Phool rahi sarson sakal ban..

The story goes that Nizamuddin Auliya, who was unmarried himself, was deeply attached to his sister’s son, Khwaja Nuh. But the child died young and Nizamuddin was devastated by the loss. Amir Khusro couldn’t bear to see his master so afflicted and brought low, and tried desperately to make him smile again.
One day walking outside Nizamuddin’s house near the Khwaja’s khanqah at Chilla, Amir Khusro saw a group of village women walk by, dressed in bright yellow clothes and carrying mustard flowers and singing and clapping with guileless abandon. They were celebrating spring, they explained to the puzzled Amir Khusro, and were on their way to the Kalkaji temple where they would delight their goddess with song and dance. Enchanted by the story, Amir Khusro dressed up in a yellow sari, bedecked himself with mustard flowers, and appeared before Nizamuddin Auliya singing lusty songs in praise of spring. The saint saw his favourite disciple in the yellow sari and was startled out of his torpor. He smiled, and ever since, Basant Panchami has been celebrated thus at the Dargah of Nizamuddin.
Perhaps, the song Khusrau sang to his master that day was : फूल रही सरसों सकल बन (phool rahi sarson sakal ban)

Here’s a wonderful rendition by Warsi Brothers of Hyderabad who claim to be the descendants of the same tradition of Qawwals which Khusrau started some 800 years ago..

To create or to consume? That is the question..

“Stop going for the easy buck and start producing something with your life. Create, instead of living off the buying and selling of others.”

Says Carl Fox in the movie Wall Street, to his son Bud urging him to do something worthwhile with his life. He advises Bud that there is a deeper meaning to life than simply running after things and money. I had a similar conversation with my young guy a few days back which I think went a few levels deeper.

Since the summer vacations have started I have been watching my son Anant move from one screen to the other – playing video games, watching you tube videos and generally surfing the net or e com websites. The only time he is not looking at a screen is when he goes for his football and swimming. Well, it’s pretty normal for a twelve year old. Isn’t it ?

For sure it is and that’s where lies the problem. And I am not going to talk about the usual it’s unhealthy to watch TV crap. Let me take you through our conversation :

Anant, you created your you tube channel few months back. Right ?

Ya I did. So ?

How many videos have you posted on it so far ?


Why ?

Why means ? I didn’t make any videos so how can I post them ? What are you trying to say man?

Yesterday you asked me to order the latest version of FIFA from Amazon. Do you think someone was working on that since a few months or may be a year. Also, do you watch the same you tube videos over and over again ?

Of course, someone would be working on the new version Dad! And why would I watch the same videos? The channels I have subscribed to keep posting new videos. In fact all you tubers must do at least one new post every week.

Great. You know when you created your channel you had made me subscribe to it.But unfortunately you haven’t posted a single video till now.

Anant was fiddling with his I pad till now. He kept it on the table and started looking at me. I had his attention.

Are you going to scold me for this now ?

Why should I scold you and all? I just want you to think that unless something is created it cannot be consumed. And it takes a hell lot of discipline and effort which perhaps you don’t have. As such I will unsubscribe your channel today.

Dad you can’t do that ! I will surely post something soon. I have just one subscriber.

But I can bet you won’t be able to. Because your attitude and your mindset is that of a consumer, not a creator. You have this constant urge that your senses be fed by content that’s created by others. Even the money by which you buy stuff is not yours, it’s been paid by money. I have “earned” it not you.

Dad why are you trying to show me down?

I am just showing my darling. You are the one who is feeling down. Think about it.

After giving this gyan to Anant I went out for my walk. The idea of consume vs. create kept haunting me. It dawned to me that actually our world is divided into two kind of people – the consumers and the creators. While the consumers are everywhere, the creators are few, very few. A simple way to look at it is to divide all our activities through the day and classify them as consume or create. You will be amazed, even aghast that more than 90% of what we do falls under consumption. No wonder there are so few Steve Jobs, Jack Ma’s, Mirza Ghalib’s, Einstien’s and Van Gogh’s.

But then a question comes aren’t all of us also creating as part of our jobs? This question was asked by a friend when we were having our customary weekend drink at the local bar. At the outset it does look like a valid argument only till the time you dissect it a little further. So I asked my friend – what do you at your office ? He said I do this, I do that, I handle this and I handle that and so on.

To help define “creation” for both of us., I asked him a question  I said “Tell me one thing are you really creating something or just doing your tasks? He smiled and said : I know where this is going.

No no I am serious. Anything that you do is a task if you are replaceable and if you did not create the system of which the task is a part. In a sense you become a consumer, not the creator. Let me add to it so that we have more clarity. What happens to the task if you leave the company ? Someone else would do it..Right ?

If we extend the logic this way then no one is a creator. Tomorrow if our founder and CEO dies the company will still run. It won’t just close down.

Well it may actually close down depending upon how much influence she has in driving things forward, in imagining a new future, in selling that love for creation to the teams. Apple struggled quite a bit after Steve Jobs. And we are still talking about organizations. What about individuals ? Can anyone else give Beethoven’s 5th other than Beethoven? Can anyone write short stories ever like Munshi Premchand ? Can anyone else give Calculas or theory of relativity to the world except Newton and Einstein ?

So what is the way out for ordinary folks like us ?

We had a few drinks by now and I could sense that my friend was really feeling miserable about himself – which was great.

“I have figured out a mantra” I said

And what is that ?

To consume less.

C’mon why are we suddenly moving away from the topic? What is the connection?

There is a big connection. In fact consumption and creation are like the Ying and the Yang. The only difference is that while Ying and Yang complement each other, consumption and creation are inversely proportional.

My friend took a drag from his cigarette and said – Go on. This is getting interesting.

See the less we consume the content others have created, the more time we will have on our hands. The more time we have the more opportunity there will be to create, to think something different, to try something new.

Are you saying that we should stop watching TV, going to the malls, reading books, have drinks like we are having now. Life will be screwed boss !!

I am not saying that at all. All I am proposing is a balance between create and consume with a consciousness that net net we have to be creators, not consumers. Extend that to all aspects of your life and you will need less food, you will buy fewer clothes, you will watch fewer movies, you will need less money, you will have more time. You will be free..

Today morning when I woke up Anant was once again playing FIFA in the living room with few of his friends.

The moment he saw me he said : Dad, you know what. I have been thinking about what you said yesterday and I have arrived at a conclusion.

Baby, it doesn’t look like that. You are still playing the same video game with the bunch of monkeys !!

Actually after a lot of thinking I concluded that if everyone starts creating then who will consume ? And by the way you just insulted my guests.

Ya guests. Switch off the TV and all of you judt vanish from here. Else, I will “create” patterns on your ears which will remind you of “consumption” for next few days.

As the band dispersed I picked up the laptop and started writing this post. I have vowed to myself to be a net net creator going forward 😊😊


आज से बाइस साल पहले जब घर(हाँ आज भी जब घर कहते हैं तो लखनऊ ही मन में आता है) से निकले थे तो ये सोंच कर कि पैसे कमाने जा रहे हैं । पर ये कभी दिमाग में नहीं आया कि कितने पैसे कमाने जा रहे हैं और ये काम कब तक पूरा हो पायेगा। ये भाव हमेशा बना रहा कि लौट जाना है घर को । पर शायद ये एक रोमांटिक खयाल था बस जिसमें घर पर सब कुछ वैसा ही था जैसा हम छोड़ के गए थे। पर सच तो ये है कि जिसको हम घर समझते थे वो तो अब वैसा रहा ही नहीं। बड़े बूढ़े ख़तम हो गए, साथी भी हमारी ही तरह दर बदर हैं, यहां तक कि चौक चैराहों की सूरते हाल भी अब पहचानी तक नहीं जाती। सब तरफ भीड़, चारों ओर बाज़ार और मोटरें – एक हंगामा सा बरपा रहता है जिसमें सुकून की तो गुंजाइश ही नहीं कहीं !
जो एक चीज़ नहीं बदली वो है हनुमान सेतु का संकट मोचन मंदिर और गोमती पर बना भैंसा कुंड का घाट । जब भी लखनऊ जाता हूँ और मंदिर जाने के लिए भैंसा कुंड के सामने से गुजरता हूँ तो ना जाने क्यों जोश मलीहाबादी का ये शेर ज़ेहन में कौंध जाता है :

हश्र तक रहने न देना तुम दकन की खाक में

दफन करना अपने शायर को वतन की खाक में..

धीरे धीरे ये एहसास भी मिट जाएगा और मेरे ज़ेहन मेरी अपनी पहचान एक ऐसे खानाबदोश की रह जायेगी जिसके लिए साहिर ने कभी कहा था :

चीनो अरब हमारा हिन्दोस्तां हमारा

रहने को “घर”नहीं है, सारा जहां हमारा..

Being busy, being stupid..

“Of all ridiculous things the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy — to be a man who is brisk about his food and his work,” 

~ Kierkegaard 

Take time to stop and smell the roses. It’s like a strategy for enjoying life and being more productive at the same time. The more aware you are about yourself and your surrounding, the more you can absorb. As you observe more and watch less, You get into the habit of looking at the finer details. Its like how you can.make sense of a movie plot as an audience while the character themselves cannot. To put it even more visually imagine yourself standing 5 inches or 5 feet away from the TV screen. In which case would you be able to see the picture more clear ? When you consciously slow down, new insights emerge from old information and since you have been practising it all the time now you are able to see things differently. Almost as if your green is different from everyone else’s green. This different point of view, this fresh outlook, this newness is what is going to make you more valuable. Even in professional life you will never be rewarded disproportionately for doing the same job that others can do albeit that you can do it more efficiently. To break the bonds of appraisal cycle is not easy. The world around is full of copy cats , of average people because all of them do the same activity as each other. The systems of evaluation, therefore, are also created to measure mediocrity, to assess average behaviour. To stand out you have to change the perspective, redefine the parameters, bring something new to the table. You will have to make others think. But this won’t happen if you do the same stuff as everyone else is doing. I once read a beautiful quote about books by Haruki Murakami :

If you only read the books that everyone else is readingyou can only think what everyone else is thinking”

The modern life has created this myth about being busy. If you are busy then you are important. Doing what? and to whom? is a question we never ask of us or of others. Even when we go on a holiday we want to “cover” the important places and make sure we have pictures standing next to them. That is why it important to take time, to step back, even to stop sometimes and make sense of your journey. Trust me, it’s much more fulfilling and rewarding for your own self. 
No one else is bothered about you anyways..

Dare to dream 

दिल मैं तुम पैदा करो पहले मेरी सी जुर्रतें,

और फिर देखो कि तुमको क्या बना सकता हूँ मैं..

Breed in yourself the same audacity as me,
I will make you something else , You’ll see..

Poetry by Majaz

Translation by aahang

The story of Azaan..

One day, Abdullah Ibn Zayed, a citizen of Yathrib (Madina), came to meet Mohammad Saheb. Abdullah told him that when he was half-awake or half asleep, a man came in his dream and told him that a human voice should be used to invite Muslims to prayer. Apart from this, that person also taught Abdullah how to say the Azaan. Because Mohammed was not convinced of the Christian way of chiming a bell to call for prayer, he liked the idea and added Azaan to Islam. The Azaan caller was called Muazzin and Bilal Ibn Raha was first Muazzin.

For the first time, the use of loudspeakers for Azaan began around 1930. In 2015, the Bombay High Court had declared the use of loudspeakers for Azaan or any other religious ritual as illegal. But the Mullahs and the Pundits together suppressed this voice. Now Christian preachers are also using the loudspeaker for the fear that they should not be left behind.
The one who makes more noise gets more followers after all.
However, personally, my morning starts at five o’clock with the Azaan at a nearby mosque and I have no particularobjection. It has almost become a habit. A good one I must say..
एक दिन, यदरीब (मदीना) के नागरिक अब्दुल्ला इब्न ज़ायद, मोहम्मद साहब से मिलने आए। अब्दुल्लाह ने उन्हें बताया कि जब वह आधे जाग रहे थे या आधे सो रहै थे, तो एक आदमी उनके सपने में आया और उनसे कहा कि मुसलमानों को प्रार्थना करने के लिए बुलाने के लिए इंसान की आवाज का इस्तेमाल किया जाना चाहिए। इसके अलावा, उस व्यक्ति ने अब्दुल्लाह को अज़ान कहने के तरीके को भी सिखाया। क्योंकि मोहम्मद घंटा बजा कर प्रार्थना के लिए बुलाने के ईसाई तरीके के कायल नहीं थे, उन्हें ये बात अच्छी लगी और उन्होंने अज़ान को इस्लाम में शामिल कर लिया । अज़ान पढ़ने वाले को मुअज़्ज़िन कहा गया और बिलाल इब्न राहा, पहले मुअज़्ज़िन हुए ।
अज़ान के लिए लाउडस्पीकर का इस्तेमाल पहली बार 1930 के आस पास शुरू हुआ । 2015 में मुम्बई हाई कोर्ट ने अज़ान या अन्य किसी भी धार्मिक अनुष्ठान के लिए लाउडस्पीकर के इस्तेमाल को गैरकानूनी करार दिया था । पर मुल्लाओं और पंडितों ने मिलकर इस आवाज़ को दबा दिया। अब तो ईसाई प्रचारक भी लाउडस्पीकर का इस्तेमाल धड़ल्ले से कर रहे हैं इस गरज़ से कि कहीं वो पीछे न रह जाएं।
बहरहाल, जाती तौर पर मेरी सुबह पांच बजे की नमाज़ से शुरू होती है और मुझे इससे कोई ख़ास ऐतराज़ नहीं है, बल्कि एक आदत सी पड़ गयी है..