I've been maintaining this blog (for better or for worse) over the last eight years. Over these years, its natural evolution has led it into becoming something of a niche place for discussion of music in general and Qawwali in particular. Rather than trying to return my existing blog to its pre-Qawwali eclectic roots, I decided I’d start anew on Tumblr. So if you’re interested in music, Qawwali and subcontinental culture, keep reading/listening/watching/commenting here. For all of the above and everything else under the sun, head on over to my Tumblr page .

Saturday, May 15, 2010

....Of A More Circuitous Route

It's taken a night in a rat-infested, AC-less room and 24 straight hours of work to finally jolt my mind enough to make me sit down and actually write something.

I'd like to get something off my chest at the outset. The hullabaloo at the recent banning of a number of websites by PTA in response to the "Everybody Draw Mohammad" competition has made two things quite clear.

1) The polarity between the pro and anti ban camps is pretty wide, with very few suggesting any middle ground.
2)I am completely, utterly ambivalent about the whole thing.

Whatever the ultimate implications of the ban may be, I'm not going to use up a whole post on something that a lot of people have expressed themselves pretty eloquently about. A lot of people have asked me what my feelings are, and I can quote Rhett Butler to summarize, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!" I've been meaning to quit Facebook and rush over to *Diaspora for ages anyway.

It's been exactly one month since i began my housejob. It's an extremely encouraging sign that I'm actually enjoying my work and that, contrary to what I feared when I left PMA, I actually do remember most of what I learned in med school. I had received a lot of half-cynical,half-congratulatory comments when people found out that I was starting off on a "pwopah" job after 6 years of moseying around in med school, mostly humorous warnings about years of drudgery,clock-punching and Charlie Chaplin style hard labour hat await me; but if the initial one month is any kind of indicator, I might be on to something good here.There had been times when I had doubts about putting up Lahore as my choice for my housejob, but most of them have thankfully been resolved. Despite the heat, the distances and the initial feeling of alienation; I'm enjoying it immensely.

One thing I've noticed on the wards this past month that is quite frightening is that we have a full-blown Hepatitis epidemic on our hands. Patients of hepatitis B and C make up approximately 60-70% of the patients admitted in my ward, including quite a large number who are admitted for other diseases and discover they have Hepatitis during routine post-admission blood testing. And considering I'm in a female ward where most of the patients are married ladies with an average of two children each, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Speaking of working in a female ward, I was mockingly accused of sexism by a friend earlier today when I told her what I think is the main difference in dealing with male and female patients. The difference can be summed up in one word; somatization. Where a male patient with pain in his abdomen will tell me where it hurts, how long it's been hurting and how it has affected his daily activities, a lady with the same symptoms will complain about the pain for a fleeting moment, and then wander off to explore wholly different trains of thought wholly unrelated to the actual problem. the interesting thing is that the long stream-of-consciousness ramblings contain many subconscious clues about the actual complaint, but it's a more circuitous route to diagnosis.

Since this post is also a stream-of-consciousness ramble, I was thinking today of some things that really annoy me. I'm not prone to anger, preferring to simmer rather than boil over, but there are some things that really get my goat.I managed to write some of them down in no particular order as follows;

The soul-numbingly inane keyboards played in Pakistani music,especially where they're not needed.
Sahir Goshdarned Lodhi.
The stream of terrible news emanating from The-Place-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named.
The fact that people are burning tires close to where I live because apparently, that's the sanest, most logical response to somebody's house being burgled.

I'll cut this post short right here because there's something I need to get off my mind right now that doesn't quite fit in with what I've written here.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

...Of A Long Awaited Package

It has taken 6 months of coaxing,blackmailing and pleading, but finally it's here. My DVD of 30 Mehfils of Haji Mehboob Qawwal has finally arrived. Wrapped in a page from the funny papers, the DVD has helped me fill the gaps in my admittedly meagre, but moderately satisfying collection.

I was expecting some truly mesmerizing stuff and I have not been disappointed, but what I wasn't expecting was the reawakening of a very very fond childhood memory. I've written before about how a secret memory haunted me for almost half a dozen years before I finally tracked it down. My family isn't very musical (if you count out my elder mamu, who more than makes up for the rest of our musical ineptitude), but we like singing. At shaadis and aqeeqas and the occasional family picnics, almost everybody either sings or contributes with voice or gesture.

My nano is always pretty active in such affairs, and the few old-time songs she sings can't be heard anywhere else. Two of her songs are my special favorites, one is the traditional seraiki tune "Rohi" which apparently everyone among my relatives (except me it seems) seems to know by heart. The other song is again in Seraiki, a Khwaaja Ghulam Fareed R.A ki kafi that I have only heard from her. As I was going through the various Mehfils in my DVD, I chanced upon it. It had been a few years since I'd heard it so it took me a few moments to recognize it, but if someone had seen the mile-long grin on my face when I finally recognized it, they'dve thought I was off my rocker.

I've managed to listen to it about a billion times since morning,imprinting the melody and the words in my mind. And since it's sung by Haji Mehboob Qawwal, the actual body of the kalaam is embellished by girahs,in Seraiki,Persian and Arabic that not only bring out it's spiritual essence, but are utterly charming in themselves. Haji Mushtaq is in fine fettle with his alaaps and Mehboob sahab's sitar adds the golden touch.

I've spent some time actually sitting down and transcribing the recordings,taking special care to note down all the girahs, (which I've put in italics). Not only is the Qawwali a treat for the ears,but in the true tradition of Haji Mehboob Qawwal, is a piece of spiritual instruction.

As a special treat to myself, I'm posting another brilliant recording of Haji sahab,where again the sitar and the girahs give it an otherworldly feel. One of my friends who doesn't understand the sub-continental languages asked me recently if I could translate the kalaam for him, as well as explain some of the slighly obtruse references to various folk romances. I'll take this transcription as a working reference and try to see if i can try my hand at translating. If anyone else wants to give it a try, they're most welcome.

(Na mi goyam ke dar chashmak azeezam
Kaneezaan-e-turaa kam tar kaneezam.
Che baashad gar kaneez-e-raa nawaazi,
Ze band-e-mehr kash azaad saazi)
(Ki hosi chaah nawaazain bolri noon
Ziyaada na kareen gal thorri noon.
Ki hosi je karain aajiz nawaazi,
Tu bakhshain khaak taeen sarfarazi.
Kithon taheen tussaan theen duur rehsaan,
Tusaade hijr theen ranjoor rehsaan)

Baandi te bardi, tain dilbar di O yaar
Janeen mahi, mahr na janeen O yaar.

Hijr tere vich aaheen main maraan
(Aa mahi, mukh dass asanoon, jaan tere to vaari
Jaan iman dile da tu hain, te tujh bin main kis kaari)
(Kade tussi asaanoon sikde aahe, hun assi tusanoon sikde,
Khattaan uttay nit dua salamaan,assi roz hamesha likhde.
Kade te baah sirhaane aaheen,hun nain vekhan noo sikde
Je janaa tussaan evain karni, te assi neoon laavan na sikde)
Hijr tere vich aaheen main maraan
Tujh bin kaun lavay hun saara
Tain bin sooniaan dissan bahaaran
Jind sikdi mahi,taindne bhaanain O yaar.

Sevaan main peer, te falaan main paavaan
Naam tere da vird pakavaan
Je tu aavain, sadqe main javaan
Jag peya denda hi,taindre taane O yaar.
(Saade naalon phul changere, jo sajan gal lagde
Sanoon sardeyan muddat guzri,te vich birhoon di agg de
Seene bhaah bale nit gham di,te nain rahen nit vagde
Eesa ik maahi na pucche,te doojay ta'ane jag de)
Jag peya denda hi,taindre taane O yaar.

Baandi te bardi, tain dilbar di O yaar
Janeen mahi, mahr na janeen O yaar.

Ishq kahaani be-andaaz ay
Mann vich vajda, ishq da saaz ay
Yaar Farid ki dasse raaz ay
(Taba'a aleel Sassi noon milya,Ishq tabeeb siyaana
Aakhe dard dawa,parhez araamon khoon jigar khaana
Aab-o-hawa ma'afiq nahi tere,te kar Kech'on tark thikaana
Ja kar sair kareem Thallaan di, te tad hosiya fazl Rabbaana)
(Iss aatish theen aatishe hijraan,vich tezi sakht puchaati
Sohni roz tarray daryaeen,attay sard na hoyus chaati
Orhak ais Ishq de sozon, baith nadi vich na'ati
Hashim baaj moyan nahi milda,asaan theek sahi kar jaati)
(Ishq majaazi, te sar di baazi, jaan sukkay dar dar ke
Yaar sukhalyaan kise na paaya, te jis paaya mar mar ke)
(Yousuf aakhya,"Shakl asaadi,te naqsh kareen vich dil de
Yaariyaan waale sakht pushaale, te yaar na sokhay milde)
Ishq kahaani be-andaaz ay

Man vich vajda, ishq da saaz ay

Yaar Farid ki dassay raaz ay
Aithay bhul gaye nain sugghar siyaane O yaar.

Baandi te bardi, taain dilbar di O yaar
Jaanay mahi, te mehr na jaane O yaar.

(Aashiqui paida'ast az zaari-e-dil
Naist beemaari chun beemaari-e-dil)

Kya se kya do din main haalat ho gyi
(Al ishq'o naaruhum)
(Ishq main khwaab ka khayaal kahaan
Na lagi aankh jab se aankh lagi)
(Saajan jo main jaanti, jo preet kiye dukh hoye
Nagar dhandora peet'ti jo preet na karyo koye)
(Saajan yeh mat jaaniyo,jo tum bichrat mohe chain
Geelay ban ki laakri, jo sulgat hoon din rain)
(Mohabbat main naseehat ko to aksar gham-gusaar aaye,
Usse koi na laaya jis ke dekhe se qaraar aaye)
(Tum ko taras na aaye,ta'ajjub ki baat hai
Dushman bhi ro rahe hain mere haal-e-zaar par)
(Jo dekhe ga rotay mujhe,tum ko hanste,
Meri baat choro,tumhain kya kahay ga?)
(Raain andheri,bijli chamke, jiya rahe be-chain
Jab tum paas nahi ho saajan,kaise kate gi raain)
(Aane aamad, yaad-e ma'ashooqam bashadday zaar kard
Ishq lazzat r'a boyad dar mi kunad ba ranj-o-dard)

Kya se kya do din main haalat ho gyi
Dil na aaya, ik qayamat ho gyi

(Saanjh bhayi aur diya jale,piya na aaye paas

Do naainan se Ganga bhayee, aur tu ban'raa ki aas)
(Liye phirta hai mujh ka ja-ba-ja dil...)
(Jaa ka piya bichrat,waa ko nahee chain
Diya jalat hai raain ko,aur jiya jalat din raain)
(Sagri raain sukar gayi,jo khalqat gyi sab so
Jin ko chinta pi ki,so neend kahan se ho)

Ab jo chaahain woh karain,mukhtar hain
(Aashiqui cheest bego, banda-e janaan boodam
Dil ba-dastay digaray daadam - hairaan boodam)
Ab jo chaahain woh karain,mukhtar hain,
Ho gyi ab to mohabbat ho gyi.

Chaanta hoon raat din ab khaak main,
(Ulfat main jo hota hai,wohi haal hai mera,
Yeh dekhne waale mujhe kya dekh rahe hain?)
Chaanta hoon raat din ab khaak main,
Teri furqat main yeh haalat ho gyi.
(Jal ban lakri koyla bhayee, aur koylay se bhayee raakh,
Main paapan aisi jali, jo koyla bhayee na raakh)

Aankh se ansoo nikal sakta naheen,
Na-tawaani se yeh soorat ho gyi.

Ba'ad marne ke hui matti azeez,
Tere kooche main jo turbat ho gyi.
(Bajaa hai jitna karoon naaz apni qismat par...)
(Muztar meri nazar main shaahon ki kya haqeeqat
Muztar meri nazar main jannat ki kya haqeeqat)

Kya kahoon naaseh,mohabbat kyun hui,
Ho gyi bas un se ulfat ho gyi.

Aap to Mushtaq ka chorain na saath
(Barbaadi-e aashiq se,kab rehti hai ma'ashooqi...)
Aap to Mushtaq ka chorain na saath,
Ho gyi dunya ko nafrat ho gyi.

Kya se kya do din main haalat ho gyi,
Dil na aaya, ik qayamat ho gyi.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

....Of Rafi Yet Again

 I guess it's true what the sentimentalists say about first love, no matter how many times you find new people and settle into new relationships, it's always your very first infatuation that you treasure the deepest and let your mind wander back to when it needs solace.

Rafi sahab has been and always will be my favorite singer. And though I go through phases where Qawwali, Ghazal,Kafi,Folk and the Blues are foremost on my playlists, Rafi sahab is always my first and final port-of-call. Here's something brilliant I found on Youtube, an excellent program on Rafi sahab produced by HumTV. I saw it in the morning today and have been on a Rafi 'trip' ever since. Arshad Mehmood and Anwar Maqsood are probably the most "qualified" people to discuss the life and art of Rafi sahab, and they do an admirable job. Interspersed with tastefully chosen songs, the conversation is both enlightening and entertaining.

Movie Of The Week, How To Train Your Dragon,America, A Personal History By Alistair Cooke (Brilliant!!)