Before I tell you about the tool, first a little background. I have been writing a form of Hindi’/Urdu poetry known as ghazal since my late teenage. Most of its written on scraps of paper and a lot of it has managed to survive my many locational shifts caused by my profession. I never taught myself the use of the Hindi keyboard and as a result, until this morning, I used to write my Hindi/Urdu poetry in the English script in order to put it online. Before that, for years I handwrote in Hindi but I can no longer handwrite anything, even in English. If there ever was someone totally enslaved by the keyboard, it has to be me.
The other day, after the publication of my first ever column in Hindi in the rural newspaper ‘Gaon Connection’ I made a casual remark in my Facebook update how I had to write it in the English script. That’s what prompted fellow journalist and an old friend Anwar Iqbal, the Washington chief of bureau of Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, to introduce me to the Google tool. I am so glad he did because this morning, as it always happens with any creative writing, I wrote the following ghazal in about five minutes—Conceived, typed and concluded almost simultaneously.
The way the tool works is that you write a Hindi word in the English script and it instantly gives you several options in a dropdown menu. You choose the right one and you have written it in Hindi. I am told this tool has been known to many for quite sometime. I am surprised it had escaped me.
So here is my first Hindi/Urdu ghazal typed in the Devnagri script.
गुलों के शेहर में इत्र का कारोबार
जहाँ खुशबुओं का आलम और रंगों की बोछार
चारसू फैली हो जहाँ नज़ाकत की हुकुमत
जहाँ मखमली बदन पर तारे हो बेशुमार
ओस से भरे जाम और अब्रों के रास्ते
जहाँ रेशम के परचम तले सिर्फ़ बसता हो प्यार
ऐसे शेहर में क्यूँ सूना है गरेबाँ
मोती में लाया हूँ तुम ले आओ तार
मयंक छाया, दिसम्बर 18, 2012
My apologies to those who do not read Hindi. I just do not feel like translating it today. Also, unless I do it well, the translation is bound to be rather laughable.