Tilasmi

After a real long gap….of many months i think, during which i have been fortunate to visit many cities in different countries, words and poems beckon me back. Maybe it was the dazzling lights or simply the open hearts and warm smiles, that reminded me of the beauty that lies within each world, within each person.

This poem by Gulzar captured those moments of absolute delirium in cities that fail to sleep. From the quiet of my balcony back home I reminisce walking down those streets so alive, abuzz with hope, happiness and spirit.

Transliteration

Tilasmi sheher ke manzar ajab hai
Akele raat ko niklo, siyah satin ki sadko par
Tilasmi chehre upar jagmagati hoarding par jhulte hai
Sitare jhankte hai, niche sadko par
Wahan chadne ke zene dhundne pardte hai
Patalon mein gum hokar

Yahan jina bhi jaadu hai….
Yahan khwab bhi taango par chalte hai
Umange phutati hai, jis tarah paani mein rakhe moong ke dane
chatkhate hai toh zubaan ugne lagti hai

Yahan dil kharch ho jaate hai aksar….kuch nahi bachta
Sabhi chaate hue pattal hawa mein udhte rehte hai
Samandar raat ko jab aankh band karta hai, yeh nagri
Pehenke saare zewar aasman par aks apna dekha karti hai

Kabhi ‘Sinbad’ bhi aaya hoga is jazhire par
Yeh aadhi paani aadhi zameen par, zinda machli
Dekhkar, hairaan hua hoga.

—Gulzar

Translation

The scenes of this magical city are strange
If you come out alone at night
On its satin black roads
Enchanting faces sway from hoardings on top
Stars peep down on the roads below
To reach them you need to look for stairs going above
By losing yourself in the underworlds below

To live here is like magic…
even dreams here walk on feet
Hope breaks out just like seeds kept in water
Sprout and begin to grow tongues
Hearts often spend themselves out here…with
Nothing left
Swaying in the wind like leaf plates licked clean
When the ocean shuts its eyes at night
This city, wearing all its ornaments,
keeps looking at its reflection in the sky.

Sinbad too must have come sometime to this island
He must have been surprised to see this live fish
Half in water and half on the ground!

—pavan verma

Chaophraya
Sunset on the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok , from the Balcony of Hotel Chatrium
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