Author Archives: Jehangir

Googling your Memories

Published / by Jehangir

In February 2011 I blogged about the demonstrations and revolts in the Middle East which later came to be known as the Arab Spring. In the post I quoted a Persian ode that had figured alongside Laxman’s caricature of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in the Illustrated Weekly of India in 1979.

Think not, 0 King! thy sceptre or thy pow’r
One moment can arrest the destin’d hour !

After years of fruitless searching, I managed to track down the image after a long and hazardous quest that took me into the depths of the Deep Web and beyond.

Not really! I just googled it today and voila.

A growing number of newspapers, archives, and institutions are publishing searchable databases of their data on the internet. It is a researchers dream come true – with the flip side that anyone can post false or biased information online. While accessibility vs accuracy concerns are justified, just the sheer number of books and historical photographs available online is staggering.

Amazingly enough, I found this rare colour photograph of my parents in an online photo archive published from New Zealand.

The persian sceptre/power quote is from the great persian poet Firdausi .
Apparently miffed by the lacklustre response shown by Sultan Mahmud Ghazni towards his epic 'Shahnama' or 'Book of Kings', Firdausi wrote a satire on the king. The complete 'Shahnama' can be read here.

So you like Daffodils?

Published / by Jehangir

Daffodils and narcissi in Kashmir. Happy Nauroz!

Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’ (Trumpet Daffodil)

Narcissus ‘Dutch Master’ (Trumpet Daffodil)

Narcissus ‘Replete’ (Double Daffodil)

Narcissus ‘White Lion’ (Double Daffodil)

Narcissus ‘Fortissimo’ (Large-Cupped Daffodil)

Narcissus ‘Sempre Avanti’ (Large-Cupped Daffodil)

Narcissus ‘Flower Drift’ (Double Daffodil)

Narcissus tazetta White

Narcissus tazetta Yellow

Narcissus ‘Chromacolor’ (Large-Cupped Daffodil)

Narcissus ‘Cheerfulness’ Yellow (Double Daffodil)

Narcissus ‘Cheerfulness’ White (Double Daffodil)

Narcissus ‘Actaea’ ‘Pheasant Eye'(Poeticus Daffodil)

Narcissus ‘Rip van Winkle’ (Double Daffodil)

Enjoy!

Migration Blues

Published / by Jehangir

Hey there!

Some pages of this blog are offline while I have to deal with migrating my websites from the over-rated BlueHost to the awesome FastComet cloud hosting.

This blog is being updated to WordPress and previous posts have to be manually added due to some incompatibility and some inability 😉 issues – so please bear with me.

Stay blessed,

What The Rats Shall Never Know!

Published / by Jehangir

It’s Annual Translation Time again.

Listen to the incomparable Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan highlighting Javed Akhtar‘s denunciation of our modern obsession with material wealth – and it’s malignant effect on our ability to appreciate the beauty of life.

Listen, and remember that at the end of the day the winner of the rat race is still a rat !

shehr ke dukaandaro
karobar-e-ulfat mein
sood kya ziyan kya hai
tum na jaan paoge

dil ke daam kitne hein
khwab kitne mehnge hein
aur naqd-e-jaan kya hai
tum na jaan paoge

o merchants of the city
in the trade of love
what is profited and what is lost
you shall never know!

the price of a heart
the value of dreams
the currency of life
you shall never know!

koi kaise milta hai
phool kaise khilta hai
aankh kaise jhukti hai
saans kaise rukti hai

kaise raah nikalti hai
kaise baat chalti hai
shouq ki zabaan kya hai
tum na jaan paoge

how soulmates meet
how flowers bloom
the lowering of a gaze
the catch in a breath

how the path emerges
how the tale flows
the language of desire
you shall never know!

wasl ka sukoon kya hai
hijr ka junoon kya hai
husn ka fusoon kya hai
ishq ke daroon kya hai

tum mareez-e-danai
maslihat ke shaydai
raah-e-gumrahan kya hai,
tum na jaan paoge

the tranquility of a tryst
the frenzy of separation
the enchantment of beauty
the essence of love

afflicted with intellect
devoted to self interest
the path to losing oneself
you shall never know!

zakhm kaise phaltay hain
daagh kaise jalte hain
dard kaise hota hai
koi kaise rota hai

ashq kya hai nalay kya
dasht kya hai chalay kya
aah kya fughaan kya hai,
tum na jaan paoge

how wounds fester and heal
how scars smoulder
how pain hurts
how the sufferer cries

tears and lament
wilderness and blisters
sighs and wails
you shall never know!

janta hoon mein tum ko
zouq-e-shaiyri bhi hai
shaksiyat sajaane mein
ik yeh mahiri bhi hai

phir bhi harf chunte ho
sirf lafz sunte ho
in ke darmiyaan kya hai,
tum na jaan paoge

i know you
as a connoisseur of poetry
at personality embellishment
you are adept

yet you pick and choose letters
and hear just the words —
what lies between the lines
you shall never know!

Comments & suggestions are welcome.

Moon As Bright As The Sun

Published / by Jehangir

Finally, a world class effort by a resident Kashmiri author.

The Captured Gazelle is a highly accomplished translation of the Persian poetry of Ghani Kashmiri published by Penguin Classics.

The transliterated passages are like manna for someone like myself – tantalised by, yet unable to read Persian – and thus ignorant of the full genius of Ghani Kashmiri.

Well done Mufti Mudassir Farooqi,
More power to your pen, my friend!

Archived post from August 2008:

The 17th century poet Mulla Muhammad Tahir Ghani Kashmiri {born 1630 A.D} lived during the reign of Aurangzeb and died in the early years of the 18th century. Even during his lifetime his fame transcended the borders of India and he was acknowledged in Iran as one of the great masters of Persian poetry. In India he exerted a great influence on the development of Persian and Urdu poetry. The great poet Mirza Ghalib translated more than 40 of his couplets into Urdu.

Mahjoor refers to him in his famous poem ‘Arise, O’ Gardener’:

Littérateurs of Iran will bow
To you in reverence
if you create a poet with powers of
magical narration like Ghani.

Mirza Muhammed Ali Saib {1601 – 1677}, a famous Persian poet, unable to understand the meaning of a famous verse – in which Ghani Kashmiri had intermingled Persian and Kashmiri words – travelled all the way from Iran to Kashmir to meet him.

The verse, contained in “Diwan-e-Ghani“, reads:

Moi Miane Tu Shud Kraalpan
Kardah Juda Kasai Sar Ze Tun

Like the potter’s thread, your tresses made me dazed and senseless,
severing the head (pot) from the body (lump of clay).

When the Iranian poet arrived the poet was not home yet the doors of his house were open. Iqbal refers to this incident thus in his “Payam-i-Mashriq“:

That nightingale of poetry, Ghani,
Who sang in Kashmir’s paradisal land,
Used, while at home, to shut up all the doors,
But leave them open while away from home.
Somebody questioned him concerning this.
“O charming bard,” he said, “Why do you do
This strange thing, which nobody understands
The meaning of ?”
Ghani, who had no wealth
Except his gift of poetry, replied:
“What people see me doing is quite right.
There is nothing of any value in my house
Except myself. When I am in, the house
Is to be guarded like a treasure-house.
When I am out, it is an empty place,
Which nobody would care to walk into.”

I recall Dr. Ajaz Baba explaining to me how Ghani Kashmiri’s influence inspired the visitor, Saib of Tabriz, to immortalise a chance encounter on the banks of the Jehlum by composing his own version of fusion poetry. The traveller concluded a Persian couplet with an Arabic phrase.

Dast Aaluda Ba Gil, Ay Mahe Hamchu Aftaab
Shud Mara Virdi Zuban, Ya Laytanee Kuntu Turab

Mud Smears Your Hands, O Moon As Bright As The Sun
And My Tongue Recites, O Would That I Were Mud

An example of Ghani’s Urdu poetry :

“Dil yun khayale zulf mein phirta hai n’ara zan
Taarik shab mein jaise koi pasban phire”

Ironically, Ghani Kashmiri is  almost forgotten in his native Kashmir today, while his writings are prescribed study material for scholars in Iran – where some learned scholars regard him as a greater poet in Persian than even Allama Iqbal.

In the sixties a library/reading room was established at his birth place in Rajouri Kadal – and later a sports stadium was developed nearby – but the fall into decay of this reading room and stadium illustrates our apathy towards the great poet.

This is how we treat our heroes.

In Camera Out Camera

Published / by Jehangir

‘Craters on the moon, wildlife from afar, your child's face on a crowded school stage’ is what the brochure for my new camera promised.

Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity with NFC and a mega 65x optical zoom is what convinced me to go for the Canon Powershot SX60 HS .

Craters on the moon: Check

Wildlife from afar : Check

Kids on stage will have to wait 🙂

Archived post from 13.10.2010:

I finally got myself a new camera. It is a Fujifilm FinePix HS10. The 30X zoom and amazing wide-angle capability were deciding factors as I dabble a bit in nature and architectural photography.

Here is a sample picture :

The time has come, therefore, to bid farewell to my trusty old FZ10.

Over the years, It has helped me capture some memorable photographs. You can view some of them here:

The Fluzi Gallery

I had zeroed in on the Panasonic DMC FZ10 after it won an award as Best Superzoom Camera at the TIPA Awards <2006>. It was after I recieved my new camera that I realised that I hadn't seen this year's TIPA Awards. Funnily enough the FinePix HS10 too was the winner in the Best Superzoom Camera category. I guess some things are just meant to be.

P.S : I hope Jamshed has half the fun I had with the Fluzi.

Respite for a Valley

Published / by Jehangir

The Bangus Valley comprises of two immense 'alpine' valleys of the Pir Panjal – Bod Bangus and Lokut Bangus – separated by a narrow strip called 'gur bar' or 'gateway of horses'.

The Bangus mountain biome comprises of high altitude taiga/coniferous forests descending through a grassland biome to a marsh biome traversed by the Tilwan Kohl brook at the valley floor. The biome is nestled 10,000 ft. above sea level below high hilltops of the Qazinag and Shamswari ranges in Kupwara.

While trekking through the pristine unexplored Bangus valleys in the 80s, I remember thinking that you could tuck Gulmarg away in one of the side valleys and not even notice it there. The valleys were nothing short of magical – towering peaks, dense pine forests, galloping herds of horses, uniquely springy meadows, bubbling brooks and rocky hillocks that gave the appearance of ancient ruins. One felt an awesome sense of unity with the universe accentuated by non-existent human contact. The air itself had a enchanted quality – even the most conservative members of our trekking party let their hair down and danced an impromptu jig around our campfire.

Recently there was talk of opening up Bangus to commercial tourism including a '36-hole' golf course. I guess some people cannot get over their obsession with holes. I blogged about it in 2012:

'I am appalled at plans to convert the Bangus Valley into a major tourist resort. Having trekked through Bangus in happier times, the thought that this untamed paradise will soon be commercialised into a Pahalgam-like circus like torments my soul. I hope that a saner voice will call for preservation and the 'powers-that-be' shall listen.'

Apparently the powers-that-be have listened and Bangus will be preserved as a 300 sq. km. biosphere encompassing the 76 sq. kms of the twin valleys and the surrounding ranges.

As I had predicted, the conservationists seem to have prevailed over the environmentalists, but it is their apparent victory over the commercial exploiter/profiteer nexus which is more significant.

Fingers crossed on this one.

Links:

www.kashmirlife.net

Of Loss and a Teardrop Jewel

Published / by Jehangir

hisaab-e-umr ka itna sa goshwara hai….

Our flood-interrupted lives will stabilize, our house will again become a home, but these are irreplaceable:

~ Rare Books

~ Rarer Photographs

~ Original artworks by the likes of Santosh and Walli

~ An irretrievable part of Kashmir's history in the form of documents and personal effects belonging to the Last Prime Minister of Kashmir.

P.S:

One item earlier on this list has been crossed out – the manuscript of my unfinished historical novel representing years of imagining and a year of pushing pen on paper. Hope to see it in print soon.

To the Stars and Beyond

Published / by Jehangir

Regular readers of this blog may have been secretly hoping that they had been spared my summer translation ordeal. No such luck.

In my last post I wrote about Rahat Fateh Ali Khan's live performance of Sitaron Se Aagey by Allama Muhammad Iqbal.

Jamshed has the song on repeat mode and I have to admit that Iqbal's words and Rahat's vocals soar synergistically in this hypnotic qawwali.

Today it is the Allama's turn to suffer my efforts to translate some of his most famous verses.

In his live performance, RFAK quotes additional verses from Iqbal's famous poems like Bang-e-Dara and Armaghan-e-Hijaz besides the poem 'Sitaron Se Aagey' from Bal-e-Jibreel.

sitaron se aagey

fareb-e-nazar hai sakoon-o-sabaat

tadapta hai har zarra-e-kainat (1)

theharta nahin karwaan-e-wujood

ke har lehza hai taaza shaan-e-wujood (1)

samajhta hai tu raaz hai zindagi

faqat zauq-e-parwaaz hai zindagi (1)

jawanon ko meri aah-e-sehar de

phir in shaheen bachon ko baal-o-par de (2)

khudaya! arzoo meri yehi hai

mera noor-e-baseerat aam kar de (2)

sitaron se aagey jahan aur bhi hain

abhi ishq ke imtihan aur bhi hain *

har ek maqam se aagey maqam hai tera

hayat zauq-e-safar ke siva kuch aur nahin (3)

tahi zindagi se nahin yeh fizaayen

yahan sainkadon karwan aur bhi hain *

qanaat na kar alam-e-rang-o-bu par

chaman aur bhi aashiyan aur bhi hain *

tu hi nadaan chand kaliyon par qanaat kar gya

warna gulshan mein ilaaj-e-tangi-e-damaan bhi hai (4)

agar kho gya ek nasheman to kya gham

maqamat-e-aah-o-fughan aur bhi hain *

nishan yehi hai zamaane mein zinda qaumon ka

ke subha-o-shaam badalti hain unki taqdeeren (6)

na pucho mujh se lazzat khanaman barbad rehne ki

nasheman sainkadon main ne bana kar phoonk daale hain (5)

tu shaheen hai parwaaz hai kaam tera

tere samne aasman aur bhi hain *

nahin tera nasheman qasr-e-sultani ke gumbad par

tu shaheen hai basera kar pahaadon ki chataanon mein (7)

guzar auqat kar leta hai ye koh-o-biyaban mein

ke shaheen ke liye zillat hai kaar-e-aashiyan bandi (8)

garche hai dilkushan bahut husn-e-farang ki bahaar

taerik-e-buland baal dana-o-daam se guzar (9)

ay tair-e-lahuti us rizq se maut acchi

jis rizk se aati ho parwaaz mein kotahi (10)

jhapatna palatna palat kar jhapatna

lahoo garam rakhne ka hai ek bahaana (11)

parindon ki duniya ka darvesh hoon main

ke shaheen banata nahin aashiyana (11)

gaye din ke tanha tha main anjuman mein

yahan ab mere raazdan aur bhi hain *

All poetry defies translation, Iqbal's even more so.

I find his poetry hard to understand even in the language it was written in and it is nigh impossible to convey the nuances in an alien language belonging to a vastly different culture. The rhythm, the emotion, the undercurrent is lost but that having been said, here is what Jamshed and I have been able to figure out.

beyond the stars

peace and stability are illusions

each atom of creation is in turbulence

the caravan of life never halts

for each moment renews the glory of life

you think life is a great mystery

life is just the desire to fly

give the young my sighs at dawn

give wings to these young falcons

lord this is my desire

spread wide the light of my awareness

other worlds lie beyond the stars

trials of passion still await

your destination lies beyond all havens

life is nothing but the joy of travel

these breezes do not arise from the void

a hundred more caravans ply here

do not be appeased by just one world of colors and fragrance

other gardens and nests exist

you, the innocent one, were content with a few buds

though the rose-garden held a cure for your limited grasp

why grieve over the loss of one nest

other places to sigh and lament remain

it is the sign of the vital nations of the world

that their destiny changes every night and day

ask me not the rapture of homelessness

i have built and set afire a hundred nests

you are a falcon – flight is your calling

endless skies stretch out before you

nest not upon the dome of the emperor's palace

you are a falcon – dwell amongst rocky mountain peaks

it ekes out a living amidst peaks and deserts

for the trade of nest-building would disgrace the falcon

though the charm of the west is seductive

resist this baited trap – o bird of paradise

o bird of heavenly skies

death is nobler than prey that encumbers your flight

to swoop and to twist, and to twist to pounce

is just a pretext to keep the blood warm

i am the dervish of the kingdom of birds

the falcon builds no nest

gone are the days of my isolation at gatherings

i now have confidants here

Comments & suggestions are welcome especially for

'tahi zindagi se nahin yeh fizaayen'

Index:

* Sitaron Se Aagey (Bal-e-Jibril-060)

(1) Bal-e-Jibril-142

(2) Bal-e-Jibril-105

(3) Bal-e-Jibril-044

(4) Bang-e-Dara-116

(5) Bang-e-Dara-055

(6) Armaghan-e-Hijaz-34

(7) Bal-e-Jibril-139

(8) Bal-e-Jibril-012

(9) Bal-e-Jibril-025

(10) Bal-e-Jibril-054

(11) Bal-e-Jibril-176