Reality

In Search of Ghalib

(Warning: If you find my normal posts tiring, do not read this. This is so mind numbingly long that it might kill you. And if you still go ahead, don’t haunt me after you die.)

Place: Delhi

Time: 5:00 PM

It was a hot day. Despite the departing sun, the temperature was still somewhere around the mid thirties. My friend Gaurang checked his watch. Wiping the sweaty glaze off his forehead, he asked, “Do you want to go?”

“Of course, I want to go. But I’m afraid the place will be closed by now. They won’t allow us inside.” I sounded as disappointed as I felt.

“That’s immaterial. This is Ghalib we are talking about. Even standing in front of his closed doors would mean the world to us.”

He was right. We had planned this trip for some time now. Visiting Ghalib ki Haveli was one of our most important objectives. Due to shortage of time and other pressing needs, we had to postpone the visit to the latter part of the day. So what if they don’t allow us inside? We will touch the walls. We will admire the old doors. We will be where Ghalib breathed, walked and wrote; the place where he existed. The rest was indeed immaterial.

“Yes, you are right. Let’s go then.”

Hiring a cab, I searched on my phone for the exact location of the Haveli. For some reason, Google showed two locations. One was in Nizamuddin West while the other was in Chandni Chowk.

The driver asked, “Sir, where do you want to go?”

Ghalib ki Haveli.” The driver just blinked, utterly nonplussed. He had never heard of it.

“Nizamuddin,” I prompted.

“No, go to Chandni Chowk,” said Gaurang.

After hearing two more minutes of fruitless arguments in the backseat, the driver decided to take us to Nizamuddin. It was closer and free from the harrowing Old Delhi traffic.

We reached the place in less than half an hour. As we stepped out of the cab and started walking the streets of Nizamuddin West, something told us this wasn’t the place we were searching. Even though the alleys had narrowed considerably, we were still too close to the fast cars and the even faster life of New Delhi. Ghalib could not have lived here.

I checked my phone again, this time turning on the GPS. A place called Ghalib Academy was showing; and it was almost adjacent to the Dargah of Hazrat Nizamuddin. Sure enough, we spotted a board hanging outside a relatively old building that read “Ghalib Academy.” I also saw a couple of medieval looking doors to our left, which seemed out of place.

A couple of elderly men were sitting at the entrance of the Academy. On enquiry, they told us what we already knew. The place was closed. I asked one of them about those old doors.

“It’s Mirza Ghalib’s Mazaar,” came the reply.

We both gasped. It was like looking for a treasure chest and finding a boat filled with gold. I had been to Nizamuddin’s Dargah a few times before, yet I had never seen those doors. I had never even heard of another tomb at that location. No one even thought about telling us about this place before we had actually sought it. A page lost in history it was.

Racing out of the Academy, we walked as quickly as possible towards the gates of the Mazaar (Mausoleum). A sole guard was visible through the small window set in the door. There was an old woman sitting inside on a raised platform too. We could also see some children playing inside on what looked like a courtyard.

When we approached the guard, he reiterated the sentence we were expecting – it is closing time. We exhorted him to allow us just two minutes as we had travelled from faraway lands. After much persuasion from Gaurang, the guard finally let us in, while the old woman croaked, “Don’t be late.”

As we walked past the gate and turned towards our right past the courtyard, we noticed a number of graves. But those weren’t the ones we were looking for. The guard led us down a small flight of steps, and we emerged upon an opening with a sole decorated grave at the centre. We need not have asked. This was Mirza Ghalib’s grave.

Since we were in such a hurry, I could not stop for ziyarat. However, a quick glance brought to my attention a marble tablet with the following inscription:

“Na tha kuch toh khuda tha, kuch na hota toh khuda hota,

  Duboya mujhko hone ne, na hota main toh kya hota.”

I showed it to Gaurang and almost immediately, he breathed:

“Hui muddat ki Ghalib mar gaya, par yaad aata hai

  Woh har ek baat par kehna, ki yun hota toh kya hota”

And I thought it was the perfect tribute for Ghalib. Here we were two lost souls searching for the soul who had enraptured so many lost souls for generations. In those few moments, time stood still. We were silent. We just stood there and kept reading those words. We had memorised them long back. Yet here, it felt as if, they had come to life. It was as if, their creator was whispering them himself in our ears.

A gentle prod by the guard brought us out of our musings. It was almost dark now. We also remembered that our true objective was yet to be fulfilled. With a last glance towards the grave, we left the Mazaar, and called another cab. This time we were sure of our destination.

A few minutes later, we were being jostled by the overwhelming crowds and dazzled by the bright sparkling lights of Chandni Chowk, with the colossal Red Fort behind us. Climbing a rickshaw, I instructed the puller to take us to Ghalib ki Haveli. A blank stare told me that even Ghalib’s neighbours have forgotten that he used to live here. And here we were thinking Google was confused. He knew Ballimaran, though; so that is what we told him was our destination.

Soon we were racing past other rickshaws; weaving our trail through the sea of controlled chaos that was Chandni Chowk; twisting our bodies and grimacing as the rickshaw licked the sides of unwary pedestrians on the bustling alleys of Ballimaran; before stepping on the hallowed grounds of Gali Qasim Jaan. A few rushed steps later, emerged from relative darkness, the ancient-looking wooden doors of the place the arguably greatest poet of India lived in his twilight years. Here we were, finally, standing in front of Ghalib’s home – Ghalib’s Haveli.

We waited on the front steps for some time. In my mind’s eye, I could imagine the doors were back to the magnificence of their heydays. The curtains would part slightly and the hushed voice of Umrao Begum would filter past them from the other side.

Shaking myself out of my reverie, I strode inside, into the hallway. A second set of doors on the right were closed, as were the set on the left. Despite expecting this due to the odd hours of our visit, I could not shake off the bitter feeling of disappointment. We were so close and yet so far. However, there was nothing to be done. I looked over to Gaurang, and it was like looking at a mirror, as his face had the same despondent look as mine.

We came out of the hallway and stood on the front steps again. Many people were passing by; yet no one even turned their heads to look at this place. It was as if Mirza Ghalib was just a name from the history books; a remnant from a bygone era; just another Djinn in this City of Djinns. How sad it was that while his words found home in the hearts of people all around the world, his own people had forgotten him; forgotten that he was only a human. That he too had a home; that he too needed people to visit him, think about him, and ask him if he was all right. Maybe, he was wrong after all when he had said:

“Dil hi toh hai na sang-o-khisht

  Dard se bhar na aaye kyun”

Maybe, the hearts of men are made of bricks and mortar. Perhaps, compassion and remembrance are just words. Words written by mad poets like Ghalib.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, someone said, “Come back after an hour and talk to the night watchman. He will let you in.”

While we were lost in our thoughts, an old roadside shopkeeper had been observing us intently. He must have read the disappointment on our faces, and wanted to help us out. He told us that with a little “persuasion,” the night watchman would let us in for a few minutes.

I could hardly believe him. Was there hope after all? Would we breathe the air inside Ghalib’s home? Was it possible that we could hope to be his mehmaan? Who was this old man? How did he know Ghalib? Wasn’t that name lost? To add to my amazement, he also offered to talk to the guard himself on our behalf.

Therefore, accordingly, we waited for an hour, and the night watchman let us in. Finally, after all that effort, we were invited to Ghalib’s abode. We already knew it was a museum these days. There were stone busts of Ghalib and replicas of his Diwan. There were murals on the walls with his pictures and couplets. These were all fine, but these were not the things that almost made me shout out loud in happiness. It was the fact that we were inside Ghalib’s Haveli at a time when it was not accessible to visitors. We were alone with him. It was dark outside, but I was glowing on the inside. Everything around us said Ghalib. Everywhere we looked, there was Ghalib. Every moment we spent there, it was with Ghalib.

As we left the place and started walking towards the Lal Qila, Gaurang started reciting Gulzar’s memorable lines on Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan:

“Ballimaran ke mohalle ki wo pechida daleelon ki si galiyan

  Saamne taal ke nukkad pe bateron ke qaseede

  Gud-gudaati hui paan ki peekon ki wo daad wo, wah-wa

  Chand darwaazon pe latke huye bosida se kuch taat ke parde

  Ek bakri ke mimayaane ki awaaz.

  Aur dhoondhlaayi huyi shaam ke be-noor andhere

  Aise deewaron se mooh jod kar chalte hain yahan

  Chudi-waalan ke kade ki badi bee jaise

  Apni bujhti hui aankhon se darwaaze tatole

  Isee be-noor andheri si gali qasim se

  Ek tarteeb chiragon ki shuru hoti hai

  Ek quran-e-sukhan ka safaa khulta hai

  Asadullah Khan Ghalib ka pataa milta hai.”

 

Ghalib's grave
Ghalib’s grave
The lines that got me interested in Urdu in the first place. Sorry for the poor image quality.
The lines that got me interested in Urdu in the first place.
A coulpet on a wall inside the Haveli
A coulpet on a wall inside the Haveli
This bust was apparently gifted by Gulzar. The books on the sides are replicas of his Diwan.
This bust was apparently gifted by Gulzar. The books on the sides are replicas of his Diwan.

 

A closer glimpse of the Diwan. Sorry for the poor image quality. Our phones were dying by that time and we just snapped a few pictures quickly.
A closer glimpse of the Diwan. Sorry for the poor image quality. Our phones were dying by that time and we just snapped a few pictures quickly.

 

 

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100 thoughts on “In Search of Ghalib

  1. Ershad, thank you. I appreciate this, bhai.

    On another note: you are not alone in thinking that we have no respect for our heritage or our culture. Mostly, under-educated morons who have no sense of history or prefer to rewrite history as they see fit. Take the Aurangzeb road renaming for example.. or all the other cities in India for that matter that have been renamed. Lumpen louts with not an iota of culture in them.
    Ok, let me give a concrete example right here, from this post. Ask any Dilli-wallah the etymology of Ballimaran… and the punjabification of history is complete when they come up with the fine answer that the residents of the place used to kill stray cats or even more exotic, that the gates there would not stand straight and collapse until they sacrificed the cats living there etc etc.. Arey DK Bose saaheb… if you are an incoherent, jaahil, under-educated, brainwashed cretin, why must you propagate a myth that is simply untrue??
    DK Bose.. there used to be a time when that place was a bank of the Yamuna and there were boatsmen who plied their boats across like autos or taxis these days. So Balli refers to the bloody oars and oarsmen, not your daft corrupt punjabi chutnified nonsensical non-corruption of the word Billi… idiots.. Balli – maran.. the place where oarsmen used to ply their trade.. but kaun bolega ke yeh hai asli jawaab?
    Some stupid, pseudo-literate good will take up cudgels at once and tell me, arey madraasi, how can you tell us we are wrong? Balli maar rahe the…
    and dear cretin, did you go balle balle when they killed the billi? Idiots..

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you KT. I really appreciate this. And yes, it is so depressing to see our rich heritage being lost because someone can gain a few political points over another.
      It’s the same here in Assam. There are these centuries old Ahom monuments which no one even cares. (I mean you will find bloody Rahul loves bloody Mona written inside a bloody heart on those delicate walls). Yet if you write Ahomia instead of Axomia or Assamese, some pretentious moron would say “Oh, insult to my culture.”
      By the way, Ballimaran got converted to Billimaran? Hahaha.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very true, mere bhai… half educated, ill-informed people fill our debates.. and the best thing to do is extract ourselves from those debates.. some other blogger here got offended when she wrote some flowery post about the “Great once upon an India” and how we used to have bhramastra, nuclear fusion, space travel and so on.. and I happened to be in an irate mood and wrote a critique of it.. so what happens next? Some other moron, a medical student at that, berates me for daring to say anything about the maata.. or about the history.. and that I had no right to write anything on another blogger’s post.. er.. excuse me, no right? tere baap ki jaagir hai kya? Make your blog private then… if you come up with blatant political views, then even an apolitical blogger like me would say something.. why not?
        No sense of history, except what their even more boorish amma-appa, amma-baapu recited before them incoherently which they take as the gospel truth. My motto is – Question everything!
        The only way you learn is if you do the research yourself.. not wikipedia, not google.. do it yourself and you will learn a few more things.. then by all means, mislead the rest of the buffoons hahaha.. and put it on google or wherever.. but the primary qualification is, honest research. You may come up with your own conclusions, and however misplaced they are, you have a right to those opinions. But don’t parrot things you know nothing about. This exalted creature asked me if I had read the vedas.. or knew the scriptures.. hahaha..I should have probably asked her if she had even heard of an exotic branch called philology, linguistics, archaeology, history… etc.. but **Sigh.. what is the point in trying to convert the converted?
        They think what they spout mindlessly is the truth. So be it. Ignorance has no medicine..

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Dil ki baat keh di bhai.
        We honour our freedom of speech and freedom of expression. But once you start asking too many questions (especially against the mainstream), all those freedoms go tel lene.
        We are a hypocritical society. That is what unites us. Our religion is hypocrisy.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. And don’t forget, Ershad.. it is not just about returning Sahitya Akademi puraskars.. (and some of them are friends..) or about symbolic gestures.. but fight their insidious war with your own insidious fightback. It is a real war, in some quarters.. and it is quite dangerous.. so better to stay out of it, until it comes to your doorstep (like the rest of the country or world is doing).

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes, I know. This college senior who is a famous contemporary Assamese writer posted a link the other day that was not edible for the jingoist populace. After receiving bucket loads of unfair criticism, he said that he lacks the youth and the strength to fight these idiots.
        He then shared how once when he wrote against the Babri Masjid incident, he received threatening letters. Actual threats to his life and his family.

        P.S. He is a Hindu, if that matters at all.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Actually no.. it does not matter at all.. My daughter is registered as Indian under the religion category in school. The sisters there protested. I said, nothing doing.. or else I shall write Not Applicable. So it stays. I changed my own school record when I was in the tenth.. and I had to through grief for that as well. They rejected the application etc.. but in the end, it stood. Except, to my chagrin, in college I saw that it had been changed to hindu again. Stupid people..

        Of course, I remember it well.. ek dhakka aur do.. and the shaahdat of that monument will resound for years. I too lack the youth and the strength, moreover I do not see the point anymore. The transformation will happen, only when true disillusionment sets in, when there is some kind of a post-war Germany sort of shame.. It does not even look likely at the moment, but trust me, that day shall come.. only, it is so sad that so much of our country would be destroyed by then. Today’s pious defenders used to be the ones who started this entire mess and when the old man spouts homilies about how it is not safe any more in this country for rational people, I can only laugh and shed bitter tears. The one man I cannot forgive ever. I can understand the bloodthirsty murderers and mass killers who know gloat and revel in the times and the madness.. I can even understand the mindless fascination our youngsters have for such lumpen creatures. But that old man, he is the root cause of it – never mind his new found love for Jinnah, never mind his pious words about the fabric of the nation.. he is the original murderer. When his hands are bloody, how dare he point out at his own former acolyte to say that there is intolerance now. He invented it. Oh, and also a word for such nasty people such as I – pseudo-secular..

        I swore I would remain apolitical online.. after years of abuse.. haha.. and here I am, ranting about it, once more..

        You know, I just remembered.. the great tragedy.. when a man like Bhupen Hazarika changed his colours, I think it was then that total disillusionment set in.. for me.. Nowadays I am not surprised when normal cretins like Chetan Bhagat turn out to be the staunchest defenders of the powers that be.. but those old stalwarts.. what the hell happened to them??
        To be honest, I am not even impressed with this so-called revolt and the returning of the Sahitya Akademi. It is pointless, unless you can whip up similar sentiments and fervour in the opposite direction. What is the point in doing all this? In fact, they are happy ke kaanta nikal gayaa and that too voluntarily.. we have an ICHR chairman who is out to prove the historicity of the Mahabharata.. we have engineers and scientists out to prove that the Pushpaka Vimana used to be designed with nuclear engines and that they have the designs for it.. and the “cretinaceous” medical community which bursts into applause in no less a place like AIIMS when the chief elephant harrumphs and says that plastic surgery was invented hazaaron saal pehle is desh mein.. bhaionbehnonmitrooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon….
        What the hell is wrong with this country? Just like Germany after the fall of the Weimar republic.. Aryan nation, race, weltenschauung, liebensraum, occult and native medicine, the triumph of race and its many forms.. the very same thing.. And I can only fear greatly that the end shall be similar too, if these jingoistic asses go to war over some pretext or the other..

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Let’s just say, “Yeh sab moh maya hai and bury ourselves somewhere.”
        I find it easier to remain silent and listen to one mindless comment than provoke the idiots and then bear the ignominy of listening to the numerous “justifications” for ze mindless comment.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. PS: Don’t believe me? Read this article.. and no less a writer than William Dalrymple seems to have swallowed this rubbish gleefully about the name and its etymology – http://www.thedelhiwalla.com/2015/01/23/city-life-living-with-cats-old-delhi/
    What incredible stupidity!!! William was probably quite drunk when he inserted that into his book. Street of cat-killers indeed..!!! Idiot.. He is usually very diligent with his research. I am surprised. I must read the book and find the reference.. if it turns out to be so, he gets added to the KT Idiot-list too… hmmph!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. एक और बेवकूफ है जो गालिब की कुछ मिलती जुलती खोज कर चुका है. अब तो अरसा हो गया पर एक मलयाली मित्र को लंबी दौर का शौक था, और मुझे गालिब का. बल्लीमाराँ से निजामुद्दीन और फिर अक्षरधाम का बीड़ा उठाया. उस जमाने में, शायद २००७, ज्यादा वक्त नहीं हुआ, एक fitness का भूत चढा, हालाँकि शादी हो गयी थी मगर अरमाँ तो जिंदा थे 🙂 निजामुद्दीन पहोंचते ही जैसे पैर थम गये. वो जो मजार की तस्वीर है, ओह! जब आँख से ही न टपका तो फिर लहू क्या है? ….मेरा मलयाली दोस्त वहीं वर्जिश करने लगा, उसके लिये वो बस एक दिल्ली के भीड़भाड़ के बीच का सन्नाटा था. रास्ते में कई तलब किये पर इस छोटी दौर में क्या कैफियत गालिब की? और गालिब का तो समझना ही मुश्किल, समझाये कौन?

    बहोत शुक्रिया वो भीनी यादें वापस ला दी.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aapko bhi bahut shuriya jo aapne apni un yaadon ko hamare saath baataan. Mujhe bahut dukh hua is baar jaake. Aisa laga Ghalib ki qadar us ke.ghar se zyada bahar hai. Yahi din hamare deshwasi dikha rahe hain.
      Dilli mujhe bahut pyari hai. Par is safar se lautkar mera Dilliwalon se pyar thoda kam ho gaya.

      Like

  4. Thank you so much Superman for this brand new set of information! All I studied my entire life were the desperate letters Ghalib wrote in his last years, his biography enough to make a page long Hawala-e-Shair while attempting the Ghazaliyat ki tashreeh question in exams and an analysis of the way he used to write stuff.
    Believe me when I say this that I never knew that he used to live in a haveli sort of thing. His image in my mind has always been a poor, stressed man who also wrote good poetry. For real. Despite the fact that I love singing Dil-e-nadaan-tujhe-hua-kiya-hai.
    Wowed after reading this btw, and oh that exit note. Haha. You know people always do what they are told not to do. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I know. Neat Marketing trick eh?
      Thank you for that perspective though. For a long time I held that impression too. I mean when he wrote stuff like
      “Karz ki peete the mai lekin samajhte the ki haan,
      Rang lawegi hamari faka-masti ek din”
      how can you imagine that he had an actual Haveli?

      P.S. I love that ghazal too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha. You’re welcome, Sire.
        Yes exactly. Ask anyone about Ghalib here in my country. Unfortunately all the non-literary people will say that he was a drunkard and a poverty stricken man.
        But I think, if something like that makes one write that much of an awesome shairi, so why not taste a little? 😀 Haha. Toubah.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha, yes he used to drink or was under some lifelong placebo, but that doesn’t mean we cannot appreciate his work. I mean when he says stuff like
        “Peene de sharaab masjid mein baithkar,
        Ya woh jagah bataa jahan khuda nahi”
        he is raising both a philosophical and religious question. Question about bigotry and hypocrisy.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Exactly. I agree.
        People go on with what they listen. They never go into depths, they never search for the realities. So did happen with Ghalib.
        Oh Gosh. This. There was a time when a conversation between famous poets like Faiz and Iqbal in reply to this couplet got viral on the social media. I don’t really remember it now. But at that time I’d learned all those ash’aar because I liked them that much.
        Stupid angraizi. Dimagh per sawaar hogai hai. :s

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I think Iqbal wrote
        “Masjid Allah ka ghar hai peene ki jagah nahi,
        Kaafir ke dil mein ja wahan Khuda nahi. ”

        And Faraz wrote
        “Kaafir ke dil se aaya hoon yeh dekhkar Faraz,
        Khuda maujood hai wahan, par use pata nahi”

        Just brilliant all of these.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. That in all respects is a true fan’s rendition! I’m sorry but I’ve not read so much Ghalib to relate with every aspect of what you’re saying but I’ve read him enough to know that he should be remembered more appropriately.
    I love your narration and fascination for details, by the way. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. With that title, I would do anything but leave without reading.
    Visiting Ghalib’s Haveli is on my bucket list, one day inshaAllah, my yearning has just grown stronger after reading this.
    While reading your post, I had Gulzar in my head going “Ballimaraan mohalle ki…..”
    And when reading about Nizamuddin or Chandni Chowk, I was internally yelling “Chandni chowk hai, chandni chowk jaana hai”, well yeah i was that engrossed.
    Loved your writing style, captivating. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe, I could literally feel your enthusiasm.
      It was a great experience. I wish I could have taken more pictures, or visited when the place was open.
      However, like I have written, that being alone even for a small period was a special thing.
      And Chandni Chowk is awesome. I could spend days doing nothing on Chandni Chowk just watching people go on about their normal routine (I know that sounds creepy, but I don’t mean it that way haha)
      Thank you, though, for reading and this nice comment 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I have no idea how I missed this post on my feed and even though you had warned about it being long and I was busy checking my mail for an assignment I have to submit, I saw the mail notification that you posted and I rushed to your website to check and although you had warned about it being long and my assignment is due in 2 hours, I just had to read and comment because Ghalib!! Aaaaah this post though!!!You wrote so beautifully. You and your friend, I only have to say this : if only we had more of you guys around.
    I am originally from Lucknow (where poetry and shaaeri is the rage) although now whole khaandan settled in Delhi and I haven’t been to Lucknow much, only when I was young) And Ghalib’s poetry is soul searing to this day. So when I was in Delhi last year and I had heard of Ghalib’s mazaar, I asked my parents if we could go. I love visiting author’s and poet’s places, the places they used to walk on, breathe, ponder and reflect and produce the brilliance that is now forgotten. I recall telling you about Premchand and you told me about visiting Ghalib’s Haveli in the future and this post made me smile that you made it. Anyway we were sightseeing all touristy spots and so when I made the suggestion : the driver was like “Ma’am, aap wahaan jaake kya karoge?” He said something else about traffic and I can’t remember because really, people of Delhi are something!! I mean I was shocked. This was Ghalib. I am lucky my parents instilled a profound love for art, literature and India’s great and enriching culture and history because now people make fun of the fact that I would rather visit these “boring” places than malls. But alas, people like you and your friend are rare. The fact that you and your friend waited for a whole hour to visit impressed me greatly and the awe that you both felt visiting the places, subhanallah. I can imagine the emotions you both felt partly because I know I would be the same and partly because you expressed it so beautifully.
    Delhi has a fast- paced culture. A person could die and after burial, he would be forgotten. And it is sad. The fact that they not only have forgotten the real beauty but also that they ridicule those who do. At least that’s what my personal experience has been. I have a love for Premchand after reading his Idgah story when I was very young and so when I saw his grave and the banyaan tree where he wrote that Idgah, I was so excited. But my aunts who were with me in the car told me to shut up and sit tight kyunki larkiyaan bhaagte kudte kisi ke qabr itna excitement dikhaana achcha nahi lagta. I deflated after that. Atleast they could allow me to see the banyaan tree but naah let’s visit the boring old relative who is almost at death bed and who I shall be seeing first time ever and who will keep asking ye kaun larki hai every 5 minutes because she has memory loss.
    Thanks Ershad for this beautiful post. I love your funny posts but this stirred feelings in me. I could imagine you both racing through the crowded roads of Delhi to visit Ghalib’s haveli. And while you were describing Chandni Chowk, and all the places, it was as if I was there too so vivid and so eloquebt. Ghalib will be smiling from up above to see two young men with passion who have not forgotten him. New found admiration for you and your mate Gaurang.
    Sorry for the long comment, but your post asked for all these emotions and admiration. I shall get back to my assignment (I don’t want to, how can I after visiting Ghalib’s place?)
    Thanks Ershad for taking me along for the ride 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Aaliyah. This is one of the most sincere comments I have seen.
      And hehe, thank you so much. I think people like you or everyone else who has liked or commented on this post also belong to that club. We aren’t that rare. 🙂 And this gives me hope that there will always be people who will care for art and cultural heritage.
      (Oh, Lucknow is one of the places I intend to visit next. I don’t know when, but soon, in sha Allah)
      Yes, I recall that conversation too. Haha, my plans worked out sooner than I expected 🙂
      And I know exactly what you mean, Whenever I go to these old cities, people would suggest, “Go to this mall. Go to this restaurant. Or this arcade. Ugh.” Seriously, people I don’t want any of that. It’s not that I don’t enjoy that stuff, but when I am in a historical place, I want to see what made it historical.
      Oh, since you mentioned it, let me share what we did in that one hour. We went up to a roadside chaiwala close to Gali Qasim and said “Bhai Ghalib se milne aaye hain. Aisi chai pilao jisme Ghalib ke shero ki mahek aaye.”
      The poor fellow just looked at us and must have thought, “Aa jaate hain kahan kahan se nautanki.”
      Oh man, I can so relate to that relative thing haha.
      Chandni Chowk is one of my favourite places in India. I love Chandni Chowk. Like I love Bandstand or Mohammed Ali Road in Mumbai or Park Street in Kolkata.
      Thanks again Aaliyah for this wonderful comment and sharing your memories and perspectives.

      And please get back to your assignment (or I guess you may have submitted it by now).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awww Ershad thank you but really your post deserved that and nothing else 🙂
        And true that. It’s just I haven’t met a single person in real life of my generation who would be proud or have a rich knowledge of cultural heritage. And even if I would, I mean for guys to appreciate and express love for Ghalib, wow now that is a rare phenomenon I though I would never see!! So your post had me bursting to my seams with pride and happiness that there indeed are. Especially when your mate Gaurang breathe’s Ghalib’s sher at his mazaar in awe.
        And yaaay. Please do a travelogue thingy on Lucknow too because you do brilliant job of describing and I felt like I was back in Chandni Chowk myself 🙂
        Yessss I don’t know why no one gets it. It’s sad when olders don’t appreciate youngsters appreciating poetry and all. I mean really they should be dragging us to these boring spots, not the other way around. And hence, it is my sincere pray that the man I marry is as interested in arts and history as much as I. So then we don’t go malls and parks but visit these places in eager fascination without someone saying “wahaan jaake kya karogi?” You guys gave me hope that such desi guys do exist 😛
        Hahaha OMG I read that in the exact tone they say ki pata nahi kahaan se uth ke aa jate hain, I have heard that so many times. They say it while turning their head sideways as if they are talking to someone else and say it loudlyyy haha but waah bhai chai jis main Ghalib ki shero ki mahek. Kaesi thi? Zyaada doodh tha ya ka Ghalib ki shero se zyaada meethi thi ;)?
        And yess Chandni Chowk is one of those places that one has to go in Delhi. And I am the same with you on your views on which is not creepy at all and I could the spend a lifetime there and not get bored.
        My pleasure Ershad. Thanks for your Delhi memories 🙂
        Hahaha you know what? I had to submit online and I got late so the link disappeared so I emailed the lecturer and he emailed me back tutting that he had given a week to do the assignment and I still got late but he opened it again for me and I submitted it thankfully 🙂 Male lecturers are the best. If it was a female, she would never have opened. They are such a bunch of meanies. Anyway take care Ershad.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s too many compliments. Haha. But you could be right. We don’t know a lot of people from our age group who are interested in this kind of stuff.
        Will write that. Lucknow would be a great experience, I’m sure.
        Hahaha, in sha Allah, your parents will find such a guy for you 😀
        They mutter something under their breaths thinking it’s not audible, but it always is. And chai was okay. I’m from Assam. Most people know Assam for its tea only. So, the chai has to be exceptionally good to impress me.
        Hmm, I found male lecturers always had a bone to pick with me. Female ones were all right 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Your Statutory warning wasn’t good enough to hold people from reading it 😉 😉
    A long write I agree but an interesting one, It holded me from beginning to the end! Beautifully written and justified to the lost glory of Ghalib, we live in cruel world Eshad, people are getting desensitized every day, they have no respect for Historical belongings now, I have another question for you, You speak Assamese right ?( If I remember well, )One of my Chinese friend has his name ‘ Junda’ and there is famous Assamese song or movie on his name, Junda Eman Gunda and he pinged me this morning to know ,what does that mean? and I was like , what,?? is it Indian word ? let me check which language 😀 and sorry to disappoint his excitement that I do not speak all indian languages 😀 so just remembered you, if you by any way know the meaning of this line, may be we can make the kid smile again 😀 ( not actually a kid, but I treated him like that )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol, I know! Prohibition always leads to the opposite.
      Thank you for reading though, and the appreciation.
      Oh god Hahahaha. That is hilarious.
      Junda (also written as Joon da) is a name. Actually Joon (which means the moon) is the name. da is the equivalent of bro/bhaiyya.
      Iman means “a lot or big”
      Gunda means gunda obviously.
      So Junda Iman Gunda means Jun bhaiyya is a BIG Gunda. 😀

      It’s the name of this lame movie that came out a couple of years back.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lol. Seriously, of all the great Assamese movies throughout the ages, a Chinese guy hears about Junda Iman Gunda? One that can come in any Assamese person’s top 10 worst movies list 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Tauba tauba…!! Now I am ashamed of you.. Harivanshrai Bachhan??? Gosh.. I simply can’t believe it.. you could have picked anyone… but he?? Ok, left to you… but I really am disappointed.. and no jokes there either… really…
    If you really think Hindi poetry needs to be lauded, there are lots who deserve the respect.. Nirala, Sumitranandan, Makhanlal, Maithilisharan (charu chandra ke chanchal kirnein khel raheein thi jal-thal mein… what melody…)… but this fellow.. really.. I am sort of.. huh..

    Ok, not berating you for your views or your taste 🙂 But the fellow was an opportunist, a sham… is what I feel..

    Ok, let us not quibble over this.. But do read Majaaz.. shayri at its best.. maybe even lunatic best 😀 and I would still rate Josh Malihabadi as one of the greats.. (I am sure you know about that tale about when he was in the Ranchi asylum and he met Nazrul Islam, that other genius, and begged him to leave with him to another country.. ‘Let us go to Lahore or Dhaka.. there are asylums over there too’ hahaha)…

    (And on another note.. do forgive me for pasting this link here.. but read it when you are free… http://scroll.in/article/762857/the-ravish-kumar-interview-our-lazy-liberal-class-was-always-opportunistic)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha, don’t worry dude. I’m not an actual poetry reader. I mostly slept through my Hindi classes and Bachchan is one of the poets who somehow stuck in my memories. And I guess Rahim and Kabir ke dohe were the others who interested me, but that was mostly because we used to distort their dohes with parody versions. Those poets you have named only gently brush my mind as I have heard of them, but don’t know anything about their work. I was atrociously bad in English too. Poetry seemed something unimportant that only jobless people like jilted lovers and sadness miners indulged in. Back then mathematics was poetry for me. Oh calculus and coordinate geometry and tensor analysis. Still get a high thinking about them.

      But you know life. It puts you up against the very thing you despised, and suddenly, you start to like it.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Oh, and I just read the interview. I can go on length about something similar yet different happening in Assam, but I won’t do it here. Maybe, some time I’ll send you an email where I will explain the situation over here with some historical background, if possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on Ria and commented:
    “Dil hi toh hai na sang-o-khisht
    Dard se bhar na aaye kyun”

    “Everything around us said Ghalib. Everywhere we looked, there was Ghalib. Every moment we spent there, it was with Ghalib.”

    “Maybe, the hearts of men are made of bricks and mortar. Perhaps, compassion and remembrance are just words.”

    Best post ever. I traveled to a place where I couldn’t have gone otherwise (at least not in a long while) and this journey through words was exhilarating. So, so amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. But it’s I who has to thank you. Like, I can’t tell you how much I love this. From the first shair to the last ghazal, the bricks and walls and search and space. It’s so well-written it took me there. THAT was overwhelming.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It was a surreal experience for sure. Once you imagine and form an image of something in your head, you never expect that thing to live up to your expectations in real life. This journey did though, and I guess the words sprang from that feeling.

        Nevertheless, thank you once again. And I’ll pray that you can visit this place too sometime soon 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I finally got time to read this. Its elegant the way you described his poetry. Let me tell you, whether its India or Pakistan the value of saving and respecting the cultural heritage is lost. And thats actually a grave mistake by us all that we tend to highlight the cinemas or malls or parks or theme parks yet forget the people who gave so much to the country aswell as the muslim heritage.
    Well written, keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I really appreciate you taking the time to read it and type such a thoughtful comment.
      Yes, a lot of our cultural heritage has been lost to negligence. It’s time we did something about it.
      Again, thanks.

      Like

  12. Beautiful and important structures and artifacts illuminating a rich history. Unfortunately the IS war makers have destroyed many of this type of history and culture in Iraq and Syria. The devastation of the once great city of Aleppo is such a tragedy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that is unbelievably sad. Yet, I can still make peace with the physical destruction of a monument or the culture of a civilisation. Unless the structure is completely destroyed, a replica might be built if things become normal. What happens though when there is a spiritual destruction. The kind where people forget about their culture and shared history. That is what is happening here.

      Like

  13. Woooooow I love ghalib! Darn man you’re so lucky you got to go there! Have you seen the series on Ghalib? It’s pretty cool.
    Ghalib has such power his writing gets to me every time I read it… how did he do that? And you know that feeling when you really want to meet them and have those long conversations with them, Ghalib is one of those people. He’s absolutely amazing.
    I love going to old buildings and heritage sites. Whenever I get the chance, I try to go. It’s awesome that shared some pictures now I long to go there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a great experience. And yes I have seen the series. If you love Ghalib and haven’t seen the series, you should die in a chullu bhar paani.
      I totally agree with you. He was an absolute genius. He had words for every kind of emotion and thought. And I would probably be stumped silent if I had a convo with Ghalib. I’d only listen Haha.

      Btw we are alike in that then. I love visiting old places. You must have heard of Humayun’s tomb. That is possibly my favourite place in Delhi.
      I’ll pray that you can visit Delhi soon, in sha Allah. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I would love to visit Delhi. But then I’ve had the luck of visiting Lahore 😀 and you would love it too. It was in a poor state, but then the walled city authority have been working on it and they’ve improved it a lot.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ting ting I’ve been there!
        It is a beautiful place! And the forts are so amazing and the way the paths are made and the people living… it is so amazing.
        Plan it or something. Take your friend and go there. It is worth all the hard earned money

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Sulphurman!
    Let me be honest. I was just finding stuff to read so as to kill time. I don’t know a thing about Ghalib or poetry or anything about everything you have written. But I am glad I read it. I know something now. All thanks to your writing of course! I might even read up on Ghalib soon! I loved your style of writing and I hope to read more of your articles soon. All the best! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Beautiful post. I cannot pick the right words to pay a tribute to the amazing poet with just a comment, so I will just ramble on about how gripping of a read your narration was. As someone sitting in the north of Pakistan with a desire for Wanderlust and hunting down old literary abodes, this was magical. I must confess however that I never studied Ghalib with a deep interest ever; it is as if sometimes I would find one or two shair (the ones that trucks have gotten painted on their back), or even an entire ghazal somewhere (like in a magazine or something) and I would just read it and be like wow, this dude was the real deal. This travelogue definitely makes me appreciate him more, and gave that nostalgic urge to dig up what is so lost in history. Thankyou for a wonderful experience; and count me in as a regular therein. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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