Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Offering my hue to you

Even flowers darken,
So none will miss
The full moon tonight.

Soul's Architecture

I build a slight alcove
With a single beam of light,
Where I shall find none,
Not even myself...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Toe Tagged

Been a while since I responded to a tag (or even been tagged). Sangeeta tagged me so I thought, why not! Here goes...

1. What one material thing are you hoping/ scoping to inherit?
A large house, with a huge, huge, massive library on the first floor with around 30,000-40,000 books bound in leather (fake is ok) and stacked in oak shelves with a walking platform to each level of the library. At the centre of the library is this huge Mahogany desk with real leather top and brass drawer pullers (don't want to call them handles). Of course, the person from whom I am inheriting has a taste identical to mine, so the books are only those that I would love to read! The other floors and lawns and porticos are essentially styled and constructed to my preference (remember that we share a taste in everything). The kitchen is huge with its own library, wood fuel oven, large cauldron in a corner, several pots and pans and an amazing array of knives, spoons and forks. The minor stoves are in the centre (like a DJ's turntable) built on a toroid, so that I can enter and work nearly 360 degrees. All of this is set in white marble, silver, copper and occasionally red and black shades. Predominantly white, though. There will always be instrumental music playing in here and hence, the speaker systems are built into the paneling. There is a mobile reading kiosk on which I can place a book I might want to refer to while cooking without having to place it on the counter and getting it all stained! The lawn, undoubtedly has simple plants altered as per the season, but at the centre of this hemisphere (well, the drive is along the curves of the hemisphere, hence, it must be a hemisphere) is a smallish tree under which is this large block of pink marble half done into a lounge diwan (the upper half is polished and shaped but the lower portions are as it was cut from its mother block). In front of it is a small bird water feeder made of wrought iron (yes, the patina shows). There is a large teak wood and brass knobs swing as soon as you enter the house, but that is only what I would notice as I rush into my library! The basement, of course, is acoustically architected as an audio visual theatre. Sleep!? Of course, in the library.

2. If You were a character in a movie that you've seen who would I be and why?
I would say Wolverine. I like spreading out my hands and having clean metal coming out of my knuckles. Though I would never do it, I loved it when he withdrew all but one talon to spite Cyclops. I would love to do all of this (and shave too) but I dread having to dig my nose and suddenly have one... ouch! But the hairdo and razors win the argument. The fact that I cannot be wounded long enough is also interesting. If I were in a naughty mood I might have picked Hollow Man or Mystique (ooh! I will be that naughty little fly hovering on the ceiling while you... oooh! naughty, while you... you know, eat Tiramisu without me!).

3. If You could do one thing for Someone, no matter what it was, what would it be for Who?
I would bring sense to him and her. I mean, all of humanity.

4. You’re driving. It’s great weather. Attractive member of opposite sex in expensive car looks at you and half-smiles. You’re in a relationship. Do you return the look and half-smile back?
I don't think an attractive member of the opposite sex is ever seen in an expensive car alone! And if she is alone, I would wonder why is she smiling at ME!? So I would do more than return the look and smile back. I would stop my bike (car!?), walk up to her and ask her what she found so amusing! And then you know, the usual stuff happens. She tells me to get lost, I obey, and then I go to my friends and tell them stories about ... you know! So, smile and look I would definitely give unless I am eating in which case I don't want crumbs flying out, so no smile.

5. Pick a situation
a. You’re 42. Would you rather go without sex for three years and win a lottery after that, enabling you to never have to work again? Or
b. Get twice the lottery money now (at 42) but have your partner sleep with your boss?

Go without sex for 3 years!? That makes me 45. If I do win a lottery which funds me for the rest of my life... what does that have to do with 3-years-no-sex!? As in, I was holding back for a lottery!? I thought people held back for something great in the same domain. Like a gorgeous Carmen Electra who never has a headache or something like that. I don't see the logic in A so I will consider B, now. If I get twice the lottery money now, that means my wife and I can live a funded life. Why would she have to sleep with my boss (maybe he is younger!? More handsome!? More.. you know, stupid!?)? And if my life is funded, why do I have a boss? If this woman is the same one who was going to give me the 3-years-no-sex thingy in option A, then my boss can have her! Let him also end up having to pick A or B. Share your suffering, they say!!

6. What has been the craziest thing u have ever done?
And I would be telling you this? What makes you think I will be telling you about the time when I ... naah! You don't get to know about the time when I... naaah!

7. God gave u chance to alter any one event in the past, present or future. What wud that event be?
The point when this one monkey decided to stand up erect and start a specie called homo sapiens. Hmm. Yep, that event simply must go.

8. Would you rather go bald or lose your front tooth?
I think I will go bald. I don't use my hair to bite into food! That activity must go on, and on, and on, and on... Hence, teeth:yes hair:whatever!

9. Your sibling is sleeping with your married close friend. Who do you go to first, sibling or married close friend?
Wow! This is as weird as Q5. What is happening to this world!? No sex for 3 years, wife sleeping with boss, sibling sleeping with married close friend, this person still being my friend... God! Sex does turn this world around! BTW, who do I go to first for what!!? Aaaaaargh! This is getting kinkier by the minute!? It gets confusing. If my sibling is a girl, then my friend is a guy and that is out of the question (I mean going to him). If my sibling is a girl and my friend is a girl, then they don't want me. If my sibling is a guy and my friend is a girl, then I am most probably married to her which is equally out of the question. Gets messy!! Forget it. I will release a few mice in the room and shut the door behind me!!

10. Would you rather your kid turn out to be a nymphomaniac or gay?(For my amusement, please answer in the format: I would rather my kid be —)
I would rather my kid turn out to be gay and confused the daylights out of people around him/her.

I need to tag, but I doubt anyone reads this blog beyond a few people who do not have blogs of their own. Hence, anyone who would like to be tagged, please accept this tag. Yes, I mean you, you and you.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A World in a Drop

A million imprints that vanish

How easily they
Come and go - Clouds, trees, birds, stars
Over a river.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Tere Bina Jiya Jaaye Na - Ghar

I have been wanting to translate this song for a while. I love this song and it is definitely one of my favourites. Recently a lady wrote me an email which I paste below:


I was wondering if you could translate this verse, which is in Hindi, to English.

My friends have expressed what it means, but it sounds peculiar.

You did a lovely job translating the song, "Aaj jaane ki zid na karo"; and I thought you maybe you can have try with this.

"Jab Bhee Khayaalon Mein Too Aaye, Mere Badan Se Khushaboo Aaye"

I would be very grateful if you could.



It is not often that one receives a request to translate and rarer still based on the goodness of a previous work. I was quite pleased that the love and attention given to the translation of “Aaj Jaane Ki Zidd Na Karo” was communicable and it had reached the far shores of the Western hemisphere (from where A hails). As much as I believe that translations kill the original work or are beautiful in a manner disconnected to the original work (except in being recognized as a translation), I also hold that translations provide an opportunity to recognise the nuances of languages and the possibility of certain expressions which might jar in an ear connected to a foreign tongue. Translations also re-open conversations especially the one in the poet’s mind while s/he was composing the poem. One could never really know what made the poet say something in a particular manner, but to allow the words to buoy one’s imagination, to allowe for conversations around the possibilities and the several interpretations possible, makes translation an interesting indulgence. When in Urdu, one can say Ishq, Pyaar and Muhabbat and shift the window slightly to give you a different view of the landscape of love outside, then it makes for very interesting conversation. To anyone who just said “Oh! They are all the same. E, just romantises things!” here is a line from a beautiful song – Muhabbat bhi na jo samjhe, woh zaalim pyaar kya jaane. I will leave you with that to mull over it and spend wonderful afternoons under the sieved sun thinking about how beautiful that line might be.

The song I am going to translate is from the movie Ghar. This song has been sung by Lata Mangeshkar (and many others thereafter but none matching the sweetness of the original rendition) and composed by Gulzar. The music is composed by R.D.Burman (absolutely brilliant job). The name of the song is “Tere bina, jiya jaaye na”. What I love about the music is the sheer the exultation in the tempo when the song starts. Unlike the mindset of having soft music for ballads, the music is rather energetic but still goes very well with the song. I have known composers who either make the song sound like soft rock music with all the metal and drums. Here is a piece that brings in the energy without making it the focus (ask most people who love this song and they would not praise the energy of the music but usually just the lyrics and/or voice). Of course, this translation is dedicated to A, wherever you are! :-)

Refrain: Tere bina, jiya jaaye na (4)

Bin tere, tere bin, saajana.

Saans mein saans aaye na, oh oh oh.

Without you, my life flows not

Without your (love), without you, my lover

My breath is sans life’s breath.

[Jab bhi khayaalon mein tu aaye

Mere badan se khushboo aaye] (2)

When you fill my mind

My body is fragranced

[Notes for this couplet will be added at the end of this post]

Meheke badan mein raha na jaaye

Raha jaaye na.

In a fragranced body, I can't habit

I can't live then.


Reshami raatein roz na hongi

Yeh saugaatein roz na hongi

Such silken nights are not forever

Such fortunes are not forever

Zindagi tuj bin raas na aaye

Raas aaye na.

Life without you has no flavour

Flavourless it is.


Here is a snippet of the discussion I had with A.

Jab bhi khayaalon mein tu aaye, mere badan se khushboo aaye

Jab: When
bhi: ever
khayaalon: thoughts
mein: in
tu: you
aaye: come
Mere: my
badan: body
se: from
khushboo: fragrance
aaye: come

As with most good poetry, there cannot be a singular interpretation and definitely not when taken out of context. Here the context is being set for the line that follows "Meheke
badan mein raha na jaaye, raha jaaye na". Else, that singular line, would sound too unctuous (IMO). And, with every interpretation comes a translation.
What the poet might be trying to say is:
"Whenever I think of you, my entire body is fragranced" which is rather terse and does injustice to the poet.
"When you come to my mind, you fill my body with a wonderful fragrance" would be the normal interpretation.
I would look at it differently:
"When you fill my mind, I smell (of) our beautiful union (hence, the fragrance)" which then fits with the next line "And in such a fragranced body (reminding me of our union), I am left breathless"
(Mehake badan mein, raha na jaaye, simply means that "In that fragranced body I am unable to live").
The reason I prefer this, is that a recollection is of the mind, and when a lover remembers the other, it is rare that the love is recollected as a picture on a wall. It is usually recalled as moments of togetherness (imagined or past). Hence, the fragrance that is also imagined is typically of the togetherness.
Another, rather sensuous, interpretation is:
"When I think of you, the woman in me emerges (as a fragrance)" this is in the esoteric notion of a woman smelling different when aroused (and if you have a good nose, you would know).
This interpretation too fits with the next line "And in that fragrance (i.e. the woman in me finds) being by myself is unbearable" (Mehake badan mein raha na jaaye). This might also fit with the seductive on-screen appeal that Rekha had on many viewers.
As a verse in English:
At those moments whenever you pass my mind
Each fragment in me is that fragrance you signed.

This is one of those songs which can never cease to evoke a smile. Salut to all the great artists who gave us this wonderful world of sounds and beauty.