Sunday, May 30, 2010

Google Translate has Urdu!!

Finally Google translate has the option to translate from Urdu to English. I knew there was a group of gentlemen in Karachi who were working on an online free Urdu dictionary and also wanted to somehow add the Urdu option to Google as well. The dictionary isn't as good as those available in English, but still... something is better than nothing.
Here's a link to the dictionary:
Although I do wish I could correct some of the meanings/translations on this site, but I do not have an account with them. Now if only typing in Urdu was easier... =) InPage Urdu gives me a headache.

One couplet by Ahmad Faraz to end this note:
اب تک دلِ خوش فہم کو تجھ سے ھیں اُمیدیں
... یہ آخری شمعیں بھی بجھانے کے لیئے آ

Let's see what Google translate makes of this:
Happy heart by now you are the hopes of understanding,
It also put off for coming last smayn (?)
Hahaha.... I can simply say Google got owned by Faraz!
Here's my version:
"Still, this heart has some expectations from you,
come and put out these last few lamps of hope."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Headline by headline

Today I was really upset about the news from back home, 80 people dead just because some fringe extremist group thought they would blow themselves up and go to heaven for cleansing the "Land of Pure" from infidels. It is terrible to see the country destroy itself slowly, headline by headline. There are some sane voices but they are few and far between, and their voices fall upon deaf ears. Our nation lives in this constant state of schizophrenic existence. No one realizes how far we have come from what we were supposed to be. Instead of a progressive nation firmly bound by it's founder's words ("Unity, Discipline and Faith"- our motto; and 'you are free... free to go to your mosques, temples and churches, for that has nothing to do with the business of the state"), we are today the exact opposite. Sadly, what the country stands for today is : Sectarianism, Chaos, and Hypocrisy. And we are not free. What is more upsetting is the sheer number of people who think this is the way things are, always were and should be.
There was public outcry last week, condemning the Facebook page with blasphemous content, people chose to take to the streets to shout and pelt stones at shops, offices and the press club. Some burnt flags and motorbikes at street corners, while the government banned many internet sites as a response. It is great to see this much unity and emotional response from the public, but where is the response where it is most needed? Who will take to the streets and condemn the Lahore blasts? Who will shout slogans and force the government to help the poor people who have lost their homes/lives in the Attabad lake disaster? Who will demonstrate and condemn the hundreds of karo-kari incidents that occur annually, and the jirga system injustices? Why don't our God-fearing and self-righteous fellow citizens (who make Facebook pages condemning the Blasphemous page and urge everybody day and night tirelessly to join) make a page condemning corruption, poverty, lawlessness, and hunger in our country? Are these problems less important? Are these lives less important?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Rahi Nagufta

I feel like typing in Urdu:

رھی نہ گفتہ مرے دل میں، داستاں میری۔
نہ اِس دیار میں سمجھا، کوئ زباں میری۔
اُسی سے دوُر رھا ھوں، اصلی مدعا جو تھا
گئ یہ عمرِعزیزاں، رائگاں میری
نہ اِس دیار میں سمجھا، کوئ زباں میری۔

"My story remained untold in my heart,
no one understood the essence of my words, in this world.
I have stayed far from my real purpose,
my beloved life has gone wasted,
no one understood the essence of my words, in this world"

A piece from Meer Taqi Meer's urdu ghazals.

Dear readers, I find that this post is among the most popular on my blog. I thank you for visiting my page, and if you have any requests (about ghazals or songs in Urdu) that you wish to be translated in English, please let me know in the comments section. Thank you!

One Light

Some months ago, I came upon a beautiful website dedicated to collecting sacred poetic texts from around the world. This is the Poetry Chaikhana, an excellent project taken up by Ivan Granger, which collects works of both well-known and forgotten poets from around the world. The poetry on this site isn't restricted to one region, religion or language, instead it shows how every composed piece relates to the ultimate truth. I fell in love with the touching yet simplistic words of forgotten legends, the artistic photographs that accompany each poem, and the half-minute music samples that add another dimension to the poems. Nearly every day I receive an email from Poetry Chaikhana that absolutely makes my day...for a few minutes I can take a break and let the beauty of the words, images and music sink in. Here is one brilliant piece that I wish to share, written by Mahmud Shabistari (english translation by Andrew Harvey):

One Light:

What are "I" and "You"?
Just lattices
in the niches of a lamp,
through which the One light radiates.

"I" and "You" are the veil,
Between Heaven and Earth,
lift this veil and you will see,
how all sects and religions are one.

Lift this veil and you will ask:
when "I" and "You" do not exist,
what is mosque?
what is synagogue?
what is fire-temple?

-Taken from Shabistari's Gulistan-e-Raaz (the Rose Garden of Mystery)

Here's a link to Poetry Chaikhana:
do visit!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The mysterious phoneline

Another post!!... I guess today I'm in the mood to write. I mean, I've seen some blogs talk about more than one topic in a single post, but I find it boring. Anyways, this post will document the mysterious event of the extra phoneline we had and never knew of it.
The story goes like this, our poor landline phone handset, after living a healthy happy and fulfilling four year life, finally breathed his/her/its last this past week. It was already wheezing since January and it made everyone on the other side sound extremely ill with a bad sore throat. After several trips to stores that sell phone sets (and each time forgetting exactly why I went there and buying a hammer/crockery/decorative lamp instead), we finally acquired a new imported Phone handset. Now since our old phonesets were replaced, and one of the wheezing phone hadn't died yet... I thought how about fixing it somewhere closer to the living room so I can watch tv in peace instead of running to attend our phone (our house is quite inconvenient due to limited phone jacks available). To my extreme delight, I found a phone jack much MUCH closer to the living room unexpectedly. Tucked in a corner next to our bookshelf, a broken dusty phone jack! I thought it wouldn't work since it was obviously very sick and its insides were hanging out like an ugly dissection...but the moment I connected our wheezing phone, I could hear the tone. Aah!! While I was celebrating my unexpected luck, and fast-forwarding mentally to the time I'd just lazily pick up the phone while watching tv (whenever any wretched marketing call disturbed my program) and yell into it without missing anything... my aunt reminded me to call on our number to double check if it was actually working. I called from my cellphone to our land number, and sure enough, both the other sets kept ringing. But this one didn't ring. My aunt dismissed the fact that the jack was working, but just then, as if it heard us...This new phone started to ring! With a weird alien number on its CID, and our other phones didn't ring with it. So, I'd discovered another phone line (connection) at our place! It was ofcourse, very pathetic that I didn't know what the number of this connection was... so it could be our secret "other" home phone that no one knew about. I mean, think about it... how incredible would that be! That phone kept ringing at awkward times, throughout the night, and we got really scared! In desperation, I thought... how about picking up this damn phone and asking whoever it is was calling us to tell us, please... what number have you dialed? And how did you know this number was now alive and connected? are you watching our house? or is this phone line haunted? For two days, we lived in constant fear of the haunted phone, it rang and rang all day long... and whenever we picked up the line would die. Finally, my aunt said it's ringing days were over... so I disconnected the line. The phone jack flicked out one more wire as if to bite me (or electrocute me) but I yanked out the phone and pushed our bookshelf over it to cover that spooky phone jack. The rescued (possessed) phone set died later that day... and was laid to rest in our recycle bin with its previously deceased twin to be thrown out later. The end.

Why eternal limits?

Yesterday, I showed my Aunt my new "blog", and the first thing she asked was... why Eternal limits? it doesn't make sense. Well, good question. Here's the answer:
Eternal limits is actually the title of one of my recent poems. The poem talks about a soul's journey through life, from little moments of ecstasy (like rainfall after a hot day), to the joy of learning (truths revealed in ink), to the journey back to our Master, and maybe... another journey beyond. As I said before, I have a feeling there is no conclusion, hence the union with Divine is not an end in itself, or perhaps it is. But I believe we are bound by eternal limits on all sides, and maybe a soul can journey beyond them. Is there such a thing as a soul? or are there really any eternal limits? is there even a journey? Who knows...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

There are many reasons why I chose to start a blog. First of all, I’m one of those people who need to write things down all the time, not that I have a bad memory, but I get this deep satisfaction out of writing things out, as if they become more real…more credible when put down in ink. Maybe it has something to do with my old habit of reading…I enjoy reading anything from random wall graffiti to ingredients on a medicine bottle. And, when I run out of things to read, I write.

Coming to the contents, I am not so sure. There are two types of things I usually write: one- lists of things to do, grocery lists, school essays, letters, and other day to day activities (tomorrow’s weather forecast and which bus I’m taking for the commute) which are of course, uninteresting; and two: thoughts, ideas, poems, unfinished stories, complaints, reviews, and other pieces that don’t exactly fit in any category. I’m certain I’ll write blogs (I’d prefer to call them notes) from both the categories above; yes… this includes grocery lists. Some days, I can predict, I’ll write more than one note, while I’ll completely disappear for days sometimes.

My writing style is highly influenced by what I’m reading at the time. But overall, I’m exceptionally fond of commas, brackets (), and ellipses…

Also, I like to end my notes suddenly for no reason. No surprise: I have always maintained a disdain for the “Conclusion” part of any essay, because I feel there is no conclusion anywhere. It’s all going on and on…until suddenly it breaks and disappears. Now what exactly an “it” is, is beyond me. On this note, I end.

Hello Testing!

Silence is the Ocean,
and speech is the river...
- Rumi