Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Shigar Valley trip of Sept 2009

The trip back from Shigar Valley was spent in Skardu.
Skardu is the capital of Baltistan, at an altitude of 8500 and above. From Skardu, we drove to Satpara Lake, a name derived from Sat,(seven) Para (springs) sevensprings which form the Lake in a valley. The Lake is pristine, clear as clear can be with the mountains reflected in it. A breathtaking sight.

The Satpara Dam is being built close by, which will generate enough electricity for Skardu and the neighbouring villages. The road also leads to the Dosai Plateau which in spring bursts forth with wild flowers and the plains are transformed.

We flew in from Islamabad in a PIA fokker plane, which flew above the Karakoram range. Seeing the peaks of Rakaposhi, Gashaerbaum 1 and 2, K2 in the distance, and Nanga Parbat was an awe inspiring moment. The pilot allowed us in the cockpit from where it felt as if one was cruising along between the mountains, over them, close to them. Such an amazing feeling, watching crests upon crests, endless snow capped peaks with aquamarine lakes way up in the mountains. Who could ever get there?
And from way up at 28000 feet you get to see the Indus snaking its way through the mountains, through valleys and mountains. The peaks alone still capped with snow. The rest bare, stark, steep, rocky at times, muddy at others.

farrokh namazi

Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 31, 2009

April Showers

Life with it was

It was one of those days: when the meal on the table was particularly delicious kind. It was also one of those days, when all six of us, for some reason or the other, had begun to argue over everything under the sun, on the dining table, at lunch time!

A time when Father, especially when the lunch was to his liking, liked to put his head down, hands into dish, into mouth, to just enjoy each morsel that he so thoughfully designed, (oh yes, his nevalas (morsels) were a work of art!) before it got devoured. A bit of the rice, mixed with just that amount of daal, the piece of meat from the curry, the potato, the achar, aah, that delicious nevala, which only he could fashion. And then, while it was in his mouth, the bite of a bit of raw onion, a bit of cucumber, a bit of tomato, radish, tip of the green chilli dipped into- a bit of salt, which was sprinkled on the edge of his side plate. All required immense concentration, for it was in the minute details, that the sheer joy of eating was taken to its heights. It needed quiet. It needed six obedient children, one subservient wife, to be putting their heads down as well, and eating, what so ever was on the table, uncomplainingly, whether they liked it or not, silently!

Well now, easier said than done, for how was anyone to silence five growing girls, some turning into women, some in their teens, the last wanting- to- be, as soon as possible, and the only son, making his own waves, against all the odds, and one not-take-anything-lying-down, standing- up- for- the- children, Mother! No, quiet, was not achievable, despite all the disciplinary rigours we had been subjected to, over our growing years. The fear of authority had long become part of history. With that, our voices, grew louder, more boisterous, more “familiar” with no barriers of age, restricting our self-given freedom of speech.

That was it, as Fathers concentration on the joys of eating was being subjected to levels of “noise”, he raised his head; Enough! Said he. Silence. Enough. There seems to be no regard here for age, for seniority or juniority (is there such a word) and that fault lies because I have not enforced my Shirazi manners on all of you. You have become Yazdis!!! (When Aghajan got onto his shirazi high horse, then it became, us and them!) Yes, yazdis, (mother’s side) have no hierarchy, everyone is addressed by first names! Hence the utter breakdown of manners. From today, you shall no longer address each other, regardless of age, with first names. Titles of respect shall now be given as per Shirazi tradition, and you will address each other as such.

Shahla will henceforth be Shahbaji to all of you

( I protest says, I,
only 10 months apart,
in the same class since school,
apart from each other the nine months in mothers womb,
I cannot call her anything but Shahla,
we are as one!)

There is truth in that, alright, you alone are exempt, none other.

Farrokh shall henceforth be Mahbaji
Tahereh, Gulbaji
Seema Abaji
Reza, to Susan who is younger to him, Dadash

And what about me, what will I be called, pipes in a little voice, from the far end of the table. You, will be called Susan by everyone.
That’s not fair, I wanted a title too!!!

And thus were our names suffixed, to last us to this day, except Reza, and Tahereh, who in due course of time, did away with our suffixes, with mutual and out-of-fathers-earshot,(for the longest of times) agreement, of course!

Did it make us better mannered.? Less boisterous, voiceferous, argumentative, with one another, at the dining table, and elsewhere? Who knows; beyond all the suffixes and titles, we all, irrespective of Shiraz or Yazd, loved each other. That’s all that mattered in the end, for that over and above everything else was fathers greatest fear, that we love not each other enough, for all times.

thus remembers

25th March 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009

Loving Rumi

I heard Rumi's name for the first time when I was around fourteen, in school, while being taught Urdu literature. Time and again Rumi's name cropped up in Iqbal's poetry. Very often in fact, Rumi was addressed by Iqbal. The Urdu teacher by way of explaination only said that Rumi was a poet buried in Turkey by whom Iqbal was deeply moved. That was it.

Later, in the course of my granmother's conversation, many a time she spoke to us with a quote from one of Rumi's verses, alongwith Hafez and more so of course Saadi, who was her moral guide and mentor.

Being of Persian origin, we of course did get to speak persian at home, and our eardrums were used to the sound of persian poetry. My mothers first cousin, composed poetry and many a time when either she and her family visited us, or we visited them, a request for her to read her poems was made. She obliged after of course, some expected refusals, which were meant for the would be listeners to press on, and then she would read out, sometimes verbatim her compositions, in her most beautiful, lilting, melodious voice. Thus my ears were familiar with persian poetry, its melody, the music and composition of the words strung like pearls on a string, each word connected to the next in the most beautiful of arrangements. Brevity as well as descriptive, at its best. Oh it touched ones heart and made one feel like flying.

Years passed, school was completed, moving onto college with english literature as subject of choice. Urdu literature had been introduced into my life, but only poetry of the known greats, Ghalib, Iqbal, Faiz, had taken root to some extent............

Amongst the collection of my fathers books, there was a small very pictorial little volume of persian poems by the name of Divan e Shams e Tabriz. I first picked it up trying to read and understand these intense and so obvious love poems, at the age of 13 or 14. I believed Shams to be the author because a Diwan was always an authors, The Diwan e Hafez, the Diwan of Ghalib, and so put it down, thinking okay, now this is very romantic stuff, had no one in my minds eye that it could be addressed to, thus back it went into the bookshelf.

It was years and years later that I discovered Rumi to be the one who wrote under the pen name of Shams in this little volume of his, his greater work and tome being The Mathnawi. The search then began, first by the ambitious acquisition of his Mathnawi e Manavi e Mowlavi, in farsi no less (which I had not really been educated in, spoke it as a mother tongue, and by the default of learning Urdu, derived from persian, was able to read it) The quest then to understand Rumi began in earnest in 1985 and continues to this day. Doors unto doors unto doors leading to Rumi, from Rumi, have opened up, one by one, all these years, slowing down, gathering speed as life and its circumstances dictated.

Since the last one year however, Rumi has entered my innermost being, to stay, to grow, to be a part of my living, breathing soul and beyond. His words, his works, have at last brought the meaning they were meant to into my existence. All is as it should be, should have been, and each moment, each day I celebrate the beauty, the depth, the meaning of his words which resonate with such power and meaning in our lives. They can shape us, as they have shaped over the centuries many a man, woman and child, who has had the good fortune of having been exposed to him early or late in life....................

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Reading Rumi

A talk given by me, introduction to Rumi and reading his verses in Persian.