POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Dec 24, 2009 AT 00:09 IST ,  Edited At: Dec 24, 2009 01:06 IST

The rather bizarre news of a wedding reception in Ghalib's haveli yesterday shouldn't really be surprising.  After all we are a nation that doesn't even seem to care despite the fact that earlier this year there had been reports of  35 "national monuments" having gone missing.

As a building, Ghalib's haveli has hardly anything remarkable about it, and it was just many of the rented houses Ghalib happened to live in. Despite the report, it does not really have any of the personal possessions of the great poet and had been done-up after much neglect earlier, at best as a tourist destination so that one gets to visit the physical space the maestro once inhabited. Which is, of course, not to say that it is perfectly okay for people to hold wedding receptions in it. What was remarkable about the story was how blasé everyone sounded.  As a friend put it in a mail:

Sad. But the usual blaming of the govt. is foolish. After all, it was the groom's family that thought it was a splendid idea. Their guests were not upset. And sure no neighbor thought it was wrong. Parts of the structure are still held by some individuals who can't give a damn for Ghalib. The whole building should have been acquired, if the Ghalibwalas were serious. Delhi folks are not museum-goers, nor do they care for heritage buildings. So are the gentle folks of Lucknow too.

Talking of heritage and buildings, there is some good news about Ghalib's mazaar (do scroll down to see the mysterious sightings of his cat, dog and goat too!). Ghalib wouldn't possibly give a damn about either of the above two bits of news either and would certainly be happier if his poetry was read, recited and remained a living tradition. Talking of which, when the recent Liberhan commission was being discussed in Parliament, Congress's Abhishek Manu Sanghvi recited "gazab kiyaa tere vaade pe aetbaar kiyaa..." and attributed this Daag Dehlavi sh'r to Ghalib. No one contradicted him. He followed it up with a Mir couplet - or so he said: 

nahii shikvaa mujhe kuchh bewaafaaii kaa hargiz
gilaa tab ho agar tuune kissii se kabhii nibhaaii ho

And many  MPs -- I heard three myself in the course of one Rajya Sabha session -- cutting across party lines, recited: 

tuu idhar udhar kii naa baat kar
yah bataa ki Kafilaa kyon luTaa
mujhe rahjano se garaz nahin
terii rahbarii kaa sawaal hai

It got to be so repetitive that one MP (Congress's Rajeev Shukla) who arrived late, and perhaps did not know how often the sh'r had already been quoted, was badly jeered when he launched right into it. But he wouldn't relent and carried on nonchalantly, "chaar baar bolaa gayaa tou ab paaNchvii baar bhii sun lo... "

I had meant to go over the proceedings to see which shaayars were popular with our MPs but somehow never got round to doing it. I do, however, recall at least one Ghalib sh'r was quoted by Najma Heptullah: aah ko chaahiye...And I think they did do "hamko un se wafaa kii hai umiid..." as well.

POSTED BY Sundeep Dougal ON Dec 24, 2009 AT 00:09 IST ,  Edited At: Dec 24, 2009 01:06 IST
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Daily Mail
Jan 14, 2010
07:31 AM
Famous parliamentarian Piloo Mody, was known to often quote [in the house], "Barbaad gulistan karne ko bas ek hi uluu kaafi hai, har shaaq pe uluu baitha hai anjaam-e-gulistaan kya hoga".
asif sultan
shreveport, usa
Dec 28, 2009
04:43 PM
The poet Zauq was a contemporary of Ghalib and the official poet at Emperor Bahadur Shah's court. A few years back Delhi Administration built a urinal near his tomb. This is India. Yahan sab chalta hai.
Siddhartha Deb
Ahmadi, Kuwait
Dec 25, 2009
07:20 PM
Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib was one of the greatest urdu and persian poets of india,unfortunately urdu the language is literally breathing its last in the region of its birth,thanks to the congress party and its goons like Pant who were instrumental in this tragedy.
jameel mohd ali
madina, Saudi Arabia
Dec 24, 2009
01:58 AM
Professor CM Naim writes:

It may be fun for someone to go through a year's parliamentary proceedings and list all the pieces of poetry quoted by the savants.

In re Ghalib's grave: Ghalib was buried in the haaR or family graveyard of the Loharu nawabs, since he was related to them through his mother and also by marriage. His grave only had a headstone from that time. The superstructure we see now was built, I believe, by Suhrab Modi after the huge success of his "Mirza Ghalib" (Story by Manto, no less). That can be checked in the newspapers of that time. If that is the case, Modi deserves to be remembered. I recall reading quite a bit about it as a student, soon after the film came out in 1954.

I can't imagine why any Nizam would spend money on fixing up the graveyard of the Loharu folks. I visited the grave first in 1956. (Or was it 1955?) Got off the bus on a deserted and horrid road. Walked a couple of hundred yards, may be less, down a meandering dusty path that went down an incline and had various structures and empty spaces on both sides, four or five feet above the path. I definitely had to scramble up at one point to reach the grave. It had the present superstructure, but the area around it was rough and unpaved as I remember. More information about who is buried in that yard there may be obtained from the Loharu family. Hali wrote that Ghalib was buried at the foot of the grave of his father-in-law, Mirza Ilahi Bakhsh.
Sundeep Dougal
New Delhi, India
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