Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Tomorrow, I'll begin my first trip to Lucknow after completing my fellowship at IIMA. Lucknow - the city of charms, the city of nostalgia, the city of everything I love... well, almost everything I love. Lucknow is where the heart is but somehow, I know that the Lucknow I will reach tomorrow is not the Lucknow I left five years ago. In fact, it is not the Lucknow I came back from five months ago. As obviously happens with a growing city and an upcoming metro, Lucknow has moved on. But moving on is not so easy for me. At a personal level, I will not find that Lucknow ever, where the 'life' lived. And I can never go to the 'place', where the 'life' lives.
साहिलों से कहो मैं नहीं आऊँगा
अब किसी शहर की रात मेरे लिये जगमगाये नहीं

For the past so many months, I have been planning to move away from Ahmedabad. And as always, the irony has it - my next job will be in Ahmedabad only. Although it is a fabulous place to be, I don't love it... it is not Lucknow. I just want to move away from here. There are too many memories associated with this place and to begin the life afresh, to move on, to live, sometimes it is necessary to blast away the past.
नक्शा उठा के कोई नया शहर खोजिये
इस शहर में तो सबसे मुलाकात हो गयी

I know I am blabbering randomly but there are tumultuous tides inside and I had to vent it somewhere. I know that it is not really any place I am tired or afraid of but just the pangs of change. I know that I am an idiot and I don't know how to live well... rather, I don't want to live well. For whom should I??
दुआ देते चलो उनको
जिन्हें जीना नहीं आता
जो अपने आप से मिल कर भी शायद
खुश नहीं होते!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

मगर जो खो गयी वो चीज़ क्या थी

After defense of my thesis, I thought that I'll be free enough to run few Movie-All-Day sessions, some trip quickies, and loads of blogging, among other things. I was wrong. Before completing the thesis, there was only one task - complete the thesis. After completing the thesis, whole world's tasks have pounced upon my poor lazy self.

However, as always, I am enjoying this stint too, or given my usual record, I'll cherish it some day in long run. These days, I am mostly busy with what I call 'gham rozgar ke' - sending job applications and seeking post-doctoral fellowships. Add to that the papers I need to furnish and send across for publication rejection.

Apart from 'gham rozgar ke', I am busy with the launch of a poetry forum this Saturday and the poetry workshop I'll be taking this Sunday. It does not matter how ignorant in Urdu poetry I am as long as there is no one topping my level of ignorance. Also, been doing a lot of photography and all those pictures await gigabytes of editing.

Registered for trekking two days ago - fifteen days in some Himalayan glacier, and going to Jammu for three days in March. Just got a notification from 'The Mint' for winning a prize in the budget debate - Rs. 5,000 voucher and publication of my blabber. Such big and small, tiny and gargantuan, good and bad news keep popping up from here and there every now and then.

But amidst all this activity and fervor of life, I suddenly get caught in the moments... those are the moments when I ask myself - मगर जो खो गयी वो चीज़ क्या थी??!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Dream Run...

I told you - Life is arbitrary!! You never know what is going to come out of this box of chocolates. The last November saw me in ruins and in December, I was torn apart between one of my toughest struggles in personal life and one of my grandest successes in professional life. And then there was January!! The month (and the year, in fact) began on a really empty note and the end of it... well, end was so fulfilling that I can easily label this January as one of my luckiest months.

In the last ten days of the last month, I have been through heaven - if heaven is like living through a bit of all my dreams. The lucky run began with my visit to Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF). I know I have already blabbered too much about the JLF but then, the experience is worth much more. I got to see, listen, meet, and sometimes, closely interact with the beloved luminaries. The most memorable moments will be those lemon-mint teas with Gulzar and that fatherly pat and advice from Sheen Kaaf Nizam, one of the greatest Urdu scholars of modern times. I got to recite before the two maestros, won accolades from them, and Nizam even encouraged me to write more as a professional.

And as if that wasn't exhilarating enough. During the JLF, I crashed into an old friend from Lucknow, who was there with two seniors from IIMA. They introduced me to Caferati - the literary discussions group - where I got to meet many more beautiful people. I got to know closely K. Satchidanandan, the Sahitya Academy Award winner and a noted poet, critique, and a very nice man. And there, as I recited one of my poems, I got the best translator I ever had. Since there were many non-Hindi members, Annie Zaidi translated my poem impromptu and at places, I thought it was better than the original. The dreamy run in Jaipur was so good that even my trains both ways were dot on time - Indian railways contributed its bit too.

And when I came back, another pleasant surprise was awaiting me. The nature club of IIMA - Prakriti - had postponed its bird sanctuary for some reason. Although I didn't register for it, I was invited to join as a guide for bird-watching. That was the highest reward for my 'bird-brain' I ever had :D

The icing on the cake was Chaos 2010 - the annual cultural fest of IIMA. The celebrations began with a rendition by Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and ended with a DJ night. And in between the two, I had a night full of dancing in Sonu Nigam's concert, Sufi concert by Kavita Seth, an acting workshop by Cyrus Dastur, a play by Tom Alter and Cyrus Dastur, Choreography and fashion parade by many colleges and fun n frolic all around the campus.

However, in this euphoria of events, I also had a small contribution. Thanks to the event coordinators - Jhandoo and Mundu, who agreed with my idea of an Urdu poetry workshop. It was my life's first workshop, in which I was on the other side of the table. Although the turnout was low with six people only, there were two professors and in all, a learned and interested audience. It went great because at the end of the workshop, I got a recommendation to make it a regular forum for literary discussions. I hope I'll have enough time and capability to carry it out well.

It was a dream spell of 11 days and I enjoyed every bit of it and every bit in a different role - poet , listener, critique, bird-watcher, dancer, lecturer, photographer, traveler... and sometimes, I was mistaken for what I was not. A girl thought I was from press (because of my camera), a man on station though I was in army (because of my jacket), and many people thought I am a PITA (pain in the ass) coz for two days, I kept reminding everyone to join my workshop (and which none of them did).


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