Monday, January 13, 2014

Eddington's Zoo

I took some nephews and nieces to the Zoo, and we halted at a cage marked

      Tovus Slithius, male and female.
    Beregovus Mimsius, male and female.
       Rathus Momus, male and female.
  Jabberwockius Vulgaris, male and female.

 The eight animals were asleep in a row, and the children began to guess
 which was which.  "That one at the end is Mr Tove."  "No, no!  It's Mrs
 Jabberwock," and so on.  I suggested that they should each write down
 the names in order from left to right, and offered a prize to the one
 who got most names right.

 As the four species were easily distinguished, no mistake would arise in
 pairing the animals; naturally a child who identified one animal as Mr
 Tove identified the other animal of the same species as Mrs Tove.

 The keeper, who consented to judge the lists, scrutinised them carefully.
 "Here's a queer thing.  I take two of the lists, say, John's and Mary's.
 The animal which John supposes to be the animal which Mary supposes to be
 Mr Tove is the animal which Mary supposes to be the animal which John
 supposes to be Mrs Tove.  It is just the same for every pair of lists,
 and for all four species.

 "Curiouser and curiouser!  Each boy supposes Mr Tove to be the animal
 which he supposes to be Mr Tove; but each girl supposes Mr Tove to be
 the animal which she supposes to be Mrs Tove.  And similarly for the oth-
 er animals.  I mean, for instance, that the animal Mary calls Mr Tove
 is really Mrs Rathe, but the animal she calls Mrs Rathe is really Mrs

 "It seems a little involved," I said, "but I suppose it is a remarkable

 "Very remarkable," replied Mr Dodgson (whom I had supposed to be the
 keeper) "and it could not have happened if you had brought any more

 How many nephews and nieces were there?  Was the winner a boy or a girl?
 And how many names did the winner get right? [by Sir Arthur Eddington]

Saturday, October 05, 2013


in the immeasurable sadness of being,
and the ineffable joy of living,
in the inexplicable ecstasy of loving,
and the inevitable anguish in parting,
did i forget
to ask you
              you are
as scared
of the prospect of
us as
              i am
of the prospect of

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Of the Beauty of Truth

Coke studio is definitely impressive and though my two favourites are Paimana bitte and Chal diye, I am definitely moved by Khwaja Ghulam Farid's Husn-e-Haqiqi. Compared to the romantic poems, Sufi poetry in particular always perplexes me how people could feel so deeply about belief, faith and things in general abstract let alone put it down into such fluid verse.

Ai husne haqiqi noor e azal O’ Beauty of Truth, the Eternal Light!
Tenu waajib te imkaan kahun Do I call you necessity and possibility,
Tenu khalik zaat qadeem kahun Do I call you the ancient divinity,
Tenu haadis khalq jahan kahun The One, creation and the world,
Tenu mutlaq mehez wajood kahun Do I call you free and pure Being,
Tenu almiya ayaan kahun Or the apparent lord of all,
Arvaah nafoos aqool kahun Do I call you the souls, the egos and the intellects,
Ashbaa iyaan nehaan kahun The imbued manifest, and the imbued hidden,
Tenu ain haqeeqat maahiyat The actual reality, the substance,
Tenu arz sifat te shaan kahun The word, the attribute and dignity,
Anvaah kahun auzaah kahun Do I call you the variety, and the circumstance,
Atvaar kahun auzaan kahun The demeanor, and the measure,
Tenu arsh kahun aflaak kahun Do I call you the throne and the firmament,
Tenu naaz naeem janaan kahun And the demurring delights of Paradise,
Tenu tat jamaad nabaat kahun Do I call you mineral and vegetable,
Haivaan kahun insaan kahun Animal and human,
Tenu masjid mandir dair kahun Do I call you the mosque, the temple, the monastery,
Tenu pothi te quran kahun The scriptures, the Quran,
Tasbeeh kahun zunnaar kahun The rosary, the girdle,
Tenu kufr kahun imaan kahun Godlessness, and faith,
Tenu baadal barkha gaaj kahun Do I call you the clouds, the flash, the thunder,
Tenu bijli te baraan kahun Lightning and the downpour,
Tenu aab kahun kahun tenu khaak kahun Water and earth,
Tenu baad kahun neeraan kahun The gust and the inferno,
Tenu dasrat lichman raam kahun Do I call you Lakshmi, and Ram
Tenu sita ji janaan kahun and lovely Sita,
Baldev jasuda nand kahun Baldev, Shiv, Nand,
Tenu kishan kanhaya kaan kahun and Krishna,
Tenu barhma bishan ganesh kahun Brahma, Vishnu and Ganesh,
Mahadev kahun bhagvaan kahun Mahadev and Bhagvaan,
Teni geet granth te bed kahun Do I call you the Gita, the Granth, and the Ved,
Tenu gyaan kahun agyaan kahun Knowledge and the unknowable,
Tenu ibrahim hawa shees kahun Do I call you Abraham, Eve and Seth,
Tenu nooh kahun tufaan kahun Noah and the deluge,
Tenu ibrahim khaleel kahun Abraham the friend,
Tenu musa bin imran kahun and Moses son of Amran,
Tenu har dil da dildaar kahun darling of every heart,
Tenu ahmad aalishaan kahun And Ahmad the glorious,
Tenu shaahid malk hijaaz kahun Do I call you the witness, the Lord, or Hejaz,
Tenu baais kaun makaan kahun The awakener, existence, or the point,
Tenu naaz kahun andaaz kahun Do I call you admiration or prognosis,
Tenu hoor pari ghilmaan kahun Nymph, fairy, and the young lad,
Tenu nouk kahun tenu ttouk kahun The tip and the nip,
Tenu surkhi beerha paan kahun And the redness of betel leaves,
Tenu tabla te tamboor kahun The Tabla and Tanpura,
Tenu dholak surr te taan kahun The drum, the notes and the improvisation,
Tenu husn te haar singhaar kahun Do I call you beauty and the fragrant flower,
Tenu ashwa ghamza aan kahun Coyness and that amorous glance,
Tenu ishq kahun tenu ilm kahun Do I call you Love and knowledge,
Tenu vehem yaqeen gumaan kahun Superstition, belief, and conjecture,
Tenu husn kavi idraak kahun The beauty of power, and conception,
Tenu zauk kahun wajdaan kahun Aptitude and ecstasy,
Tenu sakar kahun sakraan kahun Do I call you intoxication and the drunk,
Tenu hairat te hairaan kahun Amazement and the amazed,
Tasleem kahun talveen kahun Submission and the connection,
Tamkeen kahun irfaan kahun Compliance and Gnosticism,
Tenu sumbal sosan sarv kahun Do I call you the Hyacinth, the Lilly, and the Cypress,
Tenu nargis nafarmaan kahun And the rebellious Narcissus,
Tenu laale daagh te baagh kahun The bereaved Tulip, the Rose garden, and the orchard,
Gulzaar kahun bustaan kahun
Tenu khanjar teer tufang kahun Do I call you the dagger, the lance, and the rifle,
Tenu barcha bank sanaan kahun The hail, the bullet, the spear,
Tenu teer khidang kamaan kahun The arrows made of white poplar, and the bow,
Soofaar kahun peekaan kahun The arrow-notch, and the arrowhead,
Berang kahun bemisal kahun Do I call you colorless, and unparalleled,
Besoorat har har aan kahun Formless in every instant,
Subooh kahun qudoos kahun Glory and holiness,
Rehman kahun subhaan kahun Most glorious and most compassionate,
Kar taubaa tart Fareed sada Repent now Farid forever!
Har sheh nu par nuksaan kahun For whatever I may say is less,
Tenu paak alakh be aib kahun Do I call you the pure and the humane,
Tenu haq be naam nishaan kahun The Truth without trace or name

Khwaja Ghulam Farid (1841–1901)

and for that remote minority of people who have never heard of coke-studio, check out Areib Azhar's rendition (italics not in the rendition). Their channel of course contains many nuggets of pure euphoria..

Thursday, July 23, 2009

blah-017: The Vagabond

Give to me the life I love,
  Let the lave go by me,
Give the jolly heaven above
  And the byway nigh me.
Bed in the bush with stars to see,
  Bread I dip in the river -
There's the life for a man like me,
  There's the life for ever.

Let the blow fall soon or late,
  Let what will be o'er me;
Give the face of earth around,
  And the road before me.
Wealth I ask not, hope nor love,
  Nor a friend to know me;
All I ask, the heaven above
  And the road below me.



from Stevenson's The Vagabond

Life update: have been in a village named Bannerghatta in the City of Guards since 22nd June: enjoyable and full of fascinating people. Might be here for 2 years.