Bhrigu's question

कभी जो याद भी आता हूँ मैं तो कहते हैं के आज बज़्म में कुछ फ़ित्ना-ओ-फ़साद नहीं - मिर्ज़ा ग़ालिब

Name:
Location: the valley, California, United States

Bay Area, Strategy Manager, Haas- U. C. Berkeley, Marathons

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Ruke Ruke Se Qadam

Ruke Ruke se Qadam is a couplet from a ghazal by Mir Taqi Mir. Gulzar used the couplet to create his own poem in three films:

1. The original was used in a Bengali film called "Lal Pathor" (music by Salil Choudhary).

2. Then came the famous version from 'Mausam', which had another famous song, "Dil Dhoondhta hai" which is a couplet from a ghazal by Ghalib. Gulzar used the first three couplets of the ghazal below in that film. The music was by Madan Mohan.

3. Gulzar used the next four couplets in Shyam Benegal's "Mammo". The last couplet of the film was later removed from the film and so, it ended up with three. The music was by Vanraj Bhatia

रुके रुके से क़दम रुक के बार बार चले

रुके रुके से क़दम रुक के बार बार चले
क़रार लेके तेरे दर से बेक़रार चले

सुबह ना आई कई बार नींद से जागे
थी एक रात की ये ज़िंदगी गुज़ार चले

उठाये फिरते थे एह्सान दिल का सीने पर
ले तेरे
क़दमों पे ये कर्ज़ भी उतार चले

ये फ़ासले तेरी गलियों के हमसे तय न हुए
हज़ार बार रुके हम हज़ार बार चले

न जाने कौन सी मट्टी वतन की मट्टी थी
नज़र में
धूल जिगर में लिये ग़ुबार चले

ये कैसी सरहदें उलझी हुई हैं पैरों में
हम अपने घर की तरफ़ उठके बार बार चले

न रास्ता कहीं ठहरा न मंज़िलें ठहरीं
ये उम्र उड़ती हुई ग़र्द में गुज़ार चले


ruke ruke se qadam ruk ke baar baar chale

the following 3 couplets were used in Mausam

ruke ruke se qadam ruk ke baar baar chale
qaraar leke tere dar se beqaraar chale

qaraar = quietness, quiet, peace, tranquillity
beqarar = without
qaraar

subah naa aa_ii ka_ii baar nii.nd se jaage
thii ek raat kii ye zi.ndagii guzaar chale

uThaaye phirate the ehsaan dil kaa siine par
le tere qadamo.n pe ye karz bhii utaar chale

The couplets below were used in 'Mammo'

ye faasale terii galiyo.n ke hamase tay na hue
hazaar baar ruke ham hazaar baar chale

na jaane kaun sii maTTii watan kii maTTii thii
nazar me.n dhuul jigar me.n liye Gubaar chale

jigar = The liver; the vitals; the heart; mind; spirit, courage
Gubaar = to pass, or pass away,' &c.), s.m. Dust; vexation, soreness, ill-feeling


ye kaisii sarahade.n ulajhii huii hai.n pairo.n me.n
ham apane ghar kii taraf uThake baar baar chale

sarhad = Boundary, boundary-line, frontier, confines

This couplet was removed from Mammo

na raastaa kahii.n Thaharaa na ma.nzile.n Thaharii.n
ye umra u.Datii huii Gard me.n guzaar chale

gard = revolving; traversing, travelling or wandering over

Monday, April 25, 2005

Sometimes..wars are not absurd

The following is a response to this article.

Let me play devil's advocate.

Actually, some wars are necessary. I would deem Lincoln more courageous than Gandhi (and more true to the lessons of the Bhagavad Gita) for having had the will to fight the civil war for 4 long years at terrible cost. It ended up saving the country and actually helping the union survive. Not many confederates and unionists killed each other after 1865.

Compare that to our pig headed insistence on a fake peace in 1947 - when we were winning the war in Kashmir. We not only lost more than a million lives due to partition, but have lost thousands more in the next five decades.

Sometimes a quick full-scale war is preferable to prolonged agony caused by terrorism or a war of attrition. For the sake of the soldiers and the citizens!

Wars are not absurd. Just ask the survivors of Auschwitz or Birkenau.

The library as savior

Here's a post from my old blog in response to this wish.

The library, as savior

John Wood held an MBA from Kellogs and was working at Microsoft, when he decided to trek in Nepal sometime during 1998. He came across a school library which contained hand me downs from visiting tourists - Danielle Steele, Tom Clancy and the like. The librarian explained that the children were very eager to lap it all up and it was a pity that they could not access more useful literature. Wood, immediately thought of the philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie, which helped build public libraries across the US.

Wood decided that he would be the Andrew Carnegie for Nepal. He asked a few people to donate books so that he could ship them to that country. He was overwhelmed by the response. Thus, "Books for Nepal" was born. Soon, he was able to build about 100 libraries across Nepal. These were no-frills, books only places where kids could learn. People from other countries started to encourage Wood to open branches in their countries. Sabeer Bhatia of Hotmail [Microsoft] asked Wood to open branches in India. The organization, now renamed Room To Read took off! Currently, it operates in Nepal, India, Cambodia.

By September 2003 - in roughly 4 years - they have:
Built 50 schools
Established over 500 libraries
Shipped over 200,000 books
Established 20 computer and language labs
Funded over 120 long-term scholarships
It doesn't cost much to build schools and libraries in South Asia. Find out more about Room to Read at their website.

Wouldn't it be great to get involved as volunteers for them, in India and in the US? A few hours per month is time well spent.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Interesting Blog

Abhijit Bhaduri caricatures -literally -his MBA experience at his Medicore, But Arrogant blog (MBA). Excellent stuff.

Bahadur Shah Zafar takes a bath

Sometime last year, I had a discussion with some folks on the topic: "should context & the poet's intention be relevant while interpreting a poem?" This went into a long argument, during which a couple of gents [Shri. Zafar and Shri. Afzal] gave terrific info about the background of a Ghalib couplet. I wanted to save this for posterity as well as spread knowledge about this topic that I was fortunate to enough to gain from these gents. Fascinating stuff.

==========

Zafar wrote:
...some stuff snipped....

Some people might want to argue that all this is churned up by the West and has nothing to do with our own literary tradition. But there are examples to the contrary: in the Orient, too, the author's viewpoint never enjoyed absolute command. Maulana Hali, for example, opines in Ghalib's bio, Yaadgaar e Ghalib (1897), the first and the best book -- by some distance -- on Ghalib so far:

"Another meanings of this she'er [a Persian couplet] are more intricate and polished -- and nearer the spirit of the current age -- which Mirza (Ghalib) might not have had in his mind while writing it."
Allama Iqbal, too, in connection with a she'er of Maulana Girami (great Indo-Persian poet and a contemporary of Iqbal) wrote that "it's not important if Maulana didn't have 'this' meaning in his mind."

Moreover, in my humble opinion, a poet should not try to interpret his own kalaam, a point that I have raised before as well on these pages [on ALUP]. A few weeks back, in a meeting of the Halqa e Arbaab e Zauq, Islamabad [a literary club, found in 1939], a critique of a poem of the renowned poet Aftab Iqbal Shameem was presented. As is the custom of the Halqa, many people commented on the poem, and there was some disagreement as to what it actually meant. Somebody asked Shameem saahib if he had anything to say. His reply is a quotable quote:

"Whatever I had to say I've already said in the poem; if I add something now, it will mean that the poem was incomplete in the first place and I must rewrite it!!!"
The famous surrealist painter Magritte -- when asked what's behind his paintings -- used to say, "Behind my painting is the canvas, behind the canvass is the frame and behind the frame is the wall." :)

In the end, I'd like to quote a passage from Plato's "Apology", which, some people declare, is the best introduction to the Western philosophy yet. In one section of this book, which is actually a speech Socrates gave in his defence at the occasion of his famous trial, he is arguing that he met scholars, politicians and others to learn something from them. Finally, he went to poets:

"Accordingly, I took them some of the most elaborate passages in their own writings, and asked what was the meaning of them - thinking that they would teach me something. Will you believe me? I am almost ashamed to speak of this, but still I must say that there is hardly a person present who would not have talked better about their poetry than they did themselves. That showed me in an instant that not by wisdom do poets write poetry, but by a sort of genius and inspiration".
aadaab arz hai,

Zafar
=========

Quizman wrote:

The following is from the same Ghalib book that I've mentioned before.

shah ke hai ghusl-e sehat ki khabar
dekhiye kab din phiren hammam ke
The news is that the King will take his bath of recuperation
See when the fortune of the bath will turn

I would have no idea what the above meant were it not for the book's author, who has explained that King Bahadur Shah fell ill for a prolonged period of time. He took a bath of recovery on 23rd November 1853. This poem was written to wish him well.

Is my understanding better since I found out the reason behind the couplet? I think so.

Cheers
Quizman
==============

Zafar replied:

Shah ke hai Ghusl e sihhat kee Khabar
dekhi'ye kab din phireN hammaam ke
I'm not sure how the name (Bahadur Shah Zafar) and the date (Nov 23, 1853) *add* to the aesthetic pleasure -- if any -- the she'er is supposed to provide to the reader. Couldn't it be any king or any nawwab (say Kalb Ali Khan or, for that matter, the British Resident to
Delhi), and any date (say July 19, 1844)?

The rest is manifest from the text (rather than the context) of the she'er.

Moreover, I think Ghalib did not leave anything about this particular she'er -- as far as I know. (There are 14 ash'aar in all, btw, that he tried to explicate in his writings.) So how does it disprove the theory of the Fallacy of Authorial Intention? How would one know what Ghalib *really* meant by this she'er? All we have is the text of the she'er alone to play with. na'eeN?

Not convinced? Okay, lemme try to elaborate:

June 9, 1866: Ghalib wrote this famous Ghazal in a letter to the Nawwaab of Rampur:

daa'im paRaa huvaa tire dar par naheeN hooN main
Khaak aisee zindagee pe k patthar naheeN hooN main
[Six ash'aar]

Last two ash'aar:

dar par Ameer e Kalb Ali KhaaN ke hooN muqeem
shaa'ista e gadaa'ee e har dar naheeN hooN maiN

booRhaa huvaa hooN, qaabil e Khidmat naheeN 'Asad'
Khairaat Khaar e mehz hooN, naukar naheeN hooN maiN
Nice poetry, haaN? But when Ghalib was commissioned by BS Zafar to write the history of the Mughal dynasty(Mehr e Neem-Rauz), he presented this very same Ghazal to the King ... with a few changes in the maqta':

Ghalib vazeefa Khaar ho, do shaah ko du'aa
vo din ga'ye k kehte the naukar naheeN hooN main!
See?

Regards,
Zafar
==============

AK wrote:

I think both Zafar Saheb and myself had the poet's "intention" in mind, rather than interpretation". The stage of "interpretation" comes subsequently, when the poet, either on his own, or at somebody else's urging, seeks to explain what his meaning or "intention" might have been. Here, we are concerned with the poet's mind when he originally composed the verse, i.e. his "intended meaning".

I had specifically stated that if a reader (say, your - self) had understood the sher by itself, then the additional details (furnished by the commentator) would be wholly irrelevant. Let me explain this further. There is a traditional practice that when a person ails for some length of time (when he can't obviously have a bath), then his complete recovery is marked by a more or less ceremonial bath which signifies his full and complete recovery. Ghalib uses the word "shah", meaning the emperor. It would be plain to any reader that he meant Bahadur Shah Zafar. Then, the poet uses the term "GHusl-e-sehat". This would tell the reader that the Emperor had been ailing for sometime and his recovery was now expected to be near at hand. Again, the "GHusl" was still to take place. In the second misra, the poet says : "Let us see when the bathroom ("hamaam") has its lucky day, when the Emperor would grace it with his august presence". For a reader like me, the sher's meaning is now complete. I won't need to know the exact dates when the Emperor fell ill nor the date when he actually had his "GHusl". Does it matter whether the Emperor fell ill in 1853 or 1854, in June or December ? For me, the commentator's details do not embellish the sher's meaning in any way. And, in any case, does the commentator quote any authentic historical records or contemporary authorities on which he based his information ? For me, it is just an instance of the poet's "sycophancy", a common enough practice in those days for a court poet,though Ghalib (to give him credit) didn't indulge in it all that often.

I have explained how I understand this sher. For all that I know, this might NOT have been the poet's original intention --- and I have no means of accessing the poet's mind. As Zafar Saheb has observed, the poet does not appear to have left behind any interpretation of this sher.

Now, it is perfectly possible that you may have understood the sher in a different sense. You also talk about "a couple of additional avenues for interpretation", based on the commentator's input. I hope you would take the trouble of sharing those avenues/interpretations with us.

Afzal

==========
Zafar wrote:

Perhaps an excerpt from "Shah Jahan Nama" might be of some help. Written in 1660, this book is considered an official biography of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. It's about the Ghusl e sihhat of Jahan Ara Begum, the beloved daughter of Shah Jahan, who has now recuperated from severe burn injuries.

"The princess came to the Royal court to pay homage to her father after eight months and eight days. The King started dispersing gold coins, pearls, rubies, diamonds and rupees. Seventy thousand rupees were distributed in this way. Since she is the first daughter, the king loves her the most. He gifted her 139 pearl ornaments valuing 5 lakh [...] In those eight days, one million rupees were doled out to the begums, princes, princesses, courtiers and servants; and a further two lakh were given away to beggers and the poor".
And if you want another sh'er about Ghusl e sihhat, one is here -- and far better at that:

maut hee se kuchh 'ilaaj e dard e furqat ho to ho
Ghusl e maiyyat hee hamaaraa Ghusl e sihhat ho to ho
[Zauq]
Zafar
============

AFAIK, such a bath was not necessarily on the recovery of a loved one. The "GHusl" signified the end of the illness period and resumption of normal activity. Distribution of money or alms was also not a given.Shah JahaaN being the Emperor was expected to distribute such largesse. The book might not have recorded the wealth that was distributed amongst the general populace and the needy, but this must surely have been done. And, in those times, it was nothing unusual to distribute wealth amongst members of the royal family. And I think it was a two-way traffic. Even courtiers and princes etc. would present nazraanas to the Emperor. Till recently, this was the practice in wealthy households. At a family wedding, for example, sons-in-law etc. would present "ashrafees" to the family elders. And the latter would return the favour, on a bigger scale. It is recorded that when Prince Humayun obtained the Kohinoor diamond, he dutifully presented it to the Emperor Babar, who generously bestowed it back on Humayun, who was his eldest son and the heir apparent.

About the incident invloving JahaaN Ara, the full story, as far as I can recollect from my reading of these accounts,was something like this :

Once, some tradesman (say, a tailor) had visited the Qila (Red Fort) and, having lost his way, found himself in the Zenaan KHaana, the female quarters. He was soon discovered. JahaaN Ara, in a fit of royal anger, had a cruel punishment inflicted on the hapless person. A venomous snake was set upon him and the poor man died a most painful death. Shortly afterwards, there was a conflagration in the Zenaan KHaana, when some draperies caught fire, and it spread rapidly. The princess was engulfed in the flames and suffered very grievous burns. When hopes of her recovery began to recede, recourse was had to a pious "darvesh" who opined that this was a sort of divine retribution for the previous act of cruelty. "That person was no doubt guilty of trespass, but didn't desrve this kind of death". The pious man prepared special salves and also prayed for her.

Another remedy suggested by the darvesh was that mothers nursing infants in the royal palace should pour milk over JahaaN Ara's burns. The royal chamber then simply overflowed, so much milk was poured on her. In fact, she is reported to have said : "Unless you stop now, I think I would die of cold". Miraculously, she made a complete recovery.

Zauq was no doubt the Ustaad of Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar. But Ghalib and others were also court poets. And writing "Qaseedahs" (Odes containing encomiums for the Emperor or other nobles of note) was not confined to the Poet Laureate alone. Any other poet could do it and usually did. Even Ghalib has written a few "Qaseedahs". Also, it was not necessary that a poet had to write an entire "Qaseedah"every time. He could just incorporate a couplet or two
in a normal ghazal, that would contain paeans of praise (usually very exaggerated) for the Emperor, Princes etc. Such examples can be found in Ghalib's poetry too.

Afzal

====

Zafar wrote:

There is no way it could be the Red Fort. JA Begum got burnt on April 4, 1644, whereas Shah Jahan set foot in Shah Jahan Abad four years later: on April 16, 1648. It must be Agra.

As per SJN, on the day the princess got burnt, the King distributed Rs. 60,000 and then 5000 gold coins and 5000 rupees for the next three days. On May 18, the King ordered Rs. 1000 to be given away every day to the *poor* and *needy* [SJN uses the word "muKhtaaj" and "faqeer"] until her complete recovery. Many prisoners were also set free and defaulters who owed the kingdom Rs. 700,000 were also let off the hook.

Ghalib was commissioned by BSZ on July 4, 1850, to write the history of the Mughal dynasty, Mihr e Neem Rauz. So he was in service 1853:

Ghalib vazeefa-Khaar ho, do Shah ko du'aa
vo din ga'ye jo kehte the "naukar naheeN hooN maiN!"

Re: Ghusl e Sihhat:

I rummaged through my Ghalib collection and this little info came out:

Ghalib sent a similar she'er towards the end of 1864 to Nawab Yousuf Ali Khan Bahadur of Rampur -- 11 years after he wrote the first one for BS Zafar -- changing the first line:

dekhi'ye, kab Ghusl farmaate haiN aap
dekhi'ye kab din phireN hammaam ke
About BS Zafar's illness: The King got ill in early July 1853 and remained so till July 21, 1853. After convalescence, a Ghusl e sihhat was planned but perhaps due to his weakness, the event got postponed a number of times. Delhi Urdu Akhbaar of December 4, 1853, reports that the King performed the GS on Nov 23, 1863, at which occasion, many poets -- including Ghalib -- presented their eulogies [qaseeda].

I could not find this qaseeda in the Urdu kalaam of Ghalib; perhaps it's in the Persian kulliyaat. By the way, Ghalib wrote 13 qaseedas in Urdu, which doesn't sound much at first look, but if you consider that the total number of ash'aar in those qasaa'id may be well over 500 -- or about 100 Ghazals of average size -- and fuse it with the fact that many more of the same are to be found in Persian, the bulk of work he left in the field of qaseeda might not seem that insignificant!

-----

There is another she'er in the deevaan e Ghalib:

kyoN na duniyaa ko ho Khushee Ghalib
shah e deeN-daar ne shifaa paa'yee

[Why the world should not rejoice
The pious king has returned to health]
Apparently, this she'er refers to another illness episode of the aging king, as it was written somewhere in 1855.

---
Zafar

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

On the meaning of fateeha

The answer to the question in my previous post was X = Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal "emperor".

I use Platts dictionary for Hindi-Urdu translations. Suhail clarifies the term fateeha in the previous post:

[1]Fatehaa: is the opening chapter of Quraan. It is a v.general and short prayer. Basically it praises God, and it asks of Him to constantly guide us in the right path, and save us from the wrong path of sins.

[2]fatehaa: is also the term used for prayer which is read for the dead and many other ocassions. Consider it as a common noun for any prayer. However except for the words, there is no other linkage. This 2nd 'fatehaa' may or may not include the above Fateeha[1] amongst the other things. Strictly speaking technically this fateeha[2] has popular usage/currency only in the subcontinent. The same practice of prayers for dead isn't followed by the Muslims elsewhere. So in popular slang in Bombay, if we have to reference the end of some event or function or a boring lecture etc, people will say, "chalo bhaai fatehaa padh lo" ["let us come to the ending" ;)] - which if you see is quite contradictory to the reference of Fateeha[1] which means the opening chapter.

So here in the ghazal the poet references the second meaning

why should people come and pray on my grave,
why should people come and put flowers on my shrine
why should they light candles on my tomb,
when I am nothing but a mark of failure.

Of course to make matters confusing, once in a while some people also use the word 'fateeha' to denote the start of some ocassion(going by reference [1]), but this is more of an exception to the rule, and based on the context the crowd can understand what's going on :)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Quiz Question: Na Kisee ke Aankh Ka Noor Hoon

This funda is from ALUP. Thanks to Vijay saheb and co for the info.

Ghazal: Na Kisee ke Aankh Ka Noor hoon
Poet: Muztar Khairabadi
Singers:
  1. Mohd Rafi Film: Rafi - Laal Qila (1960)
  2. Mehdi Hassan Non-film - Mehdi Hassan's greatest hits.

This ghazal was composed by Muztar Khairabadi, paternal grandfather of Javed Akhtar. i.e. father of Jan Nissar Akhtar. Javed Akhtar's grandfather Muztar Khairabadi and great grandfather Syed Ahmad Husain Ruswa were also famous Urdu poets. JA's great-great-grandfather Maulana Fazl-e-Haq Khairabadi was also a scholar and a contemporary of Ghalib. He was hanged in Delhi after the 1857 mutiny and apparently, his body was found in a canal, a few days later. [All these folks must've collectively rolled in their graves when their descendant churned out such beauties as "Ek, Do, Teen", "Strawberry Aankhen" and"Columbus Columbus"]

Anyway, the quiz question is as follows. The ghazal is almost always attributed to "X". In fact, the error is such that it finds its way into the Diwan-e-"X". In fact, the Hindi film credits and LP sleeves also misattribute it to "X". Who is this mysterious "X"?

na kisee kee aankh kaa noor hooN

na kisee kee aankh kaa noor hooN na kisee ke dil kaa qaraar hooN
kisee kaam meN jo na aa sake maiN vo aik musht-e-Ghubaar hooN

noor = ray of light
qarar = dwelling

musht-e-Ghubaar = handful of dust

maiN naheeN hooN naGhma- e-jaaN-fizaa ko'yee mujh ko sun ke kare gaa kyaa
maiN baRe birog kee hooN sadaa maiN baRe dukhee kee pukaar hooN

naghma-e-jaan-fizaa = melody that increases life
birog = separated from his beloved
sadaa = voice

meraa baKht mujh se bichhaR gayaa meraa rang-roop bigaR gayaa
jo KhizaaN meN baaGh ujaR gayaa maiN usee kee fasl-e-bahaar hooN

bakht = fortune
khizaan = autumn
fasl-e-bahaar = crop of spring

pa e faatiha ko'yee aa'ye kyoN ko'yee chaar phool chaRhaa'ye kyoN
ko'yee shama' laa ka jalaa'ye kyoN k maiN bai-kasee kaa mazaar hooN

faatiha = opening chapter of the Quran, prayer for the dead
mazaar = shrine, tomb

na maiN Muztar un kaa habeeb hooN na maiN Muztar un kaa raqeeb hooN
jo bigaR gayaa vo naseeb hooN jo ujaR gayaa vo diyaar hooN

muztar = distressed, in necessity. Here it is the takhallus
habib = beloved, friend
raqib - watcher, observer, rival
diyaar - province

Monday, April 18, 2005

Quiz Question: Classical bandish

Here's a quiz q. I have this classical bandish in Raga Bilaskhaani Todi sung by Smt. Malini Rajurkar (Alurkar Music House, Pune. 1994). The lyricist/composer is (Pt) Dr. S. N. Ratanjankar. This bandish has inspired a famous Hindi Film song. Identify the Hindi Film song, the film, the MD and the lyricist. It is quite simple really. [Hint: 1990s film. Singer: Asha Bhonsle]

Btw, Bilaskhaani = after its creator Vilas Khan, son of Tansen.

Here are the lyrics of the bandish in ITRANS and Nagari. You ought to have a UTF-8 compatible browser to view the Nagari font.

sthaayii

vahii jaao jaao jaao balam
jin juvatiisan kiinhii r.ngaraliyaa.N

a.ntaraa
dekhii dekhii torii nehaa kii riit
bhalii jo akelii biirahaa kii maarii
ab naa banaao banaao na batiiyaa.N

Nagari
स्थायी


वही जाओ जाओ जाओ बलम
जिन जुवतीसन कीन्ही रंगरलियाँ

अंतरा
देखी देखी तोरी नेहा की रीत

भली जो अकेली बीरहा की मारी
अब ना बनाओ बनाओ न बतीयाँ

Friday, April 15, 2005

Unbelievable

baaziichaa-e-atfaal hai duniyaa mere aage
hotaa hai shab-o-roz tamaashaa mere aage
- Mirza Asadullah Khan 'Ghalib'

बाज़ीचा-ए-अत्फ़ाल है दुनिया मेरे आगे
होता है शब-ओ-रोज़ तमाशा मेरे आगे
मिर्ज़ा असदुल्लाह ख़ां 'ग़ालिब'

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Miranda House

From the blogmela at AnarCapLib, I came across an anti-ragging site that linked to a fascinating article by one of my favorite writers, Madhu Kishwar. Read the entire article.

Cricket Moms

The San Jose Mercury News has an article on the cricket craze among South Asians.
There is drama, to be sure. But it's scripted drama, almost Elizabethan. If players are struck with the ball, the rules allow for them to yell ``howzzat'' (how's that?) at the umpire, look dejected and even pick up a bit of mud. But if they glare at the umpire, they could be out of the game for six months; the team captain is punished for three.

At a recent practice of 8- to 10-year-old boys at Dilworth Elementary School in San Jose, one young cricketer wanted the attention of his coach. ``Coach. Hey. Hey. Hey!'' the boy said.
Swiftly, Hemant Buch stepped in. ``Don't say `hey' to the coach,'' Buch warned the boy. ``And when your coach is talking, you must listen.''

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Keep the culture alive!

Here are good links if you are interested in Classical Music

Indian Classical MusicDr. Veena Sahasrabuddhe Lecture Demonstrations
Indian Classical Music - Intro, Terminology, details mostly from Indian Classical Music Resource by Smt. Meenakshi Bodas

Gentle Introduction to Carnatic music Parts 1, 2, 3 & 4 by Shri. Ramesh Mahadevan.

Dr. Rajan's Parrikar's amazing page
Smt. Vijaya Parrikar Library of Indian Classical Music on SAWF
Dr. Sunil Mukhi's Indian Classical Music Page
Hindustani classical music ITC Academy
Sound of India
Dhrupad
Links to Music Links

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Re-mix

An unintentionally funny article in which the writer has got his Ravis mixed up.

Friday, April 08, 2005

A poser

Would you quarantine persons if they carry infectious diseases? Would you forcibly lock them up in a secluded area?

An illiberal act?

In a thought provoking post, Amit Varma asks:
Do you prosecute Man One for doing something that was agreed upon by mutually consenting adults? Under strict libertarian principles, should they not be free to do whatever they want as long as they don’t infringe on the rights, or the free will, of anyone else? (And if you hold that either or neither man was in sound mind, how are we to define “sound mind” and who is to define it?)
The answer is Yes. You need to prosecute the man. As civilized humans, we have arrived at a set of universal moral values. Values that cut across religions and borders. No criminal act can be justified using the consent of the victim as an excuse. In other words, any act that violates another's rights should be disallowed, period. This question is similar to the questions; Should Dr. Kevorkian be punished for helping consensual adults commit suicide? Should slavery or bonded labor be considered fine as long as the slaves sign on the contract out of their own volition?

The murderer should be prosecuted, even if the act was consensual. The act is inherently amoral and criminal.

Whle referring to Theodore Dalrymple's article, Roger Kimball considers Mill's arguments and writes:
Some people like their steak well-done, some like it rare. Some, apparently, like it cut from the flanks of their friends. So long as the friend doesn't mind, who are we to judge? You see what Stephen meant when he observed that "Complete moral tolerance is possible only when men have become completely indifferent to each other--that is to say, when society is at an end."

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Not in my name

I have to disagree with Amit's take on Musharraf's visit to India. And I'm not doing it for emotional reasons.

I agree with the overall sentiment of Amit's post - that the opening up of trade between the two nations will invariably go a long way towards building peace. I also support people-to-people relationships and dislike mixing cricket matches with politics.

However, I oppose any deal with Musharraf on one rational ground alone and that is the simple notion that the General - as all dictators - will act in the best interest of himself. One may argue that elected leaders also act in their own interests. However, democratic systems have checks and balances that counter any adventure-seekers. Can Musharraf ever offer a quid pro quo agreement with India? Let us try to do an exercise by wearing his shoes:

Advantages
1. Increased trade between the two nations bodes well for the economies of both countries, particularly to Pakistan's exports.
2. A positive press in India, often acts as a counter balance to a hostile press in his own nation. In a perverse way, a deal with India could bolster the legitimacy of his illegal position as supremo. In any case, India can possibly never deal with a civilian government in Pakistan -at least not without one which has tacit approval of the army. Therefore, an agreement acts as a seal of personal approval for Musharraf, from India and the West.
3. The United States could look favorably at a deal with India since that leaves one less strategic problem to worry about for them. They will do all they can to keep Musharraf in power to enforce any deals he makes with India.

Disadvantages
1. The very terrorists that his army has trained will need to be subdued - a problem described rather aptly by Shelley. As a RAND corporation article says, Musharraf has consistently sided with militants:
Complicating the situation, the repressive political environment in Pakistan encourages the population to turn to fundamentalist Islamic parties. In the last parliamentary election, President Pervez Musharraf closed the political arena to secular candidates Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. This manipulation of the electoral system gave more votes to the coalition of Islamic parties than in previous elections.
2. Peace with India could reduce the raison d'etre of Pakistan's defense spending and the power of the military in day to day affairs of the government. Any perceived reduction in the army's role would have dire consequences for Musharraf personally.
3. Any reduction in Musharraf's power would certainly imperil his freedom and possibly his life. A new government could conceivably sacrifice him on charges of nuclear proliferation.

For Musharraf, the disadvantages of a deal clearly outwiegh its advantages. Hence, as an Indian, I would be wary of any negotiations with him. The General's track record offers ample testimony to his blatant disregard for agreements. He cannot be trusted to see any peace agreement through.

Directions to add this image to your blog are here. Varnam has this list of participating bloggers: The Acorn, India Defence, Secular Right, Nerve Endings Firing Away, Rabble Rousing Random Ramblings, Seriously Sandeep, Dancing with Dogs, Rojnamcha, Niket Kaisare

AIR and DD archives

AIR and DD are rumoured to have an outstanding collection of old LPs, audio/video recordings from broadcasts and concerts. Yet, most of it is inaccessible to the lay public. These archives are treasures that every Indian must be allowed to savour. Unfortunately, they lie in the corridors of some bureaucrat's domain. You feel worse when the realization sinks in that some of these archives could have been pilfered and no would be the wiser. Do they maintain inventory of such recordings?

I do believe that publicly funded broadcast mechanisms should exist (like PBS in the US). They serve to display a higher level of culture than does the mainstream media which cater to the lowest common denominator. [As much as I dislike government, one must admit that there were genuine intellectuals like Shri. H. Y. Sharda Prasad who ensured that there were some very high quality programmes in the midst of the usual personality cult Congress propaganda]

The Films Division site used to have good video archives of documentaries - including classical music gems, cricket footage from old newsreels, short films - but most of the links do not work anymore. And I wouldn't risk going to the site, if I were you. You get hit with a virus.

Monday, April 04, 2005

M-Seal

M-seal ad. Only in India.