Saaray Jahaan Mayñ Dhoom …
Urdu certainly seems to have become less written or read in India (and even more so from just a few years ago) … but it is also disappearing fast in its own 'Official Country'.
Pakistan made Urdu its National Language, allowing the Mohajirs (people who went to Pakistan after the 1947 Partition) to 'own something', I guess. Others, of course, had a land that they could call their own.
(The local people had their own languages in Sind, Baluchistan, NWFP, which they chose as their Provincial Language. Punjab, despite its own well-spoken language in all of its areas, chose Urdu as its Provincial Language. This was fought against heavily by others in Punjab, but to no avail.)
When I arrived as a child in Pakistan (a story that you can read of in parts of my own blog Windmills of My Mind), I discovered that the language all my neighborhood children spoke had many words I had never heard of — but we adopted those, too. Children came from Katch, Bombay, Hyderabad, U. P., Bihar (all in India) and the local kids came from Sind, Baluchistan, Punjab, and an occasional one from NWFP. The Bambayya market language was the most common one - I think, at least among the groups that I played with - as many Gujratis and Parsis spoke that often, and so did many Christians when they decided to speak in Urdu. The Anglo-Indians spoke 'thorough' English :)
In my own house, Urdu was a very strongly important area. I was not to use the 'stray' words I picked off the streets when talking to my parents! (Purbi - which some older women in the family spoke - was something I loved but could never speak it.)
Urdu plays took place, often, and mushaaeraas took place every few days, from little ones at houses to large ones at public places. Poets from India and Pakistan were all to be seen at most of them. The English Newspaper, Dawn, had an Azeem-ush-Shaan Mushaaerah (which eveyone called Azeem-ud-Dawn Mushaaerah). On Jigar Sahab's Death Anniversary one of the finest mushaaerahs took place in Karachi and is still remembered by anyone who heard it.
The problem is the fact that people can't read! I wish they could ... but it's not the biggest problem at all. I can't read many languages and have to read their translations… and some of them could be nowhere near the original work. But technology has changed. Recordings of Urdu works (equally usable in Pakistan, India, and for our many citizens abroad) can now be easily available.
Given the amount of time that most people spend in the car (or, in my case, in the bathroom!), audio books are a tremendous area to get into. I adore them.
So far there are many things available and much more is expected to join in very soon. Take a look at some of their current Audiobook selections:
Asghar Gorakhpuri, Iqbal Azeem, Mustafa Zaidi, Obaidullah Aleem, Waqif Muradabadi, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Muzaffar Warsi, Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Athar Nafees, Iqbal Safipuri.
One of their examples will give you an idea of the quality: Qasmi Sahab reciting his ghazal Andaaz Hoo Bahoo Teree Aavaazé Paa Ka Tha
Saadat Hasan Manto, Mirza Azeem Baig Chughtai, Mehram Ali Chishti, Col. Muhammad Khan, Ibn-e-Insha, Qudratullah Shahab, Mushtaq Ahmad Yusufi, Patras Bokhari
Thanks, Urdu Studio. Wish you the best!!!