Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Khabar-E-Tahayyur-E-Ishq Sunn..Beyond the Call of Love

"Khabar-E-Tahayyur-E-Ishq Sunn, Na Junoon Raha Na Pari Rahi" is one of the most famous kalaam of the 18th century mystic poet Siraj Aurangabadi. It's been sung and by multiple artists

I had heard this version by Abida Parveen some time ago and liked it.

But recently I discovered a version sung by Mehnaz Begum on SoundCloud and fell in love with it.

Listen to it here 

This time what drew me to it were the beautiful words. It talks of the ultimate state of bliss that is achieved in the quest of love for the Supreme- the state where the mad desire, the longing all  begin to disappear and the boundaries between the self and the Supreme begin to blur.As the self merges with the selfless one anticipates and awaits that ultimate revelation. And finally the union… which is nothing like expected because it is much beyond it. And it frees you in a way that you never could have imagined.

In this interesting clip from the movie Umrao Jaan in context of Umrao's  interest in poetry  the Moulavi explains the meaning of this same kalaam to Umrao.

And here’s how I understood and  interpreted attempt at a translation.

Khabar-E-Tahayyur-E-Ishq Sunn, Na Junoon Raha Na Pari Rahi
Na Toh Tu Raha Na Toh Mein Raha, Jo Rahi So Be-Khabari Rahi

Paying heed to the wonder of love- forgotten is the longing, gone is the beloved
Neither you, Nor I remain, Just obliviousness- joyful and divine

Shah-E-Bekhudi Ne Ataa Kia, Mujhay Ab Libas-E-Barahanagi
Na Khirad Ki Bakhiyagari Rahi, Na Junoon Ki Pardadari Rahi

Then he draped me in stark robes, the Emperor of Ecstasy
Robes without seams of rationality, shorn of veils of desire

Chali Simt-E-Ghaib Se Aik Hava, Ke Chaman Zahoor Ka Jal Gaya
Magar Aik Shakh-E-Nihal-E-Gham, Jise Dil Kahe So Hari Rahi

The wind of destiny razed the garden of my existence, but
A tender branch of sorrow, call it my heart, continued to thrive

Nazar-E-Taghaful-E-Yaar Ka, Gila Kis Zuban Se Bayan Karoon
Ke Sharab-E-Sad-Qadaah Aarzu, Khum-E-Dil Mein Thi So Bhari Rahi

No words I have, to lament the indifferent glance of my beloved
Desires, a hundred glasses brimming with wine, filled the heart

Woh Ajab Ghari Thi Mein Jis Ghari, Liya Dars Nuskha-E-Ishq Ka
Ke Kitab Aql Ki Taaq Main, Jyun Dhari Thi Tyun Hi Dhari Rahi

O glorious moment, first glimpse of the lesson of Love
The book preaching wisdom, just lay there, useless, unused

Tere Josh-E-Hairat-E-Husn Ka, Asar Iss Qadar So Yahan Hua
Ke Na Aayine Main Jila Rahi, Na Pari Kuun Jalva Gari Rahi

So awestruck it was by your bedazzling allure
The mirror then could reflect, neither beauty nor being 

Kiya Khak-E-Aatish-E-Ishq Ne Dil-E-Benava-E-Siraj Ko
Na Khatar Raha Na Hazar Raha, Magar Aik Be-Khatari Rahi

My silent heart thus, was set ablaze by love
The sense of danger, the fear, were no more...  just a brazen , heedless me

There are other versions of its singing as well .

Here sung beautifully in the qawaali  form by  Fareed Ayaz and Abu Muhammed 

Another nice one by Shaukat Ali

Another Pakistani singer Abbas Ali has included this in his recently released fusion Sufi album Tamam Al Mast. Catch a clip of it here . Words written in the 1700's still being set to tune in 2014!

While looking all these up I also came to know that Ustad Amanat Ali Khan of the Patiala Gharana has sung it too. Haven't been able to find that one yet but would love to- so if anyone can point me to it...

And till then I will remain besotted with the Mehnaz Begum version. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Raag Bytes - Bhairavi

One Thumri- Five takes

Baat chalat nayi chunari rang daali- an old Bhairavi bandish

2. Shafqat Ali Khan renders it in an inimitable style – the style that is the identity of the Sham Chaurasi Gharana

3. A wonderful instrumental take by the great violin maestro Dr. N Rajam

Adapted as songs for 2 Hindi movies-

4. First Geeta Dutt sings it in the Film Ladki (1953)

5. And Mohd Rafi and KrishnaRao Chonkar in Rani Rupmati ( 1959)

And then there is a 6th one- A modern take by a band called Kabul. Not the best of singing, but just an example of how classical music offers so much room for adaptation, versatility…. And why it remains timeless!

Know of a 7th?- Please do share!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

My Quest...

I stood there at the crossroads
Not sure of what lay ahead…….
Staring at the paths before me
Not knowing where each one led

 I then got one chance 
To view my life up-close
A chance to understand it
Before my path I chose

I traveled to a far land
To the mountains in the mist 
Whose barren peaks towered high
As the deep blue sky they kissed

 Valleys in the middle of nowhere
With tiny flowers in bloom 
Growing against the odds
Braving the icy winds and gloom
In splendid colors they dotted 
The gently rolling hills
Such a marvelous display of
Their Creator’s brilliant skills

 Perched on a rocky mound
Stood a crumbling monastery 
It seemed to be beckoning
Calling out to me

      Overwhelming exhilaration… 
As I began to ascend
For I knew this was the moment
When I’d begin to comprehend
 A glorious view of the valley
Bathed in the sun’s glare
It was then that I saw them
Dancing gaily without a care


A youthful group of monks 
In their robes orange and red 
Moving to the rhythm of the drums
Their tonsured shining heads

No creases on their brows 
No worry for the morrow
Their laughter enough to drown
Mankind’s burden of sorrow

   And I knew then that the path I chose
Would be of no consequence 
My attitude and my Spirit
Would be my life's essence!


Life and Death

Life and Death

There comes a stage in one’s life when one suddenly becomes aware of death…and that ironically is also the moment when one becomes aware of life. Two sides of a coin, two faces of a truth…call it whatever but life and death always go hand in hand - without the other each ceases to have a meaning.

The first encounter…
I got a chance to see death up close early, much earlier than I actually sat down to think about it. It was during my training as a doctor when I was in my early twenties. My reaction to death at that point was of shock, followed by fear and then deep sadness. The first time I actually saw a life ending, it was unfortunately a very young life- a child with burns sustained from a kerosene stove that had exploded. What could have been done better to save him was a question that troubled me for days. It even put a question mark on my desire to pursue the career for the rest of my life, as I was not sure whether I would keep reacting the same way to the suffering and its inevitable end or would I just get used to it with time.

The life goes on the love lives on….

The first loved one I lost was my grandfather. He would have been eighty in a less than a month after the day he died. He had smoked a “hookah” all his adult life – probably his only indulgence- and that led to the end- he died of complications of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. My sister and I arrived at my grandmother’s house only after the funeral had taken place. The crying, the mourning all seemed unreal. At the meal that followed, where we all sat down together, everybody was eager to help, to do their bit to make it easy for the others. Serving the food, passing the plates….death had somehow brought the whole extended family closer even if it were for a brief time. And for the first time I realized that life does go on after death for the ones who are left behind. The love that is created and nurtured in one’s life continues to live in the hearts of one’s loved ones. This year in October was the 18h anniversary of his passing away and even though a lot of family equations have changed since- the cousins, aunts, uncles have drifted apart, made our own lives, had new additions to our families, and had our share of disagreements and tensions- a common bond still exists. That love, that bond we had felt for each other on the day of the funeral still remains buried, blurred somewhere in our hearts.

Pick that phone before it is too late…
Impending death can make you do things that you would otherwise not do. About four years ago my uncle and aunt were busy with the preparations of their son’s wedding. I had called them to congratulate them and express our inability to attend. Though I am very close to my Aunt and interact with her on a regular basis, it was probably the first time I was talking to my uncle over the phone.  He was either away at work tending to his business whenever we visited my Aunt’s house or he would retire into background after the usual greeting and small talk about the welfare of the family.
He sounded happy. He hadn’t been keeping well but that was attributed to the hectic pace of activities preceding the wedding. In the nine months that followed the wedding, the nightmare unfolded. His unexplained fever could not be diagnosed initially and later turned out to be a malignant blood disorder.

The trips to the hospitals, the never ending blood exams, the changing prescriptions of medicines- keeping a tab on everything became almost a mission for me. The relatively frail financial condition of his family and the fact that he was the primary bread earner added to my worries. I had several conversations with my uncle during this period. On one occasion when I called after a longer than usual interval, my aunt told me he had been asking why I hadn’t called for so many days. I remember my last conversation with him- he was in hospital with a worsening ascites and was not responding to the medicines- “you have to do as the doctors tell you”, I told him. “Yes, of course,” he said but I could sense that resignation in his voice. He returned home after that and I never got a chance to call him again as he passed away a few days later. I had been thinking of calling him but the inconsequential demands of my daily routine had kept me away from the phone…

Those nine months could be a compressed life time….we know people will just go away one day…what prevents us from picking up that phone and reaching out to them, I wonder…

How young is too young…
We tend to mourn more for the deaths of people who pass away before completing the average human life span. “He was too young…” or   “she did not get the chance to live her life”, we say. A call form my sister at a very unusual time of the day surprised me that day. She had been on the IM over the computer with an old school friend who informed her that another school mate, who also happened to be a our close family friend had suffered a  severe heart attack and had succumbed to it….at just 36 years of age! It was tough to believe and even tougher to accept. So many memories came rushing back. Carefree days of our childhood spent together- running around, climbing trees, laughing… What if he knew back then that he had only 36 years in his life…would he still be that carefree, ever smiling, full of life boy back then? Isn’t it good then that none of us is aware when we shall depart? Our ignorance offers us the opportunity to make the most of the life that we have been blessed with- for 36 or 100 is just a number and what you do in your time here is much more important than the time itself.

Death gives Life its meaning…
Death is inevitable, we all know that, but accepting and more importantly comprehending this universal truth is what life is all about. As I approach what is probably mid-life for an average human being, I feel more aware of life… and of death. My reaction to death today would probably be different from the 22 year old medical intern that I was when I first witnessed it. Am I more prepared for the death of my loved ones or for that matter even my own, I can’t say. Losing anyone would be tough even if you had prepared yourself- living without them would take a lot of inner strength and courage. But thinking about death has made me aware of the brief and fleeting nature of life. As I go through the motions of life- meandering through the joys and disappointments, the ups and downs, the successes and failures – I no longer feel that I am groping through the dark. We experience this journey differently but all our journeys will end in the same way, sooner or later.

Leaving behind enough love in the hearts of people is what matters; and cherishing the love that was left behind for you is what keeps you going!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Loving, Living and Longing in Mumbai

Mumbai-  a city , which if you’ve stayed in…it stays with you forever, a city of paradoxes, a city so crowded that it has burst at its seams and yet it is the city where you could be the most lonely…
A city that overwhelms you, inspires you, and sometimes makes you numb, apathetic! So if you have ever walked with the winds on the Marine drive during the monsoons, or braved the crowds during any festive season or planned your daily schedule around the timing of the ladies special, you will know what I am talking about…and you will also love this movie called Dhobighat- A labor of love, a tribute to this city of dreams.
The most stark paradox of Mumbai of course is the classes. The first is the rich, traveled around the world, living in sea facing apartment class, the second is the behind the scene machinery that makes Mumbai tick- the bais, the dhobis, the chauffeurs, the dabbawalas ; then there is the intellectual , creative kinds who sip champagne in art galleries and seek inspiration over cups of tea and coffee  to write stories  or lyrics that they hope will become the fancy of the nation when it watches them on celluloid. And finally the outsiders who come in for short duration because of careers,  or as tourists or students- who either live and love the city and make it a part of themselves, or struggle to come to terms with it. That’s Shai, Munna, Arun and Yasmin for you- the four main characters of Dhobighat.
And the intertwining of the lives of these four classes in Mumbai is inevitable. The bai that comes to clean the house brings a little bit of her waterlogged slum into the living room during the monsoon and the young housewife chronicles this, along with the other mundane happenings of her life into a video cam. An artist wears the love and longing of another person, who he is never met, in a chain around his neck and it inspires him in way that he hasn’t been inspired in a long – long time. And a small town boy can almost touch his dreams when he sees them through the lens of an expensive camera while he leads it to capture the real Mumbai- of the dhobighat, the itr waalas, the ear cleaners and the rat killers. All the four characters live and experience the same  city in their own way…so while one tops his drink with the incessant Mumbai rain and raises a toast, another, not so far away struggles to  contain the same water in a plastic mug as it drips through the leaking roof of his shanty.
They all live through the various stages of love too…the innocent excitement of falling in love for the first time for Munna, the curiosity that it evokes for Shai, the hopes and dreams of a young Yasmin who has accompanied her husband to the new city, the disillusionment of the divorced Arun that makes him fear love, and then the letting go- whether its Yasmin’s final goodbye or Munna’s accepting the reality and giving Shai her chance with Arun.
The performances by the main cast can all be ranked excellent. Pratik who left us asking for more after his debut as the heroine’s artistic, bordering on mad, brother in Jaane tu ya Jaane na is back and how. He plays Munna with ease and charm and gives such nuanced expressions at times that it is hard to believe that this his only his second film. Monica Dogra with her accent suits the role of an Indian banker from America, while Kirti , who only talks through and to the camera in the film impresses with her emoting and is very believable as a small town girl. Aamir too proves through his expressions, as he watches the video diary, why he is rated as one of the finest actors of contemporary Hindi cinema.
But the real heroine of the movie is the debutant director, Kiran Rao. Her sensibilities , her writing , her feelings are the pulse of Dhobighat. She, it seems had a clear vision of what she wanted to show and she has used the screenplay, the music score, the performances, the camera – all very skillfully , to bring it to us.
Go and watch it to fall in love with Mumbai all over again!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The "F- word" that you shouldn’t be afraid to use at work!

My 7 year old had been having some problem picking up Math in school recently. I knew that I needed to see her teacher about it, but somehow had been avoiding it. I was scared of what she would tell me. Would she comment on her ability or would she say that I hadn’t been helping her enough at home?  After days of hesitating I finally took an appointment to meet her. What happened at the meeting was quite a pleasant surprise. The teacher said that all the kids in the class seemed to be having a problem learning the new concept and she had decided to slow down her pace to help them understand it better. In fact my daughter was one of those who were doing much better than the others!
Sometimes we, at our workplaces too, shy from asking for feedback because we fear the worst. We imagine that our recent proposal was turned down because it wasn’t good enough or the other guy got promoted because our performance was not at par. Not seeking feedback proactively, can lead to a feeling of diminished self worth, and subsequently reduced motivation.
The reason behind this avoidance is simple. No one likes being under a scanner and everybody is sensitive to criticism. Also people find it difficult to separate the work and the person, while giving or receiving feedback. A deficiency in performance, if pointed out somewhat tactlessly by a manager, can be perceived as a personal attack by an employee. It is imperative therefore for the one giving the feedback, and also the one receiving it, that they perceive it as a tool that enables better improvement in organizational performance.
In most companies the only time that feedback is given is during the annual performance appraisal. Having been a part of the performance appraisal as an observer in some of my work roles made me realise that most people hesitate even during this formal setting to seek feedback on their performance. The sessions therefore are just reduced to passing of information regarding the next raise or promotion
One way to go about seeking feedback actively is to do it on a regular basis. Update your boss regularly about the progress in your current assignment- this will help you understand his expectations better. Also it is easier to both point out, and to acknowledge smaller mistakes; much before they snowball into larger issues.
 A study done at the University of Alabama, in fact shows, that people who expect to be told their results sooner do the tasks handed out to them much better than those who expect a larger time lag between the performance and the results. An anticipation of a quicker result, therefore, boosts performance.
 Sometimes when your efforts to seek feedback are in vain and you do not seem to elicit any response whatsoever from your boss, it is important that you do not allow “the silent treatment” to get to you. Instead of letting it build on your insecurities and stress you, you have to give him the benefit of doubt. It might be possible that he is busy or what you are seeking feedback about isn’t high on his priority list at that point in time. Be patient and then ask him again at an appropriate time.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

When your performance is at stake..

stake·hold·er : noun \ˈstāk-ˌhōl-dər\: A person/ party who affects or can be affected by an entity’s actions.
Have you ever thought that what you do in the span of eight hours or so that you spend at work everyday is actually governed by so many different factors.
What enables you to give your best? And what prevents you from doing that? If you were to sit down and think about it, among other things, what is likely to crop up are the names of your boss, or of your team, or your customers and clients.
So it’s the people around you who are the stakeholders in your performance. They can affect your performance by the virtue of their:
·         Power in the organization
·         Control over resources
·         Knowledge/ skills/ ability
·         Leadership styles
·         Commitment  ...
And so on...
They could have varying levels of impact on your performance, but all of them affect your performance directly, or indirectly.
So if you were to seriously sit down and analyze the ways you can increase/ improve  your work output; you would realise the importance of managing the stakeholders in your performance.

it considers two dimensions of your stakeholders- first the power they hold to influence your output and level of achievement; and secondly the vested interest they have in your performing well.
 Managers are usually very fond of matrices as frameworks of managing things; so here I have a matrix to help manage these stake holders:  

Since it’s your manager; and/or your team that is directly involved with you in delivering your output, and also it is they who are also dependent on you for their output/ achievement- it is but obvious that most of your efforts in managing people should be directed at them.

The office/ admin staff, on the other hand, is not really concerned about whether you reached your targets in a given month and neither can they really help you achieve them. However, it is good to wish the lady who takes your phone messages a good morning, every now and then!

The top management of your organization is not really worried about your individual performance on a daily basis. An exceptionally good performance or for that matter an exceptionally bad one, however, is bound to get noticed (and they definitely have the power to take action!) Giving consistently good performances and timely reporting / information sharing will generally keep them satisfied.
Your suppliers and customers neither wield direct power, nor have a direct influence on your individual performance. Most of the time they are interested in the bigger picture- it’s your duty therefore, to keep them informed of the developments within your company or in the market place.