kis kaa ka((bah kaisaa qiblah kaun ;haram hai kyaa a;hraam
kuuche ke us ke baashindo;N ne sab ko yahii;N se salaam kiyaa

1) whose Ka'bah, what kind of prayer-niche, which sacred place is it, what pilgrimage-robe?!
2) the residents of her street made a greeting/farewell to everyone from right here



salaam : 'Safety, peace; salutation, greeting, compliments; parting salutation, adieu, farewell, good-bye'. (Platts p.668)



[This verse does not appear in SSA.]

Now I really am surprised that SRF omitted this marvelously clever and delightful verse. It flaunts the kind of faux-naif mischievousness that both Mir and Ghalib often display. The first line asks a series of what seem to be basic, innocent questions-- the kind that would be posed by a curious stranger trying to learn more about the local customs. We can't establish any context for them. Who asks them? Are they genuine questions, or sarcastic exclamations, or expressions of amazement? They float freely in the winds of the ghazal universe, unanswerable until we're allowed to hear the second line. For another such 'list' verse, see


Under mushairah performance conditions, our hearing of the second line is of course postponed as long as conveniently possible (by the reciter's long pause, by exclamations of praise from the audience, often by a repetition of the first line), so that the suspense is maximized. Even then, the verse remains uninterpretable until the last possible moment, for the 'punch'-word that pulls it all together is withheld so long that it constitutes the rhyme-word at the very end of the second line. Then with a sudden burst of pleasure (the kind of thing that makes listeners exclaim vaah vaah ) we all at once 'get' it. And once we've gotten it, we've completely consumed the verse and are ready to move on (in short, it's not one of those verses that require us to wrack our brains). These are the qualities of what I call a 'mushairah verse'.

For it turns out that the dwellers in her street did a salaam to everyone-- and they did it from 'right here' [yahii;N], That 'right here' positions the speaker too on her street, like one of those television journalists doing on-the-spot reporting. From 'right here' he has been watching the locals make their 'salaam' to everyone. Or perhaps he himself is one of the locals, explaining the behavior of his own group. But the chief beauty of the line is that a 'salaam' can be either a greeting upon arrival, or a farewell before departure. Either meaning works brilliantly in the larger context of the verse:

= If we take the locals to be saying farewell to passersby or travellers who are leaving town, perhaps to go on pilgrimage to Mecca, then the implication [kinaayah] is that the locals have not the slightest desire to go on any such pilgrimage themselves: their 'idol' is right here among them, and who could want more than that? Perhaps in fact they are so focused on their own street that they don't even know what pilgrimage means, and thus are inquiring about this strange, incomprehensible journey that some misguided travelers are undertaking.

= If we take the locals to be greeting people who are arriving, then the implication is that they're arriving for a pilgrimage. Perhaps the locals have a version of the official Muslim pilgrimage rituals, but modified to suit what has been called the 'religion of passion' [ma;zhab-e ((ishq], and it is those that the new arrivals are practicing: they're making a pilgrimage to the 'holy place' of beloved's street, complete with robes and rituals. Or perhaps the new arrivals are merely lovers, and disdain all rituals in favor of sheer proximity-- they long to live and die in the beloved's street, and reject even the awareness of any other kind of pilgrimage.

No matter how we read the verse, we're left with no fewer than four extremely insha'iyah questions. No matter who's asking them, and whether they're sincere or sarcastic or rhetorical, the piquancy of the verse remains. If I could, I'd add this one to SSA.

Another, similar verse from the first divan [{239,3}]:

un mu;G-bachcho;N ke kuuche hii se mai;N kiyaa salaam
kyaa mujh ko :tauf-e ka((bah se mai;N rind-e durd-nosh

[only/emphatically from the street of those Magian boys, I made a salam
what do I want with circumambulation of the Ka'bah? I am a dregs-drinking rake!]

For a more mysterious treatment of a situation in which people never leave the place where they are, see


Compare also Ghalib's equally rakish and enjoyable