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“Hi!!” he came to her and greeted.

“Hi” she replied back, a little cautiously.

“Are you new here? I have not seen you around” he asked. “Yes”. She gave a mono-syllabic reply. “Want me to show you around” he inquired and without waiting for a reply, picked up her bag of books in his hands and waited. An introvert that she was, she did not expect this and was a bit hesitant and a little taken aback with his brashness, but stood up never-the-less. He, just the opposite very talkative, playful and cheerful. She could not help but answer him back in a couple of syllables. It took a few moments of awkwardness but she found herself enjoying his company and allowed him to lead her everywhere.

They met the next day, and the day after and then it became a habit to seek each other out as soon as they reached the gate of their institution. Since they were also in the same class, they often sat together during the classes. Both of them were five and it was their first year of kindergarten.

Years passed, their friend circle expanded, and he became one of her numerous friends. In standard III, his father moved to another town. Her first friend got lost in the hustle bustle and business of life though she often missed him.

Economics was the subject she wanted to major in and she took admission in one of the best institutes in the capital. She had a lot on her mind, “I must get a room in the hostel, she thought to herself, else dad will never allow me to stay here so far away from home”, she was thinking, when she felt something stir.

“Hey! you new here” she heard a voice call out to her.

“Yes, Eco Honors,” She turned back and replied -tried to place the face. He looked familiar “You… aren’t you…?” she wanted to talk. She needed a friend, and hoped to find one as she had on her first day of the school.

“Hosteler?”He ignored her question

“Yes” She replied back and asked hopefully “are you in Eco too?”

“Report in the auditorium at 7 p.m tonight.

She shouldn’t have been, but she was disappointed. She desperately needed a friend in this huge campus which looked alien. She felt alone.

She gathered her skirt, kept her purse by her side and sat in a corner waiting in the auditorium.

“Hi!” he said, “Can I sit here?”

“Hi” she replied tentatively not sure what to answer.

Without waiting for her reply, he sat next to her. “Aman.” He said. “Eco Honors. And you?”

She told him her name hesitantly.

“Isn’t it funny?, I mean look at us newbies. We look just like kindergarten kids. Completely lost on the first day of college”  He continued talking, she replied to him in monosyllables at first, but soon found herself talking freely. The warmth of new friendship surrounded them as she began her first day in the college.

Posted in Stories and Memories.

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Some Thumris of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah

The Thumris of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah are known for their simple language and the emotions that they convey. He was the last Nawab of Awadh and while his administrative skills were average, his love for arts was well known. He was a poet, singer composer and a dancer.

While his wealth depleted, his popularity increased. His subjects loved him and rejoiced on the streets of Lucknow, singing the songs that he wrote in simple Awadhi dialect.  The kingdom of Awadh was at it’s  cultural peak during his short regime.

While it is said that the Nawab lived lavishly, he was also known to be generous, kind and compassionate towards his people; so when the British  deposed him to exile in Matia-burj near Calcutta the entire town drowned in sorrow. The entire region grieved, cried and bade farewell to the composer king who at the time of exile wrote and composed a Thumri  in Raag Bhairavi which is sung even today “Babul mora naihar chuto hi jaye…”  My favourite rendition of this Thumri  is the one sung by KL Saigal’s for the movie Devdas (1936)

Thumri, which is a semi classical form of Hindustani music, flourished under the regime of Wajid Ali Shah and bandish ki thumri (or Band bol ki thumri) became popular. One of his compositions “Neer Bharan kaise jaaun” has been beautifully arranged and presented in the movie “Khuda ke liye”

Another very famous composition is “Tarap tarap sagri rain guzri”. This composition has been used very effectively in Satyajit Ray’s movie “Shatranj ke Khiladi”

Posted in Inspirations.

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Maya jaal na toda jaye

IMG_0309About 14 yeas back Tarique posted this on his blog with a story of how this simple poem, Maya jaal na toda jaye was written by his mother. Just two years back, his father had passed away and all the works of Ammi were left for their children to take care. Barring a few that my Father in law read out to me while I transcribed them in Devnagri, everything was written in Urdu Rasmulkhat. Helplessness overcame us as at that time, I as well as Tarique felt very helpless at not knowing the Urdu script. That was also the time when our business was picking up and our son, Aasim was growing up and neither of us had time to spare for learning the Urdu script.

Things changed about a few years back when I found time and resources to transcribe Ammi’s poems and books from Urdu Rasmulkhat to Devanagari. That took care of all the printed and published works but still a large number of notes and hand written poems that I could not part with remained with us. Helplessness was at its peak when Dr. Tejinder Singh Rawal decided to teach Urdu Rasmulkhat to all who loved the language. In a matter of days, I could recognize the characters and read small words, even write a bit in the script that looked alien a few years back. A year of  practice of reading and writing and I can now read and write decent amount of Urdu. I still have miles to go but with I can now type using Urdu Keyboard and have started typing Ammi’s work in Urdu Rasmulkhat.

Here’s the Nazm that Dr. Zarina Sani wrote when her (then) 10-year-old son, Tarique complained that she should write in simple language for the common man.

For those who can not yet read Urdu script, I am also giving the Devanagari transcript of this Nazm.
مایا جال نہ توڈا جاے
لوبھی من مجھ کو ترساے
مل جاے تو روگ ہے دنیا
مل نہ سکے تو من للچاے
مےرے آنسو اُن کا دامن
ریت پہ جھرنا سوکھا جاے
شیشے کے مہلوں مےں ہردم
کانچ کی چوڈی کھنکی جاے
پیار موحبّت، رشتے ناطے
ثانی کوئ کام نہ آے

मायाजाल न तोड़ा जाये
लोभी मन मुझको तरसाये
मिल जाये तो रोग है दुनिया
मिल न सके तो मन ललचाये
मेरे अाँसू उनका दामन
रेत पे झरना सूखा जाये
शीशे के महलों में हरदम
काँच की चूड़ी खनकी जाये
प्यार मुहब्बत रिश्ते नाते
‘सानी’ कोई काम न अाये

Posted in Chronicles, Dr. Zarina Sani, Inspirations, Urdu.

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Aasim leaves for MUWCI

Aasim with our kitten, Bilau

Aasim with our kitten, Bilau

Packing is done, and Aasim is finally flying out of the nest and he is excited about the new world awaiting him. A world where he will be part of an international community, people from over 60 countries will study, work and do projects together. It’s a dream come true for him, and for us.

About a year and half back, when we learnt about the United World Colleges (UWC), we were not sure if Aasim will be able to meet the challenges that are required to be met to become a student of one of the 14 UWCs. The more research he did, the more the prospect of being a student of a UWC excited him and finally we procured the form from the Indian National Committee in Sept 2013

The form among other things, required him to answer eight questions, and some of them were quite difficult even for an adult to answer. However, when I finally saw his answers I was impressed with the maturity and clarity of his thoughts. I felt he does have a chance.

The form was submitted, and we planned to visit the Mahindra United World College, which was his first choice among the United World Colleges across the world (his other choices were UWC Pearson College, Canada and UWC Adriatic, Italy). The visit to MUWCI made him, and us feel that this is the place where he truly belongs. Not only did he feel comfortable with the place, he met other students (and teachers) who he felt at ease with, and completely at home.

IB is a very tough syllabus and the way it is dealt with at UWCs makes it even tougher. Aasim got through the first screening (application form) and was selected for the second stage; a 24 hour interview camp. This one was going to be tougher, we knew, and it was, but he got through and was selected to be a student at the United World College Mahindra College, MUWCI for short.

The excitement of being selected at one of the best colleges in the world abated and a long wait began. He enjoyed his summer holidays and prepared himself to join the college. Tomorrow is that day for him. At MUWCI, a new life awaits him.

I am very proud of him. We brought him up to be an independent person and a world citizen, and at MUWCI, he will have opportunities that he can use to do things that truly matter.

He is going to fly, and fly high!

Posted in Chronicles.

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Someone… Somewhere

atulIt’s been over a year and I haven’t removed your number from my phone book yet. Somehow your name there is a reassurance to me. No, I don’t expect to hear from you… not anymore, but still your virtual presence allows me to go back and read all the conversations we had, the occasional plans we made and the little problems we discussed. Those problems, insurmountable then, seem so small now, so tiny…

Wonder if there is some place from where you can see what’s happening in this world. While part of me hopes that you can watch us, I also know that you will be worried sick, and frustrated at little things simply because they are not in your control and are not going the way you would want them to be. I’d rather prefer you being in a place where you can sit peacefully with your two dogs and hum the Star Wars OST.

I know you are doing that right now.

Posted in Prose n Poetry, Stories and Memories.

व्यथा कथा

हथेली की हिना सूख जायेगी
मगर उसकी छाया
हाथों पर उभर आयेगी
हथेली लाल हो जायेगी

हिना की ठंड़क और स्पर्श की गर्मी
अहसास दिलायेगी उस तारे का
जिसे एक दिन तुमने
मेरी हथेली का फूल कहा था

तुम्हें याद है वो दिन?
जब ऊँची पहाड़ी पर चढ़ते चढ़ते
पाँव फिसला था,
और हौसला टूटा था
तब तुमने उस तारे से तुलना की थी मेरी

कहा था
स्वाति को भी चातक का
इंतज़ार करना पड़ता है
तीन मौसम

मगर चातक,
स्वाति की एक बूंद के लिये
तुम्हें भी तो तीन मौसम
प्यास सहनी पड़ती है।

Posted in My Hindustani poems, Prose n Poetry.

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The perfect fit.

As the clock struck 12, she ran home and left one of her slippers behind. She reached home and slept restless, wondering what fate has in store for her the next day which was also the first day of the new year.

The door bell rang, the next day,  Anastasia opened the door of their dilapidated castle hoping and wishing very hard for the fortunes to change. He came in, demanding to see the women of the house and a glimmer of hope crossed all their faces as they saw the shining glass slipper being placed on the floor. Anastasia tried it, so did others, even the household help.

And then Drizella tried it, and it fit her, for, after all the shoe belonged to her. The shoe which Cinderella stole and wore to Prince Charming’s ball, the shoe that slipped off her foot when she ran because it was a poor fit.

Posted in Prose n Poetry, Stories and Memories.

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