Of Kashmiri and kangri

This refers to the highly informative “The good old kangri” by Kiran Narain (Spectrum, Jan 14). It is said that a kangri is to a Kashmiri what Laila is to Majnu. Indeed, a Kashmiri and his kangri are inseparable, like true bosom pals.

Correctly called kanger, it traces its origin to hanjis (boatmen), decades ago. Since hanjis sailed across waterways like lakes and rivers in wooden boats, it was impossible for them to light fires in them to keep warm. So they hit upon the novel method of lighting fires in earthern bowls, which were later placed in wicker baskets, now often dyed in various colours. Kangris have now become an integral part of Kashmiri culture also reflecting man, his environment and use of local material.

The kangri is truly a mobile angithi. The Kashmiris even sleep with them to ward off icy winter chill to prevent cold and cough and improve digestion too. However, modern research reveals that it can cause cancer to the body part most exposed to it. Apart from dowry, it is given in alms with money/embers in it.



In select company

When I handed to the Editor-in-Chief photographs and text concerning the new bird, Bugun Liocichla, discovered, I was hopeful that it might be a news-scoop for The Tribune.

A friend from Hyderabad tells me that The Tribune was probably the only daily in India to carry the bird’s photograph on the front page. It was certainly the only one to carry the discovery as a cover story (Saturday Extra, The Tribune, October 21, 2006).

And what is more (which might please the readers of The Tribune), they are in the select company of The New York Times which too carried the bird on its front page on Sept 13, 2006!

The Tribune is also in the select company of another kind. The Sun in the UK, I am told, reserves it page 3 for a full-blown nude. But on Sept 13, 2006, they carried our bird side by side with the nude!

Lt-Gen BALJIT SINGH (retd), Chandigarh

Debate needed

This refers to “Whose land is it anyway” by Pratik Kanjilal (Spectrum, Jan 7). India, a primarily agrarian state, essentially needs rapid industrialisation in a competitive world market, for over-all growth and an ascending GDP graph.

A debate at the national level, therefore, is mandatory in and outside Parliament, to arrive at a consensus and guidelines for land acqusition by private and public undertakings in the present political and economic scenario.

Fertile agricultural land of small land holdings should be kept outside the scope of land acquisition except in extreme cases. Unproductive land, wasteland or abandoned land should be earmarked and listed in revenue records of the district and state for new industrial projects as and when required.

In exceptional circumstances like defence, irrigation, strategic layout, the land owners should be liberally compensated and provided free accommodation and two-generation employment. Housing should be planned vertically rather then horizontally to save land. Use underground for storage, parking, etc. n

B.M. SINGH, Amritsar


Ghalib held Aazurdah in high esteem

This refers to Mr Bhagwan Singh’s letter “Ghalib, an extraordinary free thinker” (The Sunday Tribune, Dec 3). I want to share another interesting incident related to Mufti Sadruddin Aazurdah and Ghalib.

Once at an informal and friendly get-together at Nawab Mustafa Khan Shefta’s house where Ghalib, Aazurdah and Moulana Hali, all accomplished poets, were present, there ensued a lively discussion on poetic talent. Ghalib who knew very well about the disrespectful and apathetic attitude of Aazurdah towards young poets, devised a plan to catch him unawares. (Mufti Aazardah was enamoured of the classical poets only. He treated the new, upcoming and budding poets with disdain and his attitude towards such poets was saucy and pedantic. Still Ghalib held him in high esteem and Aazurdah too was benevolent towards him.)

Ghalib started reciting one of his lyrics composed in Persian, and asked Aazurdah to listen carefully to the lyric of a Persian poet. At first Aazurdah was all praise for the composition, but soon he saw through the trick of Ghalib and suggestively remarked: A well-composed poem, but the poet seems to be a novice.

Ghalib continued his recital, when he reached at the concluding couplet, he turned to Aazurdah and recited in soulful tone the following couplet:

Tu aey ke maihv-e-sukhan gustaraan-e-pesheeni

Mabaash munkir-e-Ghalib ke dar zamaana-e-tust (O thou who is in a trance listening to the poetic eloquence of a poet reciting in thy presence, never dost thou disbelieve in Ghalib just because he is a poet of thine era).

Ghalib was a free thinker, yet he never advocated the practice of wine-bibbing for others. He was fully aware of and conversant with the subtleties of sin and virtue. He perceived the frailties of man with human eye. We can say about him in the following lines: Na sufi bood, na mulla, na bey taufeeq roohaani, Faquat mee kard bar duniya nigah ba chashm-e-insanni (He was neither a mystic nor a cleric, yet he was not sans the gift of spirituality. He perceived the world with the eye of a common man).




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