PARWAZ 2010: A Review

Parwaz ’10 has finally arrived.  For all the hype that’s supposed to build up in the run up to its arrival, one is wont to see people having philosophical epiphanies, while reading it in the corridors, or the lawns, or the library, or wherever.  But, you get the point?  Parwaz is HERE.

Things aren’t hopeless; this year’s Parwaz has something to offer.  The fact that it is better [English section*] than last year’s, is an accolade in and of itself.

First I will discuss, what I thought was worthwhile in Parwaz ’10, and then, obviously, in a PMC Watch-esque style I’ll indulge in some criticism too.

I’ll be honest; I opened Parwaz, with the intent to find something to criticize.  And, having flipped through the first few pages, I did feel quite justified.  But as I laid my eyes, much to the chagrin of my brain, on more and more material, I realized that there was something substantial to be found in it: if read it wouldn’t be a complete waste of time.

Let’s take a few noteworthy examples:

The title that first caught my eye was “Free Will Eschewed”.  I admit my weakness for ‘big’ words, hence the excitement.

Even though, the piece was disjointed at every other paragraph, and that the author seemingly contradicted herself.  I still thought it merited mention because there was a peculiar abundance of difficult and obscure words in it, many having been employed properly.  The author deserves credit for that.  Though, if it had been well thought out, it could’ve been a great piece.

Another article that stood out was verbosely titled: “Ridiculous Fashion Modes (Invented by Ignorance and Adopted by Folly)”.  This article contrasted well with the abovementioned piece in many ways.  It had coherence, was easy to read, and made sense.

Its content happened to discuss a very pertinent issue: the shallow standards of our society, and what it imagines  the so-called ‘modernity’ to be, and tries hard to adopt, especially through ‘fashion’(faayyshaan).

The article also had a hint of wit.  For instance:

“…Their clothing is beyond description (seriously!  But I’ll present a little picture), pants would seem to fall any minute, their hairstyle[s] are beyond imagination, working like new mountain ranges.  These ‘dudes’ (I am stressing on it, mind that) with spikes look more like a bunch of porcupines.”

The author has done a decent job, she should continue writing.

Another piece that I particularly liked was “Group Nomenclature” , because it discussed an issue that touches at the very heart and core of PMC’s culture: Group-ism, a need for ‘identity’, and the boundaries, all so meticulously constructed, that exist at PMC.  Or, how people feel compelled to ‘change’ their selves, and adopt a new social ‘identity’.  How, we so often see that those who only yesterday were meek bookish nerds, turn, almost over night into local versions of ‘Jonas Brothers’ [Click to get a better idea :P], or ‘Gossip Girl(s)’ [Yes, another pop culture reference, but no pic this time].

The article had a good dose of sarcasm, and the author cleverly utilized medical terminology, and that added to the effect immensely.  It’s worth a read.

There were quite a few ‘discourses’ on religion too, which is commendable.  But, they were either pseudo-intellectual interpretations (such as that of Shikwa/Jawab-e-Shikwa), OR, reminiscing and lamenting the course of history.  When indeed, the need of the hour is to talk about ‘relevant’ issues from an Islamic perspective, and connect past to present and make “it” relevant.

Much of the rest was the same old drill, with the same trite and pedestrian topics:  we need democracy, we need this, we need that, and of course ‘political’ commentary having self-bestowed the ‘expertise’ to do so.

Then, there were the token ‘My first day at PMC…’/ ‘How I love PMC…’ topics.  Nothing wrong with it, but there are innumerable ‘real’ issues at PMC that one could talk about and there’s a dearth of material on these.  Instead of paying lip service to already used and abused topics, explore more avenues.  Nonetheless, the authors should be congratulated, as they at least chose to write!

In passing, I must mention that I do have a bone to pick with one particular poem, “The Potion of Love: A Panacea” .  I’ve been befuddled with this rather convoluted (and probably tasteless) recipe of ‘Love’, as it does not make much sense, even with layers of metaphor.  The aspiring poetess states that it is love [quote], “…for which cupid shared the blame.”  Apparently, it is the ‘magic’ of this cupid’s love that gives [quote], “…birth to hope, banishing barbarous plunders.”  Is she suggesting, that if every man in the world had a woman to love, and every woman a man, it would be a ‘Panacea’ [remedy/solution] to all of the world’s miseries?  I am confident, even a Bob Marley intoxicated with Marijuana, would think this far-fetched.

Now, to some constructive criticism, if I may.  Allow me to begin with the ‘editorial’.  I can’t recall having last read such a deplorable ‘editorial’.  To mention just one illustrious mistake; whoever even writes an ‘introduction’ (‘tamheed’) in a second paragraph?!  And, to think the Editorial Board had a ‘whole’ year to get it correct.

A further proof of the lackadaisical job done by the respectable Editor-in-Chief, is how he made a factual and historical error in one of his numerous articles, by calling the caliph ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz (ra) : ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz.  What happened to proof-reading?  Cross-checking?  In short, editorial duties?!

Another beautiful example of how the whole range of Editors, Sub-Editors, Asisstant-Editors […], were completely blind-sided by the enormity of their task, that they seemingly decided to not do it at all: is plagiarism!  Yes, they even managed to have plagiarized material published.

To quote someone is one thing, but to have a whole page filled with someone else’s words, and write two measly sentences of ones own at the beginning, then have it published under one’s own name [even after having mentioned the actual author ‘Gabriel Garcia Marquez’], is blatant plagiarism.  No excuse for it.

I really can’t comprehend this conduct of Parwaz’s editors.  If they take their jobs more seriously, it could greatly uplift Parwaz’s stature.

Notwithstanding the unforgiveable editorial shenanigans, there IS a silver lining.  In this year’s Parwaz, some raw talent has shone through, which definitely needs to be developed.  Even with the unoriginal material, the standard of language, content, and its delivery has improved.  This by all means is an achievement.  Parwaz certainly has cause to celebrate, but still not much to boast.

For the Love of Urdu.

Urdu!

I have been reading Mushtaq Ahmad Yusufi lately, and even though I can’t comprehend half of it, I feel enamored by it.  Not just with the way he writes, or what he writes about, but the vehicle of his expression: the language.  Not just trite, repetitive trash that passes off as ‘fiction’ these days, but refined and rich language that reminds one of what Urdu is (or was) all about.  Words and sentences that create a flurry in one’s mind, and add color to one’s imagination.

The greatest asset of an expressive language is not merely being a means of ‘communication’; rather it’s giving meaning and, layers of meanings to things small and large.  It is this expansiveness of words that gives life to ideas and concepts.  If words or their usage become obsolete, that much of meaning and understanding is also lost.  This is the greatest tragedy faced by Urdu today.  The Urdu as it was known, and what it represented in its heyday of literary achievements and scholarly output is arguably no more.  What little use of proper Urdu and its appreciation remains in our collective conscience must be preserved.

The following excerpt from towards the end of first chapter of Yusufi’s ‘Aab-e-Gumm’, I found it amusing yet true.

 

مرزا اکثر طعنہ دیتے ہیں کہ تم ان معدودے چند

لوگوں میں سے ہو جنہوں نے متروکہ جائداد کا کوئ کلیم داخل نہیں کیا

وجہ یہ کہ چلتے وقت تم اپنے ساتھ متروکات کا دفینہ کھود کر

! سموچا ڈھو کر پاکستان لے آئے

تفنن برطرف اگر ان میں سے ایک لفظ جی ہاں

صرف ایک لفظ بھی دوبارہ رائج ہو گیا تو سمجھوں گا عمر بھر کی محنت سوارت ہوئ

 

One needs to read Yusufi, to see the sheer humor in this excerpt.  I thought the use of word ‘matruka’ was quite clever.  Whether the person the person who said it intended it the same way as I am interpreting it, it does get the point across at so many levels, that Urdu words and terms are becoming antiquated.

But, the question is; if something has become obsolete, what is it replaced with?  And, what are the reasons?

Urdu really is becoming ‘matruka’, left off, unclaimed, irrelevant…

…Because of the cultural and social status we have accorded it.  It is considered unbecoming to use it in formal settings (and increasingly in informal ones too).

…Because, we are required to read, write, and understand ideas, concepts, skills – knowledge – in a language other than Urdu.  I’m not against it, I’m utilizing this very language.  But, the lack of emphasis on Urdu has meant that ideas, concepts, ethical precepts, religious injunctions, that are all by far and large better explained, or need to be explicated in Urdu, for the general masses, are overlooked.  If the ‘educated’ ones are failing at this, this could only result in gradual irrelevance and loss of language, and with it such crucial knowledge.

What is happening to us, more complex than ‘loss’ of language, but it is a critical aspect of this dilemma, this ‘loss’ of culture.

وہ لہر نہ پھر دل میں جاگی وہ رنگ نہ لوٹ کے پھر آیا

 

There’s no particular reason for singling out Mushtaq Ahmad Yusufi’s words, while writing this little article, except that his Urdu is extremely expressive (and hard!), and I had the epiphany of writing this down, while reading Yusufi.  I’m learning Urdu, for which reasons are many (some discussed above), and this is just a small token of appreciation.  As I learn and understand it more, I intend to cherish the fact that I ‘know’ it.  For now this should suffice.

 

یہ افسانہ اگرچہ سرسری ہے

ولے اس وقت کی لذت بھری ہے

 

Inside the Walls

Inside the Walls

I had originally decided to write a long post on the little trip I made with some friends to the Old City Lahore.  I had even managed to write four pages of a rough draft (I have a habit of writing on paper before I type it out).  But I decided to scratch the idea.  In fact, it wasn’t exactly a trip, because once we entered that intricate labyrinth of narrow allies and streets, that is old city Lahore, we didn’t know where we were going.  But, we kept on, turning from street into another…

…I guess this really is the whole allure of ‘exploring’, you don’t always know where you are going, or what you may come across.  But, also whatever you see, you find meaning in it…

An old building we saw, while finding our way through the slender streets:

After managing our way through a particularly narrow street, we suddenly found ourselves in much more open space, and realized we had finally found Masjid Wazir Khan:

 

Inside the Mosque:

 

 

 

In a bid to explore even more, since we had much time at hand…we decided to look for some other historical places.  It turns out, alongside Badshahi Masjid, and Masjid Wazir Khan, there are other mosques that are quite historic.  One of them being a certain ‘Saleh Kamboh Mosque’, which is mistakenly referred to as ‘Chinian Wali Masjid’ in many travel guides, which we later found out is yet another Mosque.

 

Outside Saleh Kamboh Mosque:

 

Probably the only thing I regret from the trip, is having missed the authentic Lahori breakfast, and that too in the very center of real Lahore, when I had the chance…I guess there’s always another time.

طبی مدرسے کا احوالِ خفیفی

دور تلک اندھیرا ہو ، نہ روشنی نہ سویرا ہو ،تو جو روشنی دکھائے،جواندھیروں کو مٹائے،قلب کو جلائے،وہ یہ طبی مدرسہ کہلائے۔شھر کے جھیڑوں سے دور،کلاک ٹاور سی مفرور ،اپنی آغوش میں سینکڑوں ایسوں کو سمیٹےجن پر دنیاے طب کے باقی سارے دروازے بند ہوںاس مدرسے کی آن بان دیدنی۔

اپنے اندرایسے موتی سمیٹے جن کی کوئٍی قیمت نہ کوئی مول،اور ایسی موتیاں جن پر کسی کا نہ زور۔  ایسے آفاقی طبیب جب منہ پر مسکرائیں تو آپ دس فٹ دور جائیں ،دانت دکھائیں تو گوہرًًََِ نایاب شرمائیں،زلفیں اڑائیں تو جی متلائے ،زبان کھولیں تو خاندان کا پتا بتائیں ،ہاتھ ملائیں تو انگشت بدنداں ،سینے سے لگ جائیں تو انگشت نہ جانےکہاں کہاںّ۔موتیاں بھی شاز مختلف نہیں ، ان کی ذات پر نہ جائیں حرکات پر جائیں۔  ایک سرخی ایک وقت میںکے اصول پہ پیرا ، گلابوں کو شرمائیں ،دلوں کو جلائیں ،سینوں کو تڑپائیں ۔ انگریزی بولیں تو انگریز شرمائیں،زبان پر ایسے نشیب و فراز کہ الفاظ تھک جائیں ،باہر آئیں تو ھوٹل ،ھوٹییل اور ھیلو،ھیلییو بن جائے ،موتیوں کےقریب آؤ تو دور جائیں ،دور جاؤ تو مسکرائیں آنکھیں ملائیں ، دل لبھائیں ۔ پھر یہ صنعت،یہ سرخیاں،یہ شوخیاں چہ معنی دارد؟مریٕٕضوں کے لیے پانچ سال مریض تیار کرتے اس مدرسے کی مزید بپتا قابلّ شنید ہے، سننے کی سکت تو ہو۔

نوٹ۔ اس تحریر میں کالج کی ایکخاص مخلوق کی جانب اشارہ ہے ،یہ اصول سب پر لاگو نہیں۔

dooor talak andhera ho, na roshni na sawera ho, to jo roshni dikhaaye, jo andheron ko mitaaye, qalb ko jalaaye, wo ye tibbi madrissa kehlaaye. Shehar ke jhagron se door, clock tower se mafroor, apni aaghosh mein sainkron aison ko samaitay jin par duniya-e-tibb ke baaqi saare darwazay band haun. Iss madrissay ki aan-baan deedni.

apne andar aise moti samaitay jin ki koi qeemat na koi mol, aur aisi “mautiyaan” jin par kisi ka na zor. Aise aafaaqi tabeeb jab moonh par muskuraayen to aap 10 foot dooor jaayen, daant dikhaayen to gohar-e-nayaab sharmaayen, zulfein uraayen to jee matlaayen, zabaan kholein to khaandaan kaa pata bataayen, haath milaayen to angasht-bad-nadaan, seenay se lag jaayen to angasht na-jaane kahaan kahaan.

“Mautiyaan” bhi shaaz mukhtalif nahi, in ki zaat par na jaayen harkaat pe jaayen. “1 surkhi 1 waqt mein” ke asool pe paida, gulaabon ko sharmaayen, dilon ko jalaayen, seenon ko tarpaayen. Angrezi bolain to angraiz sharmaayen, zabaan par aise nashaib-o-faraaz ke alfaaz thak jaayen, bahar aayen to “hotel”, “hotiyell” aur “hello”, “helliyo” ban jaayen, “mautiyon” ke qareeb aao to dooor jaayen, dooor jaao to muskuraayen aankhen milaayen, dil lubhaayen. Phir ye san’at, ye surkhiyaan, ye shokhiyaan cheh-maani-daard? mareezon ke liye 5 saal mareez tayyaar karte iss madrissay ki mazeed bapta qaabil-e-shaneed hai, sun’ne ki sakat to ho.

Note: iss tehreer mein college ki 1 “khaas makhlooq” ki jaanib ishara hai, ye asool sab par laagoo nahi.