Ashu-Exclusive

Once in a while u come across an interesting idea. U may be sipping ur daily morning coffee, gazing stars at night, having your evening walk, reading newspaper, or may even be deep in ur sleep. If the ‘idea fairy’ is in the mood for fun, she’ll throw in an intriguing thought in ur direction, then hide and watch what u do with it. In my case whenever this happens, I usually end up posting it on my blog. Enjoy ur journey thru the posts n remember, ur comments do matter

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Mehbub-e-Ilahi

Since childhood I have been always been fascinated of Old Delhi. The lanes, the grand monuments, the bazaar, cast an imposing impression that awed me no end. However among all the magnificent monuments, it was the Dargah of Shaikh Nizam-u’d-din Auliya where I found myself coming back again and again. Since childhood I had been hearing quwwalis. My father bought tapes of all major qawwals and listening to them was good fun. The lyrics were simple, down to earth and struck a chord immediately with the listeners heart. I had learnt from my father that the most popular lyrics were the ones penned by Amir Khusrau, who was also regarded as the father of qawwali. He wrote these lyrics in the praise of his great master Mehbub-e-Ilahi Hazrat Shaikh Nizam-u’d-din Auliya. He was the most prominent Sufi saint of his time. Even today his Dargah is frequented by people from all walks of life who come and pray to the saint to fulfill their desires. Hence when the opportunity came I rushed to visit the famous Dargah. For someone who had never been to the Dargah before, it was a very pleasant experience. Upon entering the premises one could feel calm within and after paying respects to the saint, I joined others in enjoying the live qawwali sung at the dargah. With time I came across several anecdotes of Hazrat Nizam-u’d-din and his disciple Amir Khusrau. Entertaining as they were, they also had in them contemporary lessons of love for the common folk. Recently I had a chance to go through the brilliant historical biography of the saint titled ‘The life and Times of Shaikh Nizam-u’d-din Auliya’ by K A Nizami. An Oxford Press publication, it is a well researched document in which the author has tried to put together the information spread in the mystic literature of pre-Mughal times to provide a glimpse into the life and times of probably the most influential Sufi saint of our country. Produced below are some sections of the book. Hopefully they will provide a glimpse into the times in which the great mystic lived to spread the message of love across the blessed land of Hindustan.

"The Shaikh possessed an extremely attractive personality. A tall handsome figure, fair in complexion, with a fully grown beard, red sleep-laden eyes and a big dastar over his head – there was an aura of inexpressible spiritual serenity round his face. Yet his awe and prestige were beyond measure. Amir Khusrau was not able to sit in his presence for long. He went out several times to regain his composure. When Maulana Burhan-u’d-din Gharib asked him the reason for it he said:”When I am in his presence, there is a trembling feeling in me.’ He gives reason in a verse which translates to:
‘When a mirror is placed before the sun,
How can one see one’s face in it?’

Shaikh’s mother Bibi Zulaikha was a remarkable lady – pious, serene in suffering, and resigned to the will of God. She moulded the thought and personality of her son and demonstrated by example that endurance and moral excellence are possible even in the face of adverse conditions. Her one great concern in life was to educate her son as well as possible. Continuous fasts and endless struggle shattered here health and she did not live long enough to see her son at the height of glory. Whenever she happened to look at the feet of her son, she remarked, ‘Nizam-u’d-din! I see signs of a bright future in you. You will be a man of destiny some day.’ Once, on hearing this remark, the Shaikh asked: ‘But when will this happen?’ ‘When I am dead’, replied Bibi Zulaikha.

Every month when the Shaikh saw the new moon, he offered felicitations to her by placing his head at her feet. On one such occasion, she said: ‘Nizam! At whose feet will you put your head next month?’ The Shaikh burst into tears. ‘To whose care will you entrust me?’ he asked. ‘Tomorrow I will tell you,’ replied the mother. She then directed him to go and sleep at the house of Shaikh Najib-u’d-din. In the small hours of the morning the maidservant came rushing and said that his mother had called him. Nizam-u’d-din hurried to the house. ‘Where is your right hand?’ asked his dying mother. He stretched out his hand. She took it in her hand and said: ‘O God! I entrust him to You.’ So saying Bibi Zulaikha breathed her last. The Shaikh used to say that if she had left a house full of gold and jewels, it would not have given him the same pleasure and consolation that these words gave to his bereaved heart.

Pledges made at the shrine of the Shaikh were considered so sacrosanct that no one ever thought of breaking them. When Sultan Firoz Shah Tughlaq assigned the government of Gujarat to Shams-u’d-din Damghani, he ordered him to produce a surety of his good conduct. ‘Whatever be your Majesty’s order,’ said Damghani. Firoz Shah asked him to make Shaikh Nizam-u’d-din Auliya his surety. Damghani agreed. Next day he went with the Sultan to the grave of the Shaikh, lifted the cover sheet of the grave in his hand and standing in the direction of Ka’ba, made the Shaikh his surety.

One day a visitor asked him about the relative spiritual qualities of Shaikh Farid and Shaikh Baha-u’d-din Zakariya. His reply was: ’Only one like them can explain it.’ When the visitor insisted, he said: ‘When our Shaikh Farid-u’d-din was overpowered by ecstasy he cried out: Ya Habib! Ya Habib! (O Beloved! O Beloved!) When Shaikh Baha-u’d-din was overpowered by ecstasy he used to say: Ya Ghafur! Ya Ghafur! (O Forgiving One! O Forgiving One!). Find out the difference from this.’

A wandering mendicant came to the Shaikh during the early years of his stay in Delhi and asked for some monetary help. The Shaikh had nothing to offer at that time, and so he asked him to stay for a few days and wait for some futuh. As no futuh came for several days, the dervish decided to leave the khanqah. While permitting him to go, the Shaikh gave him his pair of shoes. The dervish set out and on his way met Amir Khusrau, who was on his annual visit to Delhi from Multan. He had several lakh tankas with him. When the two met, Amir Khusrau enquired about his spiritual master. The dervish informed him about his financial difficulties and narrated all that had happened with him. Khusrau offered his whole wealth to him in exchange for the slippers. With these slippers on his head he reached his master. The Shaikh looked at him and remarked: ‘Khusrau! You purchased them very cheap.’

Shaikh Nizam-u’d-din Auliya resolved early in life to follow the path shown by his spiritual master. During the reign of Balban he had already gained some fame, but by the time Jalal-u’d-din-Khilji came to power he was a prominent figure in Delhi. The Sultan offered some villages for the expenses of his khanqah. The Shaikh declined, saying that it did not behove a dervish to have orchards and villages to look after. Sultan Jalal-u’d-din sought an interview with the Shaikh but it was politely refused. The Sultan then thought of visiting the khanqah without informing the Shaikh. ‘My house has two doors’, remarked the Shaikh, ‘if the Sultan enters by one, I will make my exit by the other.’ The Sultan planned a surprise visit to the Shaikh. Amir Khusrau, who was the Sultan’s mushafdar (keeper of the royal copy of the Qur’an), reported this to the Shaikh, who avoided meeting the Sultan by undertaking a journey to the tomb of his spiritual mentor in Ajodhan. When the Sultan came to know about the divulgence of this secret by Amir Khusrau, he took him to task for it. ‘In disobeying the Sultan I stood in danger of losing my life, but in playing false to my master, I stood in danger of losing my faith,’ replied Amir Khusrau. Jalal-u’d-din was dumbfounded. "

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Arz kiya hai…

A lot happened in the last one year. Farewell at b-school, a new job, new city and most importantly new colleagues and friends. Life became much more hectic, everything seemed to have a deadline of yesterday and suddenly I found myself travelling like crazy. In between all the chaos my only consolation was the company of a few good books that helped me unwind after a long day at office or during long hours of wait at airport lounges.

As you would have guessed by now from the title of the post, yours truly made the most of these hours to dig deep into the works of some of the greats of Urdu shayari. And what an experience it was!

When I was a small child, my father used to listen to Ghalib a lot. Awed as I was, I remember going to him to ask the secret of becoming a good shayar myself. I still remember the reply, ‘Aasan hai Ashu bhai. Ghalib sahab ne kaha hai ki do sau achche sher jo yaad kar le, apne aap shayar ban jayega’. Needless to say, the only thing that mattered to me after that was reaching the two hundred mark! Thus started the romance with the beautiful language of Urdu which fortunately continues till now.

From little of what I have been able to comprehend of this form of poetry, the broad topics have remained unchanged through ages – Ishq (love), Hijr (Separation), Life in general (bordering into philosophy), Saaki (the dude who serves you drinks) and Religion. The essence of a good couplet (shayari) lies in the beautiful use of the Urdu language. Like a wizard, the shayar portrays profound imagery in simple, beautiful words and creates a magic that leaves the reader asking for more. A lot hence depends on the individual style of the shayar.

Provided below is the collection of some of the couplets by three of the greats of Urdu shayari. Daag Dehalvi was related in blood to the Mughals but was forced out of the Red fort in young age after the unsuccessful uprising of 1857. The prince then grew up very much as a commoner wandering from one place to another in search of life, love and patrons. Glimpses of the glorious Raj are very much evident in the nawabi imagery that strikes you in his couplets. In comparison Firaq Gorakhpuri and Rahi Masum Raza belong to more recent times. The imagery and language in Firaq’s couplets give a good refection of the sense of confusion and lost ideals that prevailed in India during 1970s. Most striking however is the difference between Rahi Masum Raza and Daag. By late 70s the masses began to lose interest in Urdu. I assume this must the time when Hinglish/Hindustani started catching the fancy of the masses. The words in Rahi’s couplets hence are much simpler and in many ways resemble the early ghazals sung in Bollywood movies of yesteryears.

Irrespective of the period, I sincerely feel that all of them are very well written. Just a word of caution before you proceed. Remember, just like good wine, shayari is to be enjoyed slowly. You read a couplet and admire the play of words, only to come back and appreciate it all over again. I have tried to categorize the couplets under different broad headings. Happy reading and while going through them if you end up recalling a good couplet, do share in the comments.

Ishq
Manzoor kis-ko hai jo uthaye bala-e-ishq
Jab sar pe aa pade to kaho koi kya kare
Daag Dehalvi
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Dard-e-dil ka na kahiye ya kahiye
Jab wo pooche mizaz kya kahiye

Tujh ko achcha kaha hai kis kis ne
Kahne walo ko khair kya kahiye

Inteha(1) ishq ki khuda jaane
Dam-e-aakhir(2) ko ibteda(3) kahiye

Wo bhi sun lenge ye kabhi na kabhi
Haal-e-dil sab se har jagah kahiye
Daag Dehalvi
1 End 2 Last breath 3 Beginning
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Dil leke muft kahte hain kuch kaam ka nahi
Ulti shikayatein hui ahsaan to gaya
Daag Dehalvi
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Hashr(1) me lutf(2) ho jab unse ho do do batein
Wo kahein kaun ho tum, hum kahe tumpar marne wale
Daag Dehalvi
1 Afterworld (where you go after death) 2 Entertainment

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Ye bhi sach hai ki mohabbat me nahi main majboor
Ye bhi sach hai ki tera husn kuch aisa bhi nahi

Yun to hungama utha-te nahi deewane
Magar aye dost, aiso ka kuch thikana bhi nahi

Muddatein guzri teri yaad bhi aayi na hume
Aur bhool gaye ho tujhe, aisa bhi nahi

Muh se hum apne ko bura to nahi kahte ki Firaq
Hai tera dost, magar aadmi achcha bhi nahi
Firaq Gorakhpuri
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Yun to bhari duniya hai lekin
Duniya me har ek tanha hai

Ishq agar sapna hai aye dil
Husn to sapne ka sapna hai

Koi basa hai mere dil me
Tu to nahi, lekin tujh sa hai

Yun to khud hum bhi nahi apne
Yun to jo bhi hai apna hai

Aisa bhi socho, rone wale
Kitni mushkil se dard utha hai
Firaq Gorakhpuri
----------------------------------------


Question – Answers
Khuda kare ki maza intezar ka na mite
Mere sawal ka jo de jawab barso me
Daag Dehalvi

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Dreams
Hazar hasratein wah hain ki roke se nahi rukti
Bahut armaan aise hain jo dil ke dil me rahte hain
Daag Dehalvi

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Death
Khabar sun kar mere marne ki wo bole rakibo(1) se
Khuda bakshe bahut si khoobiyan thi marne wale me
Daag Dehalvi
1 Refers to men who are in love with the same lady
----------------------------------------

Hasrat baras rahi hai hamare mazar(1) par
Sab kahte hain ye kabr kisi nau-jawan ki hai
Daag Dehalvi
1 Grave
----------------------------------------

Gham me tere jeene walo ko
Deti hai maut khud dilasa(1)
Firaq Gorakhpuri
1 Consolation
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Philosophical
Majnu ki sachchai kitni sara to afsana hai
Shohrat(1) jisko raas aa jaye, wo kaisa deewana hai

Sab yahi samjhe hum bhi lafzo ke saudagar hain
Aakhon ke is jungle me bhi kisne hume pehchana hai

Mere saath mera sooraj hai mere saath mera saaya
Tanhayi to uski dekho jiske saath zamana hai
Rahi Masoom Raza
1 Fame
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Hoga bhi to dhundhla(1) hoga jinpar hamara naam
Hum us shahar ki deewaro ko kya bheje paigam(2)

Shahar-e-junoon(3) me jeena kya hai, ye kaise batlaye
Sheeri(4) jaisi saari subhen, Laila(5) si har shaam

Neend bech kar humne utara jis sahra ka karz
Ab wahi hum-se maang raha hai be-khwabi ka dam
Rahi Masoom Raza
1 Hazy 2 Message 3 City of passion
4,5 Refers to the ladies from the popular love stories of Laila-Majnu and Sheeri-Farhad
----------------------------------------

Kuch kafas(1) ki teeliyon se chan raha hai noor(2) sa
Kuch faza(3) kuch hasrat-e-parwaz(4) ki baatein karo
Firaq Gorakhpuri
1 Cage 2 Divine light 3 Sky 4 Desire of flight
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Agar mumkin ho to sau-sau jatan se
Azeezo(1) kaat lo, ye zindagi hai
Firaq Gorakhpuri
1 Loved ones
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Jo zahar-e-halahal(1) hai amrit(2) bhi wahi hai naadan
Maloom nahi tujhko andaz hi peene ke
Firaq Gorakhpuri
1 Deadly poison 2 Divine nectar
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Hijr
Ajnabi shahar me ajnabi raaste, meri tanhayee par muskurate rahe
Main bahut der tak yun hi chalta raha, tum bahut der tak yaad aate rahe
Rahi Masoom Raza
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Na jane ashq(1) se aakhon me kyo hain aaye huye
Guzar gaya hai zamana tujhe bhulaye hue

Ye iztaraab(2) sa kya hai ki muddatein guzri
Tujhe bhulaye hue, teri yaad aaye hue
Firaq Gorakhpuri
1 Tears 2 Uneasiness
----------------------------------------

Kuch ishare the jinhe duniya samajh baithe the hum
Us nigah-e-aashna(1) ko kya samajh baithe the hum

Rafta rafta(2) gair apni hi nazar me ho gaye
Wah ri gaflat(3), tujhe apna samajh baithe the hum
Firaq Gorakhpuri
1 Known glance 2 Slowly slowly 3 Confusion
----------------------------------------

Gair kya janiye, kyu mujhe bura kahte hain
Aap kahte hain jo aisa to baja(1) kahte hain

Wakai tere andaz ko kya kahte hain
Na wafa(2) kahte hain ise na jafa(3) kahte hain

Shikwa-e-hijr(4) kare bhi to karen kis dil se
Hum khud apne ko bhi apne se juda kahte hain

Auro ka tajurba wo kuch ho magar hum to Firaq
Talkhi-e-zeest(5) ko jeene ka maza kahte hain
Firaq Gorakhpuri
1 Correct 2 Faithfulness 3 Unfaithfulness
4 Complaint of separation 6 Bitterness of life
----------------------------------------

Nisar karne ko tujh par kahan se layen khushi
Yahi hain bas ishq ke kuch gham bachaye huye
Firaq Gorakhpuri
----------------------------------------

Shaamein(1) kisi ko maangti hain aaj bhi Firaq
Waise zindagi me yun mujhe koi kami nahi
Firaq Gorakhpuri
1 Evenings



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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Movies Masti Magic… Male Sexuality and where all of it is headed to!

Almost everyone who has seen the latest Bond flick Casino Royale will remember the following scene.

Vesper: "If all that was left of you was your smile and your little finger you'd still be more of a man than anyone I've ever met."

007: "That's because you know what I can do with my little finger."

Needless to say every woman in the audience gave out a hearty laugh to this one. But at the same time this very line summarizes the new Bond. He is brutal; has a massive ego; he is a still very much of a cold hearted murderer but this Bond for a change does NOT consider his ladies as disposable commodities. The scene where he just sits next to Vesper Lynd in the shower and offers his shoulder gives a strong message to all his fans. The latest Bond is as metro sexual as they come without compromising anything on his lethal quotient.

Now that I think of it, this trend is nowadays seen everywhere in all the superhero movies. We had seen the emotional side of Spiderman revealed in Spiderman 2. The hero here was not plain vanilla ‘have amazing powers, will beat the bad guy’ superhero. He was as human as any one of us. He sure had greater powers, but at the same time he also had more than his fair share of responsibilities. Ditto for Superman in Superman2. We saw another superhero grappling with the matters of heart in this movie.

Is there logic that can be derived from this pattern? The superhero today still has to save the world, and the profile of his adversaries has only become meaner. He sure has fancier gadgets to help him but the same are also available to his enemies. In addition, this dude has bigger challenges in form of his lack of belief in himself (Spiderman 2) and troubled love life. Now anyone would agree, dealing with your gf’s is in itself a BIG BIG (ya, that’s intended) problem in itself – superhero or no superhero. In addition this poor dude has an additional brief of dealing with professional villains and saving the world in any case.

Is this trend only found in superhero movies? Earlier the movies had a stereotype hero, a mean villain, and all other characters just fitted around these two. The trend started diluting with 'Qayamat se Qayamat Tak' and 'Hum Apke Hain Kaun' genre of movies. There were still some attempts as ‘Krantiveer’ but anyone following Bollywood could have easily concluded that it was just a last ditch attempt to save the angry young man. The transition was finally complete by the time ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ was released.

How are ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ and a movie like ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ similar? If you observe closely, in both cases there was no stereotype villain. In both cases the hero is successful in life, lives in a large house, drives great cars and has loving parents. In both cases, if there is any twist in the story, it is inherently in the personality of the hero. In both cases he realizes only by mid way of the movie that he misses someone in his life. In both movies somewhere near the end our dude goes back with stars in his eyes to the heroine; accepts his mistake; admits his love and proposes. What follows is also predictable to a large extent. Pearly drops of tears fall down the dreamy eyes of our leading lady, her throat is choked with emotion but she still somehow manages a ‘Yes’. Our love birds then embrace and live happily ever after.

Has this trend died? If movies like ‘Socha na tha’ and ‘Pyar Ke Side Effects’ are any indication, this trend is destined to get stronger in future. It is said that cinema is a reflection of society and my gut feel says that the success of these movies owes to the fact that they are able to precisely capture the mind of today’s Indian male. The Indian male today is very successful, has considerable disposable income, works hard, parties harder but at the same time is very very confused about matters related to his relationships. An interesting exercise possibly would be to count the number of scripts in which the leading lady is in a similar dilemma. Hardly any that comes to my mind. Is that a reflection of the transition of roles men and women today are facing in modern society?

Good question… maybe would take up later in another post. Or better, let us have your comment on this :)

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bulleh!, ki jaana maen kaun...



What is so special about Sufi music that makes it so difficult from other styles?

Lets start with a story. An old sufi mystic, Baba Bulle Shah once had a small misunderstanding with his murshid (teacher) due to which his peace of mind was lost. He literally tried every trick in the book to please his murshid but nothing seemed to work. After a lot of deliberation, he recalled that his murshid had a liking for music. So he went straight to the house of a nautch girl who taught him to sing. After six months of learning the art, he went to his master place and sang the immortal lyrics,

“Ais ishq di jhangi vich mor bulenda,
Sahnu kaaba te kibala pyaara yaar dasenda.
Sahnu ghaayal karke pher khabar na laiya.
Tere ishq nachaaya kar thaiya thaiya."


and won the blessings of his murshid once again.

Let us have another story. When Baba Nizamuddin Auliya was breathing his last, he instructed his disciples not to let Amir Khusro (another disciple, who incidentally was not there at that time) see his face. It was said that such intense was the love in him for Amir Khusro that if Khusro saw his face and wailed before him, he would be forced to come back from the other world. It is said that when Baba died and Amir Khusro came to pay his last respects, his disciples remembered his instructions and covered his face by the long locks of hair that Baba had. When Khusro came, he saw Baba’s face covered by long locks of hair that Baba had. Now Khusro was no ordinary disciple. A master of several languages, he was also a poet par excellence. He understood the reasoning behind this act and accepted gracefully his master’s last wish. The following lines (now a part of qawwalis sung at Dargahs all over India) are said to be recited by him when he saw his murshid’s face,

“Gori sovay sej pe, mukh par dalay kes; chal Khusro ghar aapne ab saanjh bhayee chahu des…”

[the beautiful fair lady sleeps in her couch, puting her hair on her face;
move Khuso to your house since the evening has descended all over]

If you noticed carefully, in both cases the author of the verse refers to his murshid (which is next to God for sufi saints) as his beloved one. And the treatment is totally informal compared to the regular bhajans that we listen to daily. More important, there is rarely a popular sufi verse which does not have a story attached with it. The same mood and feel is pervasive in all sufi hymns. Some more examples...

Teri soorat se nahi milti kisi ki soorat;
Hum jahan me teri tasveer liye phir-te hain...
----
Jogan hoon tori, rakh laaj mori;
Bul-wa le mujhe apni nagri…
Aa baiyan pakad le, paar lagaa;
rutt mohe lagi, khwaja khwaja...
----
Recently during the usual course of my surfing I came across the following lines by Bulle Shah which stunned me as i was not aware about Bulla ever writing about our Krishna of Braj. The lyrics went somewhat like this:

Bansi wallaya chaka ranjha, tera sur sab naal hai sanjha
teriyan moojan saada manjha, saadi surat aap milayee
bansi wallaya kanha kahawen, shabad aneak anoop sunnave
akhiyan de vich nazar na anavey, kaisi bikhadi khed rachiyaa
bansi sab koi sune sunave, arth aheda koi birla pave
jo koi anhad dee sur pave, so is bansi da shaidayee.
----

Finally the immortal lyrics made famous by a superb rendition by Rabbi in his debut collection…

Na vich shaadi na ghamnaaki
Na maen vich paleeti paaki
Na maen aabi na maen khaki
Na maen aatish na maen paun

Bulleh!, ki jaana maen kaun

Avval aakhir aap nu jaana
Na koi dooja hor pehchaana
Maethon hor na koi siyaana
Bulla! ooh khadda hai kaun

Bulla, ki jaana maen kaun

[In happiness nor in sorrow, am I
Neither clean, nor a filthy mire
Not from water, nor from earth
Neither fire, nor from air, is my birth

Bulleh! to me, I am not known
I am the first, I am the last
None other, have I ever known
I am the wisest of them all
Bulleh! do I stand alone?

Bulleh! to me, I am not known]

----

Do I really know what stands apart in these lyrics? Do I really know what is so special about Sufi music that makes it so different from other styles?

I have a gut feel but I'm not sure. How about you ? :)

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Once in 24 hours...

Ma says once during 24 hours each day there comes a time when anything that you say or write comes true. I was somehow never convinced that it was true... maybe it was one of many stories that mothers tell to scare naughty kids, or just another fantasy idea thread to make our imagination run wild.

True or not I realized recently that the moment when I wrote the last post on this blog must have been one of those moments Ma spoke about! I was sure of it when I came to know that an abridged version of the last post on this blog was put up on JAM site recently.

Just when I thought Vaibhav was going to kick me out for being a sleeping JBC, this one finally came up and saved my day. Thank you Ma (I believe you!).. n yes thank you JAM :))

For those interested, the JAM link is provided below:

U know u r in SP Jain

Sunday, November 13, 2005

You know you are in SP when...



JAM magazine is one of my favourite youth magazinges. I love everything about it... the columns, the mascot dog, the feature writers, everything!!!

For those who didnt know, the magazine is also present on the internet at

http://www.jammag.com

One of the more popular columns in this magazine is 'You know you are in ..... when' in which one college at a time is selected and funny insights about various aspects of that college are revealed. I tried to do the same for SPJIMR and ended up with the following. Hope you enjoy :)

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You know you are in S.P.J.I.M.R. Mumbai when:

• An unusual day for you is one when you do not end up giving any one of the various pre-reading, post-reading, announced, unannounced or surprise quizzes.

• You end up having Veg food 365 days a year in the mess and find nothing wrong with it!

• Your idea of ‘great fun’ is to somehow manage 4-5 hours of sleep in a day.

• Abbreviations as Arpu no longer appear to you as possible nicknames of your girlfriend; rather they remind you more of obscure concepts as the ‘Average Revenue Per User’.

• You score 90 out of 100 in a quiz and still end up getting a ‘C’ thanks to the concept of ‘Quantifiable reflection of your relative competence/incompetence’ (aka ‘relative grading’ for the laymen).

• People are extremely confused about the sector they want to go into after their MBAs’ but somehow are confident enough to have an strong opinion on where U.S. and Japan are headed in the next 1-2 years in light of their recent economic crisis.

• Your laptop is always on and connected to the internet with at least 3 different chat programs and no less than 15 chat windows (2 out of which may actually be your roommates!) running on it at any time.

• If your roommate has his birthday today, you too (and maybe a few randomly selected souls) will get the birthday bumps. The cake which would be brought would end up being used as a makeup foundation for your face or even as a hair styling gel. For some strange reason, you will find nothing wrong with this. In fact you may enjoy it a lot!

• You become confident enough to give a reasonably good on-the-spot 20 minutes presentation on any topic under the sun even though you may have heard of the topic for the first time in your life.
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Heheee... if JAM does not come up with their own take at SP, I think I will mail the above on my own one of these days to their editors office and request them to publish it in their magazine.

Till then, it is available exclusively to the interested junta on my blog.

Enjoy!

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Reflections - PG Lab

Day One: BUSHY DAM

  • I had complete strangers offering a hand to me when they saw me scared of the strong current!

  • I had complete strangers going the extra edge, helping me and taking care of me when they realized that I had had a beer too many and was not totally in control of my senses! That made me ecstatic and ashamed at the same time.

  • How are you supposed to react when you feel the touch of clouds on your face?

  • Can 100 water-world type theme parks equal the immense joy provided by Mother Nature in Bushy Dam? I would prefer water-world any day for its facilities, but would I get the same crowd there…

Day One: ICE-BREAKER

  • I hate all group building exercises that are conventional, especially those which are prescribed in “The Big Book of Team Games”. Hated this one too. Can you come up with something for your group that is supposed to “keep you motivated for the next three days” [sic] in 15minutes flat?
    Its like summing up in one sentence all what you have learnt in life!

  • We came up with a relatively mediocre idea. The presentation was also mediocre. Still we were appreciated for the ‘optimal utilization of our resources’ [sic] and coming with the best idea.
    That is exactly why relative grading sucks!

  • Why do some people turn you down by their behavior even when they are not talking to you or even when they have nothing to do with you?
    Hypothesis…
    Maybe the romantics are right and human hearts really work on frequencies and connect by them. And maybe Paulo Coelho was right when he advised in “The Alchemist” to listen to your heart. If you keep listening to it for quite some time, chances are that you will learn to seek and interpret frequencies much faster.

  • Sometimes I want to be real rude to people I come across and bluntly ask them, “Give me one good reason why I should spend time talking to you again (knowing that it would simply be a total waste of an activity)?”

    At other times, I simply want to ask people to tell me any one thing about themselves which is interesting enough so that I remember it even when I meet them after 10 years.
    I don’t do it mostly because it would sound very rude. Secondly I fear what if people don’t have any such thing to share. That would get real scary. Isn’t it?

  • Our groups name is Mosaic (??? – Naming lessons from Kotler, and Ries and Trout gone down the drain!) and the punch-line is, “Together We Rock”. Idea is that we have come from different backgrounds and have different competencies and we leverage upon each other strengths to succeed in what we do (oooooh!).
    Hey wait, wasn’t this enlightenment supposed to be achieved on the last day? So we are individual genius’s and together we rock. Period.
    Now what is that big learning left for the next 3 days?

  • Why do we clap too often?
    Often complete silence and total attention is the biggest applause one can ever give anybody.

DAY TWO: ASSAULT COURSE

  • Assault Course – 5 tasks, random groups, non-stop rains, chilling winds and I’m totally wet in spite of my windcheater. Three friends in my group, who came without windcheaters are drenched to the bone and the only thing they want to do is to go back to the hotel!

    Perfect setting to learn the intricacies of group dynamics!

  • Sometimes the best way to contribute to a group is to lay back and let anybody /everybody else take the lead while you simply act as a obeying friend.

  • What was the most important learning of the assault course?
    I think Rahul summed it up beautifully, “Never go out in Lonavla when it rains without a windcheater. You have no idea how wet you would get!"

DAY TWO: TREK

  • Why do most mountain or hill summits have a temple on top?
    Does the feeling of being one with nature inspire people to be thankful to their creators?
    Sachin says, it is more of an advertising strategy by religious heads. A temple on top of a mountain would be visible to many more people than one on ground. Hence for the same cost of installation you get maximum visibility.
    Damn, this management thing is slowly getting on my nerves!
  • Professor quoted this during the assault course, “You are only as good or as bad as your competition”.
    Does it work that way for arts, for music, for literature? Why is this supposed to work for management, which is itself considered by many to be an art in itself?

There are many things about Relative Grading that I am yet to understand.

  • Trekking always gives you an opportunity to come face to face with your inner self. When you go empty handed into the lap of Mother Nature, she does what only a mother can do, show you a mirror!
    That’s why I don’t like trekking. I don’t like the picture that she shows me.

  • You are on top of the tallest peak around. You are surrounded by clouds on all sides which reduces visibility to a maximum of 25-30mts. The cool breeze somehow finds a way inside your windcheater to give you a slight shiver down your spine. What do you feel/think then?
    The first few minutes really strike you hard. What you see gives you a shock that makes your mind numb for a few minutes. Slowly you recover, exchange your reactions with your friends, take a few quick photographs, listen to the stories narrated by your guides, and somewhere in between, forget about the initial shock.

  • The idea that a peak stands there, come rain or shine, all alone, all very alone can be both romantic and intimidating. Why does the peak stay there all the time? Is he waiting for someone?

    When in school, I read a story about a young boy who angered the Gods who in turn as a punishment, made him a mountain. On pleading for forgiveness, he was given a concession that he would become a boy again once every 1000 years for a week.

  • In every mountain, look for the heart of a small boy. In some, you will find nothing except a heap of rock and mud. But others, like those surrounding Dodi Taal in Uttaranchal (Telco, TISCO, Telcon GET’s…. R U Listening?) definitely have significant life in them.

    Did this peak that we ascended today, have a life of its own?

    C’mon, do you really expect an answer? 45-60minutes are not sufficient to know whether there’s any life in living beings, and you think that was sufficient to find life in a hillock? You must be kidding! [Management Gyaan - Funda number 062: When you don’t want to give an answer, digress from the subject!]

DAY THREE: TREASURE HUNT

  • What is the first thing that shines out clearly in every Treasure Hunt story? The passion about the treasure along with a mention of the competing teams vying for the same treasure – (thrill factor). Take these out of the story and what you have is an absolute dud.
    No competing teams and definitely no passion for the treasure story (just a job to be completed). And yet it was interesting! Maybe that’s why we say, ‘real life is stranger than fiction’.
  • On second thoughts, were we really looking for the treasure in the box? Or for treasures in and around us (now I've started sounding like Lata Ma'm).

DAY THREE: EVENT MANAGEMENT

  • Wrote the script for a comic play (actually a spoof on ‘The World This Week’ and really enjoyed the preparation and execution part).

  • Since it was supposed to be a comic script, I kept on telling people that it was important that they looked real stupid on stage. And they kept asking me, ‘Ashu, what exactly we must do to look stupid?’.

    Sometimes what sounds like the easiest thing to do is not that easy after all!

FINAL DAY: BACK TO THE FUTURE

  • ‘Close your eyes and think of your future… Where you want to be or finally achieve in your lives… Imagine all little details of things and people around you…Observe how you look like… observe what you are doing… Keep imagining… Now put them on the drawing paper given to you…’
  • It was interesting to see just how many people came up with an office and cars and pretty secretaries. Almost no one showed money. Most tried to hint at it in a surrogate manner by painting high-rise buildings and cars.
    How many of us are really sure of what WE want to achieve in life and not simply what OTHERS expect us to do!
    My gut instinct says that when almost everyone paints the same theme for his future, it indicates at something seriously wrong with the system itself.

GENERAL

  • There is no better stimulant to get your creative juices flowing than 1part vodka in 5parts sprite.
    Caution: That can really become very dangerous especially when you are on an official trip with clear instructions to abstain from boozing.
    Solution: To hell with instructions! Simply don’t increase the quantity of vodka to greater than 60ml and keep enjoying.
  • What would John Galt do in S P Jain?
    I have a hunch. But I think I will give the hunch a little more time [Btw, Do I have an option : D ]
  • Would the world be a better place if we all thought likewise?
    Maybe not!
    Would the world be a better place if all thought like me?
    Definitely not!