Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Journey Home

India. That magical enigma, that dream with the harsh reality. All those colors and smells and dialects and faces. It is strange how quickly it all seems so far away, as I settle into the familiarity of my homeland, Sweden. I was surprised at how many different feelings I felt, as I travelled from Delhi to Dubai to Stockholm. I miss India already and I have this strange feeling of regret, like my visit didn't do India justice. At the same time I am more aware of my privilege than ever, so fortunate out of my countrymen to see such a distant  and different place as India, and so fortunate among the people I leave behind in India to travel to a drastically different place like Sweden. I am also so grateful and happy having seen India, and also to be back in Sweden.

Before I continue in my ramblings, I want to share with you one of my favorite Urdu ghazals (poem of rhyming couplets emerging out of Sufi tradition in South Asia) by the famous Urdu poet Mohammed Iqbal. I discovered it through one of my fellow CLS Urdu program participants, who shared it at the Cultural show and tell at the end of our program. And as always it is so hard to properly translate a poem, so I have included the Urdu in romanized script first, followed by two different translations in English. Hopefully you can glean the meaning from the poem and understand why it especially resonates with me right now as I return from India.

Sitaron se aage jahan aur bhi hain
Abhi ishq ke imtehan aur bhi hain
Tahi zindagi se nahin ye fizayen
Yahan siakdon karwaan aur bhi hain
Khana’at na kar aalam-e-rang-o-bu par
Chaman aur bhi aashiyaan aur bhi hain
Agar kho gaya ek nasheman to kya ghum
Maqmat-e-aah-o-fughaan aur bhi hain
Tu shaheen hai parvwaaz hai kaam tera
Tere saamne aasmaan aur bhi hain
Isi roz-o-shab main ulajh kar na rah ja
Ke tere zameen par makaan aur bhi hain
Gaye din ke tanha tha main anjuman mein
Yahaan ab mere raazdaan aur bhi hain

Other worlds exist beyond the stars
More tests of love are still to come.
This vast space does not lack life
Hundreds of other caravans are here.
Do not be content with the world of color and smell,
There are other gardens, other nests, too.
What is the worry if one nest is lost?
There are other places to sigh and cry for!
You are an eagle, flight is your vocation:
You have other skies stretching out before you.
Do not let mere day and night ensnare you,
Other times and places belong to you.
Gone are the days when I was alone in company
Many here are my confidants now.

Beyond the stars there are worlds more
Our quest yet has more tests to pass
This existence alone does not matter
There are boundless journeys more
Do not rest on what you have
There are paradises more to explore
Why worry if you have lost one abode
There are a million addresses to claim
You are the falcon, your passion is flight
And you have skies more to transcend
Lose not yourself in the cycle of days and nights
Within your reach are feats even more
Gone is the day when I was lonesome in the crowd
Today those who resonate my thoughts are more

You can see the differences in the two translations. It really shows how difficult it is to translate a poem! I am excited that I've built this foundation in Urdu now so I can get to the point where I can understand the poem in its original Urdu. 

Speaking of Urdu, on my flight from Delhi to Dubai I watched a pretty good Pakistani movie on my flight (mainly to practice my Urdu), Zinda Bhaag (2013), which was about the drivers of illegal immigration among a small lower middle-class community in Lahore. It was funny and heavy at the same time, dealing effectively with an important topic and showing a side of it that is not explored enough. Then on the flight from Dubai to Stockholm I sat next to an exchange student from Japan off to study at a university in Sweden for a term and a newlywed girl from Bangladesh who was moving to Stockholm to live with her husband in Sweden where he had worked for several years. Neither of them had ever been abroad and I was just reminded of how I almost take for granted my great fortune of having traveled to over 25 countries at the age of 21. This one trip must be so meaningful for them, and my homeland so exciting. By the time I arrived in Sweden, I felt so grateful that I could so easily and legitimately enter such a sought-after country and call it my home.

Pictures of my final days in Delhi will come soon! I've been relaxing in the archipelago for the weekend with my aunt and uncle and cousins, complete with morning swims in 17 C Baltic waters and berry-picking in the forest. Kramar från Sverige! (Hugs from Sweden!)

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