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Archive for the ‘GHALIB’ Category

Ghalib ka pata ( Ghalib’s address)


Who could’ve described Ghalib better than he himself.

Hai aur bhi duniya mein sukhanwar bahut ache
Kehte hain ke ghalib ka hai andaaz-e-bayaan aur.
(There are many good poets in the world, but they say Ghalib’s style (( of poetry) is different) 

And in humour narrates his notoriety :

Ho goya koi aisa bhi jo Ghalib ko na jaane,
Shayar to who achha hai, mager badnaam bahut hai.
(Is there anyone who isn’t aware of Ghalib? He is a good poet, but pretty infamous). 

Yet my favorite description of Ghalib in his own words remains this:

Likhta huun Asad sozish-e-dil se sukhan-e-garam,
Taan rakh na sake koi mere harf pe angusht.
{I write Asad, the pain of my heart in ‘hot’ poetry, So that no one can point a finger at my words}.

Indeed Ghalib needs no introduction. However, I dedicate this post to his association with the city of Delhi.

He was born in Agra in a family with Turk ancestors who had migrated from Samrkhand in Bukhara. After being married at 13 years of age he came to live in Delhi.

He lived, composed poetry and prose, then  passed away in Delhi.

Delhi came to be associated with the name of Mirza Ghalib.

It would not be wrong to consider Ghalib as the most coveted residents that Delhi city takes pride in. And the most well known address of Delhi, known worldwide happens to be:

Ghalib’s Haveli
Gali Qasim Jan,
Ballimaran,
Chandni Chowk,
Delhi.


Ghalib lived in  this haveli and  the address was immortalised  in a tribute by none other than Gulzar,  to the great poet . The verses aptly describe the narrow, dark alleys of Old Delhi. Anyone familiar with it, would find an accurate picturisation the character and life of the place, in these verses, .

Ballimaraan ke mahalle ki wo pecheeda daleelon ki si wo galiyan
Saamne taal ke nukkad pe batero ke qaseede
Gurhgurhati hui paan ki peekon mein wo daad wo wah-wah
Chand darwaaze par latke huye boshida se kuch taat ke parde
ek bakri ke mamiyaane ki awaaz
Aur dhoondhlayi hui shaam ke be-noor andhere
Aise deewaron se moonh jor kar chalte hai yahan
Churi-waalan ke katri ki bari bee jaise
Apni bujhti hui aankhon se darwaaze tatole
Isee be-noor andheri see gali qaasim se
Ek tarteeb charaghon ki shuru hoti hai
Ek quran-e-sukhan ka safa khulta hai
Asadullah Khan ‘Ghalib’ ka patha milta hai.
(The lanes of Ballimaran so much like the confusing arguments
With patridge stories at the lane’s corner.
The sounds of applause amidst the gurgling sounds of  chewed beetal leaves.
With worn out rug curtains hung outside a few doors
The bleating sound of a goat
And the lifeless darkness in the hazy evening.
That creep along the  walls.
Like the old lady from the alleys of Chooriwalan
Who hunts for the doors by the partial vision in her eyes.
In one such dull, dark street Qasim
Where a  row of lit lamps starts, 
And a new page of poetry begins
There,  the  whereabouts of Asadullah Khan Ghalib are  found).
(Pardon my inability to do justice through translation)).

He rented the haveli through his friend. And spent the last decade of life there.

With a prose as powerful as his poetry, he describes the dilapidated state of his house in a letter to his friend :

Balakhana ager che gira nahin, lekin chat chhalni ho chuki hai. Kahin lagan kahin ughaal dan, kahin chilamchi rakh diya hai.Abr do ghante batrasta hai to chat hamri chaar ghante barasti hai.
(Although the house did not fall, the roof has become a sieve. We put various utensils benath the points– of leak. Though the skies rain for two hours, our roof rains for four.)

And in true Ghalib wit he says:

Huaa huun ishq kii ghaarat garii se sharmindaa
Sivaay hasrat-e-taamiir ghar men khaak nahiin
(I am guilty of the destruction that my love has brought, There isnt anything at home except for the ‘castles in the air’).

Though living a life of extremely limited means, and financial hardships, he continued to live in Delhi:

Hai ab is mamure mein qaht-e gham-e ulfat asad
Ham ne yih mana kih dilli mein rahe khavenge kya
(There is now in this town a famine of the grief of love, Asad
We’ve agreed that we would remain in Delhi– what will we eat?)

He lived and loved the city Delhi, but with a complain about it’s changing character, in another letter:

Bhai kya poochte ho. Kya likhoon. Dilli ki hasti munassar kai hangamon per thi. Qila, Chandni chawk, her roz majma Jama Masjid ka, her hafte sair jamna ke pul ki, her saal mela phool waalon ka. Ye paanchon baatein ab nahin, phir kaho Dehli kahan. Haan koi shehr is naam ka Hindustan mein kabhi tha.
(What do you ask? What  should I write ? Five things kept Delhi alive – the fort, Chandni Chowk, the daily crowds at the Jama Masjid, the weekly walk to the Yamuna Bridge, and the yearly fair of the flower-sellers. None of these survives, so how could Delhi survive? Yes there used to be a city of this name in the land of Hindustan.)

Ghalib passed away in the same house on Feb 15, 1869. His house ultimately got turned into a place for coal storage.
It remained in a dilapidated condition until in 1999, when Government of Delhi acquired, renovated it,  after protests.

It was restored into a Ghalib Memorial Museum which opened on his birth anniversary on Dec 27, 2001.
Despite of  having lived the life of hardships of all kinds-emotional, personal, physical, financial, he had confidence that his poetry would keep his memories alive :

Hui muddat ke Ghalib mar gaya par yaad aataa hai
Woh har ek baat pe kehna ke yooN hota to kia hota.
( It has been a long time since Ghalib passed away, but he is still remembered.by his saying of what if this or that had happened).

And as predicted by Mirza, for all the lovers of fine Urdu poetry, he still lives in each of his verses.

This reminds me of one his lesser known couplets which happen to be a favourite of mine, and which exudes his optimism in life,

Hoon garmi e nishaat e tasavvur se naghma sanj.
Main andaleeb e gulshan e na afrida hoon.
I sing with joy when I imagine tomorrow.
I am the lark of a garden that is yet to be.

(My tribute to the great poet on his 214th birth anniversary).

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In love with Ghalib , the witty.


Recently I grabbed a book called Yadgar-e-Ghalib, by Altaf Hussain Haali in Urdu, and read bits from it. This has rekindled my fancy for him all the more.

Mirza Ghalib the humourist , is awe inspiring. Leave aside his superb poetry , his wit with which he lived and laughed off the troubles of his tough life, reveals a person extremely fascinating to read and know. He was an open book.

No doubt he indulged in various vices which would easily label him as a reckless person. But the honesty with which he admits all his vices and even laughs at himself makes him an adorable scamp and one feels like a shrewd hypocrite in front of him.

Ghalib teaches us what is it to live with a life of stark poverty, tragedy after tragedy of losing one’s progeny seven times, living off without a source of income and still to be able to maintain sanity and humour to enjoy one’s present day. (Although being a woman I hail and salute his wife as an epitome of patience and forebearance.)

Reading through I learnt what a friend he was. He never procrastinated in replying back to the letters. And many of his friends send him letters that were ‘bearing’ i.e. without a stamp, and he postpaid twice the amount to releases those letters from the postman. His silver tongue and the golden pen, won hearts of his friends and critics alike.

He wrote that he wanted to write a language, that whoever reads his letters gets elated. (Yes Mirza you still make us elated by them.)

His letters talked.( Yes one can hear you talking through them, Mirza)
One of them said:
“sau kos se ba-zaban-e-qalam baatein kiya karo aur hijr mein visaal ke maze liya karo”
(from hundred of miles talk with the tongue of the pen and enjoy the joy of meeting even when you are separated]).

He joked openly about his being a non-conformist and a sinner. When Ghalib bought a house in Gali Qasim Jaan, he wrote,

‘Masjid ke zer saya ek ghar bana liya hai,
yeh banda kamina, humsaya khuda hai’

(I have made my house on the shadow of the mosque; this wicked fellow is now a neighbour of God).
The mosque he was referring to was the Delhi’s famous Jama Masjid.

During Ramzan somebody asked him if he fasted , and he replied : “ek na rakha.”( I did not keep one.).

On yet another hot day in Ramzan, Mirza was playing chess when a friend, Maulana Arzoo came.
Maulana remarked :“I had read in a Hadith that the devil is imprisoned in the month of Ramzan. But today I doubt the validity of the Hadith.”
Mirza retorted: “Sir, the hadith is absolutely correct. But you be aware that this is that den where the devil is imprisoned.”

Making a serious satire at the gluttony that people indulge during the month of Ramadan he said:

Iftaar-e-saum kii jise kuch dast.gaah ho
us shakhs ko zaroor hai rozaa rakha kare

(The one who has the wherewithal to break his fast
that person should indeed keep the fast)

Jis paas roza khol ke khaane ko kuch na ho
roza agar na khaaye to naachaar kya kare

(The one who has nothing to break his fast with
what else can he do but be constrained to ‘eat the fast’)

And on being questioned for not fasting he said:
Ruza mera eman hay Ghalib! Laiken
Khas Khana wa barf aab kahan say laoon?

(Fasting is part of my faith, but from where should I get khus curtains and chill water for it ?).( Correction courtesy Sohail Bhai).

On another occasion, in a letter that he wrote to a friend, in Persian:
“These days Maulana Ghalib (God’s mercy be upon him) is in clover [very happy]. A volume of the Dastaan-i-Amir Hamza has come — about 600 pages of it — and a volume of the same size of Bostan-i-Khayal. And there are seventeen bottles of good wine in the pantry. So I read all day and drink all night.
The man who wins such bliss can only wonder What more had Jamshed? What more Alexander?”

Ghalib often bragged about his reputation as a rake. He was once imprisoned for gambling and later narrated the incident with great fancy.

Once, when someone praised the poetry of the pious Sheikh Sahbai, Ghalib immediately retorted:
“How can Sahbai be a poet? He has never tasted wine, nor has he ever gambled; he has not been beaten with slippers by lovers, nor has he ever seen the inside of a jail”

When someone poked fun at him for being a drunkard and that a wine-bibbers’ prayers are never answered he said with a laugh, outwitting the person:
“My friend, if a man has wine, what else does he need to pray for?”

He did not even spare his ‘economic poverty’ from the wrath of his wit. ( But Mirza, we know you were far richer the many rich then and now)
Qarz kii piite the mai lekin samajhte the kih haan
Rang laavegii hamaarii faaqah-mastii ek din

The King, Bahadur Shah Zafar was planning to go for Hajj and Ghalib heard it. He wrote to the King :
Ghalib, gar is safar maiN mujhay saath lay chalaiN
Haj ka sawaab nazr karooN ga hazoor ki

If he will take me with him on the Pilgrimage
His Majesty may have my share of heavenly reward

He never minced words about his inclination towards practicing the faith.

Jaanataa huun  savaab-e-taa’at-o-zahad 
Par tabiiyat idhar nahiin aatii 

(I am aware of the reward of religious deeds in the next life, but I somehow do not get inclined towards them.)

It isn’t that those who live happy, are not sensitive and pained by the troubles that come their way. Like everyman with a mind and a heart , to be hurt by the whips that life lashes at them, Ghalib too felt his share of pain.

He wrote:
Sozish e batin ke hain ahbab munkir warna yaan
Dil maheet e girya aur lab aashnaa e khanda hai.

(Though my friends give no credence to my inner aches
While my lips are all smile, my heart is but a tearful waste).

Indeed, his wit must have been therapeutic to his own self, but to readers like me it is very addicting.

P.S. I am extremely indebted to Sohail Hashmi bhai, who I know is an expert in Urdu poetry from very young age, has added some other incidents related to the above context:

The house next to a mosque belonged to Kale saheb, a gentleman who was into sufiism and was respected greatly by bahadur shah zafar. In fact the House was given Ghalib on the recommendation of Zafar, Ghalib has refered to the mosque and his house in two other shers

Bhaun paas aankh qibla-e-haajaat Chahiye
Maajid ke zer-e-saayaa kharaabaat chahiye

Dil Khush hua hai Masjid-e-veeraan dekh kar
Meri tarah Khuda ka bhi Khaanaa Kharaab hai

Once during the month of Ramzan, a maulana who was a friend of Ghalib and also a poet went to meet ghalib, ghalib had a a plate of kabaabs in front of him and a glass of Wine besides him.
The maulana said, “Tumhaara roza nahin hai.”
Ghalib said “Hai”
The Maulana asked “Phir yeh sab kya hai”
Ghalib response was, “Roze ko behlaane ka saamaan hai.”

[P.S. His humour on his first love deserves a complete blog in itself, which shall follow later. No his first love wasn’t either ‘women’ or ‘wine’.]

Ghalib’s Mangoes


It is Summers and mango time. Mango is synonimous with Mirza Ghalib. And I am here after ages in the mango season in Delhi, the city of Ghalib. And then Amir Khusrau’s praise for mangoes is not secret either. His soul resides in Delhi too.

How could one enjoy Ratols, Chausa, Dussehris in Delhi, consumed in their aromas and flavours, and not pay tribute to Ghalib’s love for mangoes. Perhaps ‘his first love’ was neither poetry nor liqour. But mangoes. Why do I say that ?

Here is a fascinating piece on Ghalib and his love for mangoes, to prove my claim, by Firoze Bakht Ahmed:

Ghalib was a great mango connoisseur

Altalf Hussain Hali, an ardent admirer of Mirza Ghalib and himself a poet of no mean achievement once had a very hot debate with the latter’s friend Nawab Mustafa Khan Shefta on the topic that Ghalib was the sole Indian poet who had tasted the maximum varieties of mangoes.

Shefta maintained that it wasn’t so but with his stunning memory and deep study of Ghalib’s life, Hali was the winner in proving that Ghalib had in fact tasted most of the 4,000 varieties of mangoes
grown in India. This might be a funny incident but the truth is that Ghalib was the one who loved eating mangoes in sweltering summers more than composing his couplets.

The varieties of mangoes that Ghalib mentioned in 63 letters written to his friends are – Malda, Fasli,Chausa, Zard Aaloo, Jahangir, Dasehri, Rehmat-e-Khas, Sarauli, Malghoba, Aziz Pasand,
Mahmood Samar, Sultan-us-Samar, Ram Kela, Bombay Green, Ratol, Safeda Mallihabadi, Dil Pasand, Husan Aara, Nazuk Pasand, Kishan Bhog, Neelam, Khudadad, Hamlet, Tota Pari, Nishati, Zafrani, Sinduri, Khatta Meetha, Barah Masi, Langra, Alfonso, Fajri Samar Bahisht, Gulabakhsh, Bishop, Xavier, Rumani and Badami. Ghalib had tasted all these.

His love for mangoes was in fact more than that of wine or even poetry when the season of the heavenly, juicy fruit came in the months of June and July.

Quoting Ghalib regarding mangoes, Hali mentions in his Yadgar-e-Ghalib that the poet was also very well versed with the history of mangoes.

Ghalib wrote to a friend, Maulvi Sadruddin Azurda about the history of mangoes: ‘The mango has been cultivated in India for over 4,000 years and is so much a part of the Indian heritage and culture that it is almost an object of veneration in Hindu households. Down through the centuries, emperors have pledged their devotion to the mango!

‘The records of Hieun Tsang, the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim who visited India during Harshavardhan’s reign in the 6th century B.C., contains references to the attentive cultivation of the mango in the country. The Mughal emperors also evinced keen interest in the mango’s systematic cultivation and emperor Akbar is credited with having planted genetically superior mangoes in an orchard known as
Lakh Bakhsh, north of Agra.

‘Small wonder that our best varieties of mangoes bear names such as Jahangir and Himayun-ud-Din. Even Bahadur Shah Zafar, had a mango garden known as Hayat Bakhsh in the gardens of the Red Fort in which some of the most delicious and juicy varieties were grown.’

Mango is such a fruit that the accounts of it qualities are there since Vedic times. In fact there is a very interesting incident quoted in Persian by Ghalib’s friend Yusuf Mirza that traces the history of mango to the Vedic times.

It says that god once witnessed a contest between the two celestial brothers – Ganesh and Subramaniya popularly known as Kartikeya. Their parents Shiva and Parvati announced that the
one to race round the world and emerge the first would receive a wonderful gift.

While Subramaniya set off on this arduous race, Ganesh, the shrewd and calculating one, did some clever thinking. He circled around his parents, suggesting that they were world to him, and won the fabulous prize – a luscious mango!

Even Sufi poet Amir Khusro had praised the mango in his Persian poetry and called it Fakhr-e-Gulshan.

According to Ghalib it is a remarkable fruit in the sense that it can be cut with a knife, sucked like ice cream or crushed for its juice. It gives more joy in comparison with other fruits if it is cut and eaten.
He called such a mango as Qalmi Aam.

Even great poets like Nazir Akbarabadi and Iqbal too have written gloriously about mangoes.

Ghalib wrote to his friends as far as Calcutta, Bombay and Madras for sending him the mangoes and he was really fortunate enough that they obliged him by sending the tokris (baskets) of the fruit.

To a friend living in Calcutta, Mir Sarfaraz Hussain, he wrote as many as 15 letters requesting him to send him Bengal’s famous Gulbakhsh mangoes. Finally Sarfaraz Hussain sent him two baskets.
During May, 1857, when the Sepoy Mutiny was at its peak, Ghalib went to a friend of his in Meerut, who was a Subedar by family tradition and owned many mango orchards in Meerut and Saharnpur.

Once during the afternoon, Ghalib felt the urge to eat mangoes. That was not the time for the fruit to get ripened as most of the varieties in northern India ripe in the sweltering heat of June. While
Ghalib was just gazing at the kachcha aam (unripe mangoes), a British soldier saw Ghalib and without ado arrested him.

In fact that area was densely populated by Muslims who revolted against the British. The poet was taken to the Meerut Kotwali after arrest. In those days Hindus and Muslims used to wear almost
similar clothes.

When he reached the police station, the military governor Colonel Burn asked Ghalib: ‘Are you a Muslim?’

Ghalib was witty and his friend confirmed his presence of mind was par excellence. He replied: ‘ I am only a half-Muslim.’

‘What exactly do you mean by that? Be clear,’ said Col. Burn.

‘By that I mean Sir, that I take liquor but I do not touch pork!’

Hearing this, Col. Burn burst out laughing and let him off advising him not to mix up with the rioters.

Shefta narrated that in one gathering there were Maulana Fazl-e-Haq, Ghalib and other friends and they discussed about mangoes.
When everyone had had one’s say, Haq asked for Ghalib’s comments.

And he said:
‘In my opinion, there are only two necessary requirements concerning mangoes. Firstly, they should be sweet and secondly, they should be plentiful!’

(Firoz Bakht Ahmed, chairman of Friends For Education which works among Urdu schools to improve their standards, filed a public interest suit for restoration of Ghalib’s house in old Delhi. He
can be reached at firozbakht@rediffmail.com)
( © IANS / India eNews)Copyright 2011 IndiaeNews.com. All Rights Reserved.

Ishq Mujhko Nahin, Vehshat Hi Sahi~GHALIB



ishq mujhko naheeN, wehshat hee sahee
meree wehshat, teree shohrat hee sahee

(You say) It is not love, it is madness
My madness may be the cause of your fame

qata’a keeje na ta’alluq ham se
kuchch naheeN hai to adaavat hee sahee

Sever not my relationship with you
If nothing then be my enemy

mere hone meiN hai kya ruswaaee
ei woh majlis naheeN KHalwat hee sahee

What is the meaning of notoriety in meeting me
If not in public court meet me alone

ham bhee dushman to naheeN haiN apne
GHair ko tujh se mohabbat hee sahee

I am not my own enemy
So what if the stranger is in love with you

apnee hastee hee se ho, jo kuchch ho
aagahee gar naheeN GHaflat hee sahee

Whatever you are, it is due to your own being
If this not known then it is ignorance

umr harchand ke hai barq-e-KHiraam
dil ke KHooN karne ki fursat hee sahee

Life though fleets like a lightening flash
Yet it is abundant Time to be in love

ham koee tarq-e-wafa karte haiN

na sahee ishq, museebat hee sahee

I do not want debate on the sustenance of love
Be it not love but another dilemma

kuchch to de ‘ei falak-e-na_insaaf
aah-o-fariyaad ki ruKHasat hee sahee

Give something O biased One
At least the sanction to cry and plea

ham bhee tasleem kee KHoo Daalenge
be_niyaazee teree ` aadat hee sahe

I will perpetuate the rituals
Even if cruelty be your habit

yaar se cheDa chalee jaay, ‘Asad’
gar nahee wasl to hasrat hee sahee

Teasing and cajoling the beloved cannot leave ‘Asad’
Even if there is no union and only the desire remains

Bazeecha-e-atfaal by Ghalib ( with English Translation)


I Perceive the World as a Playground
(Baazi-cha-aie-Atfal Hai Dunia Mere Aage)

I perceive the world as a playground
Where dawn and dusk appear in eternal rounds

My anguish envelopes the entire desert
Silently flows the river in front of my floods

Ask not what separation has done to me
Just see your poise when I come in front of you

Faith stops me while temptations attract
Inspite of Kaaba behind and church ahead

Though the hands don’t move, the eyes are alive
Wine and goblet, let them stay in front of me

I perceive the world as a playground
Where dawn and dusk appear in eternal rounds

‘Har ek baat pe kehte ho’ by Jagjit & Chitra Singh


hain aur bhi duniya main sukhanwar bahut acchay
(There are other poets in the world that are very good)
kehtay hain ki ghalib kay andaaz-i-bayaan aur….
(they say but that the way Ghalib puts it, is something else..)

Har ek baat pay kehtay ho tum, ki tu kya hai
(on just about every thing u tell me who u are)
tumhi kaho ki, yeh andaz-i-guftagoo kya hai
(now u only tell what is this way to talk like this..)

Ragon mein daudtay firnay kay hum nahi kayal
(i am not fond of seeing them flow in the veins)
Jab aankh hi say na tapka to fir lahoo kya hai
(when it didnt dropped out of the eyes then may be its not blood)

chipak raha badan par lahu se pairaahan
hamare jeb ko ab haajat-e-rafu kya hai

(When my bloodied clothes are sticking to my body
…What is the use of mending/darning my pocket then)

jala hai jism jahan dil bhi jal gaya hoga
(when the body has burned now..
may be the heart would have burnt too)
Kuraidtay ho jo ab raakh justajoo kya hai
(now why do u scratch these ashes..wat do u really want now)

Har ek baat pay kehtay ho tum, ki tu kya hai
(on just about every thing u tell me who u are)

rahi na taqat-e-guftar aur agar ho bhee
(There remains none but little strength to speak)
to kis umeed pay kehiye ki aarzoo kya hai
(then on wat hope should i tell u wat is my wish)

Har ek baat pay kehtay ho tum, ki tu kya hai
(on just about every thing u tell me who u are)
tumhi kaho ki, yeh andaz-i-guftagoo kya hai
(now u only tell wat is this way to talk like this..)

KOI UMEED by Ali Zafar


Koi Ummeed Bar Nahin Aatee

koi ummeed bar naheen aatee
koee soorat nazar naheen aatee

No hope comes my way
No visage shows itself to me

ham wahaan hain jahaan se hamko bhee
kuchch hamaaree khabar naheen aatee

I am now at that point
That even I don’t know myself

jaanta hoon sawaab-e-taa’at-o-zahad
par tabeeyat idhar naheen aatee

Though I know the reward of religious devotion
My attention does not settle in that direction

kaaba’a kis munh se jaaoge ‘Ghalib’
sharm tumko magar naheen aatee

How will you face Mecca, Ghalib
When shame doesn’t come to you

maut ka ek din mu’ayyan hai
neehd kyon raat bhar naheeh aatee?

That death will come one day is definite
Then why does sleep evade me all night?

aage aatee thee haal-e-dil pe hansee
ab kisee baat par naheen aatee

I used to laugh at the state of my heart
Now no one thing brings a smile

hai kuchch ‘eisee hee baat jo chup hoon
warna kya baat kar naheen aatee?

It is for these reasons that I am quiet
If not, would I not converse with you?

kyon na cheekhoon ki yaad karate hain
Meri awaaz gar nahin aati.

Why should I not remember you?
Even if you cannot hear my lament

daagh-e-dil gar nazar naheen aata
boo bhee ‘ei chaaraagar ! naheen aatee

You don’t see the anguish in my heart
O healer, the scent of my pain eludes you

marte hain aarzoo mein marne ki
maut aatee hai par naheen aatee

I die in the hope of dying
Death arrives and then never arrives