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Ghalib : The Man, The Times Extra Quality

He has also unearthed Ghalib's 20-year war of letters with the British regarding his pension. These letters, lying undiscovered all this while in the archives in Delhi, throw light on the historical transition of those tumultuous times. Varma argues that Ghalib's ceaseless attempts to get his pension increased were not just aimed at getting more money. His major preoccupation was the retention of what he considered to be his status in society which the British were relentlessly eroding.The letters tell a fascinating yet somewhat pathetic tale of this indigent aristocrat who had to go to the British but wanted to do so without losing his self respect. Although Ghalib pursued the matter with remarkable tenacity, he was never able to get a paisa more from the British than his share of the hereditary pension which was Rs 62.50. He pleaded his case at Delhi and Calcutta and when his final appeal in India was negatived, he appealed to Queen Victoria in London.His failure to win the increase in his pension which he thought was his right did not stop Ghalib from cultivating influential British officials. His friendship with William Fraser, the then Resident of Delhi, was well-known. It is said that a lot of his compatriots turned against him when Ghalib helped the British to pin Fraser's murder on Shamsuddin, the Nawab of Loharu who happened to be his own cousin. To this day Ghalib is persona non grata in the Loharu family.There are also little-known vignettes about Ghalib like his penchant for French wine with which he loved drinking flavoured rose water. He was interested in modern inventions and very particular about his appearance as he was conscious of his good looks. He was also highly temperamental and did not like to be criticised. He once called an eminent Persian critic, Qatil, an owl.

Ghalib : The Man, The Times

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To that extent Varma is at fault. But above all. Ghalib was an eloquent representative of his times. That is why any true biography of one of Urdu's greatest poets has also to be a story of his times, which is just what this book is.

Do we laugh or cry for Ghalib? Is it possible without writing a book-length biography to convey the contrasts of his low life and high career, and also suggest his astonishing feat of transcending a vanished era to become the greatest Delhi poet and a great letter writer of all times?

With 2,748 posts (plus over 19,500 images on Instagram), it (The Delhi Walla) features the Delhi you should see, the Delhi that you never see, the Delhi that lies forgotten and sometimes even the Delhi that will come to be.

Mirza Ghalib occupies a unique position in the present discourse. Unlike other poets who gained relevance over the passage of time, Ghalib accumulated fame. His poems constantly float through social media feeds. The ancient pathos embedded in his words is continuously adapted to suit contemporary misery. The frequency with which this is done is so rapid and random that the context of his words is sometimes lost in transition. The resultant mystery surrounding his poetry and life has inadvertently cemented his status as a pop culture phenomenon, perhaps even without one truly realising the depth of his vision. 041b061a72


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