Thursday, December 23, 2004

Bono te Ghalib, aur Meri Christmas

Sometime before 1857 (or maybe even after, which would be more poetic/prophetic)
Ghalib, in the fading twillight of Mughal Delhi, wrote
'Ibn-e-Maryam hua kare koi
Mere dil ki dawaa kare koi...'
(let/if there be a Son of Mary
let/if there be a cure for my heart...)

strange lyrics from the man.
ghalib's poetry drips with caustic wit and occasional, unexpected tenderness
and he used to take the mickey out of organised religion.

maybe this poem was as sarcastic as it doesn't seem.
after all, he'd spent years petitioning the british, who were effectively ruling delhi by then, for a pension.
unsucsessfully.
maybe this was an appeal to their 'christian mercy'.
marvellously displayed a few years later, after the british retook the city in 1857.

a hundred and forty odd years later,
an irish rockstar/songwriter wrote/sang

...they want you to be jesus
they go down on one knee
but they'll want their money back
if you're still alive at thirty three
you're turning tricks
on your crucifix
you're a star...

bono sang this for the soundtrack of the third batman film... bono is a believing christian.

it's interesting to me how two poet/performer/prima-donnas, two mirrors to their respective zeitgeists reflect the image of jesus, separated by a hundred and forty odd years, and by the geographic and cultural distances between 'early modern' South Asia and 'post modern' far western Europe.

both songs occasionally play in my room and in my head.
both of which are physically located not too far from Lajpat Nagar, where the mythic adventures of the rambunctious (never thought i'd use the word!)Punjabi neighbours Paploo and Taploo played out in frantic comedy in Jug Suraiya's middles, over a decade ago, when a Delhi I didn't know yet was a simpler place to be...

There's one particular 'middle' I remember really well.

Paploo and Taploo get puzzled by all the 'X-Mas sale' signs all over Lajpat Nagar. They really don't quite get what the fuss is all about.
So they get drunk and drive around on foggy christmas eve, and shout out at passersby -
'Meri Christmas! Oye, Teri Bhi Christmas!'
(My Christmas! Your Christmas too!)
then they toot 'Junglee Belles' (wild babes) on Taploo's new musical horn...

oh well...
Don't know if Jesus is going to be coming to salve any hearts, (he's probably been warned off by Bono)
but still wishing you all a Merry Christmas, New Delhi style. (as contrasted to New New Delhi style, more on which later...)
Meri Chritsmas. Teri bhi Christmas.
And Junglee Belles to you, if that's your style...

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