Syeda Hameed talks of Delhi’s multilingual space through poetry

Syeda Hameed talks of Delhi’s multilingual space through poetry

Cobrapost |
July 15, 2016

Syeda Hameed talks of Delhi’s multilingual space through poetry

Former member of the Planning Commission and feminist writer Syeda Hameed offered a glimpse of the various tongues in which the city conversed as its rulers changed from the Mughals to the British etc. through the poetries that were penned at the time.

Hameed talked about how several male poets during the reign of Bahadur Shah Zafar wrote using a pseudonym of a woman. She recited a couplet by Mirza Ali Baig who wrote under the name of Nazneen. Baig is said to have performed the verse at a mushaira at Emperor Zafar’s court posing as a woman with a dupatta over her head.


Also, adding to the authenticity of the fervor from the city’s linguistically rich past were readings by Fouzia, the first female dastango who enacted plausible scenes leafed out from the lives of people who once resided in the Delhi has that has long ceased to exist. She read out interactions between individuals of different communities like kebab sellers, small businessmen, and washerwomen etc. – in their respective quintessesntial tongues, which were not only entertaining but also indicative of the process of evolution the language must have undergone to become the speech that we speak today.

Rizio also announced the first ILF Samanvay Project, “Langscaping Delhi: Mapping a city’s linguistic routes” through which the team seeks to look at look at Delhi’s space and its languages and study their dynamics. As part of this project, the team at ILF is looking to make an audio-visual documentation out of the idea and make it a “people’s movement for languages,” while also inviting stakeholders into the project.

“By a kind of survey we will map the linguistic space of Delhi. This is also our response to the growing intolerance in the city to show that the city is a multilingual space and that it is the ethos of this space. We are hoping that we will do an audio-visual documentation of the languages of Delhi, involving students who will internalise and transform this into a people’s movement,” she said.

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