Apoorva in Amsterdam

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Tag: ghazal

Translating Hosh Walon Ko Khabar Kya

Translating literature from one language to another is such a tough ask! My father, Sh Shyam Mathur, is an award-winning translator and he speaks a lot about a core dilemma that translators face: stay faithful to metaphors / similies (which are so rooted in language and culture, and thus might sound totally weird in the other language) or take the translator’s license and play around with the words a bit to keep the emotion intact.

With Dr Amrita Das gaining her PhD last week (in great style, I might add), I have been in a ghazal zone. So here I have tried to translate Nida Fazli’s ghazal “hosh walon ko KHabar kya” as featured in the movie Sarfarosh. An interesting challenge – mainly stemming from the need to keep the Ghazal’s syntax in place. I try to stay faithful to the words but sometimes I take the liberty to play with the words a bit to preserve the emotion.

You’re sober. You don’t know what this dance is all about.
Be in love, my friend, to feel what this trance is all about.

We locked eyes once and my whole world lit up
Oh what wizardry their glance is all about!

This life is a poem when they wear their hair loose
Their eyes – so shy! – tell us what romance is all about

Couldn’t bring to my lips what was in my heart, “Nida”
And they couldn’t figure …what silence is all about


मेरा साथी

मेरे साथी ने हसीं बाग़ को कुछ वीरान बना डाला

जो महज़ आदमी थे उन्हें हिन्दू, मुसलमान बना डाला


कुछ यूँ बुनी इस मुल्क़ की एक नयी हक़ीक़त उसने

जो सदियों मेज़बान थे, उन्हें मेहमान बना डाला


हम तलक तब पहुँचतीं थीं बस प्यार ही की बातें

अब बहन को बहन की नफरत का सामान बना डाला


मैं ये नहीं कहता कि पहले ऐब न थे वतन में

पर हालात ने इन्हें मौत का फरमान बना डाला


हालात-ए-क़ौम को देख कर क्या मुस्काएंगे मेरे ख़्वाजा

मेरे खोटे-से सच को भी अरमान बना डाला


मगर तुम्हें इससे क्या? तुम तो परदेस बस गए ‘अपूर्व’

ये कैसी चोट है जिसने तुम्हें इंसान बना डाला?

After summer

The lamps come on as I leave for my room, summer’s over now.
It’s still dark when I start my day, summer’s over now.

The walks in Amstel Park in May, the Cyprus sun that soothed us in June.
My memories – fond and distant, summer’s over now.

There’s still a spring in his step, and she still wears sunscreen.
Please. Nobody tell them summer’s over now.

That friend who couldn’t meet in July. The reunion cancelled in August.
A string of broken promises, summer’s over now.

But now we can order Thai. I can stain my blue sweater in the curry.
And burn my palette with hot Tom Yam. Summer’s over now.

Do you love less in Autumn? Does your soul freeze in winter, ‘Apoorva’?
Comfort your love with warmth in your heart. Summer’s over now.

To my future self …

A connected leader, you will be in future.
A leader who connects, you will be in future.

Your cynicism, you will leave behind. There’s no room for that.
A positive influence on your ‘friends’, you will be in future.

Think. By all means! And reflect all you want.
But a doer, a finisher, you will be in future.

The love of those who love you, you will carry in your heart.
Loving them, with kindness and generosity, you will be in future.

When they ask what purpose drives you forward ‘Apoorva’,
Say “creating beauty and joy”, you will be in future. 

A lyrical journey to Innovation

To succeed in this VUCA world, we need to innovate.
To create value, to earn margins, we need to innovate.

We look around the table, start with how we form teams.
To inclusion and diversity, we pay heed to innovate.

Bureaucracies won’t work, hierarchies won’t do.
A culture open and fair, we breed to innovate.

Yes processes are key, and discipline is a must.
But it’s creativity, in the lead to innovate.

There’s room for individual spark, we derive our own meaning.
And it’s collaboration at the core, we feed to innovate.

It’s about networks, and it’s about trust.
Command and control? We cede to innovate.

What leadership skills do we seek to promote then?
Visioning and coaching, we seed to innovate.

Now emails and slides don’t cut the ice, Apoorva
In the form of a ghazal, we plead to innovate.

In a train

Memories painted in water colours, in a train.
Flashes come back to me splashed, in a train.

“What’s the point of Marwar Junction? Just makes the journey longer!”
“So that you can have Aloo-Poori, in a train?”

They will sing of the Khwaja, and bring you closer to yourself.
Between Kishangarh and Ajmer, every morning – in a train.

What shall we make of this, and how long shall we endure?
A cop asked me for money near Dhanbad. In a train!

Kalka to Howrah was running late and we missed the party.
Celebrated New Year’s with boiled eggs and tea. In a train.

Papa once stepped off for water at what was only a whistle-stop.
My insecurities still live in Rajasthan. In a train.

That ride from Zurich to Geneva did make me wonder ‘Apoorva’.
How much further can you go from yourself in a train?

Never again

Rejoice ahead of time – I will never again
Celebrate a bit too soon – I will never again

If it’s OK for you to see moms cry, and kids die
Then watch the news on TV – I will never again

Tulips might bloom again in Spring , the trees might go fiery red in Autumn
But take these for granted – I will never again

Our quest for cause and effect – has made our senses blind
I’ve read Malcolm Gladwell but – I will never again

She hurt herself in the kitchen, the dal burst in her face
Fantasize of food from home – I will never again

There’s no right, no wrong, OK! – but which shade of grey am I?
I used to speculate a lot – I will never again

They didn’t cut my wings – just discouraged me gently
Fly my flight of fancy – I will never again

Have you thought about yourself, your condition calls for it
You think a lot about others, ‘Mat – I will never again

Sad tonight

Laughter won’t roll, I’ll be sad tonight
You don’t console, I’ll be sad tonight

The oh-so-sweet words, that puppy face
They have no soul, I’ll be sad tonight

I show a brave face, I keep my chin up
But my heart has a hole, I’ll be sad tonight

‘Tis not their naked tyranny, but their slippery guile
That’s taken its toll, I’ll be sad tonight

The pain is incessant, I hurt from within
Walking on hot coal, I’ll be sad tonight

Is being naïve worse than being stupid?
You can take a poll, I’ll be sad tonight

A sentimental fool, an emotional wreck
Being sad is my goal, I’ll be sad tonight

Just words

Our tweets, our blogs are just empty words
What we write with pride are just empty words

The poignant descriptions, the constructs, the metaphors
They’re beautiful alright but just empty words

I poured my heart out, they spoke their minds
Their attempt at empathy – just empty words

Through the rustle of real pages, or a swipe on your phone
What surfaces each time, is just empty words

I’m listening now, but I can’t hear what they say
Their eloquent expression, just empty words

I read your feature on Kafila, it was shared on FB
Your erudite discourse – just empty words

The songs we sleep with, the poetry we love
We romance the writers, for just empty words

You express freely, but do you realize ‘Mat?
This ghazal of yours – just empty words

Thinking of friend-love

Rumblr makes me think about friend-love
Have I ever been – in this thing that’s friend-love?

Solving equations, and drawing right-angled triangles
I didn’t say much then – the cat got my tongue, friend-love.

The library, the pavilion, the pool in summer hols
I was looking for you, I was looking for friend-love.

She praised me. Told me I looked like someone on TV
But I wanted her to hear me sing, a dedication to our friend-love.

I once phoned you about something – we only had fixed lines then
You spoke so nicely to me, almost like a friend, love.

At the social with girls’ school, I sang a soulful song
Efforts gone in vain – no offers for friend-love 😦

College was a harsh place, I could never really get it
Only love and sex were fancied, no room for friend-love.

In our first year, I hoped for a really long chat
Instead blurted out something nasty – that ended our friend-love.

For a bet, or for a laugh, she made me carry her bag
That was manipulation, anything but friend-love!

What makes people write on other people’s clothes,
Let me take a guess, my friend. Love?

At Welham Girls, after the debate workshop
She came to see Rahul. Smiling in friend-love.

Two introverts, holding hands in a street-play
Couldn’t fructify – had potential, that friend-love.

I went to Mohan’s to check if you were still there
But your quota was full. You had your friend-love.

I sang Ghalib. I think you liked it.
On that jetty in Joka – soaked in friend-love.

Post XL trip, sweet cards sent to girls in Jampot
Hung prominently on their mess wall. Aborted friend-love!

I don’t need to touch you. I don’t want to touch you.
It’s conversation – at the core of my friend-love.

This is new for you, it’s the first time you share this, ‘Mat
What’s she going to think of this ode to friend-love?!?