Tailors

I am talking about the time before the liberalization of India’s economy by Rajiv Gandhi in 1984— that was the time when I was in college. There were no “ready-made”...

My Language, Your Language

My father had a deep relationship with language. He could speak multiple dialects of Haryanvi and Punjabi, in addition to Urdu and English. He could talk to a rustic in...

The Creative Process

In an discussion, the poet Javed Akthar makes the following observations about the creative process: When does creation happen? Not at the time of actual experience. When events are in...

Vrindavan

The trip to Vrindavan was triggered by an article by Vivekananda in which he talked about a vow he once took as a mendicant travelling penniless across India: that he...

Why Translating Poetry Is Difficult

In an interview, the poet Javed Akthar talks about the problems of translating vernacular poetry into English. He says: Poetry (shairi) talks in a concise, summarized form (iktisar form). In...

The Charvakas

The Charvaka system of philosophy was an extreme materialistic system of philosophy that predates Buddhism. The Charvakas rejected all indirect methods of knowledge (hearsay, holy books, inference etc.) They said...

Appreciating Urdu Poetry

Ashar (Sher) : Couplet. It consists of two lines (misra). Each verse embodies a single thought or subject. Misra-e-oola : first line of a sher Misra-e-sani: second line. Bait: another...

The Hindavi language

In his book Beloved Delhi: A Mughal City and her Greatest Poets, Saif Mahmood traces the evolution of our Hindavi language which, according to him, can be traced back to...

The 299 Ramayanas That Just Won't Go Away

I recently read The Collected Essays of A.K.Ramanujan. I bought the book to read an essay called “Three Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation”, an essay written...

Reading of Kafka’s Trial in light of Foucault’s writings

The totalitarian state described by George Orwell in his novel “1984” controls with fear, terror and overt physical violence, but the state that Joseph K. experiences in Kafka’s novel, “The...