Advertisement
Sunday, May 22, 2022
Outlook.com
Outlook.com
Capital Letters

Forward And Back

Ghalib's way of life endures in the everyday bustle of Nizamuddin resonating with both its joys and elation and its despair and desolation. Life never gives up.

Forward And Back
| Sandeep Adhwaryu
Forward And Back
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

It was, of course, a coincidence. Just about the time George Bush was speaking to the nation through the chosen few at the Purana Qila, we, a group of writers including the historian Mushirul Hassan, were looking critically at the Progressive Writers Association and their literary contribution in Urdu and Hindi. The Ghalib Academy, the venue of the seminar, is an institution located close to both the shrine of Nizamuddin Auliya and the tomb of Ghalib, the great Indian poet of the 19th Century. It is on an incredibly crowded lane and every time I am driven there I marvel at the dexterity of the driver. The crowd seems thick, the rickshaws and autorickshaws too many, the dhabas on the sides encroach upon the lane. And yet, somehow, one can slowly drive through it. It is a different world, a bit of the walled city in Lutyens’ Delhi. Nizamuddin is a world by itself.

I remember, some years ago, MF Husain taking Tyeb Mehta and me to Nizamuddin for a cup of tea. There is a particular dhaba there which he fancies, and we sat down to sip thick, strong, milky tea, and nibble slightly salty rotis. It was an unusual combination but quite in place there. Many centuries seem to exist simultaneously in Nizamuddin. Devout Muslims dressed traditionally move in and out of the dargah. And there are hundreds of visitors, dozens of beggars, stubbornly demanding alms. There are the harried waiters luring you to Karim’s, and innumerable vendors of kebabs, milk, tea, and juice.

One feels that while India moves into the 21st century, there is an India which jealously keeps a different time, halting the juggernaut of so-called modernism. It seems to rejoice and savour this interregnum, with its tastes and fragrances, its zest and flavours. It does not mind being behind the times. It does not look back nostalgically. It lives in a present that resonates with the past inevi-tably and effortlessly. I am certain that many modern gadgets are used in the shops and dhabas, but it is to prepare an age-old cuisine. It is another instance of the familiar Indian way of domesticating the utterly modern.

Ghalib lies buried here, but all his angst, his acute sense of mortality, his gnawing doubts about the life beyond death, his capacity to laugh at himself and his own vanity all remain alive in his poetry. For great poets like Ghalib, poetry almost ensures immortality, or at any rate another life, much longer and more enduring than the one in which it was created. In a manner of speaking, Ghalib’s way of life endures in the everyday bustle of Nizamuddin resonating with both its joys and elation and its despair and desolation. Life never gives up.


This article originally appeared in Delhi City Limits, March 31, 2006

Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

Lament Of Separation: Songs Of Habba Khatun, Last Queen Of Kashmir, Still Echo In Valley

Lament Of Separation: Songs Of Habba Khatun, Last Queen Of Kashmir, Still Echo In Valley

In happy times and sad, Habba Khatun’s sensuous songs make both young and old emotional. With the never-ending conflict bringing tragedies to every doorstep, Habba’s lyrics of separation amplify their mourning.

How Indian Laws Govern People’s Right To Love And Live

How Indian Laws Govern People’s Right To Love And Live

In India, only those relationships between a man and a woman are considered to be legitimate when there is a marriage between the two.

Kohli Quits Test Captaincy, Leaves Leadership Vacuum

Kohli Quits Test Captaincy, Leaves Leadership Vacuum

Virat Kohli, 33, had recently stepped down as India's T20I captain and was subsequently removed as the ODI captain.

UP Elections 2022: How Congress Is Harnessing Power Of 'Persecuted' Women To Counter BJP

UP Elections 2022: How Congress Is Harnessing Power Of 'Persecuted' Women To Counter BJP

A Mahila Congress leader, who is the face of the ‘Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon’ campaign, however, has accused the party of anti-women bias after she was denied a ticket.

Advertisement