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Learning Hindi through Music Posted by on Feb 16, 2019 in Hindi Language

When I first started learning Hindi, I did so informally by listening to music and watching movies. In this blog, I’ll discuss one of my favorite Hindi songs – क्यों? (“Kyoon”) – and translate and explain the lyrics. This song comes from the 2012 movie Barfi (बर्फ़ी), which is about the life of a deaf and mute protagonist who eventually falls in love with an autistic woman. The following song is about seizing the moment and living life fully and shows the initial moments of the two characters’ romance.

This film takes place mostly in Darjeeling. Image by Suprabha Kumari on Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Lyrics (गाने के शब्द)

क्यों, न हम-तुम (kyoon, na hum tum)

Why don’t we (you and I)

चले टेढ़े-मेढ़े से रस्तों* पे नंगे पाँव रे (chale terhe-merhe se raston pe nange paav re)

Wander with bare feet on these winding roads  

*(रस्ता is just a variation, commonly used in songs and poetry, of रास्ता)

चल, भटक ले ना बावरे* (chal, bhatak le na baavre)

Come on, why don’t you lose yourself (with me), baavre

*बावरा (here in the vocative case because you are directly addressing someone, hence बावरे) is a variation of बावला, which means “crazy person.” There isn’t a good equivalent in English that conveys the same sense of “crazy” but in an affectionate way, so I chose not to translate it.


क्यों, न हम तुम (kyoon, na hum tum)

Why don’t we

फिरे जाके अलमस्त* पहचानी राहों के परे (phire jaake almast pehchaani raahon ke pare)

Wander to and fro, intoxicated, beyond these well-worn paths 

*अलमस्त has many meanings, including “drunk,” “lustful,” “mad/crazy” and “carefree.”

चल, भटक ले ना बावरे (chal, bhatak le na baavre)

Come on, why don’t you lose yourself (with me), baavre

इन टिमटिमाती निगाहों में (in timtimaati nigaahon me)

In these flickering glances

इन चमचमाती अदाओं में (in chamchamaati adaaon me)

In these scintillating charms

लुके हुए, छुपे हुए (luke hue, chupe hue)

Remaining hidden

है क्या ख़याल बावरे (hai kyaa khayaal baavre)

What are your thoughts, baavre? (lit. what thoughts have you concealed in these charms, glances, etc.)


क्यों, न हम तुम (kyoon, na hum tum)

Why don’t we

चले ज़िन्दगी के नशे में ही धुत सरफिरे* (chale zindagi ke nashe me hi dhut sarphire)

Go steep ourselves in life’s heady bliss, sarphire

*Again, “सर फिरा” or “सिर फिरा” means “giddy” or “crazy” (literally, one whose mind is wandering). There is no decent equivalent in English that is not overly negative and conveys an affectionate tone, so I chose not to translate this.

चल, भटक ले ना बावरे (chal, bhatak le na baavre)

Come on, why don’t you lose yourself (with me), baavre


Another view of Darjeeling; image by Andyindia on Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

क्यों, न हम तुम (kyoon, na hum tum)

Why don’t we

तलाशें बगीचों में फुरसत भरी छाँव में (talaashe bageechon me fursat bhari chaav me)

Seek out gardens where the shade is bursting with free time 

चल भटक ले ना बावरे (chal bhatak le na baavre)

Come on, why don’t you lose yourself (with me), baavre

इन गुनगुनाती फिज़ाओं में (in gungunaati fizaaon me)

In these breezes, singing softly,  

इन सरसराती हवाओं में (in sarsaraati havaaon me)

In these winds, as if whispering, 

टुकुर-टुकुर यों देखे क्या (tukur-tukur yon dekhe kyaa)

What do you gaze at so? 

क्या तेरा हाल बावरे (kyaa teraa haal baavre)

How do you do, baavre?


ना लफ्ज़ खर्च करना तुम (na lafz kharch karnaa tum)  

Don’t squander your words

ना लफ्ज़ खर्च हम करेंगे (na lafz kharch hum karenge)

And neither will I waste mine (words)

नज़र के कंकड़ों से (nazar ke kankaron se)

With the shards of our glances

खामोशियों की खिड़कियाँ यों तोड़ेंगे (khamoshiyon ki khirkiyaan yon torenge)

We’ll shatter the windows of silence

मिला के मस्त बात फिर करेंगे (milaa ke mast baat phir karenge)

And come together, engrossed in conversation

ना हर्फ़* खर्च करना तुम (na harf kharch karnaa tum)  

Don’t squander your letters 

*हर्फ़ is a variant spelling of हरफ़, which means a letter (as in an alphabet) or written word.

ना हर्फ़ खर्च हम करेंगे (na harf kharch hum karenge)

And neither will I waste mine 

नज़र की सियाही (स्याही) से लिखेंगे (nazar ki siyaahi se likhenge)

We’ll write with the ink of our glances

तुझे हज़ार चिट्ठियाँ ख़ामोशी झिड़कियाँ (tujhe hazaar chitthiyaan khaamoshi jhidkiyaan)

A thousand letters of silence and scolding

तेरे पते पे भेज देंगे (tere pate pe bhej denge)

I’ll send to your address 


सुन, खनखनाती है ज़िन्दगी (sun, khankhanaati hai zindagi)

Listen, life is knocking

ले, हमें बुलाती है ज़िन्दगी (le, hume bulaati hai zindagi)

Come on, life is calling out to us

जो करना है वो आज कर (jo karnaa hai voh aaj kar)

Do what you have to do today  

ना इसको टाल बावरे (na isko taal baavre)

Don’t put it off, baavre

Here’s the full song for your listening pleasure: 

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About the Author: Rachael

नमस्ते, मेरा नाम रेचल है/السلام علیکم، میرا نام ریچل ہے۔ Hello, my name is Rachael, but I also on occasion go by Richa––an interesting story for another time :) My two great loves are Hindi and Urdu. I first traveled to India (Jaipur, Rajasthan) in college on a Hindi study abroad program. A little over a year later, I returned to the same city to study Hindi in a yearlong program. I've also spent a summer in Kolkata, West Bengal learning Bengali, and I studied Urdu at the University of California, Berkeley, where I was a graduate student in South Asian Studies. I hope to share with you the fascinating world of Hindi and Urdu literature, society, culture and film through my blogs!


Comments:

  1. Bobby Keyes:

    i am a 73 yr. old american male who lived in Lahore, and Lyallpur, Pakistan from 1955 ’til ’59 while my father taught at the Agricultural College there. while i was there i learned a small amount of Urdu, which is quite similar to Hindi.

    i went to several Hindi movies such as Intazar, Bhai Bhai, and Nagan. i fell in love with the music and the voices of Geeta Dutt, Moh’d Rafi, and Lata Mengeshkar (sp), so it was exciting for me that you posted this lesson on your blog. I especially appreciated the music.

    A Sikh friend of mine, who grew up near Amritsar and since moved to the states has been helping me learn Hindi for several years, and his friendship has lead me down many memory highways, and this post has enhanced my memories deeply.

    thankyou

    Bobby

    • Rachael:

      @Bobby Keyes Hi Bobby,
      आपकी टिप्पणी के लिए बहुत शुक्रिया! मुझे बहुत खुशी हुई कि आपको ब्लॉग पसंद आया और आपकी ज़िंदगी बहुत ही दिलचस्प लगती है! I’m also a big fan of Mohammed Rafi and Geeta Dutt, to name a few. हिंदी सीखते रहिए! आपके जैसे पढ़नेवालों के लिए मैं बहुत आभारी हूँ 🙂