Tag Archives: Gulzar

Sabz Lamhe

Sabz…The Persian word سبز sabz means “green”, “black”, or “dark”. In Persian erotic poetry, dark-skinned women are addressed as sabz-eh. Green the color of nature, presents itself in so many shades and tones in the hills and mountains, truly dark beauties standing tall, peering at you from different places. Gulzar captures these moments, these lamhe, in this poem.

After I read this poem, I tried to visualize the many views of the hills covered with trees that I have been fortunate to see. I always wonder when I stand looking at the trees so far beyond, that seem like a speck, what lies beside it, can I reach it, what path leads to it?

What I loved most about this poem was the eagle or the storyteller, bringing us the story about different trees, like they were real people, with their quirks and idiosyncrasies. It reminded me of my house-help and how she bought us news from our apartment and stories from around the neighborhood block.

If Green is the color of jealousy and envy, would the color of gossip be jade or may be olive?

Sabz Lamhe from Selected Poems by Gulzar


safedi cheel jab thak kar kabhi niche utarti hain
Pahado ko sunati hai
Purani dastaan pichle pedo ki!

Wahan deodar ka ek unche kad ka, pedh tha pehle
Woh badal baandh leta tha kabhi pagdhi ki surat apne patto par
Kabhi doshale ki surat usi ko ordh leta tha~
Hawa ki tham ke bahe~
Kabhi jab jhumta tha, use kehta tha,
Mere pao agar jakrhe nahi hote, mein tere saath hi chalta!

Udhar sheesham tha, kikar se kuch aage
Bahut larhte the woh dono~
Magar sach hai ki kikar uske uche kad se jalta tha~
Surili sitiyan bajti thai jab sheesham ke patto mein,
Parinde beth kar shaakhon pe, uski nakle karte the

Wahan ek aam bhi tha,
Jis par ek koyal kahi barso tak aati rahi~
Jab bor aata tha.
Udhar do teen the jo gulmohar, ab tak baki hai,
Woh apne jism par khode hue namo ko hi sehlata rehta hai
Udhar ek neem tha
Jo chandini se ishq karta tha
Nashe mein nili padh jati thi saari pattiyan uski.

Zara aur us taraf parli pahadi par,
Bahut se jhadh the jo lambi-lambi saanse lete the,
Magar ab ek bhi dikhta nahi hai, us pahadhi par.
Kabhi dekha nahin, sunte hai, us waadi ke daman mein,
Bade barghad ke ghere se badi ek champa rehti thi,
Jahan se kaat le koyi, wahi se dudh behta tha,
Kayi tukdho mein bechari gayi thi apne jungle se!

Safeda cheel ek sukhe huye se pedh par bethi
Pahadho ko sunati hai purani dastane unche pedho ki
Jinhe in past-kand insaan ne kaanta hai, giraya hai,
Kai tukde kiye hai aur jalaya hai!


Although The english version does not do justice to this or any other urdu nazm, i hope you enjoy pavan varma’s translation.

When tried of winging around
The white eagle descends
It speaks to the mountains
Of trees that once were.

There a tall deodhar had stood once
It would tie the clouds to its leaves like a turban
Or wrap them around like a shawl
Holding the breeze
Swaying, it would say
If i was not rooted, i would waft away with you!

And there, a little ahead of the keekar
Was a sheesham
The two would fight a great deal
But the truth was that
The keekar was envious of the sheesham’s height!
When the wind whistled through the leaves of the sheesham
The birds on its branches would imitate the sound.

There was a mango tree too
For years a koel would alight on it as it flowered
Nearby were a few gulmohars, of which only one remains
It spends its time assuaging the pain
Of the names gouged on its body
And here a neem tree, in love with moonlight
Drunk with joy its leaves would turn blue

A little further away, on the next mountain,
A rustle of pines could be heard breathing deeply
But today not one can be seen there!
I have not seen but it is said
That in the embrace of that valley lived a champa
Larger than the big banyan tree
Lush, milk white sap oozing from its cuts.
The poor champa was taken away
From this jungle in so many pieces.

Sitting on a barren tree, the white eagle
Tells the mountains old stories
Of tall trees that once were.
Trees that stunted men felled
Cut into pieces and burnt.

My experiments with art end this post….view from the window…which window it was i cant remember.




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.


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.



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

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