Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Did they really say that?

There are times when we get it wrong. This applies to everyone, and with respect to everyone. Although sometimes, we mean it. I'm sure Churchill did. Here's some examples.

"It is alarming and also nauseating to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious middle temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the east, striding half-naked up the steps of the viceregal palace, while he is still organizing and conducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the representative of the king-emperor."

- Winston Churchill, 1930

"I do not consider Hitler to be as bad as he is depicted. He is showing an ability that is amazing and seems to be gaining his victories without much bloodshed."

- Mohandas Gandhi in May 1940,

“Brahmins who mouth and patter principles of Western Liberalism."

- Churchill on Indian Congress leaders

"God forbid that India should ever take to industrialism after the manner of the west... keeping the world in chains. If our nation took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts."

- Gandhi on Economy

"If we had the atom bomb, we would have used it against the British."

- Speech (16 June 1947) as the official date for Indian independence approached (15 August 1947) , as quoted in Mahatma Gandhi : The Last Phase (1958) by Pyarelal, p. 326

is a geographical term. It is no more a united nation than the equator."

- Churchill, Speech at Royal Albert Hall, London (18 March 1931)

"Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues and freebooters. All Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw."

- Churchill, on the eve of Indian Independence in 1947

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Supriya rocks!

Here's the pictures for Supriya! It was good fun that night - we should do it again sometime. Click the pic below and it'll take you to the picasa album. Enjoy!

People in Cleveland

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Mera Piya Ghar Aaya...

Another gem from Bulleh Shah is the kafi "Mera piya ghar aaya". And its been sung beautifully by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. The qawwali is very enjoyable from musical and poetic point of views. What many people don't know is that Nusrat has sung this song as a mixture of two Bulleh Shah's poems - Aao Saiyo Ral Deyo Ni Vadhai, and Mera Piya Ghar Aaya.

Aao Saiyo Ral Deyo Ni Vadhai

Aao saiyo ral deyo ni vadhaai
Men var paaya raanjha maahi.

Ajj taan roz mubaarak chaddeya
Raanjha saade vedde vaddeya.
Hath khundi, modde kambal dhareya,
Chaakaan vaali shakal banayi.
Aao saiyo ral deyo ni vadhai

Mukat gauwaan de vich rulda
Jangal juuhaan de vich rulda
Hai koi allah de val bhulda,
Asal haqiqat khabar na kai.
Aao saiyo ral deyo ni vadhai

Bulle shah ik sauda keeta
Peeta, zehar piyaala peeta,
Na kujh laha tota leeta.
Dard dukhaan di gathari chaahi
Aao saiyo ral deyo ni vadhai

Ghaddiyaali Deyo Nikaal Ni

Ghaddiyaali deyo nikaal ni, ajj piya ghar aaya laal ni.

Ghaddi ghaddi ghaddiyaal bajaave, raen vasal di piya ghataave.
Mere man di baat je paave, hathon ja suttey ghaddiyaal ni.

Anhad vaaja vaje suhaana, mutarib sughadda taan taraana.
Namaaz roza bhull gaya dogaana, madh piyaala dain kalaal ni.

Mukh vekhan da ajab nazaara, dukh diley da uth gaya saara.
Raen vadhe kuj karo pasaara, din agge dharo divaal ni.

Mennu apni khabar na kai, kya jaana men kit viahi
Eh gal kyon kar chapey chapaai, hun hoya fazal kamaal ni.

Tooney kaaman kare batherey, sihare aaye vadh vadherey,
Hun ghar aaya jaani mere, rahaan lakh varey edhey naal ni.

Bulla shah di sej piyaari, ni men taaran haarey taari,
Kiven kiven hun aayi vaari, hun vichadan hoya nuhaal ni.

What Nusrat sings in his qawwali is as below with English translation:

Aoo Ni Sayyo Ral Deyo Ni Wadhai
Men War Paaya Sona Maahi

Gharyaal Deyo Nikalni, Mera Piya Ghar Aaya
Oo Laalni Mera Piya Ghar Aaya

Piya Ghar Aaya, Sanu Allah Milaya
Hun Hoya Fazl Kamaalni Mera Piya Ghar Aaya

Aaaa... (Sufi Chanting)
Hun Hoya Fazl Kamaalni Mera Piya Ghar Aaya
Oo Laalni Mera Piya Ghar Aaya

Ajj Taan Roz Mubaarak Chaddeya Mahi Mere Vedde Vaddeya
Aaaa... (Sufi Chanting)
Oo Laalni Mera Piya Ghar Aaya
Oo Laalni Mera Piya Ghar Aaya

Shakar Wanda Piya Nu Manawa Mera Piya Verhe Varheya Ni
Aaa... (Sufi Chanting)
Oo Laalni Mera Piya Ghar Aaya
Oo Laalni Mera Piya Ghar Aaya

Ghari Ghari Ghariyal Bajaave, Raen Wasl Di Piya Ghataawe
Mere Munn Di Baat Na Paave, Hathon Ja Sutto Ghariyal Ni
Mera Piya Ghar Aaya Laalni, Mera Piya Ghar Laalni Hoo
Mera Piya Ghar Aaya Laalni, Mera Piya Ghar Laalni Hoo

Anhad Vaaja Vaje Suhaana, Mutarib Sughara Taan Taraana
Bhull Gaya Ay Namaaz Dogaana, Madh Piyaala Dain Kalaal Ni
Oo Laalni Mera Piya Ghar Aaya
Oo Laalni Mera Piya Ghar Aaya

Bulla Shah Di Sej Piyaari, Ni Men Taaran Haarey Taari
Allah Milaya Hun Aayi Vaari, Hun Vicharan Hoya Nuhaal Ni
Mera Piya Ghar Aaya, Oo Laalni Mera Piya Ghar Aaya
Oo Laalni Mera Piya Ghar Aaya

Come, dear friends and, felicitate me on my good fortune!
I have found my consort in my beloved!

Turn away the watchman!
My beloved has come home!
God has made this union possible.
O what a beautiful miracle!

It's a magical moment,
Complete grace is upon me,
My beloved has come home!

This day has arrived, this auspicious day,
When my beloved is at my doorstep.
Turn away the watchman!
My beloved has come home!

I shall distribute sweets,
Make my beloved happy,
My beloved is a my doorstep,
My beloved has come home!

Again and again the timekeeper strikes the gong,
And cuts he short the night of union.
If he were to find my heart's desire,
He would throw away the gong, O friends!
Turn away the watchman, O friends!

The un-struck melody resounds sweetly.
The Musician is accomplished, the tune enchanting,
Prayers and fasting are all forgotten,
When the Distiller offers the cup, O friends!
Turn away the watchman, O friends!

Bulleh Shah’s nuptial bed of the Spouse is dear.
O friends, the Savior has redeemed me!
With what an anguish my turn has come!
Now it is hard ever to leave Him.
Turn away the watchman, O friends!
Today my precious, my Beloved has come home.

A very good read...

I came across this book in my quest to learn more about the history of India. Published in 1903 by author Romesh Dutt, who was one of the few Indians to enter the revered Indian Civil Service, this book is very succinctly written for an economic history text and is referenced with facts from sources that must have been very hard to track down in the times of 1890-1900 in British India. He truly did a great job in this book, and I was just lucky to find the book online here (22 Mb PDF). I definitely learnt a lot of new things about the Economic relationship between Britain and India back in the day.

One thing I (and many others I know) always credited the British was with introducing Railways in India, amongst other industries. What I learnt after reading the book was that India had to pay the railway companies a guaranteed profit of 5% on their investments in Railways! The railways were always a loss-making enterprise, far more so in a poor country like India where no one could afford to travel anyhow, but the Indian taxpayer made sure that the British companies always made a profit. Moreover, there was rapid expansion of the railways to aid manufacturing and transportation of goods for the industries (owned by England). Here's some real numbers from the book.

Call that fair? The railways were paid back in addition to other expenses in the guile of Home Charges, the description of which is below. The image can be clicked to make it bigger and easy to read.

There's so much to talk and say, but my point is made. Here's how Dutt ends his preface to the book - a statement of exasperation, desperation, anguish and hope - all rolled into one.

The Indian Empire will be judged by History as the
most superb of human institutions in modern times.
But it would be a sad story for future historians to tell
that the Empire gave the people of India peace but not
prosperity ; that the manufacturers lost their industries ;
that the cultivators were ground down by a heavy and
variable taxation which precluded any saving ; that the
revenues of the country were to a large extent diverted
to England ; and that recurring and desolating famines
swept away millions of the population. On the other
hand, it would be a grateful story for Englishmen to tell
that England in the twentieth century undid her past
mistakes in India as in Ireland ; that she lightened land
taxes, revived industries, introduced representation, and
ruled India for the good of her people; and that the
people of India felt in their hearts that they were citizens
of a great and United Empire.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Bulleh Shah

Back in the day when I was beginning 9th grade, in April 1995 to be precise, I was debating the decision whether to pick Punjabi or Hindi as my first language for Class 10 Board exams. Board exams, or Boards for slang, was the most dreadful thing you could mention to a 13 year old 9th grade student. Our teachers in school would use the term 'Boards' as a 'boogieman' or the more-fearsome 'maaun' reference to strike fear in our innocent student hearts and get us to pay attention to school. Doing well in Board exams was one of the several several several times our parents and teachers told us was the 'last' time we needed to study hard and do well.

Anyway, the choice was between Hindi, the Indian national language (I have to point that out, to the irk of some Southern Indians) and Punjabi, my mother tongue. It should have been a no-brainer to choose Hindi as I had studied it for 8 years (grade 1 to grade 8) versus Punjabi which I had only studied for 2 years, and that too at a basic primary-school level. But it was well known that Hindi was a tough subject and hard to score good points in. My elder sister had also been in my position earlier and taken up Punjabi and had been happy with that decision. Reluctantly, I took up Punjabi and just because of that I am the happiest person in the world today. And the reason is Punjabi poetry.

I have rediscovered Punjabi poetry, a very beautiful thing, and my focus is on Bulleh Shah. What that man wrote is truly what the best poet in the world could ever write. His non-religious and non-biased poetry questions and answers great spiritual dilemmas. The most pious of men have tried to look into these issues over the years and not one could come up with such beautiful and simple-to-understand words. To my limited knowledge of Punjabi poetry, Bulleh Shah is the epitome of transcendental spiritualism. His poem 'Ki Jaana Main Kaun', recently sung by Rabbi Shergill and previously by Wadali Brothers, Junoon, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Abida Parveen and others, may just be the best example of what I am trying to say about him as a person and his poetry. I can't keep myself from posting the lyrics and their translation thanks to Suman Kashyap at APNA.
Bulha, ki jaana maeN kaun.
Na maeN moman vich maseetaaN,
Na maen vich kufar deeyaaN reetaaN,
Na maeN paakaaN vich paleetaaN,
Na maeN moosa na pharaun.
Bulha, ki jaana maeN kaun.

Na maeN aNdar bed kitaabaaN,
Na vich bhaNgaaN na sharaabaaN,
Na vich riNdaaN masat kharaabaaN,
Na vich jaagan na vich saun.
Bulha , ki jaana maeN kaun.

Na vich shaadi na ghamnaaki,
Na maeN vich paleeti paaki.
Na maeN aabi na maeN khaaki
Na maeN aatish na maeN paun.
Bulha, ki jaana maeN kaun.

Na maeN arabi na lahori,
Na maeN hindi shehar nagauri,
Na hiNdu na turak peshawri
Na maeN rahinda vich nadaun.
Bulha, ki jaana maeN kaun.

Na maeN bhet mazhab da paaiya
Ne maeN aadam havva jaaiya,
Na maeN apna naam dharaaiya
Na vich baeTHan na vich bhaun.
Bulha, ki jaana maeN kaun.

Avval aakhir aap nu jaana,
Na koi dooja hor pachaana.
MaethoN hor na koi siyaana
Bulha shauh khaRa hai kaun.
Says Bulha, what am I?
I am not in the mosque of the believer,
Nor in false rites.
I am not in the pure or the impure.
Neither Moses nor Pharaoh.
Says Bulha, what am I?

I am not in the vedas or holy books,
Not in drug or wine.
Not in the drunkards wasted intoxication,
Not in wakefulness or sleep.
Says Bulha, what am I?

I am not in sorrow nor in joy,
Neither in clean nor unclean.
I am not water, I am not earth,
I am not fire, I am not air.
Says Bulha, what am I?

I am not from Arabia or Lahore,
Not from India or Nagaur.
Neither a hindu or a muslim from Peshawar,
Nor do I live in Nadaun.
Says Bulha, what am I?

I cannot be unearthed in the mysteries of religion.
I was not born of Adam and Eve.
I am not the name I assume.
I am not in stillness, not in movement.
Says Bulha, what am I?

In the final analysis, I can know only myself.
I cannot know any other.
No one can be wiser than I,
Who then, asks Bulha, is the master?
Says Bulha, what am I?

There. Let that sink in. The man's trying to answer the question 'Who am I?'. I don't know if he manages to answer that, but he does answer pretty unequivocally who he is not. And thats where most of the men of the world attach themselves to - in religion, places of worship, places of residence, substances, Earth...? Given that he was around from 1680-1758, he was way ahead of his time in questioning the root cause of today's turmoil in the world, probably caused by this globalization where people find themselves not attached to nothing anymore and 'cling' to whatever they can (Barack Obama reference).

And thanks to Rabbi Shergill who's attempted to bring Bulleh Shah's poetry to mainstream music, and he's done that wonderfully.

Thank God for helping me choose Punjabi in 9th grade so today I can really enjoy and appreciate the thoughts and musings of people like Bulleh Shah. Here's one more poem with great philosophical meaning but with an easy to understand face. This one's titled Kutte(dogs).


Raatien Jaage Karien Ibadat
Raaton Jaagan Kutte
Tainkun Utte

Bhonkanon Band Mool Na Hunde
Jaa Rudi Te Sutte
Tainkun Utte

Khasam Apne Da Dar Na Chad De
Bhavein Vajjan Jutte
Tainkun Utte

Bulleh Shah Koi Vast Vihaj Lai
Nai Te Baazi Lai Gaye Kutte
Tainkun Utte

Wow! Thats all I can say! Here's the video with Nusrat's rendition of several of Bulleh Shah's kafis including Kutte. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Here's Sunny's photo, but which one is him? (Ganda joke...hehe)