Tag Archives: History

ترقی – Progress

Rail ki Seeti

جنوب مشرقی ایشیا میں لکیر کے دونوں طرف ماں باپ کا المیہ یہ ہے کہ یا تو وہ بچوں کو اپنے ساتھ رکھ سکتے ہیں یا انہیں ترقی کرتا دیکھ سکتے ہیں

ریل کی سیٹی ۔ حسن معراج

سنگ میل پبلی کیشنز


The tragedy for parents on both sides of the line in South East Asia is that they can either keep their children with them or they can see them progress from afar.

Rail ki Seeti – Hassan Miraj

Sang-e-meel Publications


I have to admit that they first time I read this line, it bothered me a lot. In fact, it still does. It was not only familiar but also deeply saddening. I cannot help but think of the values that one is consistently taught in that part of the world.

“You must take care of your parents as they have taken care of you”,

“Heaven lies under the feet of one’s mother”

“If you cannot even take care of your parents in their old age, then what is all your success worth? Your children will abandon you, as you have abandoned your parents”

These are just some of the things I have heard over the course of my life. Not all of these were said to me but these words have been uttered enough times that perhaps you can always just feel them in the air. Has it really become like this? Do parents have to make this choice? Have they always had to do this or is this only happening now?

I also cannot help but wonder what the author means by “taraqqi” – What is progress after all? Does progress mean financial success? personal success? spiritual success? Where does one draw the line and who decides what progress means?

I got a chance to interact with the author recently and while we did discuss this, I think our discussion was inconclusive. Maybe everyone must decide what progress is for him or her and only then things can start becoming clear. I believe in progress but when presented like this, it seems like such a difficult choice that it feels that either the parents lose or the children lose. Yet somewhere deep down my hope is that it’s more complicated than this and that both things can somehow live in harmony.


Here’s the sample of Rail ki Seeti. Click the arrows on the image to scroll and read more from the book. It also includes the first chapter from which this line has been quoted.




From 19th century India emerge the oldest thugs

The name of the book really intrigued me so I picked it up. “Old Thugs” or Puranay Thug پرانے ٹھگ made me smile. I think the first time I heard the word “thug” was probably in some hip hop song from ages ago. I honestly don’t quite remember. While I used to read quite a lot of Urdu fiction for children at the time, I somehow didn’t make the connection until now. I haven’t looked up the origins of the word, but when I saw the words Thug and ٹھگ juxtaposed in the book, I was taken aback. Maybe I was shocked, or pleasantly surprised. I don’t know which, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that this book that talks about the culture and the stories of thugs in sub-continent, this window into our land’s fascinating past, had suddenly also connected with a word that’s so commonly used today that I had just assumed, in my own ignorance if I may add, was a purely foreign construct. Never could I have imagined it was in 19th century India that the word “thug” was entered in official papers for the first time. Whether you think of time or space, it’s a small world after all.

I have shared a small excerpt from Raza Ali Abidi’s book below. These few lines shall take you to that moment in our history when a man claimed to be a thug for the first time


Old Thugs - Raza Ali Abidi

Also check out the story behind the beginning of this blog in its first post, The Treasures Forgotten

The Yellow Waistcoat

Ruling Princes and Chiefs of India


India wears a yellow waistcoat, longer than is usual, reaching from the chin to the feet, like a gabardine. It is old, in places thread-bare, but is of good old silk. The colour suits the sun of the East, perhaps a better and more harmonious colour than the red of the coat, which is always overlapping, as though trying to hide the old waistcoat. The coat is fustian and patchy – the pieces have been sewn in heedlessly, in haphazard fashion. It looks, as if it had been often let out, and suggests the idea that if it had to be taken in, or buckled tight, it would rend with a sound like the tearing of calico. It is like the red Salu on which Viceroys and Governors are wont to talk, cheap stuff, with no good natural foundation. It won’t wash, and some think it will not last. Much money has been spent on keeping the red coat in repair – nothing has been spent on the old yellow waistcoat, yet the latter will last longer than the red coat with its aggressively flapping tails.”

An excerpt from “Ruling Princes and Chiefs of India