The group’s founder, 58-year old artist Chhabi Saksena Sahai, who is originally from India, has been in Dubai for over 30 years. She said that their group started by sitting together and sharing poetry. Through the years that they have been meeting together, their monthly group gathering became their source of understanding and learning Urdu poetry and other written works. For her Urdu is a dying language because the younger generation prefer Western languages and culture and the mandatory use of English in her native country.
Ms.Sahai added that families from Pakistan and India who are now living in the UAE have become victims of influences from the West. Parents do not have the time to encourage their children to practice speaking in Urdu, even if only within their homes. Although she cannot read or write Urdu, she said that it should not be a hindrance to appreciate and enjoy the language. For her what is more important is to try to understand the language correctly, while learning to read and write Urdu could be another step in deepening the knowledge about the language.
A group member, 49-year old Arif Nizam Dhaldar, who is originally from India, has been living in Dubai for 29 years. He said that Urdu has already reached its peak and is now on a downward slope. He thinks that many people believe that Urdu has already outlived its usefulness. He added that their group would continue to love the classic language as long as they can. His father was an Urdu professor from whom he inherited the love for the language.
He joined the poetry group about a year ago, and he is very happy about meeting some like-minded people in Dubai. He said that initially they were in a difficult situation because many of the members cannot read or write Urdu, but he said all the members exerted extra effort to learn how to pronounce the words correctly while they recite phrases and poems. What they did to overcome the situation is to phonetically spell out the words in English so they could read the Urdu text.
While the poetry group is an informal one, Mr. Azhar Abbas, a new member from Lahore, Pakistan said that they are serious about what they are doing, because they want to keep the language alive, for themselves and for future generations. He is a finance manager and also a poet.