Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Even the mightiest fall !!!!!!!!!

Today, I heard those lines again. And as always, they bought a lump to my throat. Forget even hearing, even when I hum those lines in my mind, they touch somewhere deep down. But today, I also read a complete translation of those lines. And in the midst of reading it, the view of the screen got blurred… So here is my tribute to probably my favourite poem of all time.

The opening lines go like this:

hue naam warr benishan kaise kaise
zameen kha gayi naujawan kaise kaise

aaj jawani par itaranae wale kal pacthtayega - 2
chadhta suraj dheere dheere dhalta hain dhal jayega - 2
dhal jayega dhal jayega

“(See) how the famous have now lost their signatures
The earth has eaten up quite a few heroes..
So (you) who today prides himself on his youth, will regret it tomorrow..
The rising sun will eventually set”

At this point, readers who have listened to this qawaali need not read further. Since having once listened carefully to this masterpiece in shayaari that is so depressing yet so very true, no one will ever forget it. But for those who have never heard of it, I will just sample a few verses, though listening to the entire eleven-minute narration will drive home (very badly, I might add) the point. Of course, a slight understanding of Urdu would definitely aid.

So here are some other gems from ‘Chadta Suraj Dheere Dheere Dhalta Hai, Dhal Jaayega’ (pardon my inaccurate translation in some cases)

maut ne zamane ko yeh sama dikh dala
kaise kaise us gum ko khak main mila dala
khak main mila dala khak main mila dala
yaad rakh sikander ke hausle to aali they
jab gaya tha duniya se dono haath khali they
dono haath khali they dono haath khali they
apna woh halaku hain aur na uske saathi hain
jung ko chu woh porus hain aur na uske haathi hain
aur na uske haathi hain aur na uske haathi hain
kal jo tanke chalte they apni shano shaukat par
shamma tak nahi jalti aaj unki purbat par

“(See) what seasons has death shown the world
(See) how it has reduced the once mighty to dust
Remember that Alexander was the greatest
But he was empty-handed when he left the world
Neither was his strong army around nor were his comrades
And neither did he leave with his enemy (Porus) or his elephants
(The person) who till yesterday was proud of his fame and power
Today not even a candle burns on his grave’

And sample another one…

maut sabko aani hain kaun isse chuta hain
tu fana nahi hoga yeh khayal jhutha hain
yeh khayal jhutha hain yeh khayal jhutha hain
saans tutate hi sab rishtey tut jaayenge
baap, maa, behan, biwi, Bachhe choot jayenge
bachhe choot jayenge Bachhe choot jayenge
tere jitne hain bhai waqt ka chalan denge
chin kar teri daulat do hi gaj kafan denge
do hi gaj kafan denge do hi gaj kafan denge

“Death has come to all, no one has escaped
That you will not be destroyed
Is but a delusionary thought
The moment you take your last breath, all relationships would snap
Father, Mother, Sister, Wife and Children, you would leave all behind
Your so called ‘brothers’ will quietly bid their time
And then (after your death) steal your wealth
And leave only two yards of grave for you”

Of course there are several other such profound lines in this qawaali, so go ahead and listen. If you cannot find it, you can always mail me at, will send the MP3 version.


PS: Thanks for Amitabh Iyer's blog for a good attempt at translating this..

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dear Dr. Manmohan Singh !!!...

Dear Hon. Prime Minister


I write to you on a day that is perhaps the most significant days in recent Indian history. Over the past month, the people of India have, after nearly two decades, voted almost decisively for a pre-poll alliance. (In fact, I read on one television channel that this is the most decisive result since your party was thrown out in 1977!!). As a result, today you find yourself having an almost obstacle-free path to the PM’s seat. And I for one am pleasantly surprised. Yesterday, I wrote on my blog, fearing for the kind of games our politicians would be playing in order to get to that 272 mark. Thankfully, the nation would not be seeing those now and your party along with its allies (plus some minor support here and there) should be able to comfortably occupy the treasury benches in the Lok Sabha. Here I also admit that you are not one of my favourite leaders (though I have the highest respect for you from amongst your breed). But anyways, what I feel matters the least today.

But I am not writing just to congratulate you, your party and allies for winning the election. I am sure that you realize the enormity of the task ahead of you. By decisively giving you a mandate, the billion strong population of this country has placed the highest expectations from you. And I am no different. Your future government is already being called the first real Congress government since 1989. Meaning that you have now virtually a free hand in running the government, at least the finances. To add to that, the presence of a former finance minister at the helm will further raise hopes. One hopes that without the interference of the Left and other allies, your government would be able to carry out its financial agenda and tackle the real issues head-on. Of course, I am hardly qualified to inform you on the real issues that face us, but I cannot resist !!. Security of course has become numero uno for some time now and I hope your government is able to provide reassurance to its citizens that visits to shopping malls and travelling in local trains need not be accompanied by doubts on whether one would return home safely. On the finances front, its now time to reverse all those populist policies that have caused a nearly 10% fiscal deficit last year. With the Left and the others becoming less relevant, I sincerely hope that subsidies are reduced to the extent that people pay a fair price for the petrol they use and the power they consume. Then there is the question of bills in crucial areas like insurance, retail, women representation etc. that were stuck up because of political opposition within the former government. One last area that I would like to mention is agriculture. It is about time that Indian agriculture is made into an investment-worthy sector, so that one day people from the cities would look to the villages to invest, directly or indirectly, in agriculture. And while I do not expect your government to deliver overnight, you now have five solid years to deliver good, decisive and growth-oriented governance. The budget due next month would definitely be your first chance to make your intentions clear. The country would await that.

To sum up, today’s verdict has given birth to a new wave of optimism throughout the country, atleast amongst the urban sector. (CNBC is already predicting a circuit breaking rally on Monday !!). How much of that optimism is misplaced will only be clear in the following weeks. But it is now time to assert yourself (and I was pleasantly surprised to see you during the campaign, where you were unusually blunt, especially while reacting to LK Advani’s remarks). Now is the time to carry that decisiveness to the PM’s chair. Freed of the shackles of coalition governance, the years 2009 to 2014 have the potential to go down in history as the period in which India started its march from a developing nation encumbered by populist policies and underperforming governments to being one of the economic powerhouses of the world. And my generation, nearing or crossed thirty, eagerly look forward to these five years.

I sincerely hope that your government meets the expectations that the common people right from Mumbai to Manipur and from Srinagar to Sivakasi now have from you. All the very best !!!!!


Yours truly,

A common Indian citizen

Friday, May 15, 2009

Let the games begin !!!!!

Tomorrow dawns the big day finally !! When the bigger IPL (Indian Political League) is played out, captured live by the many news channels catering to the millions who would be practically glued to their television screens (I know I would be) since morning. And by all indications, this IPL is certain to match yesterday's IPL (the bat-ball variety) match for sheer drama and intrigue. With neither of the main alliances coming anywhere close to the magic 272 mark, it looks pretty certain that the formation of the next government could take a few days more. And in that interim, one has no doubt that all sorts of games (the good, the bad and the downright ugly) would be played. Suddenly, ideologies would take a backseat (if they haven't already), political pariahs would be sought after and each elected independent would be worth his or her weight in gold (and I daresay, might also be paid so !!). In all this maneuvering, the thoughts that would be the furthest in the minds of the netas and mantris would be on how to best serve their constituencies, whether in power or in the opposition !! So people like you and me who have cast their votes to bring these men and women to power would ultimately be at the receiving end of another five years of ordinary governance. 

So all eyes focussed on tomorrow morning when the grand finale of the world's largest democratic exercise takes place !! As for people like us, we can only pray that whoever stumbles across the finish line tomorrow would have a stable government to start with, since that atleast would enable it to take some strong decisions without having to worry about someone pulling the rug from under their feet. As they say, 'sar salaamat to pagdi hazaar' !!

And finally, hats off to those lakhs of returning officers and polling officials who have made such a mammoth exercise possible !!