A translation & an interpretation

A post on a friend’s Facebook page triggered a discussion on one of my favorite qawwalis. A suggestion from him resulted in an interpretation.

I love languages for the richness of emotion expressed when words are strung together. Having said that, a translation can never do justice to the beauty of the layers of meanings/emotions that the author presents in the original. Here is my humble attempt at both – an English translation and an interpretation of one of the most wonderful qawwalis I have heard.


Na to caaravaan ki talaash hai
Na to humsafar ki talaash hai
Mere shauq-e-khaana kharaab ko teri rehguzar ki talaash hai

I do not desire (to belong to) a caravan (family, friends)
Now do i desire a travel (life) companion
This wretched desire residing within me seeks a path that leads to you

Mere naamuraad junoon ka hai ilaaj koi to maut hai
Jo davaa ke naam pe zehar de
Usi chaaraagar ki talaash hai

Death is the only cure for my unfortunate obsession
I am in search of that wise healer
Who knows that poison will do more for me than medicine

Tera ishq hai meri aarzoo,
Tera ishq hai meri aabroo,

Becoming one with you is my desire;
And your love – my honor

Dil ishq, jism ishq hai, aur jaan ishq hai
Imaan ki jo poochho to imaan ishq hai

My heart, my body, my life – (I will give them up) for your love
If you ask me about my faith, that is love too.

Tera ishq mai.N kaise ChhoD doo.N?
Meri umr bhar ki talaash hai

How do I let go of this love?
This love is what I have sought all my life

Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq
Jaan-soz ki haalat ko jaan-soz hi samjhegaa
Mai.N shamaa se kehta hoo.N mehfil se nahii.N kehta
Kyonki yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq

Yes, this is love, this is love
And only one who is as tormented will know how I feel
I speak to the flame (who knows how the moth feels), and not the rest of the world
(For only the flame understands the moth’s desire to burn) Yes, this is how my love is.

Sahar tak sab ka hai anjaam jal kar khaak ho jaana
Bhari mehfil mei.N koi shamaa yaa parvaana ho jaaye
Kyo.N ki yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq

A dawn will come when everything will burn to ashes
Some of us will be moths, while others will be flames
For that is our destiny – to love, yes dying (and becoming one with the creator) is love,

Vehshat-e-dil rasn-o-daar se roki na gayi
Kisi khanjar, kisi talvaar se roki na gayi

This mad love has never been deterred by the gallows’ ropes,
Nor by (the fear of) a dagger, or a sword

Ishq Majnu ki woh aavaz hai jiske aage koi Laila kisi deewaar se roki na gayi,
Kyo.N ki yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq

This love is like the love of Majnu and Laila, where Laila followed Majnu’s voice and no walls could stop her
For such is my love, yes this is love.

Woh hanske agar maa.Nge.N to hum jaan bhi dede.N,
Haa.N yeh jaan to kya cheez hai? Imaan bhi dede.N!
Kyo.N ki yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq

If the divine asks even half jokingly for my life, I would give it up
In fact, I would even give up my faith!
For such is my love, yes this is love.

Naaz-o-andaaz se kehte hai.N ki jeena hoga,
Zehar bhi dete hai.N to kehte hai.N Ki peena hoga
Jab mai.N peetaa hoo.N to kehte hai.N ki marta bhi nahii.N,
Jab mai.N martaa hoo.N to kehte hai.N ki jeenaa hogaa
Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq

(Interpretation – not translation)

The world dictates that I must live my life with grace to the almighty.
When I decide to live, they pity my miserable plight and provide the poison I have been seeking, forcing me to gulp it,
And when I drink it, they wait and wonder why death refuses to take me sooner.
When I finally lay dying, they feel guilt and want me to live.
Yes, I understand (what the world feels for me). This is also love.

Mazhab-e-ishq ki har rasm kaDi hoti hai,
Har qadam par koi deewaar khaDi hoti hai

I understand that this love has the strictest of tests
With obstacles at every step.

Ishq aazad hai, Hindu Na Musalmaan hai ishq,
Aap hii dharm hai aur aap hii imaan hai ishq
Jis se aage nahii.N shekh-o-Brahaman dono.N,
Us haqeeqat ka garajtaa hua ailaan hai ishq

This love (for the almighty) is free of religion
A faith in such a love is a kind of religion, in and of itself.
Neither the Sheikh nor the Brahmin are aware
Of the profound reality that is this love.

Ishq na puchhe deen dharm nu, ishq na puchhe jaataan
Ishq de haatho.N garam lahu vich doobiyaan laakh baraataan ke
Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq

Love does not ask one’s religion or caste,
The joy of wedding revelers is a testimony to the power of love
For such is love.

Raah ulfat ki kaThin hai ise aasaan na samajh
Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq

The path to such a love is treacherous, be warned
For this is truly love.

Bahut kaThin hai Dagar panghat ki
Ab kya bhar luau.N mai.N Jamuna se matki?

The path to the riverside is dangerous
(Literal translation) How will I fill water from the banks of the Jamuna River?
(Interpretation) How will I live a simple life and fulfill my worldly duties if I choose to follow this path?

Mai.N jo chali jal jamuna bharan ko dekho sakhi ji mai.N jo chali jal jamuna bharan ko
Nand kishor mohe roke jhaadon
To kya bhar luau.N mai.N Jamuna se matki?
Ab laaj raakho more ghoonghat pat ki

(Literal Translation)

As I was on my way to fill water from at the Jamuna River,
Nanda’s son (Krishna) stopped me
Now how do I go and fill water from the Jamuna River?
I hope my honor is protected.


As I was about to live my life in ignorance
I encountered a vision of the divine – this was a revelation.
Now how do I go back to living like I did before?
The almighty will protect me from being cast out (for being devoted to Him and forgetting my worldly duties)

Jab jab Krishn ki bansi baaji,
Nikali Raadhaa saj ke
Jaan ajaan ka maan bhulaa ke,
Lok laaj ko taj ke
Janak dulaari ban ban Doli,
Pehenke prem ki maalaa
Darshan jal ki pyaasi Meera
Pii gayii vishh ka pyaalaa aur phir araj kari
Ke laaj raakho raakho raakho, laaj raakho dekho dekho,
Yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq

Whenever Krishna played his flute
Radha appeared looking beautiful
Forgetting the norms and mores of society,
Leaving no room for shame
King Janak’s loving daughter (Sita)
Stepped out wearing the garland of love
Meera, thirsty for a glimpse of her Lord
Gulped a glass of poison and then pleaded (to Him),
Protect my honor.
Such is love.

Allah rasool ka farmaan ishq hai
Yaanii Hadith ishq hai, Quraan ishq hai
Gautam kaa aur Maseehaa kaa armaan ishq hai
Yeh kaayanaat qism hai aur jaan ishq hai
Ishq sarmad, ishq hii mansoor hai
Ishq Moosa, ishq Koh-e-Toor hai
Khaaq ko but, aur but ko devtaa karta hai ishq
Intahaa yeh hai ke bande ko khuda karta hai ishq
Haan.N yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq, yeh ishq ishq hai, ishq ishq

Allah’s messenger Mohammed preaches love
His teachings are love, the Quraan is love
Buddha and Christ wish for  love
This material existence is part of love, and this life are love
Love is everlasting, love alone is victorious
Love is Moses, love is Mt. Sinai
Love turns ashes into idols, and idols into Gods
The pinnacle is that love has the power to turn man into God
Yes, such is love.



The blog Mr. and Mrs. 55 were used to help inform this translation.

There may be errors in the original lyrics. Please feel free to comment with corrections.


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Surviving the test of time

A close friend of mine found her diary last evening. She flipped through pages that she had filled almost a decade ago and decided to share some of them with me and another one of our close friends!

She had mentioned both of us in various places but most of the incidents she had written about sounded new, like we were reading them for the first time.
She also admitted to having no memory of many of these things. Obviously they seemed important enough then for her to have penned them down.

It struck me then that there’s so little that really stands the test of time! Yes, eventually you and I will both be dead and the world will end and the sun will be a cold black hole and there’ll be no life left on earth. I get that! But even as we live today, there is so little that survives even a decade, let alone a lifetime.
The joys and sorrows of today, become a faded memory; a remnant of a time we cannot even recollect. The present then is all we have really. And yet; such is the nature of life that it renders every moment ephemeral.
What then, will stand the test of time?

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Is love enough?

Sometimes when I look at couples, I tend to ask the question – what keeps these two together?

Of course the typical answer one gets is that they ‘love’ each other. 
But the question(s) I’m really asking could be one or more of these:
Is that all?
Is it enough?
Doesn’t one need more?
What if they realize it’s not enough?
What if they want more?

Snippets from conversations that I’ve had with friends tell me that a lot of people are ok with wanting different things from life, and still being together.

For example – one friend mentioned “last Sunday he watched a movie at home, while I read this really interesting book abt..”

Another friend went skiing with his friends while his wife enjoyed a relaxing weekend at home.

A third friend said that him and his wife can never agree on a restaurant – he likes Indian, while she loves Ethiopian.
You get the drift..

Now I’m fully aware that in a healthy relationship, both partners ought to have their own ‘me time’ and do things that they each like; that tagging your partner along for everything you want to do isn’t necessarily a good thing.
However, at what point do you cross over and become two very different people with very different personalities and very strong preferences who just happen to have fallen in love sometime in the past?

When the serotonin responsible for infatuation, and the dopamine that induced attraction wears off, what do you do then? 
How do you continue to be together? Do you count on endorphins that make you feel a sense of attachment and comfort when you are around the person?

I’ve always felt that for people to be together long term, they should have very similar preferences, or at least a fair amount of similarity in their preferences. Music, movies, food, hobbies, philosophies… You get the point!
One may argue that I’m being too idealistic; and that it’s quite rare to find someone whose likes and dislikes would strongly mirror ones own.
But here’s why being ‘idealistic’ may not be such a bad thing!

Scientists define the ‘honeymoon period’ as being anywhere between 18 months – 4 years. The ‘love’ will wear off eventually. And the endorphins will only do so much!

So go find someone who swoons over jazz like you do!
Or who feels like he was a dog in Italy in his last birth because he absolutely loves Italian food same as you! 
Or who sports his (and your) favorite rocker’s haircut!
Because just ‘love’ may not be enough!

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108 sun salutations = exhaustion

The verdict is out. It is every bit as exhausting as it sounds. My muscles are sore and my legs felt like jelly at the end of it. I managed to complete 75 I think. Had to take 4/5 breaks in the 2+ hrs it took. I’m just glad I could stick it out.

The best part about practicing yoga is the teachers you learn from.
In this class, my instructor started with an ‘intention setting’ – what do you want to achieve from this practice and what will you feel when you achieve it?

I’m so glad I went. Hoping to continue my practice this year with the same resolve and determination.

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New Year, New Resolutions

So as is typical, I have my new year resolutions for this year.
The first one (as it is with many women) is to lose weight! 😄 and I’m starting with a bang – 108 sun salutations! Yes, it’s ambitious.. And yes, it sounds crazy! But I’ll report back on Jan 3.

The next resolution is to rejuvenate this blog and write! Write anything and write a lot!

Happy 2014 to all who (still) follow this blog. 😊

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Me & Her

Her: how is he now?
Me: he’s there, as always
Her: btw, im still laughing at facepalm : D
*Her new status Message – Facepalm 10: 13 AM*
Me: its become an actual word which = slaps forehead
Her: that I understood duh!
Me: bangs head on desk has also become a word = headesk
Her: hahahahahah
Me: Really? U shd get on twitter.
Her: facepalm sounds like cyclopalm
Me: hahaha
Her: The Medicine that J takes when she chumms
Me: no she doesnt take cyclopalm she takes Meftalspas and i take it too
Me: its very effective
Her: no she takes cyclopalm
Me: arre… she takes Meftalspas, its an antispasmodic
Her: only we can disucss these things na, flit form one topic to another, one stupidity to another, and you’re getting boring also!
Me: :O

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The two red lines

She wrapped the covers under her body, cocooning herself to keep warm. It was March already but the winters refused to go away. The weather made her gloomy and she’d feel whiny towards the evening. It was warmer in the day but the wind crept up at night. The last of the snow showers paid a visit from time to time. The radiators in the house would whistle intermittently with hot steam but it didn’t seem to make much of a difference.

The clock on the nightstand was telling her to sleep. But sleeping had become increasingly difficult. Her breasts would feel sore, sometimes painful. Made it difficult for her to sleep on her stomach. She got out of bed for a smoke and took the blanket along with her. Rummaging through the papers on the desk, she finally found what she was looking for. She walked up to the fridge, took out a pint of beer and walked over to the window seat with her smoke and the sheet of paper.

A few dim lights in a few lonely houses told her she wasn’t the only one struggling to sleep. She lit her cigarette and inhaled the first calming puff. It was a pre-war neighborhood – walk-ups with brick exteriors that were slowly giving away. Hers was a 4th floor apartment. She didn’t think it would be a problem though she was feeling increasingly tired of carrying laundry and groceries home these days. The constructions were rather odd; with terraces on different levels in different buildings.
The building next to her jutted out and the window gave her a view of the occupant’s living room. Every night, the TV lights would cast shadows on her walls. She took a swig of the cheap beer and swallowed it with distaste. The letter lied in front of her. She didn’t want to read it just yet.

She looked out hoping to find courage somewhere in the dark of the night. The crescent shaped moon reminded her of better nights spent at that very windowseat with wine and him rather than cheap beer and a smoke for company. Nevertheless the smoke did its job. The beer didn’t taste as bad anymore. She wasn’t as restless now. She picked up the letter, this time with resolve. It had been lying in the pile of mail for four days. There was no return address. She didnt even know if he had moved out.

She scanned the letter for an explanation but found none. The tears came rolling and refused to stop. After two more beers and too many smokes, she passed out in her bed.

“I know I’ve hurt you. It all happened in a rush.”

She wanted it to be a bad dream.

“I’m Sorry I just couldn’t help it”

She was in and out of sleep.

“I didn’t know what to do. She was pregnant and…”

She woke up with a start. It was still dark. Her eyes were swollen and the hair was a mess. She wasn’t feeling too good. No it wasn’t the liquor!

She ransacked her closet. She knew she had a few kept somewhere in a drawer. She always kept them, just in case. Ten long frustrated minutes later, she found it.
She wiped her mouth and ran to the bathroom. The tears had dried down on her cheeks. She looked at herself in the mirror and took a deep breath. She splashed cold water on her case. She was now fully awake.
“I didn’t know what to do. She was pregnant and…”
That line rang through her head like a loud, deafening fire alarm. No! It couldn’t be! The fatigue, the soreness, the mood swings… it all began to make sense, although… she shook her head. It couldn’t be! No! It couldn’t be!

It can’t! But what if…? She wanted to check and make sure.
The three minute wait was killing her.

A smoke later, her worst fears had been confirmed.
Two more smokes and Two more strips later, the two red lines had pronounced this the worst day of her life.

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