Aasim’s startup Orai App gets Media coverage

Aasim’s first startup, Orai App was chosen to be at Comcast’s Lift Lab accelerator program in 2018 batch where they met a lot of people, were given guidance and learnt a lot on how to run a startup.

Orai App improves upon a person’s spoken skills by giving feedback and ratings and trains a person, or a group of people (like sales forces) for better communication thereby increasing the chances of professional success.

In January 2019, Orai got a funding of $2.3 M and the company was featured on. Aasim’s first startup getting funding is a huge news and as parents we are super proud.

NBC news covered the news and they also appeared on Techcruch.

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.

As 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.

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”

Photo by djgold

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

Photo by Steve Corey

Farooque Shaikh : As I knew him.

Farouque Sheikh
Farouque Sheikh

Some people are larger than life. Farooque Saheb was one of them. This morning I woke up to the news of his passing away and for a few minutes, it just did not sink in… It was not as if we talked or messaged on daily basis a phone call once in a year, a few messages exchanged was enough. When it came to greetings on festive occasions, more often than not I found myself replying to his greetings, and he beat me to it again, just a few days back on Christmas eve.

He was a celebrity,and one does not expect them to take initiative in maintaining relationships, and yet he was a man who took efforts to maintain relationships.

I still remember, like it happened yesterday, when a few years ago I received a handwritten letter from him asking for Dr. Zarina Sani’s book (which was not in publication) and our subsequent phone calls. It was his encouragement that made me start the Devanagari transcriptions of that Ammi’s works so that it can reach a wider audience. I will forever be indebted to him for that little push which I needed at that time;  when I did not believe I would be able to take up such a big task. He not only encouraged me to start the work, he took active interest in knowing what stage the work is in. When I published “Ekkyavan” on http://zarinasani.org, he wanted to have it in print, for his collection.

Farouque Saheb you will be missed and always remembered fondly. I see yet another vacuum in my life that can never be filled.

क्या कहिये मुझे क्या याद आया

मजरूह की यह नज़म मुझे बेहद पसंद है। एक मीठा सा भोलापन और भीनी-भीनी खुशबू है इसमें जो मेरे अंदर बस गयी है इसे पढ़ने के बाद।

फिर शाम का आँचल लहराया

मग़रिब में वो तारा एक चमका,
फिर शाम का परचम लहराया
शबनम सा वो मोती इक टपका,
फ़ितरत ने आँचल फैलाया
नज़रें बहकी, दिल बहला,
क्या कहिये मुझे क्या याद आया
टीले की तरफ चरवाहे की,
बंसी की सदा हल्की हल्की
है शाम की देवी की चुनरी,
शानों से परी ढ़लकी ढ़लकी
रह रह के धड़कते सीने में,
अहसास की मय छलकी छलकी
इस बात ने कितना तड़पाया,
क्या कहिये मुझे क्या याद आया

— मजरूह सुल्तानपुरी

ऐ नये साल

January 1, 2012: Reflections.

ऐ नये साल बता, तुझ में नयापन क्या है
हर तरफ ख़ल्क ने क्यों शोर मचा रखा है

रौशनी दिन की वही, तारों भरी रात वही
आज हमको नज़र आती है हर बात वही

आसमां बदला है अफसोस, ना बदली है जमीं
एक हिन्दसे का बदलना कोई जिद्दत तो नहीं

अगले बरसों की तरह होंगे करीने तेरे
किसे मालूम नहीं बारह महीने तेरे

जनवरी, फरवरी और मार्च में पड़ेगी सर्दी
और अप्रैल, मई, जून में होवेगी गर्मी

तेरे मान-दहार में कुछ खोएगा कुछ पाएगा
अपनी मय्यत बसर करके चला जाएगा

तू नया है तो दिखा सुबह नयी, शाम नई
वरना इन आंखों ने देखे हैं नए साल कई

बेसबब देते हैं क्यों लोग मुबारक बादें
गालिबन भूल गए वक्त की कडवी यादें

तेरी आमद से घटी उमर जहां में सभी की
फैज नयी लिखी है यह नज्म निराले ढब की

— फैज़ अहमद फैज़*

* The book Saare Sukhan Hamare (complete works of Faiz) that I have does not list this ghazal. However, at several independent places on the net I found this ghazal attributed to Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Comments/views on this invited.

खल्क – दुनिया
हिदस: – गणित (count, number)
जिद्दत – नयी बात (novelty)
करीन: – ढ़ंग
मान-दहार – समय (time period)
ग़ालिबन – शायद
आमद – आने से

Faiz – Na gavaon navak-e-neemkash

This ghazal of Faiz Ahmed Faiz is beyond translation but I am attempting it nevertheless. The poem is a statement of politics and struggle of his times.

न गवाओं नावके-नीमकश, दिले रेज़ा रेज़ा गवाँ दिया
जो बचे हैं संग समेट लो, तने दाग़ दाग़ लुटा दिया

मेरे चारगर को नवेद हो सफे दुशमनों को खबर करो
जो वो कर्ज़ रखते थे जान पर वो हिसाब आज चका दिया

करो कज़ ज़बीं पे सरे कफन मेरे कातिलों को गुमां न हो
कि गुरूरे इश्क का बाँकपन पसे मर्ग हमने भुला दिया

उधर एक हर्फ की कुश्तनी यहाँ लाख उज्र था गुफ्तनी
जो कहा तो सुनके उड़ा दिया जो लिखा तो पढ़ के मिटा दिया

जो रुके तो कोहे गराँ थे हम जो चले तो जाँ से गुज़र गये
रहे यार हमने कदम कदम तुझे याद ग़ार बना दिया

-फैज़ अहमद फैज़

Do not waste your (half drawn) arrows, my broken heart is already lost
Save the left over stones, my body is already wounded and wasted

Give the good news to my healer, let the rows of my enemy know
He whose soul was indebted,  has settled all his debt today

Keep the shroud on my head today, my murders should not have any misgivings
that I forgot the pride of being in love on my way to death (or after death)

They had just one word, and I had lakhs to explain as excuses (of my deeds)
When I told (you) did not pay attention, when I wrote, (you) read and erased them

When I stopped, I was a like a mountain, when I walked, I walked past life itself
Every step of the path I tread I have made a memorial of my beloved.

Still I Rise

This is a poem by Maya Angelou that I *had* to record on my blog. Rarely does one gets to read expressions like these.


You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise
I rise
I rise.


—Maya Angelou


या मुझे अफसरे शाहा न बनाया होता – ज़फर

Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal king was also a poet. Though his literary standing was not as high as as his Ustad (Mohd. Ibhrahim Zauk) or his contemporaries Ghalib and Momin; his writings are much respected and appreciated. Zafar was a king (though in British raaj his kingdom did not extend beyond the red fort) and a freedom fighter.

This ghazal is one of his finest works specially when you read it in context to India’s freedom struggle and a helpless (and impotent when it came to doing anything for his country and men) king’s sentiments.

या मुझे अफसरे शाहा न बनाया होता
या मेरा ताज गदाया न बनाया होता

खाकसारी के लिए गरचे बनाया था मुझे
काश संगे-दरे-जाना न बनाया होता

नशा-ए-इश्क का गर ज़र्फ दिया था मुझको
उम्र का तंग न पैमाना बनाया होता

रोज़ मामूरा-ए-दुनिया में खराबी है ‘जफर’
ऐसी बस्ती से तो वीराना बनाया होता

अफसरे शाहा – शहंशाह
गदाया – भीख में मिला हुआ
खाकसारी – नम्रता, politeness
संगे-दरे-जाना – महबूब के दरवाज़े का पत्थर
ज़र्फ – योग्यता
तंग -छोटा, पैमाना – नाप actual meaning of paimana is wine goblet
मामूरा – शहर

Dr. Zarina Sani, my Ammi.

http://www.zarinasani.org goes live today. It is a website about mother-in-in law, Dr. Zarina Sani’s literary works.

I find it difficult to describe the range of emotions I went through while creating this site. I smiled, laughed, cried and marveled at the way she expressed herself. Through her writings I even got a glimpse of my husband’s childhood (मेरा फनकार)

Never having met her, I only knew her through my husband, Tarique , my brother-in-law Nadeem and the others in the family. My father-in-law would talk a lot about her to me and he regularly read out the poems she wrote. So I knew her as a wife, a mother, a sister and an aunt.

When I got a chance to go through her writings first hand, her poetry, her stories and her books, I discovered the woman in her. A strong, positive woman, deeply attached to her roots, family and beliefs. Her poetry touched me – she wrote from her heart and about the matters close to her heart; be it her children, her country, her love or her relationships.

Today would have been her 75th birthday; I have transcribed and put on her website 56 of her published poems. It will be my endeavor to keep updating the website often. I will update the poems with meanings of difficult words, will post some of the stories she had written and will publish online her literary works on Safdar Aah Sitapuri, Seemab Akbarabadi, Sadat Hasan “Manto” and Zia Fathehabadi.

Today, Through her poetry I am sharing her eclectic world with the world. I miss you, Ammi, but I also know that your blessings will always be with your children.

तू अपने जैसा अछूता खयाल दे मुझको

तू अपने जैसा अछूता खयाल दे मुझको
मैं तेरा अक्स हूँ अपना जमाल दे मुझको

मैं टूट जाउँगी लेकिन झुक न सकूंगी कभी
मजाल है किसी पैकर में डाल दे मुझको

मैं अपने दिल से मिटा दूंगी तेरी याद मगर
तू अपने ज़ेहन से पहले निकाल दे मुझको

मैं संगे कौह की मांनिंद हूँ न बिखरूंगी
न हो यकीं जो तू उछाल दे मुझको

खुशी खुशी बढ़ूं खो जाऊं तेरी हस्ती में
अना के ख़ौफ से “सानी” निकाल दे मुझको

— ड़ा. ज़रीना सानी

अक्स – प्रतिबिंब /reflection
जमाल – सौंर्दय /beauty
पैकर – िजस्म / body (here it means mould)
संगे कौह – पहाड़ का पत्थर / stone (here it means strong as a stone)
अना – अहंभाव /ego


This Ghazal was published in “Kaumiraj” (date not known)



मेरी हस्ती की हकीकत क्या है
एक शोला है हवा की ज़द पर
जो भड़कता भी है
जो सर्द भी हो जाता है
या सफीना है कोई
वक्त की लहरों पे रवां
अाज तक हस्ती ए मौहूम का इर्फां न हुअा
खुदशनासी या खुदअागाही क्या
नफ्स ए नाकारा तकाज़े तेरे
खुदफरेबी के सिवा कुछ भी तो नही
कौन समझायेगा हस्ती की हक़ीक़त मुझको
है कोई?
कोई भी है?

— ड़ा ज़रीना सानी

हस्ती- अस्तित्व, existance
सफीना – कश्ती, boat
मौहूम – काल्पनिक, imaginary
इर्फां – विवेक, wisdom
खुदशनासी-  अपने अाप की पहचान, self recognition
खुदअागाही – अात्मज्ञान, knowledge of soul
नफ्स ए नाकारा- वर्य्थ/मिथ्या जीवन, useless existence
तकाज़े – माँग, demand
खुदफरेबी अातमवंचना, self deception

This free verse written by Dr. Zarina Sani was published in a magazine called “Tehreek” in February 1973.

शक्ल धुधंली सी – एक अाज़ाद ग़ज़ल

Dr. Zarina Sani
Dr. Zarina Sani

शक्ल धुधंली सी है शीशे में निखर जायेगी,
मेरे अहसास की गर्मी से संवर जायेगी

अाज वो काली घटाओं पे हैं नाज़ां लेकिन,
चाँद सी रौशनी बालों में उतर अायेगी

जिन्दगी मर्हला-ए-दार-ओ-रस्ल हो जैसे
दिल की बेचारगी ता-वक्त सहर जायेगी

ज़ौक तरकीब से थी कोख़ सदफ़ की महरूम
कैसा अंधेरा है ये बात मगर अब्र के सर जायेगी

मोहनी ड़ाल रही है गुलतर की सूरत
ज़द पे अायेगी हवा के वोह, बिखर जायेगी

वक्त रफ्तार का बहता हुअा दरिया “सानी”
जिन्दगी अापके साये में नहीं, न सही फिर भी गुज़र जायेगी

— ज़रीना सानी

* अाज़ाद ग़ज़ल : जब ग़ज़ल के शेरों से मीटर की पाबंदी हटा दी जाती है मगर रदीफ और क़ाफिये की पाबंदी बरकार रखी जाती है.  ड़ा. ज़रीना सानी अाज़ाद ग़ज़ल की समर्थक थीं, अौर उन्होंने कई ऐसी ग़ज़लें लिखीं.

रदीफ: अशअार का वो शब्द जो दोनों मिसरों मे अाता है (शेर की हर पंक्ति को मिसरा कहते हैं)  (जायेगी, अायेगी)

क़ाफीया: वह शब्द जो शेर की हर पंक्ती में रदीफ के पहले अाता है (निखर, संवर, उतर)

मर्हला — destination
दार-ओ-रस्ल -gallows and prison
सदफ़ – sea shell
महरूम -deprived (here barren -the sea shell is without a pearl)
अब्र- clouds (rain clouds)


This aazad ghazal was published in the magazine “Kohsaar” in March 1980


फिर चाख गिरेबाँ होने लगा
और मौत का सामाँ होने लगा

कुछ अश्क थमे थे ए हमदम
फिर दीदा-ए-गिरियाँ होने लगा

फिर साज़े आहे शबीना पर
हाथ अपना रक्सां होने लगा

गुलज़रे लाला-ए-दिल पर अब
लय दर्द-ए-बहाराँ होने लगा

अब लज़्जते ग़म पर ए ‘ज़ारी’
दिल अपना नाज़ाँ होने लगा

— ज़रीना सानी

चाख गिरेबाँ – खुला हुआ सीना
दीदा-ए-गिरियाँ – आँखों से टपकते आँसूं
शबीना- अंधकार
लाला-ए-दिल – दिल की लाली
नाज़ाँ – अभिमान युक्त

Dr. Zarina Sani wrote this Ghazal on 13th June 1963.


Dr. Zarina Sani
Dr. Zarina Sani

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

— ज़रीना सानी

Dr. Zarina Sani wrote this when her 13 year old son* once told her that she wrote very tough Urdu and he could not understand it and that she should perhaps write for the common man.