeh na thi hamari qismat, ke wisaal-e-yaar hota
Agar aur jeete rehtey, yehi intezaar hota.

Tere waade par jeeye hum to, yeh jaan jhoot jaana
Ke khushi se mar na jaate, agar aitbaar hota

Koi meray dil se poochhey, tere teer-e-neemkash ko
Yeh khalish kahan se hoti, jo jigar ke paar hota

Kahoon kisse main ke kya hai, shab-e-gham buri balaa hai
Mujhe kya bura tha marna, agar ek baar hota

Huye mar ke hum jo ruswa, huye kyun ka gharq-e-dariya
Na kabhi janaaza uth ta, na kahin mazaar hota

Yeh masaael-e-tasavvuf, yeh tera bayaan Ghalib
Tujhe hum Wali samajhte, jo na badaa khwar hota
 

The translation is from Khuswant Singh. Other than the lines I marked with ##. Those two lines were not there in the version Khuswant translated.

To be united with the beloved was not writ in my fate,
Had I lived any longer, it would have been the same long wait.

I lived on your promises, I knew they were not true,
Would not I have died of joy had I believed in you?

Ask my heart about the pain of love and it will tell you
The half-drawn bow’s the assassin, not the arrow that pierces through.

To whom can I speak of sorrows that come with the fading of light?
Death would be welcome, if it did not stand at my door every night.

##Disgraced as I shall be in death, why not I drown in the sea?
##Fated, as I am to not have a funeral, nor a tomb erected for me. 

Your concern with mystic problems, Ghalib, your language is such
You could have passed off for a saint, had you not drunk so much.

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9 October 2020

Friday evening winding down

This was is from Hakim Momin Khan Momin. Commonly referred to as “Momin”, the poet lived in Delhi and was contemporary to Mirza Ghalib.

“Woh jo humme tumme qaraar thaa
Tumhein yaad ho ke naa yaad ho
Wohi yaani vaada nibhaah kaa
Tumhein yaad ho ke naa yaad ho

Woh jo lutf mujh pe the beshtar
Woh qaram ke thaa mere haal par
Mujhe sab hai yaad zaraa-zaraa
Tumhein yaad ho ke naa yaad ho”

Roughly translated,
“The agreement that we had between us
Maybe you remember, maybe you do not
That promise of being together
Maybe you remember, maybe you do not

That joy that was always with me
That kindness that was bestowed upon me
Every bit of those memories are still with me
Maybe you remember, maybe you do not”

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3 October 2020

From the pen of Nasir Kazmi

“Naye kapde badal kar jaun kahan
Aur bal banaun kis ke liye

Wo shakhs to shahar hi chhor gaya
Main bahaar jaaun kiske liye


Jis dhup ki dil ko thandak thi
Wo dhup usi ke saath gayee

In jalti bujhti galiyon mein
Ab khak udaoon kiske liye

Wo shahar mein tha to uske liye
Auron se milna parta tha

Ab aise-waise logon ke naaz
Main uthaun kiske liye

Muddat se koi aaya na gayaa
Sunsaan padi hai ghar ki faza

In khali kamron mein ‘Nasir’
Ab shamma jalaun kis k liye”

The rendition for this evening was by Ustad Gulshan Mir – dad of the Noorani sisters.

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18 September 2020

Friday evening … an attempt to get in touch with the soulful side

“Unki nazron ne kuch aisa jadoo kiya
Loot gaye hum to pehli mulaqat mein
Sharaab seekh pe daali,
Kabaab sheeshe mein
Jo baat thi unko kehne ki
Wo baat hi kehna bhul gaye
Gairon ke fasane yaad rahe
Hum apna fasana bhul gaye”

Roughly translated…

“Her mesmerizing glance had this magic on me
I got devastated the first time I met her

(/*so discombobulated I was by her beauty that */)

I poured the wine on barbecue skewers
And served the meat in the chalice

What I was going to chat her up about
I completely forgot to bring up
I remembered to tell the stories of total strangers
But forgot to tell her my own story”

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