Chand Raat

The rooftop, chath, is the hub of Chand Raat (Night of the Moon). The point being to go up, and gaze at the sky – hoping to catch a glimpse of that peculiarly slight new moon. A sight which will mark the end of Ramadan. In my short moon-gazing life, I think I have only seen this miracle once or twice. Usually, some bearded fellow in a skyscraper in Karachi “saw” it for all of us and the televisions and radio stations blared out the news: EID TOMORROW!!! (That’s about the right emphasis.)

Going to the rooftops, then, was largely a quixotic enterprise if one’s objective was to sight the new moon. But as the poet says, there are moons other than the one above. Such as the ones on the neighbor’s roof, and since she brought all of her friends to “find” the moon, you better have your posse with you too. What’s this? A machine that replicates joyous sounds and lyrical poetry? Might as well turn this on. Hey you, string some lights, grab a few candles, let’s everyone look adorable! On the rooftops, there is a different city.

Once there is a moon sighting, we urgently need new bangles, new henna, new everything. Cram into the bazaar, overwhelm the streets. Everyone except for me.

My mother would always have a list of dupataas that I needed to go pick up from the colorists and dresses I needed to pick up from the tailor.

Happy Eid.

Updated with pic goodness of bearded moon-spotters:

Only Katrina Victims Get Bailouts

Or Nobody! Ha!

Anyways, before the great proletariat revolution consumes us all, I wanted to tip the hat towards Matt Taibbi’s breathless putdown of this Palinesque exurbia, The scariest thing about Sarah Palin isn’t how unqualified she is – it’s what her candidacy says about America:

In her speech, Palin presented herself as a raging baby-making furnace of middle-class ambition next to whom the yuppies of the Obama set -who never want anything all that badly except maybe a few afternoons with someone else’s wife, or a few kind words in The New York Times Book Review — seem like weak, self-doubting celibates, the kind of people who certainly cannot be trusted to believe in the right God or to defend a nation. 

It is a classic.

Tuesday Links

First, a profile of Montgomery McFate, the anthropologist who launched the Human Terrain Program, by Noah Shachtman. Michael Bhatia, who died in Afghanistan in May, was one of the casualties of the HTP.

Next, via Daku come some linkage:
Larki pay hath utatha hay, madarchod! – I cannot even quantify the laugh/cringe ratio of that clip.
Skatesitan:Afghanistan’s first dedicated skateboarding school.

& switching gears:

Upinder Singh, Changing interpretations of early Indian history. I hadn’t seen this – and I will read it soon. However, a sentence like, “the 18th and 19th centuries were dominated by the writings of scholars, referred to as Orientalists or Indologists” can only be plausible, if English were the sole language of India during those afore-mentioned centuries. They weren’t. It isn’t. The rest has some good points.

Since, this is an earlier essay, I googled for her book, A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century (2008). Yes, it is out. And yes, Irfan Habib has some issues, in his review, History Is One Blind Turn From Mohenjo Daro, Outlook, India 09/08/2008:

This work, issued by a leading Western publisher of textbooks, marks a landmark of sorts: its release has been accompanied by perhaps the most vigorous PR campaign on behalf of any textbook on history in India. The first two pages of the volume contain laudatory opinions from 17 scholars, ten of which appear on the back cover. Of these ten, as many as eight are from the pens of scholars holding posts in foreign universities. These authoritative experts have deemed the work to be “exciting”, a “long-overdue introduction”, giving us a history that “all groups of Indian people can identify with” (presumably those, at any rate, who can afford to fork out Rs 3,500), and a book destined to “supersede previous surveys of ancient Indian history”.


Rather surprisingly, Islam, despite its widespread implantation in the Indus basin from the early eighth century onwards, and the arrival of Sufism, with Hujwiri’s text on it composed in Lahore in the 11th century, is not covered in her detailed account of the religious scene in the early medieval period, except for a seven-line paragraph on p604. The flourishing urban economy of Sind, with Mansura as a great archaeological site, is also overlooked; so also the Arab accounts of India of the 10th century, and the transmission of Indian learning to the classic Islamic world. This is all the more strange, when we find her recording in her preface an unfulfilled ambition to go on further and rather illogically include the Delhi Sultanate also in her account of the early medieval period.

Sensible Nails

This one goes to the Urduphiles, out there.

A proverb was used in a newspaper headline: “Hukmaran Hosh kay Nakhun lain”. Literally: Government should trim the nails (nakhun) of sense (hosh), the Jama’at-i Islami. (Leaving aside the JI from this discussion) Meaning that someone is being stupid, or doing something without much thought, and should change? “Nakhun Laina” is to pare one’s nails.

For the life of me, I cannot figure out 1. Why does “hosh” have nails? Or why would it give those nails? Or why would it trim those nails? What is it about the nails? That is, wth does anything like trimming one’s nails have to do with anything like, being smart? Moreover, why is “hosh” anthropomorphized? My random guess is that there is some verse behind this. That, or Sa’adi. He is behind every non-sensical idiom.

Apparently, in English, “cutting nails” has some associations – Shakespeare name-checked that a few times. From a ditty cited in Dictionary of Proverbs: “Cut them on a Monday, you cut them for health; Cut them on a Tuesday, you cut them for wealth; Cut them on a Wednesday, you cut them for news; Cut them on a Thursday, a new pair of shoes; Cut them on Friday, you cut them for sorrow; Cut them on a Saturday, see your true-love tomorrow; Cut them on Sunday, the devil will be with you all the week”. This being the height of 1830 rhyme-fest.

Cut them in Urdu, you grow sensible?

Any help would be appreciated.

Here is Platt‘s translation of “hosh”:

P هوش hosh [Pehl. hôsh, or hush; Zend ushi, fr. ush = S. उष् (ओषति)], s.m. Understanding, judgment, intellect; sense, discretion;—mind, soul:—hosh uṛnā or uṛ-jānā, or hosh bāḵẖta honā, or hosh parāganda honā, ‘The senses to fly or to be lost’; to lose (one’s) senses; to be or become confounded; to become senseless or silly:—hosh pakaṛnā, v.n. To bethink oneself; to recollect;—to get sense; to arrive at the age of discretion:—hosh jāte rahnā, or hosh daṅg honā, v.n. To lose (one’s) senses, &c. (=hosh uṛnā, q.v.):—hosh sambhālnā (with gen.), To get sense, &c. (i.q. hosh pakaṛnā, q.v.):—hosh-mand, adj. Intelligent, prudent, sensible (syn. ʻaql-mand):—hosh-mandī, s.f. Intelligence, understanding; sensibleness, sense; wisdom:—hosh-meṅ ānā, v.n. To come to (one’s) senses; to come to oneself, to recover (one’s) senses (after intoxication, or fainting):—hosh-o-hawās, s.m. Sense and understanding:—bā-hosh, adj. Intelligent, prudent, sensible, judicious, wise:—be-hosh, adj. Without understanding; unwary, insensible; foolish, insane;—deprived of sense or consciousness; unconscious; in a faint; intoxicated; stupefied;—delirious;—dead:—be-hosh karnā, v.t. To stupefy, make insensible; to intoxicate:—be-hoshī, s.f. Senselessness; unconsciousness; stupefaction; intoxication.

And here is “nakun”:

P ناخن nāḵẖun (nāḵẖ˚ = S. नख+un = ūn = wan = wān = S. वान), s.m. Nail (of the finger or toe); talon, claw:—nāḵẖun-se likhnā, v.t. To write with the finger-nail (considered an accomplishment):—nāḵẖun-gīr, or nāḵẖun-tarāsh, s.m. A small knife, or scissors, for paring the nails:—nāḵẖun lenā, v.t. To pare the nails;—to trip, or stumble (a horse):—nāḵẖun-meṅ paṛe-rahnā, v.n. To be in (one’s) possession; to be lying in the pocket.

S**t I do, when I need to be doing S**t.


Update: I think, I have it:  Hosh kay Nakhun lo: Figuratively, Get Some Sense: ‘Even something as trivial a nail clipping’ FROM hosh. Why Hosh is personified? I still don’t know.