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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mihailo Voukitchevitch - 77 today!

Dear Mike

I tried calling you. Twice. No response. So I thought I'd do this instead …


… and remind you of those really lovely days.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Remember Magnetic Poetry?

What a lovely game!!! Stayed on our fridge for a whole year and more. Everyone who walked in did something new or, maybe, just crazy with the letters. A few even used it to leave messages.

The thrill of magnetic poetry, with the closure of good bookstores and toyshops, is a bit of a problem today. Even if we did find an edition in a shop in Karachi, it's unlikely that we would find additional wordsets or anything sensible after that to continue the fun.

'Desktop Poet' — a software available for Macs and Wins — is a lovely game to have in the home or even in the classroom. It's simple and wonderful. Just switch the game on and play the entire thing on your desktop. And you can add new words - perhaps even Urdu transcribed ones. You can alter the colours. You can change fonts and sizes. It really is fun.

What's important is that you can save your poems … perhaps even publish a book later.

Here are a few of my own poems as examples.

The Way Of The World

The End Justifies The Means

To A Piece Of Furniture


You can get Desktop Poet from the Internet. Go!!!

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Delusion 3

She has moved on -
From loving me
To loving sex
And ecstasy.

But I am not
At all perturbed:
I sleep
Completely undisturbed.

Whose lips she kisses
Matters not …
It's me she misses
When she's hot!

(The mind is such
 A brilliant part:
 How cleverly
 It fools my heart!)

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rape Culture ... (a piece you must see)

This is from Shakespearessister. The blogpost Worth a really thorough reading.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A rose by any other name? Hmmm ...

What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
William Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet

I have had this problem for a long time. In Urdu and in English.

The English one that refers to my surname is easier to follow. Most people continue to write Kidwai … especially the Indians who remember Rafi Ahmad Kidwai. Others write Qidwai, partially because in transcribing Urdu the ق is spelt as Q. The reason our family continued writing K is that the name is Turkish and K is the way Turks write ق … Remember Koran! 

Of course, most people who speak Urdu started writing the Anglicized version of their names somewhere late in the 19th century and many decided to change the spelling of their names to deal with ways in which they pronounced it. Among Kidvais or Kidwais the majority insisted that it was a Turkish name and didn't change the spelling so it remained K. 

Well, almost! They did add a W instead of a V for the و in it. That's [mis]understandable, given the W & V mixture our populations have: I vant you to wery carefully think of it.

The Urdu misspelling of my first name is a difficult problem and one that I am not able to quite understand at all. My name is زہیر and not ظہیر as almost everyone seems to insist on writing it. They are two different words. ظہیر means 'One who makes things Visible' and comes from اظہر, where as زہیر comes from ازہر, the enlightened one, and means 'One who makes things well lit". One Urdu dictionary defines it as روشن كرنے والا.

Why we've almost abandoned the ز I really don't know ... but when I was at sea and went to Saudi Arabia,  Qatar, or UAE, the men at the gates who issue passes asked me my name and when I said Zaheer they wrote زہیر each time! (My father's name was ازہر and he had the same problem, with people writing it as اظہر ... The university is الازہر and is always spelt that way.)

In Pakistan I have had all my literary friends who've given me their books insist upon writing ظہیر. This must be catching, for even Zehra (Nigah) Apa, who has written three times in my autograph book - with زہیر every time, has just presented me her latest work inscribed as ظہیر.

There was a hilariously good one, once, when I went to get some documents made and I was asked, by the really old paan-chewing kurta & pajama clerk, for my name and my father's. Each time I had to tell him it was with ز ... So when he asked me my wife's name and I said  نزہت,  he said "Yeh to aap ظ say likhtay hoñ gay?"

The fun part also took one more turn. Someone understood my name as 'Kidwani' and then added me to a Sindhi Mahaaz list … so I got tons of rather interesting mail about how important it was for Indian and Pakistani Sindhis to join and form a separate Sindhu Desh working group, until I had to write to them and ask them to stop.

(By the way, the A in Zaheer A. Kidvai is for عالم and not Ahmad ... but that's a 'minor' error that people make, so it's not really a problem area.)

Often I have been told that proper nouns can be spelt in any way that one likes. Sure. But the first time only! After the name has become a person or thing's name, that's the way it is. Karachi is not Carachi, once the 'official spelling' has been adopted.

Before the days of computers and databases the Shakespearean lines above may have 'seemed' true. There was also the writing of your Anglicized names (allowing even further variations) which added to the problem. But now times have changed. Spelling Ahmad, in one text as Ahmed and in another as Ahmud, will give you three distinct entries in a database that treats the person as three different people.

So, be wary … and correct the people who write to you with a misspelled name and tell them what the actual name is.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Insights remembered


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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Yaar Venaa!

thank you kumar gandharva jee for last night.
this still seems so [un?]real —

shükr karo tüm üss ka, saahab,
üss kee dayn thi sab saughaatayñ
itna rona kyooñ hae aakhir
pahlay bhee to khaaee haeñ maatayñ
din kay khaaboñ ko rad karnay
aaee haeñ yeh bojhal raatayñ
mar jaaooñ to phir mümkin haé
yaad na aaeñ üss kee baatayñ
sach poochho to üss naadaañ nay
tüm hee say to seekheeñ ghaatayñ
agar kalyaan na hota to subah na hotee ...

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