Hindu ki bas eik khasusiat: Baghl mein churi, moen par Ram Ram. My Urdu, at the time, was idiomatically sub-par. I had recently moved from Doha, Qatar, to General Zia ul Haq’s Lahore and his 9th grade Social Sciences textbook was nearly incomprehensible. The teacher read the line with a sneer. I intuited from his body language, and from the twitter that ran through the class, that this was a derisive remark, but I couldn’t quite follow: If someone had just been stabbed in the side with a knife wouldn’t he be crying to the gods in pain? What’s the shame here? I went home and asked my mother. She explained the idiom: Baghl mein churi does not mean a knife in the side but a knife concealed in the armpit of a garment. Moen pay Ram Ram is not a gesture towards pious invocation (like my grandmother’s recitation of Ya Rahman Ya Rahim)—it is meant to stand as insincere. The Hindu has only one characteristic: He conceals a knife, ready to strike, even as his lips intone Ram. I remember wanting to see or speak to a Hindu, to corroborate or defy this assessment, but Lahore in the mid-1980s held only bare traces—a place name, the legends of a boarded-up building, a strange spiral shape buried in the horizon—of its Hindu past. The city of Madho Lal or Chandarbhan had disappeared even from memories. Our teacher was a history enthusiast and he quickly warmed up to my hesitant question: Sir, why are Hindus never to be trusted?Also in Urdu [PDF]. Manan Ahmed writes at Chapati Mystery [more inside]
Visualize a comic book, in your language, and imagine what would be written in the text balloon coming from the mouth of an animal. Now translate it. Derek Abbott of The University of Adelaide (previously) has compiled "the world’s biggest multilingual list" of animal sounds, commands, and pet names.
How the internet is killing the traditional nastaliq script form of Urdu, and how Windows 8 might save it.
Faiz for Dummies. Worth a read even if you don't know Urdu.
The Hindi Urdu Flagship Program at the University of Texas, Austin has a number of freely available online resources on Hindi and Urdu, including vocabulary exercises for beginners, video interviews with native speakers discussing various aspects of their language, a Hindi-language podcast on various topics and the ways one can discuss them in Hindi, and several downloadable books in PDF format. [more inside]
Dr. Frances W. Pritchett, Professor of Modern Indic Languages at Columbia University, New York, has created a superb online collection of resources, all about India and South Asia, its art, history, literature, architecture and culture. Her Indian Routes section (the Index page) is a particularly rich resource. Her vast, colorful and informative site also has many great images. Check out her "scrapbook pages" on the Princes l the Ghaznavids l British Rule l Women's Spaces l Perspectives on Hinduism. [more inside]
Mukthar Mai's blog has been making waves in the news. A young pakistani woman from a remote village, she was gang raped. Her attackers were meting out justice. In a patriarchal conservative culture like hers a woman's honor or izzat is her sole possession. Once lost, there is little left to live for. A BBC reporter transcribes her story into an Urdu language blog. Here are the first, second and the most recent excerpts of her story. To truly comprehend what her action means, consider this story of young Afghan women committing suicide by setting themselves on fire to escape from lives of sexual, physical and other abuse.
Upar Di Gur Gur Thinking about August Fifteenth, of course, leads us to thinking about the rest of the month. Coincidentally, the one man who arguably gave partition it's most enduring image was also as sure a victim of it as anyone else. And I'm sure he would have a very definate reaction to this. (A more exhaustive and bilingual edition here.)