Friday, August 12, 2005

Cultural Schisms

It's a grey, windless day, an undercurrent of beautiful sadness seeping through everything. Still. Is it waiting for something?

Nothing else will do. These are the times when nothing else will do but Urdu poetry and Hindustani music.

Is it weird that though I am most comfortable thinking and writing in English I write best when I sit with my headphones looping through Ghalib, Zauq and Bahadur Shah Zafar's ghazals. I can neither read nor write Urdu but when my heart thirsts for something elementally beautiful I instinctively read (in Hindi or Roman script) Urdu poetry. Or I listen to Hindustani music. Is it strange that when I listen to Shubha Mudgal (also from Allahabad and a friend of my sister) it always takes me to evenings in Allahabad? Evenings on the banks of the Sangam (golden Ganga, silver Yamuna), the sun melting into the water, shadows lengthening, the silhouette of the fort behind me, the barely there outlines of Jhunsi across from me.

This is where my cultural two-ness comes into play. Though I was bought up on a diet of the English Romantics (all purple shadows, daffodils and glory of battles) and I actually love the stuff, when I need to feed my soul...Ghalib is the only sustenance I need.

3 comments:

temporal said...

J: last visit we went to his mazar in Nizamuddin …as one looks up from his grave across the street one sees the back of the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and the graves of some of his family members and so i raised my hands and i think M saved this on the cam-corder… instead of offering the traditional fateha for Ghalib’s soul i recited this sha’er

yeh masa e le tasaw’wuf yeh t'ra bayaan ghalib
tujhay hum wali samajhtay jo na baada khaar hota

Nowhere Nick said...

I think it's important for people to have roots. Sometimes we just need to relate to what we know and not what we seek.

N.N.

Kali Hawa said...

Nostalgia is deceptive. It is fudgy sepia image with sharp unpleasant edges blurred. Ganga is muddy brown and Jumuna blackish green very unpleasant. I too lived in Allahabad.