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Friday, April 30, 2010



closed one door, opened another one
turned on the radio

high of 11, low of 3...
running a to-do list
get the papers organized
go to the bank the day after

in Iraq today 75 casualties...
should have a heart to heart
with son, that girl is incompatible

premier mcguinty told pm harper...
should call bell and compare
and investigate voip
rewrite and rearrange fishing II
and may be half a confession
fix the blog
check out the submissions

the blue jays blanked the yankees...
try and get out of that social gathering
another heart to heart with the other son
he should not take things so seriously

in gaza 5 more dead...
found a spot, parked, locked
closed one door, opened another one


Ghazal 20, Verse 7

Ghazal 20, Verse 7

;Gam agarchih jaa;N-gusil hai pah kahaa;N bache;N kih dil hai
;Gam-e ((ishq agar nah hotaa ;Gam-e rozgaar hotaa

غم اگرچہ جاں گسل ہے پہ کہاں بچیں کہ دل ہے
غمِ عشق اگر نہ ہوتا غمِ روزگار ہوتا

ग़म अगरचिह जां-गुसिल है पह कहां बचें कि दिल है
ग़म-ए `इशक़ अगर न होता ग़म-ए रोज़गार होता

1) although grief is life-destroying, how would we escape, since/while there is a heart?

2a) if there were not the grief of passion, there would be the grief of {livelihood / the whole world}
2a) if it were not the grief of passion, it would be the grief of {livelihood / the whole world}

Thursday, April 29, 2010

black-white-gray: umbra borders

blessed is the world of black-white
fraught with doubts nor blurred with confusion
clear cut and crystalline are their
murky precept tinged perceptions

the gray see truth disparately
in words, gestures, smiles and shades
under the clouds cavorting ground
under the banyan they read phantoms
______________________of footprints past
in the umbra they see shadows
souls and specters of lives lived

in misty evolution, borders formed
celestial bodies, stars, planets — earth
floating continents, countries, cities
then wars were fought to redraw lines
the abstract perimeters engaged
religion, ethnicity, caste all
came under the umbrage of boundaries
such was the passion that even love
was scrutinized and catalogued
classified, aligned and realigned


the limits of my endurance ends
just where your castle rampart begins
transcending the world of black-white grays
we whirl in celestial ecstasy

Ghazal 20, Verse 6

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What Kind of Hindu Are You?

Your traveler arrived at Bhubaneswar, the sleepy capital of Orissa in the east. With Konark and Puri it forms the Golden Triangle of Orissa..

Bhubaneswar once boasted of over seven hundred temples, and still has a few temples of worth but serves more as a conduit to Puri and Konark.
At Konark he visited the thirteenth century Sun Temple in the shape of a huge chariot with seven horses and twelve wheels pulling sun god Surya across heavens. Time has taken its toll, but still it's magnificence shines. Each stone wheel is intricately carved and about ten feet in diameter. Beware of the guides who try to push porn. They are a vulgar nuisance.
Next stop the famous twelfth century Jaggennath Temple at Puri. The traveler walked up the narrow lanes and arrived at one of the gates to the temple known as the lion gate. A little way inside he is welcomed by a prohit (priest) --a temple pujari in saffron.
'Aaiyay, aaiyay maharaj, swagatam, swagatam! bhagwan kay darshan kernay aa'aye haiN?' yahaN apna naam pata likhyay aur hastaakchur ker deejiyay'
And a pen and register is thrust in front of him. The traveler smiles recalling the earlier confrontation at Ajmer. He smiles some more. This time more pleas are hurled at him, and then finally;
'Bhagwan kay naam pay bheee dakshina nahiN daiga, tu kaisa hindoo hay?'
'Aap say achcha, the traveler says and moves away. Some things do not change: no wonder the bearded one considered this sort of religion an opiate.
There are set prices here too for some services::

Gopal ballabha bhog (early morning bhog) - Rs. One Thousand
Sakal dhupa bhog (morning bhog) - Rs. Five Thousand
Madhyanha dhupa bhog (midday bhog) - Rs. Twenty Thousand
Sandhya dhupa bhog (evening bhog) - Rs. Ten Thousand
Badasinghar dhupa bhog (night bhog) - Rs. Three Thousand
Combined Five Raj-bhogs of the day - Rs. Thirty Thousand
Leaving the huge temple complex he comes out on the grand road, reminding him of a widened mall road with structures on either side slowly being replaced by eight-ten story buildings with shops and restaurants in the lower levels The rest of the front along the wide road was encroached by kiosks and street vendors that add colour and vibrancy to any bazaar scene.
He looked up and saw a sign for a terrace restaurant. He went up and took a table by the grand road. There were no other customers at that time in the restaurant: from this height he could take in the temple entrance, the temples in the distance and the hub of the bazaar below. He recorded the activities on his vidcam.
Down the centuries this widened grand road is the path they follow once a year when the three murtis are taken to the other temple on chariots pulled by devotees.
This annual coming out party with all the attendant acrobats, dhols ( drums) and chants and mantras by devotees in colourful garb gave birth to a new word in English. juggernaut

Is the irony apparent? The leaders of major religions are juggernauting their followers unabashedly.

Note: the traveler was being facetious when he informed the purohit and the gaddi-nashin that he was a better Muslim/Hindu. He is struggling and barely succeeding to be a better insaan

Ghazal 20, Verse 5

Ghazal 20, Verse 5

yih kahaa;N kii dostii hai kih bane hai;N dost;h
ko))ii chaarah-saaz hotaa ko))ii ;Gam-gusaar hotaa

یہ کہاں کی دوستی ہے کہ بنے ہیں دوست ناصح
کوئی چارہ ساز ہوتا کوئی غم گسار ہوتا

यह कहां की दोसती है कि बने हैं दोसत नासिह
कोई चारह-साज़ होता कोई ग़म-गुसार होता

1a) what kind of friendship is this, that friends have become Advisors?!
1b) what kind of friendship is this, that the Advisor has become a friend?!

2a) if someone had been a helper, if someone had been a sympathizer!
2b) if there had been some helper, if there had been some sympathizer!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What Kind of Muslim Are You?

A red-eyed traveler arrived at the Ajmer Railway Station in the wee hours of the morning. At the platform he was immediately accosted by a sherwani-clad young man. "Where are you from? Have you come for ziarat? What is your name?" The questions came at rapid-fire speed.

The traveler was polite but firm in his non-answers. All he wanted to do was freshen up, brush his teeth, have something to eat, see the mazar, recite fateha take in the surroundings and move on to Pushkar Lake. But this sherwani-clad man kept pestering him with queries and refused to go away.

It was a fifteen to twenty minute walk from the station to the dargah bazaar and then onto the inner courtyard flanked by two huge beautifully carved doors. Just before the entrance, the traveler found a roadside eatery and ordered scrambled eggs and tea, hoping the pest would leave him alone. It seemed to work and he disappeared from view. After the third cup of doodh-patti, the now refreshed traveler paid his bill and entered the gates.

"These daigs (cauldrons) were gifted by the Mughals." The pest was back at his side! "There are two huge cauldrons: the bigger one has a capacity of 4480 kg and the smaller one 2240 kg. The food cooked in them is called langar and distributed to the pilgrims and visitors."

As he passed by there were two bamboo ladders attached to the sides of one of them and a crew was washing the insides.

And the pest stuck to the traveler like a shadow.

Inside the courtyard there were scores of chambers, big and small. Signboards over the hijrah (chamber) declared to the reader 'this hijrah belongs to the successors of Hazrat XYZ.' There must have been 40 plus chambers in there. All the hazarats ostensibly must have been noble souls but the present day occupants, their 'successors' and heirs - the gadee nashins seemed like capitalizing on simpletons.

Most of them had computerized lists of past donors and visitors to the Dargah. And each year they mailed out pledge cards and donation solicitations to Muslims all over he world complete with self-addressed envelopes and bank account numbers for electronic transfers of funds.

There was an � la carte price for vicariously offering pledges, du'as (prayers) on behalf of absentee Muslims or patrons of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. You pay: we pray!

In the centre of the huge courtyard was the dargah. The the floor was marbled and cracked in some places around the perimeter. As the traveler climbed up to have a look at the sepulcher and offer fateha he saw the intricately woven marble screen around it and silver railings around the huge grave covered by a chador.

At the entrance to the chamber, the pest in the black sherwani jumped forward and introduced the traveler to a middle-aged fellow sitting cross legged behind a low floor desk. "Mr. t is visiting from Canada," he informed him. The fellow exchanged traditional Muslim greetings with the traveler and then pushed forward a register toward the traveler. When the traveler ignored that thrust, he made a point of asking the traveler to put his name and address down in the register.


"Because everyone who comes for ziarat signs the register and makes a donation," explained the pest.

"Thanks, but no. I won't sign this register and I am not here to give a donation."

The man behind the desk tried to persuade the traveler in vain. When his efforts failed he asked the traveler in desperation, "Why are you here then?"

"Am here to offer fateha, look around and leave."

"Cover your head before you go in there," the man behind the desk rudely admonished the traveler.

But by now the traveler was quite piquant. He glared at the man behind the desk.

"Janab hum aisay hee khulay sir andar ja'ayeN gay." (Sir, I will enter the inner chamber bare headed.)

"No you cannot enter bare headed."

"Why not?"

"Because everyone who enters has to cover the head."

"But I won't cover my head. It does not say here anywhere to cover your head. The only sign I saw asked me to remove the shoes. I have been to the Haram Shareef (Kaaba at Mecca) and Musjid e Nabvi (the Prophet's Mosque, at Medinah) bare headed. So what is the big deal here?"

"That is a different thing," the man behind the desk said lamely.

"No, it is not!"

"What kind of Muslim are you?" said the man behind the desk, trying to wriggle out.

"Don't know. Possibly a very bad Muslim, possibly a big gunahgaar (sinner). But sir, I know this - I am a better Muslim than you are or can ever be." Saying this, the traveler offered a fateha from outside the sanctum sanctorum, turned back without a glance and invited the man behind desk to come outside the dargah area so the traveler could throw some choice words at him.

The man declined.

Ghazal 20, Verse 4

Ghazal 20, Verse 4

ko))ii mere dil se puuchhe tire tiir-e niim-kash ko
yih ;xalish kahaa;N se hotii jo jigar ke paar hotaa

کوئی میرے دل سے پوچھے ترے تیرِ نیم کش کو
یہ خلش کہاں سے ہوتی جو جگر کے پار ہوتا

कोई मेरे दिल से पूछे तिरे तीर-ए नीम-कश को
यह ख़लिश कहां से होती जो जिगर के पार होता

1) let someone ask my heart about your half-drawn arrow
2) where would this pricking/anxiety have come from, if it had [gone through and] been beyond the liver?

Monday, April 26, 2010

III Mahajirzadeh: Choti and the Siami Begum

I Mahajirzadeh: Mushtaque Ahmed Yusufi - An Introduction
II Mahajirzadeh:Manjhli and BaRi

To this day we are perplexed.

In the mysterious ways of this world, which we could not decipher then, or now, Choti said yes to Mahajirzadah. Even then we had enough sense to know that the wicket was quite unpredictable and unfavourable for any sustained play.

Fast forward a few years and Choti joined the erstwhile two. Haji Uncle's once robust heart could not bear the triple tragedies. It succumbed.

We were then in the no man's land between innocence and know-it-all youth. Mahajirzadeh must be in late thirties. But these incidental departures must have aged him years. He appeared old and forlorn. Old and forlorn but not infirm.

If you visit the PECHS graveyard you will find the five graves, marked for posterity Amma Huzoor, Abba Huzoor, BaRi, Manjhli and Choti in one straight line. In the haphazard spread of the graveyard these symmetrical concrete graves with white marble headstones display an eerie spine chilling logic.

Entombing Haji Uncle's nuclear family, Mahajirzadah embarked on yet another marriage. Ignoring the city, the province, indeed the whole country, he married a thirty four year old Thai of mixed racial origins.

Through the grapevine we heard that among other things and acts, this Siamese lady was a great cook too, especially Thai and Chinese meals. On Biryani, Korma, Tikka etc. her outlook was quite utilitarian---better quality and quantity can be ordered from the specialty restaurants in the city.

For children, or issues as they were referred to locally, he believed in zero population growth. His contempt for hisab kitab --- household finances and budgeting --- was traditional and hereditary. There was almost a religious edge to it. That perhaps accounted for him not counting his buried spouses in the zero population formula.

In the beginning, the Siami Begum was very quite and soft spoken. Also, how were we to know then that in Thailand they did not speak Urdu. But once she learned Urdu, she put to shame those of us whom others blamed for having it as a mother tongue. She acquired a versatility that was unique. She was able to communicate colloquially with folks from any income or age group. In anger and irritation, she was a sight: beholden and be heard.

We do not know about Mahajirzadeh, but when she used to take the servants to task the pollution in the room would overwhelm the pollution in the air.

Siami Begum was diminutive. We have a saying --- gid'dha'tun fit'na'tun --- shorter is terrible or risqu�. We acquired a new insight when we tasted those small green Thai chilies. But that was much later in life.

Mahajirzadeh was very young when one became two, three really. In his contemporaries he was unique, in that he never once claimed to have seen, heard or met any leader, great or small, present or departed, shaheed or ghazi that had made any contribution towards independence or national affairs.

He had no known source of income. Before you rush to any judgment, please bear in mind the times. Afghanistan and drug invasion of Pakistan were still years away. His inheritance must have been sufficient. He never worked a day in his life.

next: IV Mahajirzadeh:The Great Hand Car Wash on Monday May 3

Ghazal 20, Verse 3

Ghazal 20, Verse 3

tirii naazukii se jaanaa kih ba;Ndhaa thaa ((ahd bodaa
kabhii tuu nah to;R saktaa agar ustuvaar hotaa

تری نازکی سے جانا کہ بندھا تھا عہد بودا
کبھی تو نہ توڑ سکتا اگر استوار ہوتا

तिरी नाज़ुकी से जाना कि बंधा था `अहद बोदा
कभी तू न तोड़ सकता अगर उसतुवार होता

1) from your delicacy [I/we] knew that the vow/promise had been made/bound weak/loose
2) you could never have broken it, if it had been strong/firm

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Duck, Man, Duck

words are cheap — is that why we abuse them
words are god — if we worship by them
words are useless — duck, duck, duck
words are gems — when others swear by them
words are trash — when an argument cannot be dismissed
words are forever — the true word is more durable than diamond
words are words — like oxygen, taken for granted
words are abused — by most writers, poets, speakers
specially by this one:)


The written/spoken word should stand on its own merit.

The almost universal absence of eloquence is stifling in the sub-continent. We have a Canadian Prime Minister, ostensibly bi-lingual, who cannot ask for a glass of water without stumbling. All right, am exaggerating slightly. And then we have the Mians and the Bibis and the Jurnails who cannot articulate in any language of Pakistan, present or extinct.

Words express, emote, soothe, guide, communicate. Pearled together, they effectively transform thoughts and intents.

Eloquence is directly related to brevity. Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib comes to mind. Could it be that my penchant for word usage is related to an appreciation of ghazal? One or several thoughts, in a metered couplet, standing alone, though a part of the whole. Yet, when I have a desire to express my thoughts in verse, they appear in the form of naz'm (poem) rather than ghazal. Dichotomy of a post-Raj generation that was influenced by western language and thought. This last half of my life, I have been playing catch-up. A conscious effort to undo the infantile impressions, sort out the valid ones and substantiate the wealth of literary and religious genii in our collective past.

Why is in-articulation the domain of bazaaris, illiterate mullahs, pseudo intellectuals, political bigots, dhobis, and the beast of burden they ride? Except the latter, all of the former can inarticulate for hours without conveying anything substantial. Capital punishment ought to be diligently re-introduced just for them. Sadly, abortion did not work.

Show me a man swearing and I will tell you much about his background, my Fairfax friend Pervez used to say. We have well defined boundaries for vulgar epithets---office, bazaar, home, with friends, with strangers. The articulate will deliver well chosen slurs in English, Urdu or Punjabi as the occasion demanded. The inarticulate will stick mostly to base, procreative verbal diarrhea involving and invoking close personal relatives in the act.

One mis-step and a trumpet of Israfeel's strength sounds. Alas, not with the same results.

Some of us revel in precision. Well crafted words reinforce ideas and lubricate thinking, merrily whirling us in ecstasy. A criterion I often employ is to express thoughts with the least number of words. 'Hmmmmm,' says M, reading these lines over my shoulder.

Why go to the trouble, you may inquire? Cliches abound. There is a storm raging in mind that needs an outlet. Okay, but why bother you with the results? This I will not even attempt to answer.

Lately there have been occasions, when frustrations caused by others have left me adrift in mid-ocean of trauma. Words that struggle to surface are not socially acceptable to the ethnic South Asian mindset. Their connotative references to procreative activities are not to be verbally expressed in any forum. Hence, duck, man, duck.

(Please do not expect allusions of phallic symbols, exaggerated or diminished, in my forms of expressions. An exception is the epistolary short story Half a Confession which has yet to surface here.

It is my endeavor to promote the duck to symbolize those procreative activities that sometimes offend our collective sensibilities.

Helpless, ducked-out, whirling in mid ocean. Knowing not, and not knowing that knowing not, ducked-up.

Last week, being driven in the company of Abdullah Hussain and Mohammed Umar Memon to a dinner at Zahoor ul Ikhlaque's, discussing similar subjects, I blurted, 'I can't suffer fools,' saying it with an ease and conviction that startled me. Messieurs Hussain and Memon have a constituency out there. Often, they cannot afford to say what is on their mind. And am being realistic, not contemptuous. Life is too short to be riddled with idiots or their whims.

This suffering is directly proportional to sensitivity and inversely to patience.

JFK once declared that if a speech took more than ten minutes to deliver its main theme, it was not worth the effort. And, we have political and religious leaders that go on and on---the duracell wa'az or sermon.

In his prime, my yaar, would daily demand from his Creator opportunities for one square meal, a good book and some sex not necessarily in that order. Now, I can more fully appreciate his urge for a good read.

Ouch, I just spilled hot tea over my lap. Duck, man, duck!



Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Applies equally to most politicans today.
Mians: Husbands; also Mian Nawaz Sharif, the democratic dictator precariously perched on a two-legged chair----one leg, the popular mandate the other being the Army.
Bibis: Wives; also Benazir Bhutto aspiring and conspiring for(ever) the chair.
Ghazal: A short Urdu poem, usually of seven couplets. The first couplet is rhyming and is called Matlaa and the last usually with the poet's name or pseudonym is called Qataa.
Bazaaris: People found in the oriental marketplace---shopkeepers, small merchants and shoppers.
Dhobi: Washerman/woman.
Israfeel: As the legend goes the Arch Angel who will sound the trumpet on the day of resurrection.
Wa'az: Sermon..
Yaar: Alter ego

Note: This article was written in 2002

Ghazal 20, Verse 2

Ghazal 20, Verse 2

tire va((de par jiye ham to yih jaan jhuu;T jaanaa
kih ;xvushii se mar nah jaate agar i((tibaar hotaa

ترے وعدے پر جیے ہم تو یہ جان جھوٹ جانا
کہ خوشی سے مر نہ جاتے اگر اعتبار ہوتا

तिरे व`दे पर जिये हम तो यह जान झूट जाना
कि ख़वुशी से मर न जाते अगर इ`तिबार होता

1a) if we lived on your promise, then know this-- we knew [it to be] false
1b) if we lived on your promise, then this, {dearest / life}, we knew to be false
1c) we lived on your promise-- know [reading तू] this: we knew [it to be] false

2) for would we not have died of happiness, if we had had trust/confidence [in it]?

-- next verse -- back to {20} index -- ghazal index -- Ghalib index page --

Saturday, April 24, 2010


who reads postcards? i do
saved a boxful from the days
when communication
was a timorous link
tenuous, tentative
mostly wish-you-were-heres
but there are the odd few
defying the trend
generally would glance
at the sepia print
read the signature
and replace it in the box

one from a long lost friend
that i found had two words
admonishing me get lost
am still here, astray
the friend? don't know

Ghazal 20, Verse 1

Ghazal 20, Verse 1

yih nah thii hamaarii qismat kih vi.saal-e yaar hotaa
agar aur jiite rahte yihii inti:zaar hotaa

یہ نہ تھی ہماری قسمت کہ وصالِ یار ہوتا
اگر اور جیتے رہتے یہی انتظار ہوتا

यह न थी हमारी क़िसमत कि विसाल-ए यार होता
अगर और जीते रहते यिही इनतिज़ार होता

1) this was not our destiny/fate, that union with the beloved would take place

2a) if we had kept on living longer, there would have been this very same waiting
2b) if we had kept on living longer, this itself would have been waiting

Friday, April 23, 2010

nawwab and i: Booooobquake

Photograph by: Handout, Jennifer McCreight

N: Women.
t: You mean bitches?
N: No, women!
t: OK, let me fetch my defensive armour.
N: Sure, arm yourself all you can...
t: (Nawwab is up to some grand mischief...)
N: I am not up to any mischief.
t: I forget, you are a clairvoyant Nawwab.
N: Woof, woof. "When promiscuity spreads, earthquakes increase," says Hojatoleslam Kazim Sadeghi.
t: WTF. I thought you'd mention Rushdi or Jen McCreight.
N: Nice deflection. It is not about What The Fatwa!
t: Phir kyuN bhonk rahay ho?
N: Eyjafjallajoekull.
t: Ah, the volcano.
N: You cannot even pronounce it.
t: There is no shame in being with the majority, Nawwab.
N: The frocked bearded one is so symptomatic of the rot.
t: Aye, aye sir!
N: Remember Jinn power?
t: Yes, if the hypothesis worked there would be no power shortage.
N: And instead of hounding medieval thinking they are barking at Hoodbhoy.
t: So it is Islam.
N: No, it is the worldwide IRR.
t: Irish Republican Reformers?
N: Irreligious Religious Right.
t: Shlomo Benizri blames the gays.
t: And they sow these far fetched balloons so the indignant can erect....
N: ...not erect, erupt as in Eyjafjallajoekull.
t: That is one horrendous eruption, not an erection, I'd agree.
N: Monday is on your mind, I see...
t: Monday?
N: Jen McCreight is going to cause global quakes to prove Sadeghi right.
t: I women will bring the earth down.
N: You are only interested in viewing clips.
t: Yes, but also the end of the world...if that happens I can delay paying bills.
N: Only you can think about personal issues.
t: Wrong, I can think about ...
N: ...WTF.
t: What is wrong about What The Fatwa
N: Woof, woof!

milestones / sang e meel

rushing past markers
hazy, fading, lit
first smile, first day
destination 435 miles
first step, year one
highway cutoff 17 miles
first words, year two
construction next 10 miles
first swear words, year nine
detour two miles
'you know nothing,' year fifteen
rest stop 1 mile ahead
finally, home
but the destination
remains elusive

sang e meel
jeewan ki dauRR maiN sang e meel
kabhi wa'zeh, kabhi mubb'hum
lubouN per lehrati pehli moos'ku'rahat
manzil 435 meel
who pehla saal, pehla qadam
shahrah ka moRR, 17 meel
pyaray bol, saal doyem
marammat, aglay 10 meel
pehli gaali, saal-e-naham
mutabadil raasta, 2 meel
'aap logouN kou kuch maaloom hee nahin'
bachpun ka ikhtitaam, kum-suni ki ibtida
leeji'aye ghar aagaya
manzil rahi anqaa magar

Ghazal 10, Verse 12

Ghazal 10, Verse 12

na:zar me;N hai hamaarii jaadah-e raah-e fanaa ;Gaalib
kih yih shiiraazah hai ((aalam ke ajzaa-e pareshaa;N kaa

نظر میں ہے ہماری جادۂ راۂ فنا غالب
کہ یہ شیرازہ ہے عالم کے اجزاۓ پریشاں کا

नज़र में है हमारी जादह-ए राह-ए फ़ना ग़ालिब
कि यह शीराज़ह है `आलम के अजज़ा-ए परेशां का

1) in our sight/gaze is the path of the road of oblivion, Ghalib
2) for this is the binding-thread of the scattered/distracted parts/signatures of the world

Thursday, April 22, 2010

the other side of burning hell

the other side of burning hell
it is chilly
moustaches freeze up in this frost
we recall whispers nor heart aches

divinely (we) sense
where this anguish emanates from

sky crystal clear
cold piercing body and soul
finger tips singeing chillinferno*
we recall whispers nor heart aches

minus 20 maiN ish'q ki baataiN

sardi hay buhat, sardi hay buhat
moochaiN, aahaiN, shikway
sub jum say ga'aye haiN

hum bhool ga'aye haiN
dar'd kay sub qissay
hum bhool ga'aye haiN

ehsaas ho gaya humaiN
kahaaN say oothta hay
ghazal ka woh dhoo'aaN**

aakash hay saaf neela
sardi aisi hay jo
jis'm o rooh ko jhulsai
oongliouN maiN paNjouN maiN
aag aisi hay lagi
hum bhool ga'aye haiN
dar'd kay sub qissay
hum bhool ga'aye haiN
sardi hay buhat, sardi hay buhat


* chilling inferno
** a ghazal made famous by Ustaad Mehdi Hasan
yeh dhoo'aaN kahaaN say oothta hay...

Ghazal 138, Verse 1

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

poetry: eyjafjallajoekull

Eruption of Eyjafjallajökull* Volcano, Iceland

Smoke and steam hangs over the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland.

this billowing blindness
of incarcerated passions
cremates the animus and the anima
both disappearing
in the abyss of nether world

the killer billows
cast a shadow doomed
aware and unblind
we continue to nurture
hate and hatred
burying our selves

wish we could instead
entomb in smiles


shiddat e ghubaar e ishq*
sa'aye talay sub ko
youN jhulsa daita hay
kay jhilmilati nahiN
zindaqi ki koi ramaq
nafrataiN hoN ya ranjishaiN
madghum hojati haiN
mudfun ho jati haiN
is dhuwaiN kay kerbala maiN

aur woh jo ghubaar e marg hay
jo daira e ilm maiN hay
isay jaan tay hu'aye bhee
kyun hum log nafratouN
aur ranjishouN kay daam maiN
khud ko muqaiyyad ker laitay haiN
jub maut hee muqaddar maiN
likhi hay hum sub kay li'aye
tou kyuN na aaj say
muskurah ker jiayN

* mehdi sang yeh dhuan kahaan se uth ta hay
* Here is the BBC Pronunciation Unit's guide on how to saw the glacier's name. Eyjafjallajökull (or Eyafallajökull) is pronounced AY-uh-fyat-luh-YOE-kuutl (-uh) , that is -ay as in day, -fy as in few, -oe as in French coeur, -uu as in boot, the -tl as in atlas. The (-uh) is "a" as in ago.

timeless: ratnagiri upon badin

today i feel like painting a picture
that in my mind i've drawn already
have yet to set up the easel
draw the outline, open the tubes
yet i know what i'll call it when finished
that image of Truth, Beauty, Peace
will call it timeless
it'll be the smile on the face of a child
i came across in ratnagiri
a child who could've felt just as at home
in the streets of badin
in rags, slightly disheveled
playing in the streets
with a tonka truck - three wheels missing
his smile said hope is alive and well
and no amount of injustice and disparity
will kill it

even his smiling eyes will effervesce

Ramchand Pakistani at MOMA April 21-26

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Men's Saviour: Finally Good News For Women

ADAM (Androgen Deficiency in the Aging Man) and PADAM (Partial Androgen Deficiency in the Aging Man) theories are being debunked by the team of researchers led by Dr. A.Q.Ramsawami, Dr. Homily Bhaba, Maria Slvesternegger and Dr.Amrita Rajangopalachariya who have just published a paper in the New England Journal.

From scientists to lay man everybody was aware but not cognizant of the forces that affect the behaviour of Men. Men in various stages of physical and mental growth had their behaviour scuritinised and magnified since the days of camp-fires to the cosy comfort of fire-places.

According to research carried out on 625 men, in 13 countries and 5 continents (men when they were alive) Pulmonary Androgynous Glutinous Arterial Lyddite is the main cause of this behaviour. They have succeeded in identifying and isolating the amino-neurotic bodies in the brain fluids.

"This is the first step in the long march toward treating the condition that has cause so much mayhem, unnecessary murders and untold misery in generations of men and women," said the team leader Ramswami.

Contrary to popularly held beliefs until now that men's behaviour is variously and vicariously affected by the erratic production of C19H28O2, the Pulmonary Androgynous Glutinous Arterial Lyddite is triggered by signals from animate and inanimate objects. These signals cause the amino-acidic levels in the mind to accelerate or decelerate the production of certain fatty acids that are believed to be the principal conveyors of the signals from the brain to the impulse-wave generators that cause the undiminished conveyance of the impulses to the target areas.

The next step would be treatment. This could take us well into the next century - lab testing on rats, animal testing, human testing FDA approvals, hearings all take their tolls. They have hinted that in the next century men would be free of this syndrome.

Ghazal 126, Verse 5

Ghazal 126, Verse 5

qafas me;N mujh se ruudaad-e chaman kahte nah ;Dar hamdam
girii hai jis pah kal bijlii vuh meraa aashiyaa;N kyuu;N ho

قفس میں مجھ سے رودادِ چمن کہتے نہ ڈر ہمدم
گری ہے جس پہ کل بجلی وہ میرا آشیاں کیوں ہو

क़फ़स में मुझ से रूदाद-ए चमन कहते न डर हमदम
गिरी है जिस पह कल बिजली वह मेरा आशियां कयूं हो

1) in the cage, telling me the events of the garden, don't be afraid, friend
2) the one on which lightning has fallen yesterday-- why would it be my nest?

Monday, April 19, 2010

II Mahajirzadeh: Manjhli and Bari

I Mahajirzadeh: Mushtaque Ahmed Yusufi - An Introduction
The smell of vapours that arise from the parched roads as water is sprinkled in the late afternoon; the smell of spilled kerosene; the unexpectedly cool cloudy days in mid summer; the dimpled smile of one particular teacher; a blonde bombshell shopping in the local bazaar; the whiff of certain perfume or body fragrance; the passing of a shiny sleek car — these memories are ensconced and permanently etched on our mind.

Mention of a shiny sleek car never fails to remind us of Mahajirzadeh Asadullah Khan.

Haji Sahib — Haji Uncle was our neighbour. He had three daughters: then aged fifteen, sixteen and seventeen. From a distance they looked like triple threats. Once closer, one could distinguish individual characteristics. At that time for reasons that including shyness, age and naivete� we avoided that closeness.

Somehow Mahajirzadeh got friendly with Manjhli. We overheard others speculate about it in the street forums, often inconclusively. Events led to their predestined conclusion, as they were wont to do in the Karachi of those days. But not before he had adopted the pseudonym of Karachvi.

To set the record straight, we had never heard him recite poetry, write poetry or write anything else for that matter. Soon after, he became Manjhli's Ajji. And not too long before he moved in Haji Uncle's house along with his sleek black Pontiac.

Do you also find that our childhood memories are either foggy or selective?

Bachchu Cahacha was the description defying family servant of Haji Uncle. Neither tall nor short. His height and demeanor auto-adjusted to the situation. There was a permanent bent in the shoulder region. The slight hunchback that people in his station in life seem to acquire as a result of some cosmic DNA programming. He must have had a wife. We never saw her. But we did stumble upon the results of his dalliance. His many children in various stages of undress were a familiar sight in the neighbourhood. More on them in the hand car wash segment.

One day we heard Bachchu Chacha tell us that Manjhli had left to meet her Maker. I did not know what it meant then, nor do I remember the funeral. Or maybe we were playing cricket that day. Around that time I do remember seeing BaRi with him when they went out in the evening for the PIDC paan.

I did not like BaRi very much. Every time I played cricket in the street, usually when the big boys had monopolized the cricket ground nearby, I ended up by breaking one of their window panes. No matter what stroke I played, the ball would somehow take a bee line for their glass windows. BaRi would run to Haji Uncle. And then Dad would.....But believe me, her early exit from this temporal abode was not hastened either by the remedial actions of my Dad nor the sigh that escaped from the depth of my heart as a consequence.

Dil se jo baat nikalti hai asaar rakhti hai
par nahiN taqat-e-parwaaz mag'r rakhti hai.

next: III Mahajirzadeh:Choti and the Siami Begum on Monday April 26

Ghazal 116, Verse 3

Ghazal 116, Verse 3

raat ke vaqt mai piye saath raqiib ko liye
aa))e vuh yaa;N ;xudaa kare par nah kare ;xudaa kih yuu;N

رات کے وقت مے پیے ساتھ رقیب کو لیے
آئے وہ یاں خدا کرے پر نہ کرے خدا کہ یوں

रात के वक़त मै पिये साथ रक़ीब को लिये
आए वह यां ख़ुदा करे पर न करे ख़ुदा कि यूं

1) at night, having drunk wine, having brought the Rival along--
2) that she would come here, may the Lord grant; but may the Lord not grant-- like this!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

am wary

am wary of
lines that begin
'if truth be told...'

when chanced upon
such revelations
i look around
and make plans
should the truth
unveiled, shatters
(my) harmonious

Ghazal 114, Verse 5

Ghazal 114, Verse 5

;xayaal-e jalvah-e gul se ;xaraab hai;N mai-kash
sharaab-;xaane ke diivaar-o-dar me;N ;xaak nahii;N

خیالِ جلوۂ گل سے خراب ہیں مے کش
شراب خانے کے دیوار و در میں خاک نہیں

ख़याल-ए जलवह-ए गुल से ख़राब हैं मै-कश
शराब-ख़ाने के दीवार-ओ-दर में ख़ाक नहीं

1) from the thought of the glory/appearance of the rose the wine-drinkers are 'wrecked'
2) in the door and walls of the wine-house-- nothing at all!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

fluttering curtains / pardah jo hila

fluttering curtains
leaves on still branches
picture perfect clouds
tranquil lotus staring back

pollution, checking sun rays
sky to earth check posts aplenty
rendering landscape, moonscape

moon looking askance
children muffled, muted

then the curtain fluttered
stroked by your smile

life whirled, again

pardah jo hila
shaakhaiN saakit, baadal rukay hu'aye
kanwal tak-taki bandhay dekhay humaiN

fiza may mo'allaq gar'd o ghubaar
shoo'aaON ko youN rokay
kay zameeeN per din maiN chandni
phail ja'aye her soo'

aur chand oos nay bhee rukh moR lya
bachchay bhee sakhtay maiN, khamosh

parday maiN phir hui hal chal
tum aaeeN aur zindagi muskuraee

Ghazal 95, Verse 6

Ghazal 95, Verse 6

kahte hai;N jiite hai;N ummiid pah log
ham ko jiine kii bhii ummed nahii;N

ہتے ہیں جیتے ہیں امّید پہ لوگ
ہم کو جینے کی بھی امّید نہیں

कहते हैं जीते हैं उममीद पह लोग
हम को जीने की भी उममेद नहीं

1) they say people live on hope
2) we have no hope even of living

Israeli Terrorism Against America

[thanks ac]

Friday, April 16, 2010

C.A.R.E. — do we really?

beside a table laden with hors d'oeuvre
fruits and cocktails in the dimly lit hall
this waspish old lady bemused loudly
about the sufferings of the multitudes
in the bushes 'oh those doleful eyes,
bloated bellies, bent countenance'

looking directly at me then she whispered
in my wrong ear 'i send them twenty dollars
every month through C.A.R.E.'
________________so uncaringly

Caveat: am not knocking the good work done by CARE, just highlighting the faux guilt-ridden expressions of pseudo support by some - t

Ghazal 71, Verse 2

Ghazal 71, Verse 2

tuu aur aaraa))ish-e ;xam-e kaakul
mai;N aur andeshah'haa-e duur-daraaz

تو اور آرائشِ خمِ کاکل
میں اور اندیشہ‌ہاۓ دور دراز

तू और आराइश-ए ख़म-ए काकुल
मैं और अनदेशहहा-ए दूर-दराज़

1) you-- and adornment of twists/knots of ringlets/curls
2) I-- and faraway-long thoughts/doubts/fears

Thursday, April 15, 2010

maximum security

through barriers and gates
remotely operated doors and
countless security checks
we come to an 8x6 cell
steel door with two slots
one for food, other to observe

inside, a cot, a stainless steel sink
a lidless toilet
this is the temporal abode Link
of the likes of dennis rader
and paul bernardo
in splendid security
and utter isolation
they will vegetate

on the outside, for some
the space may be more confining
and perhaps less regulated


Ghazal 62, Verse 5

Ghazal 62, Verse 5

har-chand subuk-dast hu))e but-shikanii me;N
ham hai;N to abhii raah me;N hai sang-e giraa;N aur

ہر چند سبک دست ہوئے بت شکنی میں
ہم ہیں تو ابھی راہ میں ہے سنگِ گراں اور

हर-चनद सुबुक-दसत हुए बुत-शिकनी में
हम हैं तो अभी राह में है सनग-ए गिरां और

1) {although / however much} we became {light/active/nimble}-handed in idol-breaking
2) if/when we live/'are', then {even now / as yet} in the road is a different/additional heavy stone

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On Holocaust: Anti-Semite or Anti-Human?

hol.o.caust n. 1. Great destruction resulting in the extensive loss of life,
especially by fire. 2. [Middle English, burnt offering, from Old French
holocauste, from Latin holocaustum, from Greek holokauston, from neuter of
holokaustos, burnt whole : holo-, holo- + kaustos, burnt (from kaiein, to burn).]

I just finished reading an involved, wonderfully mesmerizing review of Lajos Koltai's Fateless: Death and the Children by Alan Dale.

Something I read there caught my eye and lingered in my mind long after I finished reading that review. He wrote: The Holocaust, a crime of historic proportions, is simply greater than any heroic ordeal out of conventional romance--it calls for a new approach to character and narrative.

Forget entire human history: even our recent history is replete with what we call crimes against peace, humanity and genocide.

Consider these:

Roma (Gypsy) Holocaust Deaths: Determining the percentage or number of Roma (Gypsies) who died in the Holocaust (called the Porrajmos, "paw-RYE-mos" in Romani, a word which means "the Devouring") is not easy. The latest (1997) figure from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Research Institute in Washington puts the number of Romani lives lost by 1945 at "between a half and one and a half million."

Armenian Genocide: The official Ottoman statistics compiled for the period between 1915 to 1917-18 were of 800,000 (Armenians) killed, which suggests that possibly over a million perished. This figure originates from Djemal's bureau's compilation statistics. The results have been published in the official Ottoman gazette.

A report provided that as soon as February 1916, 1.5 million Armenians were destroyed. A report in May 27, 1916, by Foreign Office Intelligence Director Erzberger provided the same figure, as did an October 4, 1916 report by the German Interim Ambassador to Turkey, Radowitz, again with 1.5 million as the estimate of Armenian's having perished. It seems that the generally cited 1.5 million figure had originated from those German sources. What might be considered by many one of the most balanced German account is those of the German major Endres, who served in the Turkish army, and who has estimated the number of Armenians having lost their lives during the war to be 1.2 million.

Tartar Cleansing "We have never denied the Armenian crime of genocide inflicted upon 2.5 million Muslim people between 1914 and 1920." Agop Zahoryan, 'Voices of Agonies', p. 91.

Massacre in Cambodia: Estimates of the number of people who perished under the Khmer Rouge vary tremendously, even within the present Cambodian government. A figure of three million deaths between 1975 and 1979 was given by the Vietnamese-sponsored Phnom Penh regime, the People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK). Father Ponchaud suggested 2.3 million; the Yale Cambodian Genocide Project estimated 1.7 million; Amnesty International estimated 1.4 million; and the United States Department of State, 1.2 million. Khieu Samphan and Pol Pot cited figures of 1 million and 800,000, respectively

Tragedy in Chechnia: Today, 12 years later, is there anyone who mourns the more than 30% of the total Chechen population who perished in the last two wars? Who cares today about the hundreds of thousands of Chechen refugees who fled wherever they could from the Chechen killing-field, only to find themselves in unbearably miserable conditions, with no hope of being treated as decent human beings?

The Rwandan Genocide: The slaughter of an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, mostly carried out by two extremist Hutu militia groups, the Interahamwe and the Impuzamugambi, during a period of 100 days from April 6th through mid-July 1994.

Slaughter in Yugoslavia: Each nation (Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats) reported many casualties in the three-sided conflict, in which the Bosniaks reported the highest number of deaths and casualties. However, the only case officially ruled by the U.N. Hague tribunal as genocide was the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. At the end of the war approximately 102,000 people had been killed according to the ICTY and more than 2 million people fled their homes (including over 1 million to neighboring nations and the west)

There is more

  • Over twenty million Russian deaths in WWII.
  • The thousands who died and millions who were displaced during the great divide in the sub continent - the partition of the subcontinent into India and Pakistan, and later in the birth of Bangladesh.
  • Hundreds of thousands dead in the troubled region of Kashmir at the hand of terrorists and Government Forces of India and Pakistan.

These are part and parcel of our heritage - correction our human heritage and conscience. But when the word holocaust is mentioned what image crosses your mind? Which of the holocausts mentioned above comes to your mind?

Let me admit I am probably like the majority of folks here. This word reminds me of the Jewish holocaust more than the other horrible travesties.

How did that happen? Was it all of those movies? Books? Constant references in the media? Who is triggering this guilt in me? By maintaining our silence on all the holocausts perpetrated by us on some of us are we not culpable?

I am not an anti-Semite. But I certainly could be anti-Human if I remained silent any longer and not point out our fallacy.

Ghazal 18, Verse 3

Ghazal 18, Verse 3

mānaʿ-e vaḥshat-ḳhirāmīhā-e lail;ā kaun hai
ḳhānah-e majnūn-e ṣaḥrā-gird be-darvāzah thā

مانعِ وحشت خرامیہاۓ لیلیٰ کون ہے
خانۂ مجنونِ صحرا گرد بے دروازہ تھا

मान`-ए वहशत-ख़िरामीहा-ए लैला कौन है
ख़ानह-ए मजनून-ए सहरा-गिरद बे-दरवाज़ह था

1) who is a forbidder of the {madness/wildness}-walkings of Laila?
2) the house of Majnun the desert-circler was door-less

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

yaatra: a smile yaatra down the lane

rugged peaks, impervious, distant, distinct, detached
ambuscading, camouflaging, playing hide and seek with
lazily floating clouds, covering, baring, making faces
determined pilgrimage to the attic for a carton
a blue pullover, left elbow torn, sleeves frayed
pages torn from a notebook, amorous thoughts
once passion soaked, laughing, tingling, quivering
a yellowing newspaper cutting conveying inapt urgency
a rusted key chain with sepia dark photo barely discernible
conveying flashes of mirth, laughter, joy, sigh and tear
stale memories, faded laughter, earnest discourses
trembling anticipation, warm embraces, carefree sleep
now indiscriminately floating across mind's screen
like the images on the giant screen in a smoky lounge
full of fans - loud, raucous, cheering, heckling, shouting
memories foggy, indistinct, passing vaguely, vainly
memories' play over, objects ensconced back in the carton
escorted gingerly, furtively to the waste bin
on its way to the land-fill...dust to dust...inna-lilla...
peace, chain, a'munn, sukh, shaanti
elusive, a smile etched on soul's skin
that cannot be placed in the waste-bin
nor erased, returned, expunged, obliterated
smile indestructible, alive nor dead, afflicting

John Frederick Lewis

Monday, April 12, 2010

I Mahajirzadeh: Mushtaque Ahmed Yusufi - An Introduction

We are the music makers, And we are the makers of dreams ...We are the movers and shakers Of the world for ever it seems
Mushtaque Ahmed Yusufi quoting Arthur O'Shaugnessy's soulful verse well explains the role of an artist in society
He has written four books:
Chiragh Talay (1961)
Khakam e b'dhan (1969)
Zarguzasht (1976)
and Aab e Gum(1990).

The first two books won the Adamjee Prize, while the last one got the Hijra Award as well as Pakistan Academy of Letters' Award.

Here are his words on humor culled from Pehla Patthar/Chiragh Talay and Dast-e-Zulaikha/Khakim Badhan. Translation and re-arrangement is entirely mine and is not literal.

I know this much that I am blessed. I can laugh at myself and at my miseries and afflictions whenever I want to. And if I can share this trait with you I will consider myself a lucky person. I have never claimed that laughter can turn gray hair into black. But I also know this that with laughter the gray hair do not appear as bad.

Freedom of Laughter is, in my opinion a greater freedom than Freedom of Speech. It is my firm belief that if a nation can laugh freely (at itself) it can never be enslaved.

I am aware that this 'light' of humor can neither lit a fire nor cremate a body.

Humor is the fire that is felt unseen.

Some consider humor should be used as a Reform Tool. If humor could do it, why would we need explosives?

Sense of humor is the real sixth sense.

Those who are blessed with it can easily overcome any obstacle.

In religion, alcohol and humor everything is easily soluble; all the more in Urdu literature.

When the intensity of pain that results in 'satire' reaches a crescendo, it spreads throughout the body, invigorating every blood cells and every vein begins to cascade with 'humor'. This process is the feverish outcome of the fierce fire raging in the blood transforming it into humor. Wood burns into coal; coal burns into ashes. But if the temperature of the inherent fire in the coal is greater than the temperature of the outer fire than the coal turns into a diamond.

But humor has its own sets of priorities and unique demands. It should be free of angst, bitterness and disillusionment. Or else the boomerang (of humor) will turn around and claim the humorist as its firsts victim.

For a humorist it is forbidden to advise, warn or quarrel. He builds a Wall of Laughter between himself and the bitter facts of life around him.

[and now some working definitions culled from the word bible]


---A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit.
---A composition, generally poetical, holding up vice or folly to reprobation; a keen or severe exposure of what in public or private morals deserves rebuke;
---Keenness and severity of remark; caustic exposure to reprobation; trenchant wit; sarcasm.
---Witty language used to convey insults or scorn.


---That quality of the imagination which gives to ideas an incongruous or fantastic turn, and tends to excite laughter or mirth by ludicrous images or representations; a playful fancy;.
---a message whose ingenuity or verbal skill or incongruity has the power to evoke laughter
---the trait of appreciating (and being able to express) the humorous
---less caustic and devoid of sarcasm
---driving the same point home evoking laughter rather than uneasy pain or sarcasm.

After this brief introduction to Mushtaque Ahmed Yusufi I will be serializing Mahajirzadeh : my tribute in English to his unique humour and writing style. The we used is a first person singular much like the royal we. Urdu writers from a certain region frequently used hum (we) instead of maiN (me or I.)

next:II Mahajirzadeh: BaRi and Manjhli on Monday Apr 19

Childe Hassam

Sunday, April 11, 2010

tiger striped aunty

since when beauty
needs accoutrements

they say here

take it to the extreme
as witnessed
on au-naturel negril beaches
but am a moderate
in many ways


in college, or was it school
memory is blunt as in not sharp
had followed her
this graceful braided gazelle
fluid, poetic, innocent

smiling eyes
and an arrhythmic
and her laughter
it wasn't a giggle
(giggles i detest
in men more than young women)


she was with a
short, overweight aunty

nursing a
perpetually pregnant posture
in a black and yellow
tiger striped shalwar kameez

her aunty-ji
must be a factor
as i ducked into a book shop

Anish Kapoor

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pablo Picasso

Friday, April 09, 2010

Book review: Completing the portrait of a murdered man —by Afrah Jamal

Book review: The art of criticism —by Dr Amjad Parvez

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Nasir Kazmi: Shakhsiat Aur Fun

the other side of burning hell

the other side of burning hell
it is chilly
moustaches freeze up in this frost
we recall whispers nor heart aches

divinely (we) sense
where this anguish emanates from

sky crystal clear
cold piercing body and soul
finger tips singeing chillinferno*
we recall whispers nor heart aches

minus 20 maiN ish'q ki baataiN

sardi hay buhat, sardi hay buhat
moochaiN, aahaiN, shikway
sub jum say ga'aye haiN

hum bhool ga'aye haiN
dar'd kay sub qissay
hum bhool ga'aye haiN

ehsaas ho gaya humaiN
kahaaN say oothta hay
ghazal ka woh dhoo'aaN**

aakash hay saaf neela
sardi aisi hay jo
jis'm o rooh ko jhulsai
oongliouN maiN paNjouN maiN
aag aisi hay lagi
hum bhool ga'aye haiN
dar'd kay sub qissay
hum bhool ga'aye haiN
sardi hay buhat, sardi hay buhat


* chilling inferno
** a ghazal made famous by Ustaad Mehdi Hasan
yeh dhoo'aaN kahaaN say oothta hay...

Liubov Popova

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Are There Any Hookers In NYC?

[reprint from Feb 06, 2010]

I recall this story I read a long time back.

The Pope was invited to visit the US. There were no planes in those days. He boarded a ship from Civitivecchia for NYC. During the voyage the Pope was briefed on how to handle the US press.

They were very pushy and would distort words to get a scoop and mileage, he was told.

So to counter them each evening the papal aides would throw questions at him and he was trained on how to respond to them on his feet. One trick he was taught was to repeat the question to buy time while he mulled a proper response in case he found the question perplexing.

Finally the ship berths, gangway is aligned and the Pope descends. At the foot is a hoard of press reporters and photographers and each one is shouting questions at him. Out of the melee a loud voice booms 'Your Holiness what do think of hookers in New York?'

This perplexed the Pope. To buy time he rhetorically repeated 'Hookers? In New York?'

Next morning's New York Post's lead head was:

Pope's First Query in the US
Are There Any Hookers in NYC?


On News Coverage & The Art of Reading Between the Lines

This post is prompted by a comment by cynical nerd on Another Occupying Army and from the article and comments on One Simple Rule For Improving Your Writing.

The cartoon disturbances would not abate any time soon. (My personal views? The reactions should be non-violent and legal.)

I am picking the coverage from BBC for the coverage of today's protests in Pakistan's largest city Karachi which is controlled by Muttahhida Quomi Movement. MQM is headed by Altaf Hussain from exile in London. He has an iron clad control over MQM.

(If you are familiar with Mumbai politics Altaf Hussain enjoys more power and support in Karachi and areas of Southern Sind today than was enjoyed by Bal Thackeray in his hey day.)

Check out the BBC coverage of the protests in Pakistan Fresh Pakistan cartoon protests.

It begins:

Several thousand people have protested in Pakistan's Karachi city over the publication in the West of cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.

In the fourth successive day of demonstrations, tens of thousands of protesters joined a rally called by religious parties.

At least five people have died after protests against cartoons across Pakistan turned violent this week.

So far my only concern would be this: a good reporter would have emphasised the real news behind the ongoing protests. This protest was peaceful unlike others. The organizers had appealed prior to the protest to ensure that the protest remained peaceful. (I monitored ARY and Geo TV Networks and some local papers)

Only if you scroll down to the 12th paragraph will you read from this coverage:

The protesters disperse peacefully after the demonstrations, reports said.

(This is a quote - it did say disperse — very poor editing!)


It is interesting to read and compare the coverage of the same event from different sources. And it helps to develop the art of reading between the lines.

I for one do not believe there is any bias free or unprejudiced coverage anywhere. There cannot be. We have our prisms to look and filter events with. And wittingly or unwittingly the slant happens.

What we can do is to compensate using our judgement. And try to be fair.

The BBC news I quoted can be fixed easily by:

1: Adding one word in this paragraph:

Several thousand people have protested peacefully in Pakistan's Karachi city over the publication in the West of cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.

Why was it overlooked? BBC slant? Poor editing? Unskilled reporter or editor?

2: The twelfth paragraph I have quoted from the news report should have been moved up to the third.

Raden Saleh

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Collateral Murder - Wikileaks - Iraq

tale of tails

the strive started
with the apple bite
light pursuing dark
day on night's tail
with cosmic precision
peace chasing chaos

your place or mine?
and the morn after
pavlovian urges
seek more snake tails

a fraudster wins
wreaks havoc
million deaths later
a new covenant wins
misery remains unbowed

samaritans pop up
like trailblazers
and fade
happiness and misery
tailgate in this
eternal tale

the room - ahmer naqvi

Monday, April 05, 2010

Cynthia Eardley

Sunday, April 04, 2010

canned laughter

if i could have
canned your laughter

for eternity
would this sojourn
have been easy
or easier?

Joseph Kleitsch

Saturday, April 03, 2010

carrying the cross

is not
just another day
the cross
gets carried
on the back
to the next

the signpost cross
here lies
and naively
i carry it
with my shadow

and call myself

Gerhard Ruhm

Friday, April 02, 2010

God is In Control of This Vehicle

This morning as I turned on to Kipling Avenue, the SUV (sports utility vehicle - a euphemism for gas guzzlers) in front of me had this sticker: God is In Control of This Vehicle.

I pulled into a parking lot and took three deep breaths.

Who wants to mess with God? Given a warning I tend to avoid a flight where someone proclaims God is my Pilot. Look at what happened to the Twin Towers.

You may be religious or nonreligious. You may believe in my God or favor your own. I understand She comes in different colors and flavors.

Or you may prefer not to believe in one.

Digression: I've always wanted to ask an atheist this question. After an 8+ hour flight when you land in New York or Toronto in blizzard and zero visibility what goes through your mind? (My communication speed with the Maker goes into overdrive).

Back to this sticker.

What do oxygen, water, food, money and God/s have in common? We breathe, we drink, we eat, we earn and spend and we worship. We take these for granted.

When was the last time someone proclaimed on a sticker:

I Inhale Oxygen
We Drink Water
I Eat Food

You won't find them here!

For the believers, God exists. He is everywhere, like oxygen. What is it with this proclamation business? Does She need all these affirmations? I was taught His signs abound everywhere.

Again, back to that sticker. I pulled over because I did not want to mess with God.

I want a vehicle operated by a licensed driver. Preferably not under the influence. A driver who can take evasive action, drive sensibly and courteously. With Gods in control we cannot be sure these days. Look at Chechenya, Iraq, Darfur, Balochistan, Kashmir.

As it is, I have enough problems with folks in the driver's seat. (Honestly, I am not talking about you M dear.)

Then there are the kind folks like Bush, Gaddhafi, Khomeini who talk with God. Look at the mess they have driven us into.

No! Give me a licensed or even unlicensed driver any day. I know how to deal with them.

Karl Kluth

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Uncle Sam Needs You: Two Cartoons

Wish I were a cartoonist. Let me share two cartoons.

1: Uncle Sam Needs You

Imagine a caricature
Of Mullah George bin Laden
In a recruiting poster
For Osama bin Bush

2: It is All About Democracy

While a city is cluster-bombed
Buildings are leveled
And the smoke is rising
A little bird says to another
It's all about freedom
And democracy

The origins of a holy book -Drake Bennet