Title of the book: Mumbai Diary
Author: Farhan Hanif Warsi
Publisher: Arshia Publications
ISBN :- 93-67635-79-1.
Reviewed by : Mushtaque B Barq
Diary writing is an art to safeguard the know-how in an unadulterated convention for candid confessions. This distinct genre of writing permits a prominent writer to drain the considerable burden and beauty hanging on his conscious shoulders through the reed on the unique skin of pulp. How pleasing it is to unravel the mysteries and distortion one encounters in life. Dairies are personal bibles of sentimental follies, memorable moments of boisterous mirth, hostile proficiencies, ardent interpretations and above all memories of the measures and rare occasions. The art of writing that enables a writer to propel his creative appliance best serves the readers to peep down the guts of a writer to know his ‘mind at work.’
Mumbai Diary by Farhan Hanif Warsi is an elusive work of art in Urdu. After reading these diary entries; one is guided through the labyrinthine of Mumbai to know the delicacies and daunting realities of this famous city. From Local Trainoun Mein Dodte Bhagti Zingdagi Ka Naam Hein ‘Mumbai Diary’ to Chota Qad Badi Dil, the entire book has almost covered every possible inch of the active life of a common man of Mumbai. Farhan Hanif Warsi has in his appropriate measures a few books like Suraj Accha Baccha Hein and Hanger Mein Tangi Nazmein and as such the author is well versed with the art of proper safeguard of his observations as an oeuvre meant to be treated as a guide map for the generations to come.
His experience of travelling especially in ‘local’ trains has been referred to like a poet in ecstasy. Fazil Jamili, poet and journalist, Pakistan has picked the authors nerve when in his essay he mentions: Farhan Hanif Warsi’s experience of train roving is pleasing in a sense that whosoever travels along with the author, he senses the scent of his sweat that he passes to the co-passengers travelling in the same cabin, otherwise, the city is devoid of such luxury? The seawater that tosses against the bays in wrath and returns…… This opinion is too delicate to be ignored, Farhan has indeed brought at the fore the inevitable tussle between the need of a mortal and his encounters with life amidst pushing himself from end to end of the maze of Mumbai.
Farhan writes that Mumbai gives the impression of a single city yet it is multifaceted in attendance. He takes a reader on a literal trip to showcase the niceties of the city he has projected in his book. It is more a historical, social, economic and emotional tour than a mere play of words and expression written in wandering state of mind.
This book is not only a collection of memories but a true account of a sensitive mind, it has elements of irony, pure fiction, historical and social stabilities and above all real-life experiences attired in the coffin of satire: What is the outcome of spending cores of rupees to celebrate ‘ Jashni- Azadi’? Girne Phisalne Mein Faraq Hein Kitna, Whenever you lose temper you are on receiving end, Jai Jai Hospital Ke Meyar Mein Girawat Kioun, Anjan Ki Mout Se Media Anjan are satirical in quality.
Farhan Warsi has transported his competent reader to travel with him. This travel is like a transit from unreal to the real world he is travelling through with all his windows wide open not to miss any minute instance and occasion. I believe one is in a train compartment and the author is a tour guide who knows how and where to apply breaks to let his co-travellers know what he wants them to know. He never leaves his distinguished passengers halfway, but passes the engine of his train through historical souks, intellectual and political bazaars; literal congregations and geographical landscapes, seascapes and of course, through his own city of creativity serving one and all through his powerful fiction in the garb of global scanning process. His genius writing skills have acquired genuine stations to survey the city of Mumbai.
To me, this is a unique travelogue in the clever disguise of an extensive diary. Like a travelogue, it traditionally has all the key elements required for a distinguished stranger to identify the prominent place he has generously listed to visit. This ideal travelogue has not taken literal snapshots of a commoner but has peeped down the guts of literal, political and microcosmic magnificence. The snapshots are revealing both the beauty and bruises of the city life coupled with the urgency of the author to highlight his own itching that he carries under his breast to find a traveller to ease his agony through the nerve endings of his being sensitive enough to pass the pain down the generations to come.
When his train stops at Fashion Street, the author immediately involves his passengers to showcase, the history of the place and its significance as the biggest cloth market, he invites his passengers to put on the clothes of the place to understand the culture, heritage and customs of the place he is roaming through only to know the place through the lens of local travellers. He stops at The Palace Jinnah Hall and briefly describes Qadi Azam Ali Mohammad Jinnah’s life. Through the moving train, he pinpoints at Jai Jai Hospital and like a sharp critic reveals the downfall of the said hospital’s service and in the flow also digs deep into the graves of media for their negligence. Like a comic relief, Farhan has applied it in the form of Cheko Khav JaiSurya Bano. He is aware of the fact that he has to keep amusing his passengers and he seems ready to serve them a plate of humour as well to keep them guessing ‘what next.’ He stops at his next important station: Sab Se Purana Printing press and like a magician passes a word about Nana Bhaie Rustum Ji’s dream of setting a printing press. During his travel, his way of engaging the passengers as described above has once again lured their attention when his political satire sends shock ways through the spines of passengers: Apeal Achci Lagi Tou Out De Deya and Railway, Sarkar Aour Milawat compels the commuters to remove the blinkered to take the stock of the situations. His train passes through Aqsa Beach, Nag Mander besides taking a reference from cartoonists like Sanjay Mistri , Radha Gouday and P. Gangully. From the moving train, he points out at Chruch Gate Ki Khav Gali. The author has not forgotten to guide his commuters and as a responsible citizen and moral giant, he passes his decrees against smoking: Tambako Bomb Se Ziyada Nuksan Deh . His storytelling technique serves two purposes throughout the book. One that it allows the people in the cabin to enjoy a journey through his own creative city to know him better as a fiction writer and second to stimulate the people around to appreciate their own observations which they might write at the end of the travel, thus he inspires them to follow the suit of writing their own tales. Mumbai Ki Novratri, Samander Par Tairta Panch Sitara Hotel, Chopate Ke Malish Wale, Yeh Hein Rhythm House, Yeh Hein Mumbai Mere Jaan, Sadak Chaap Bachey Aor Mumbai, Shrab Aor Mumbai, Panwale Choraseya, Local Gadiyan Aor Hijday, Woh Local Mein Karta Hein Yoga and Chota Sa Qadam Badhav are the stations he has applied breaks and the rest has been shown through wide-open windows from both sides of the cabin.
In between the travel, Farhan has brilliantly used his powerful short stories that he has brilliantly blended with substance in the book and this is the mark of an impressive writer. This book is a must-read for people who want to explore Mumbai through the lens of Farhan Hanif Warsi.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Mushtaq B.Barq is a Columnist, Poet and Fiction Writer. He is the author of “Feeble prisoner, “ Wings of Love” and many translation works are credited to the author like “ Verses Of Wahab