Translated a poem by Hindi poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan (1907 – 2003) into English. It’s a figurative and simple translation, not a literal one. Hope you like it 🙂 🙂

Waiting (प्रतीक्षा – हरिवंशराय बच्चन)

If waiting for you is so delightful, how divine would the meeting be?

The night is like the silence that remains
after a melodious tune
lost in dreams with it’s head resting on the stars
still hearing echoes from all directions….
If I could hear your song, how divine would that be?

You never promised to meet me
in the silence of this night
yet at these moments I’m delirious with anticipation
If you could fix a rendezvous, how divine would that be?

Tonight I’m awake with excitement
the sky is perpetually sleepless
but for whom are the constellations hopeful and waiting?
If you could visit my lonely hut, how divine would that be?

Lost in fantasy I imagine your footsteps
but overcome by realization a teardrop falls
and my fancies melt into a sea of despair
If you could embrace me, how divine would that be?


प्रतीक्षा – हरिवंशराय बच्चन

मधुर प्रतीक्षा ही जब इतनी, प्रिय तुम आते तब क्या होता?

मौन रात इस भांति कि जैसे, कोई गत वीण पर बज कर,
अभी-अभी सोई खोई-सी, सपनों में तारों पर सिर धर
और दिशाओं से प्रतिध्वनियाँ, जाग्रत सुधियों-सी आती हैं,
कान तुम्हारे तान कहीं से यदि सुन पाते, तब क्या होता?

तुमने कब दी बात रात के सूने में तुम आने वाले,
पर ऐसे ही वक्त प्राण मन, मेरे हो उठते मतवाले,
साँसें घूमघूम फिरफिर से, असमंजस के क्षण गिनती हैं,
मिलने की घड़ियाँ तुम निश्चित, यदि कर जाते तब क्या होता?

उत्सुकता की अकुलाहट में, मैंने पलक पाँवड़े डाले,
अम्बर तो मशहूर कि सब दिन, रहता अपने होश सम्हाले,
तारों की महफिल ने अपनी आँख बिछा दी किस आशा से,
मेरे मौन कुटी को आते तुम दिख जाते तब क्या होता?

बैठ कल्पना करता हूँ, पगचाप तुम्हारी मग से आती,
रगरग में चेतनता घुलकर, आँसू के कणसी झर जाती,
नमक डलीसा गल अपनापन, सागर में घुलमिलसा जाता,
अपनी बाँहों में भरकर प्रिय, कण्ठ लगाते तब क्या होता?


Mahakavi Gurajada Apparao

Happy “Telugu Language Day” once again 🙂

One of my biggest regrets is that I’m not very proficient in my mother tongue – Telugu. Though I can speak and read Telugu, I can hardly write in it (due to lack of practice) and am not well read in Telugu literature. This is because I grew up in Bengaluru and was more exposed to Kannada and Hindi in school.

However, I’m also not as proficient as I’d like to be in Hindi and Kannada as well. It’s really sad that most of us Indians no longer give much importance to learning our own languages and reading our literature. We’re too carried away by English and “foreign languages” and think we can’t gain much by learning our own languages. I invested a lot of time learning French and Italian, and now wish I’d spent my time on one foreign language and one Indian language. It’s indisputable that one must be well versed in English, but that needn’t be at the cost of one’s own language. Humans are naturally multilingual, and we must take advantage of this fact and master as many as we can.

Needless to say it’s very important to preserve our languages and read the rich literature that they offer, because culture and language are inextricably linked and if one disappears, the other will too. We spend a lot of time fighting over language issues when we don’t really need to. We can use link languages like English and Hindi when we meet other Indians whose mother tongues are different from ours, and try to speak in our own native languages when we meet people from our own state – it’s such a simple solution. Like I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, knowing more languages and using them does a lot of good to us intellectually and even health-wise. People who know more languages and are more proficient, turn out to be much better at problem solving and learning new concepts. They’re also less likely to suffer from dementia in old age.

Even if we’re not proficient in our mother tongue, a great way to get acquainted with our culture is to read the English translations of great Indian literary works. If we can read and enjoy Tolstoy in English without even knowing a single word of Russian, we can enjoy the books written in Indian languages as well.

So, I recently did some research on Gurajada Apparao (1862 – 1915) – one of the greatest Telugu writers of all time. He wrote the path-breaking play “Kanyasulkam” in 1892, which is considered the greatest play ever written in Telugu. Being one of the stalwarts in Telugu literature, he holds the titles “Kavisekhara” and “Abyudaya Kavitha Pithamahudu” (both mean “mahakavi” or “great poet”).

Surprisingly, Gurajada was an excellent but little known writer in English as well! He started his writing career in 1882 as a poet writing in English! His English poem “Sarangadhara” written in 1882 makes him one of the first Indo-English writers of India, preceding young Aurobindo, Tagore, and Sarojini Naidu.

The poem was first published in the “Indian Leisure Hour” at Vizianagaram, and subsequently published in Calcutta. He was a pioneering writer, very original and wrote in blank verse even back then. He also wrote the preface to his magnum opus “Kanyasulkam” in English. And like his contemporary poet Gidugu Ramamurthy, he believed that written Telugu must be simplified so that it can reach the masses.

Dr. Srinivas Sistla, who’s a Professor of Art History at the Andhra University in Vishakhapatnam has been doing a wonderful job of translating Telugu literary works into English. He has translated some of Gurajada’s short stories and the long classic poem “Amuktamalyada” written by Sri Krishna Deva Raya in the 16th century into English, among other works. I recently read his translation of the short stories and it was wonderful to get acquainted with a great writer like Gurajada via those stories. If you’re interested in reading translations of Telugu literature or knowing more on the topic, you can look for his books or contact him.

I hope to catch up on more of Telugu literature in the future and on Hindi literature as well. Right now, Hindi is the Indian language that I’m most proficient in and it also has a very vast and rich literature. I would encourage those of you who also have literary tastes to spare some time and explore Indian literature, it’s an immensely pleasurable and rewarding experience 🙂

Here’s a very small but beautiful excerpt from Gurajada’s long English poem “Sarangadhara”:

“With tempting hues the lilies blow
Upon the lake of Life;
But all below, unseen they grow
The weeds of sin and strife,
The plant of wealth on guile is grown
And watered is with sin;
The craft of power on blood is built
Its sails are puffed with din,
O not to me that power and wealth
O not to me the world;
In muddied streams there life doth flow
And vapours dim are curled,
Mine be these woods, these hills, these dales
Mine be the crystal stream;
Like wildbird in these happy vales
A happy heart I roam.”



Happy “Telugu Language Day”!!


Happy “Telugu Language Day” to all Telugu friends 🙂 🙂
Today is తెలుగు భాషా దినోత్సవం!!

Telugu Language Day is being celebrated today to coincide with the birthday of poet Gidugu Ramamurthy (1863 – 1940). He was a prominent writer and one of the earliest linguists. He advocated the use of Telugu comprehensible to a layman and opposed the use of scholarly language.

Interestingly in ancient days, Telugu was a traditional language known as “Grandhikam”. This scholarly language drew ire and opposition and was gradually simplified over the years. Ramamurthy was one of the prominent scholars who championed the cause of using simple language in literary texts. After many deliberations by him and other scholars, “Grandhikam Telugu” was gradually replaced by “Vyavaharika Bhasha”.

Once again తెలుగు భాషా దినోత్సవం శుభాకాంక్షలు to all Telugu friends! 🙂

Tum jo hamare meet na hote by Shailendra

This is a lovely Mukesh song from the movie “Aashiq”. Have translated the beautiful lyrics written by Shailendra into English, and have posted the Hindi lyrics as well 🙂

If you weren’t my companions
my lyrics wouldn’t be melodies
If you didn’t make my life colorful
my dreams would be unfulfilled

If I didn’t have an audience
why would I sing, and would I write?
I would have remained
helpless and lonely
If you weren’t my companions
my lyrics wouldn’t be melodies

Your twinkling images beckon me
like stars in the sky
and I’d like to soar upwards
and hum again:
“If you weren’t my companions
my lyrics wouldn’t be melodies”

तुम जो हमारे मीत न होते, गीत ये मेरे गीत न होते
हँसके जो तुम ये रंग न भरते, ख़्वाब ये मेरे ख़्वाब न होते
तुम जो हमारे …

तुम जो न सुनते क्यों गाता मैं,
तुम जो न सुनते क्यों गाता मैं
बेबस घुटकर रह जाता मैं
तुम जो हमारे …

सूनी डगर का एक सितारा
सूनी डगर का एक सितारा
झिलमिल झिलमिल रूप तुम्हारा
तुम जो हमारे …

जी करता है उड़ कर आऊँ,
जी करता है उड़ कर आऊँ
सामने बैठूँ और दोहराऊँ
तुम जो हमारे …

Chhodo Kal Ki Baatein by Prem Dhawan

Wish you all a very Happy Independence Day!! Here’s my favorite patriotic song, have translated it to English today  😊

Chhodo Kal Ki Baatein by Prem Dhawan/Translated to English by Aparna Rao

Let’s leave the past behind
yesterday is an old story
We’ll work together
and craft a new narrative
Create a new history
We’re Indians, We’re Indians

We’ve broken old bondages
why deliberate on them?
Man has set foot on the moon
and we’re entering a new world
we’re youthful again
full of new emotions, fresh hopes
We’re Indians, We’re Indians

We’ve to erect many a Tajmahal
we’ve to sculpt many Ajantas
so many oceans to cross
so many hurdles to overcome
we’re youthful again
full of new emotions, fresh hopes
We’re Indians, We’re Indians

Let’s make hard work our mission
and craft our own destiny
let’s make this holy land
an India more beautiful than dreams
we’re youthful again
full of new emotions, fresh hopes
We’re Indians, We’re Indians

We paid the price of freedom with our lives
so many were martyred
and we’re now free
we need to look out for every enemy
we’re youthful again
full of new emotions, fresh hopes
We’re Indians, We’re Indians

Look up and aim at the stars
our land has many hidden treasures
Ganga is golden and Yamuna is silvery
and we can reap harvests on stones
we’re youthful again
full of new emotions, fresh hopes
We’re Indians, We’re Indians


छोड़ो कल की बातें – Chhodo Kal Ki Baatein

Movie/Album: हम हिन्दुस्तानी (1960)
Music By: उषा खन्ना
Lyrics By: प्रेम धवन
Performed By: मुकेश

छोड़ो कल की बातें, कल की बात पुरानी
नए दौर में लिखेंगे, मिल कर नई कहानी
हम हिन्दुस्तानी, हम हिन्दुस्तानी

आज पुरानी ज़ंजीरों को तोड़ चुके हैं
क्या देखें उस मंज़िल को जो छोड़ चुके हैं
चांद के दर पर जा पहुंचा है आज ज़माना
नए जगत से हम भी नाता जोड़ चुके हैं
नया खून है नई उमंगें, अब है नई जवानी
हम हिन्दुस्तानी…

हमको कितने ताजमहल हैं और बनाने
कितने हैं अजंता हम को और सजाने
अभी पलटना है रुख कितने दरियाओं का
कितने पवर्त राहों से हैं आज हटाने
नया खून है…

आओ मेहनत को अपना ईमान बनाएं
अपने हाथों से अपना भगवान बनाएं
राम की इस धरती को गौतम की भूमि को
सपनों से भी प्यारा हिंदुस्तान बनाएं
नया खून है…

दाग गुलामी का धोया है जान लुटा के
दीप जलाए हैं ये कितने दीप बुझा के
ली है आज़ादी तो फिर इस आज़ादी को
रखना होगा हर दुश्मन से आज बचा के
नया खून है…

हर ज़र्रा है मोती आँख उठाकर देखो
मिट्टी में सोना है हाथ बढ़ाकर देखो
सोने की ये गंगा है चांदी की जमुना
चाहो तो पत्थर पे धान उगाकर देखो
नया खून है…

Sadness of the Moon


Remembered one of the beautiful poems on the moon “Tristesses de la Lune” (Sadness of the Moon), by the famous French poet Charles Baudelaire (1821 – 1867). It’s interesting that most of the famous poems on the moon are sad, romantic ones. This poem is from his collection of poems “Fleurs du Mal” (Flowers of Evil).

After reading it again today, I was so enamored by it’s exquisite beauty and inspired to translate it. There are many existing translations, but decided to try my own  🙂

Learnt French a long time back and am out of touch, but luckily, for a decent translation one needs to be more proficient in the language you’re translating into (English). Have done a simplistic and figurative and not a literal word by word translation.

The original poem is simply superb in it’s imagery and emotion, and my translation can never equal it. However, it was great fun trying, and using all my poetic license :):)

Hope you like it. Also pasting the original French version for those of you who know French.

Tristesses de la Lune (Sadness of the Moon) by Charles Baudelaire/Translated by Aparna Rao

Today, the moon resembles a pining beauty
dreamy, languorous and distracted
lying amidst the pillows on her bed
trying in vain to fall asleep

She sighs in despair
on soft heaps of cushions
and turns her eyes to the floral clouds
rising in the sky

Lost in listless languor
She sometimes lets a teardrop fall
on the earth

A fervent poet, also unable to sleep
grasps the teardrop in his outstretched palm
as if it were a sparkling opal
and hides it in his heart

Tristesses de la Lune – Charles Baudelaire

Ce soir, la lune rêve avec plus de paresse;
Ainsi qu’une beauté, sur de nombreux coussins,
Qui d’une main distraite et légère caresse
Avant de s’endormir le contour de ses seins,

Sur le dos satiné des molles avalanches,
Mourante, elle se livre aux longues pâmoisons,
Et promène ses yeux sur les visions blanches
Qui montent dans l’azur comme des floraisons.

Quand parfois sur ce globe, en sa langueur oisive,
Elle laisse filer une larme furtive,
Un poète pieux, ennemi du sommeil,

Dans le creux de sa main prend cette larme pâle,
Aux reflets irisés comme un fragment d’opale,
Et la met dans son coeur loin des yeux du soleil.

PS: The attached photo is of the partial lunar eclipse on August 7, 2017 clicked by Ved Mall in Mumbai.