Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I have a dream ...

I have been tagged by Prashanth. He asks me to share three of my dreams. The word "dream" can be interpreted in different ways - the literal one, the kind you "see" in your sleep - or the that refers to a desire, something you wish to achieve, or to happen. I am going to try both.

I have a dream ...
1) To paint some beautiful oils - I love to draw and sketch. I have tried different media so far, but I have never been able to learn to do oil on canvas. I want to some paintings in this medium, just for the sake of my own satisfaction
2) To travel - I have visited some of the popular places withing the country, but I do not get to travel as much as I'd like to, due to miscellaneous constraints. I wish to travel more, and my dream is to travel to the old cities of Europe - Rome, Paris, Venice ...
3) To design a great software product - Unlikely as it might seem, given the non-technical things I write about on this blog, I am quite interested in things on the technical side :-)

And I saw ....
1) I keep having this dream, even years after leaving college and exams far behind. In the dream I wake up very late on the day of exam, missing the most of the time of the exam. Or I reach the hall prepared for one subject, and in the exam hall I learn that the paper scheduled for that day is something else. Or I realize days before exams that I haven't as much as glanced at some of the subjects in the whole year.
Strange, as in real life I have not ever been scared of the exams, or missed the exam :-)
2) I am on a goods train, a very long one, all alone. The bogies are completely open, i.e. just a platform without sides, the kind that are used to transfer vehicles. The train is passing through vast, open plains.
Illogical, since the train will at least have a driver :-)
3) I am sitting in a movie hall. A few seats down the line in the same row is a foul-mouthed, apparently uneducated guy with a large entourage (small town neta-type?), who is shouting orders at some of the people accompanying him. He realizes that he needs another seat, and asks some of his attendants to grab the seat [which has not yet been occupied] from the rightful owner. This is the only one between me and his group, and I am rather scared at the prospect of sitting next to such uncultured people more than that of robbed of my seat. Someone comes to check the tickets, and the neta-type shows him a sheet of paper and shouts at him.
Funny, but more near the truth than the previous two??

He he. And now the best part. I get to tag five people. And I chose to bestow this honor on:
Ash - Dreaming in metaphors for long. Lets hear them in words ?
Bendtherulz - Let's see what rules you dream of bending
Cuckoo - Bolo, bolo ....
JV - Observer, give others a chance to observe you
Leziblogger - Idling for a while? Lets put you to work

Sunday, February 25, 2007

An evening with Ghulam Ali

One pleasant evening last week, we had the good fortune of attending a concert by Ghulam Ali. The concert was hosted by the Amity business school as a part of their annual festival. A cousin, who is a student of amity, had acquired the passes, and offered them to us - since I am into old hindi melodies, poetry and ghazals, and he decidedly is not.

But before I go further I have two confessions to make.
One, I am not a seasoned concert-goer. I barely have the experience of attending two or three live [classical/ghazal] concerts. So, apart from the anticipation of delay in starting of the concert, I did not have much idea of what to expect.
Two, although I love ghazal as a form of poetry, I am unable to highly appreciate ghazal as a form of music.
The second statement not withstanding, I just could not pass up the wonderful chance to listen to the maestro. And I must say, it turned out to be an incredible experience [apart from a few things.]

Let me first briefly describe the downside. The show started an hour late [which was almost expected]. We had anticipated the delay, and therefore turned up late ourselves [by half an hour], and found seats with some difficulty. To find good seats, we should probably have reached an hour earlier. But this was the least of the negatives. The most irritating was some of the peoples' fulfilling their social obligations, as represented by loud conversations, right there - over the phone, or in person. It was as if people who had absolutely no interest either in ghazal, or in Ghulam Ali, turned up just for the purpose of availing the benefit of free passes. People also insisted, extremely stubbornly, to take the photograph or video of the singer in action, despite his polite repeated requests to people to not to do so. Perhaps politeness has become an alien concept in our world, where people have no patience and humility. And I really wonder what did the people wanted to take these shots for - the singer was quite far away to get a good photograph, and the quality of sound captured by the video would have been pathetic. Did they just want to prove they were there ?!

And now, on to what made it an experience worth remembering for me. And do remember, I should be pardoned for over-enthusing, due to lack of prior experience :-)
He sang some very wonderful, very beautiful ghazals, starting with Ghalib's "Dil-e-naadaan tujhe huaa kya hai". One of things I really liked, and which is missing in recordings, is the singer's setting of the context - here he set a context for [almost] every ghazal - inroduced the poet, some trivia about the poet and/or the poem, and the 'raagaa' on which it's rhythm was based [although the latter makes little sense to my completely untrained ear, it is good to know :-)]. The second one was a sort of 'experiment' - he started singing a ghazal, sang few 'ashaar' from the ghazal, and then moved on to some 'ashaar' from another ghazal [these were probably connected through the poet, the context, or the 'raagaa' - I do not know which - I enjoyed it too much to care :-)], and then returned to the one he was singing. The third was the way of singing - to suit the lyrics of the ghazal. The point in case is that of "Dil mei.n ik lahar si uThi hai abhi" - he sang the line almost 20-25 times in succession, modulating the voice high and low, like a wave [lahar] rising and falling, and singing it differently each time, just as each wave is different from another. It was wonderful beyond words.
He sang the ghazals of famous poets, including Ghalib, Ahmed Faraaz, Ibn-e-Insha etal, and some of his most popular ones, like "Chupke chupke", "Aawaargi" and "Hungama". I had heard or read almost all the ghazals he sang in this concert, but the one I liked best that day was one that I hadn't come across before - a nazm [or was that something else?] by Ibn-e-Insha:
Yeh baatei.n jhoothi baatei.n hai.n, yeh logo.n ne failaayee hai.n
Tum Insha ji ka naam na lo, kya Insha ji saudaaii hai.n

Pearls of wisdom

One of my colleagues has a daughter who is quite naughty and quite smart. This colleague recently became the proud father of twin boys. Shortly after, his daughter came up to him and said, "Papa, mai.n aapko bahut tang karti hoon na. Socho, jab main aur mere dono.n bhai milkar aapko tang karenge to aapkaa kya haal hoga" [Papa, I do trouble you a lot. Just think, when I and my two brothers get together and trouble you, what will become of you].
I couldn't stop laughing at the child's words, but the father could just smile ruefully!!

And seen on the rear wind-screen of a car -
Speed on Brother
Hell ain't full yet!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Tanhaii [Loneliness]

Jogi ka ghar kitna tanhaa hai
Miil ka pathar kitna tanhaa hai

Chalta hai koii saath mere
Dil magar kitna tanhaa hai

Tanhaa aataa hai, jaataa hai
Ye bashar kitna tanhaa hai

Jivan chakra hote hai.n poore
Par safar kitnaa tanhaa hai

Kishtiyo.n ka maksad saahil hai
Ye bahar kitna tanhaa hai

Umra bhar band rahe seep mei.n
Khwab-e-guhar kitna tanhaa hai

*** *** *** *** *** *** ***

How lonely is the wanderer's home
How lonesome is the milestone

Someone walks by my side, but
The heart stands on its own

How lonely is the human being
He comes alone and goes alone

The cycles of life get over
But the journey is oh! so lone

The boats' destiny is the shore
Ocean's heart embraces cyclone

Enclosed in a shell for a lifetime
A pearl's dream remains unknown

Monday, February 19, 2007

Gender stereotypes

Unending debates go on about gender equality and redefining (or rather undefining) gender specific roles. But it seems that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to change the way of thinking that is ingrained deep in the minds, for eons and eons. On one hand there is concious effort to modify this mindset, and the signs of change have started to appear, at least in urban India. But, on the other hand, there is a subtle, sub-concious chain of events perpetrating the conventional thought process.
The latter point was driven home to me while browsing in one of the local bookstores. I have seen books relating fairy tales and bedtime stories a countless number of times, but it was the first time I saw a book titiled "Bedtime stories for Boys" (which had stories like Aladdin and Pinochio) and another book titled "Bedtime stories for Girls" (which had stories like Cindrella and Sleeping Beauty). What direction are we trying to give to the impressionable minds of those innocent children ?

Another one is the case of a senior, highly regarded, and well experienced (male) colleague, who is quitting his well paying job to join a start-up firm. The firm has no funding as of now, and he is joining more or less in the capacity of a founding member, and is going to work from home, without any renumeration, for at least some time to come. He evidently has means of supporting the family for this time, but that is not the question. The point is that he is hailed for his courage and admired for his motivation and faith. The thought that crossed my mind was what if it was a female colleague who had taken this step - how would the people around have reacted ? I am strongly inclined to believe that in that case, the prevailing opinion would be that she wants to take a break from work after working for so many years - to take it easy.
How many people who happen to read this, can honestly share their opinion on the question I asked myself.

It also reminds me of an article I read about the way the actions of working men and women are differently interpreted in office. It was in a lighter vein, but I find a disturbing, sad reality underlying the humor.
[I could not find a suitable link, so I am pasting the contents here] And again, how many can honestly say they have not had a thought along these lines ...

He has a family picture on his desk. He is a responsible family man!
He has a cluttered desk. He is a hard worker!

She has a family picture on her desk. She places family before career!
She has a cluttered desk. What a scatterbrain!

He is talking with co-workers. He must be discussing the latest deal!
He is not at his desk. He must be at a meeting!

She is talking with co-workers. She must be gossiping!
She is not at her desk. She must be in the ladies' room!

He is having lunch with the boss. He must be on his way up!
He was criticized by the boss. He will improve his performance!

She is having lunch with the boss. They must be having an affair!
She was criticized by the boss. She will be very upset!

He is getting married. He will be more settled!
He is having a baby. He'll need a raise!

She is getting married. She will get pregnant and leave!
She is having a baby. She will cost the company plenty in maternity leave!

He is going on a business trip. It is good for his career!
He is leaving for a better job. He recognizes a good opportunity!

She is going on a business trip. What will her husband say?
She is leaving for a better job. Women are not dependable!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Zaroorat (Necessity)

I just found JV's blog, who has posted the ghazal : Gulshan ki faqat phoolon se nahin, kaanton se bhi zeenat hoti hai.
Undoubtedly, it is a very beautiful ghazal, with amazing lyrics, and beautifully sung by Jagjit Singh.

I just want to bring to notice the same thing, in the light of my day-to-day work ....

Product ki faqat features se nahin errors se bhi zeenat hoti hai
Chalne ke liye software ko bug ki bhi zaroorat hoti hai

Ai Project leader poochta hai tu ek PCR ka status
Yahan roz crashes milate hain yahan roz PCR hoti hai

AE ne commitment maangi hai late de na sakoon date de na sakoon
Delay par customer maarega date doon to musibat hoti hai

Jo likh de sare comments code mein uski knowledge bemani hai
Jise lay-off na kar sake manager us developer ki kiimat hoti hai

Bug: A mistake in software code
PCR: Product Change Request (Bug/Error report from customer)
AE: Application Engineer (Person who reports customers' problems to development team)

Quotable Quote

I read this quote in the paper a couple of days back. It was too good not to share :

I love being married - it is great to find one special person, you want to annoy for the rest of your life.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Celebrating half century

This is my fiftieth post on this blog. Not much to show for over one year of blogging. But well, something is better than nothing :-))
On this "occasion" I want to thank the few regular readers and occasional surprise visitors who encourage me with their words :-)

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been reading a lot of poetry in recent times. I am sharing here a ghazal I found on ebazm.com that I liked a lot, written by an amateur poet named Neeraj.

Rakh de tu baat dil ki ab to jubaa.n pe laakar
Jeetaa rahegaa kab tak tu yaar mu.nh chupaakar

Jazbaat ke ye kaagaz failaa ke yu.n na rakhnaa
Hai daur aandhiyo.n kaa le jaayegaa uDaa kar

Tum chaahto.n ki dori itni bhi mat baDhaanaa
Ghir jaye gardisho.n mei.n dil ki pata.ng jaakar

In aansuo.n ko apni aankho.n se mat giraanaa
Pachtaaoge tum apni kamzoriyaa.n dikhaakar

Dohri hai dhaarwaalaa kha.njar ye dushmani kaa
Kartaa use bhi ghaayal jo dekhtaa chalaa kar

Apne sivaa nahi.n kuch tumko dikhaayii detaa
Phir yaar faaida kyaa yu.n zi.ndagi bitaa kar

Har pal hi chaDh rahi hai ye paap ki parat bhi
Kaise miTaaoge tum, Ganga main bas nahaakar

Majboot meraa seenaa yaa hauslaa tumhaaraa
Ye aazmaalo tum bhi kuch teer to chalaakar

Koi jatan bhi kar lo haasil nahi.n wo hogaa
"Neeraj" agar na rakhaa dil main use basaakar

If you have good links for poetry (preferably hindi/urdu poetry), do pass it on to me.
Also, I have been looking for the complete text of some poems I read way back in school. If anyone can help me with these, I shall be eternally grateful :-)
Kyu.n yeh aag bujhaaoge [ Ramdhari Singh Dinkar ]
Mai.n tumhari maun karuNa ka sahaaraa chaahtaa hoo.n []
Tum kalpanaa karo []

Friday, February 02, 2007

Many shades of poetry

For a few days now, I have been reading and re-reading quite a bit of poetry. I enjoyed a book of ghazals and nazms, that I have leafed through innumerable times in last fifteen years or so. I browsed through some of my favorite poetry sites. Many of these poems are extremely wonderful, and some of their lines are so powerful that they make you pause and think for a long while.
Incidentally, that is one thing I admire greatly about urdu poetry, specially ghazals. They have a rhythm (which makes them so amenable to be adapted to music), and they touch on a wide variety of topics. Ashaar of a single ghazal may present different shades of life, and different philosophical aspects.

I believe many people would have heard or read this sher:
Zaahid, sharaab piine de maszid mei.n baith kar
Ya woh jagah bata de, jaha.n khuda nahii.n hai
(The author of this is 'Daag', I think, but am not sure).

Recently, my brother shared with me the reply (which I had never heard of earlier):
Zaahil, sharaab pii le tu maszid mei.n baith kar
Gar dil mei.n khuda nahii.n hai, to kahii.n nahii.n hai

I was overwhelmed.

I want to share another nazm that made a very great impact on me.
Tajmahal - the epitome of beauty, one of the great wonders of the world, and an eternal monument of love.
Or is it? Is there a unanimous agreement on what the Taj represents ? I am afraid not. This is what Sahir Ludhianvi said:
ye chamanazaar ye jamunaa kaa kinaaraa ye mahal
ye munaqqash dar-o-diivaar, ye maharaab ye taaq
ik shahanashaah ne daulat kaa sahaaraa le kar
ham Gariibo.n kii muhabbat kaa u.Daayaa hai mazaak
mere mahabuub kahii.n aur milaa kar mujhase!

Read the complete poem : Taaj Mahal

In the last few days, I have read quite a lot of news headlines and quite few articles on the increasing acts of violence, specifically in our country. Violence, compounded by corruption - the sorry state of affairs really saddens me.
My lament:
Jahaa.n mei.n yeh kaisaa toofaan aayaa
Yeh kaisaa junoo.n aadmii par chaayaa
Mahavir, Buddh, Nanak ke hamvatan
Gandhi ki beTe, aman bechte hai.n