Ghalib / 26.09.2008

We keep discovering that Ghalib was ahead of his time. Here he is showing us how to do participant-observer research: banaa kar faqiiroN kaa ham bhes Ghalib tamaashaa-e ahl-e karam dekhte haiN having put on the guise of faqirs, Ghalib we observe the spectacle of the people of generosity The meaning is clear: Ghalib is not in need of alms himself; he is disguising himself as an alms-seeker in order to observe and understand the behavior of alms-givers. (For a more detailed interpretation see Mehr-e-Niimroz.) The question is: Why does Ghalib wish to undertake this exercise? Presumably, because he feels that the motivations of alms-givers are complex and all is not what it seems on the surface. Let us explore this subject in the context of our times and in the context of South Asia. In a number of posts on The South Asian Idea we have remarked on the fact that South...