Tag Archives: iqbal

Celebrating Poetry

Bangalore was treated to a host of poets and their original works from across the nation at the 2 day poetry festival, at Leela Palace this weekend.

The Bangalore Poetry Festival was an initiative by Atta Galatta, a beautiful bookstore with a focus on Indian Vernacular Writing, while also being a venue for literary, art and cultural events located in Koramangala.

As Javed Akhtar mentioned during his talk, poetry is seeing a revival today and this meant the crowds were filled with numerous young poets and poetry lovers.

Among the many poets, I was mesmerized by Akhil Khatyal, a Delhi based poet and translator. He was not just a poet, but in many ways a raconteur with ample doses of humor and sarcasm.

You can watch him in action in the video below, where he performs Dorothy Parker’s Hindi translation:

Apart from Hindi poets there were poets from the North-East of India, who read some amazing poetry about displacement, identity and violence.



A poem by Nitoo Das, who was present at the festival:

how to cut a fish

you have to sit
woman-like on the floor
put one foot
strongly gingerly on the base of the blade
hold the fish with firm hands
head and tail       
and swing
him quick left right left right to remove the scales 
check beneath the gills red fans
cut them swift and
then fins here there up down and tail
feel that perfect line
where the head ends and the body begins 
choose it fine and move slow over the edge
feel the resistance of white flesh, staring eye and open mouth
but keep at it 
let him feel the pressure of your fingers
until it is done and the head sits isolated with a hole
dripping with stuff 
and then halve
him down his body and pull out the red mess
make equal pieces cutting him so that
the bones do not disturb

The master performer and Hindi Poet Piyush Mishra was also part of the festival:

Listen to him perform here:


The festival had numerous workshops for children and adults and a book section where you could buy poetry by the attending speakers as well as some old greats.

I bought this one,  the highly  controversial  Shikwa and Jawab by Iqbal, translated by Mustanvir Delhvi, who was also present at the festival.


As a poetry lover, this year has been amazing, with me being part of the Jashne-Rekhta Festival earlier this year and now a Poetry Festival right in my city!

More power to Atta Galatta and their entire team of volunteers, organizers and to the poets who came and conquered hearts.

To many more festivals and poetry celebrations.


it found me

In the dusty bookshelf of a rare old bookshop, while looking for books on baking, Italian cooking, quick-prep dinner recipes and Jamie Oliver food porn, the most beautifully illustrated book of Rumi poetry lay waiting for me.

Maybe it found me.
Or I was ready to find it.

In a home store filled with soft towels, out of fashion shoes, peach colored scarves, stainless steel spoons and lavender-aloe vera shampoos, I found the indigo dress that fits perfect.

May be it found me.
Or I was ready to find it.

Among the dozens of poems written on love: requited, unrequited, young, innocent or simply benign, I found the one that would be perfect as an epitaph, to be read at the loss of a confidante.

May be it found me.
Or I was ready to find it.

I looked very hard for a poem to capture this week’s rendering, anything that captured adulthood, independence, sacrifice, struggle; I found the one on food.

May be it found me.
Or I was ready to find it.

I have flipped the pages of this book of poems by the great masters many times before.  There is one that I never read beyond the first line,  moving to the next and then the next.  Today I found it perfect, resonating with what I feel today.

It found me.
Today, I was ready to let it find me.


Sitaroan ke Aage By Iqbal


Tu Shaahi ha parvaaz hai kaam tera
tere samney aasmaan aur bhi hai
Isee roz-o-shab mein ulajhkar na reh ja
ki terey zameen-o-makaan aur bhee hai
Sitaaroan se aage jahaan aur bhi hai
abhee ishq ke imtehaan aur bhee hai

Translation by Khushwant Singh

You are a falcon, it is in your nature to fly
For you there are skies beyond this sky
Don’t let the web of dawns and dusks enmesh you
for you have other lives, other goals to pursue
Beyond these stars are worlds yet to unearth
there are more trials of love to test your worth