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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Kaesay Kaesay Loag - Revelations (2)

Apologies for the delay ... but I did finally find the time to scan and edit things to put up and, so, as they customarily say at functions (but usually before making a long-winded introductory speech - which I've already done via the last two posts, anyway) I shan't come between you and the poet.

Yes, folks. That's the voice of the legendary Imtiaz Ahmad (recipient of the coincidentally named Tamghaé Imtiaz). His compilation of poems, "Mayray Shayr", a title as modest as he is, had a cover sketch of him by our famous cartoonist, Aziz …
and an introduction by the popular writer-columnist, Ibrahim Jalees. Here's the last paragraph:
The book had only a very limited circulation and was never reprinted, since the author thought it to be just a fun venture and of no consequence or literary merit. However, for me, it was part of some delightful memories. I was dismayed when my signed copy was stolen. I suspected that the culprit was a young cousin who had stayed with us. He used to read it often and, I am sure, soon after stealing it, put it to the same use as Samad and I ;-)
It was a thrill when Imtiaz Sahab presented me with a photocopy he'd thoughtfully brought along to the NCA and inscribed for me. (The 'wonderful job' reference that you see in the inscription is for the Urdu Poetry Project I have commenced at PeaceNiche. More about that once it's a bit further under way).
Why did Imtiaz choose to express himself via poetry? He answers it in the opening nazm.
Imtiaz Sahab also delved into the rubaaee form and frequently used it to describe the various 'beauties' he met. Three examples follow.
Our conversation that morning - which I recorded with his permission - was not a formal interview. We wandered all over the place during the chat and, hopefully, you'll enjoy some of the things he talks about that I had not heard mentioned before. The only editing that's been done to the recording is removing the long gaps of silence and the coaxing I had to do to get him to talk about his own achievements, since he is extremely shy and modest.
It's 35 minutes long and worth hearing. Enjoy.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Kaesay Kaesay Loag - Revelations (1)

It was disappointing that, despite the scores of visitors to the earlier post in this series, no one took the risk of guessing. What a 'safe-playing' nation we are!
Ok, I admit that guessing the author of the nazm would have been a shot in the dark - but who the young man in the photograph is (no, he is not the poet) I'd figured out the moment I set eyes on him because he bears a lot of resemblance to his father (though the environment in which we met helped, too).
This is Shehzad Mahmood. Assistant Manager | (Library /Archives / Museum) at the Pakistan Cricket Board National Cricket Academy, a task that has him surrounded with Wisdens. Once I'd have died for these …
Standing before such a collection of them and other cricket books sent my head spinning back to my pre-seafaring days when Cricket was a religion for me and Shehzad's father sent girls into the kind of swoon that only Imran Khan, years later, elicited more strongly.
Yes, folks, Shehzad is the son of the great Fazal Mahmood. Hero of many matches, he will be remembered most for the memorable Oval Test that put Pakistan on the map and caused sports headline in UK papers to scream "Pakistan Fazals England!". What a man he was … and a rarity, too: an honest Police Officer.
The PCB-NCA is well laid out and, as you can see, has at least tried to complement the old Lahore-architecture charm unlike some of the newer horrors that architects have unleashed.
(I still remember the shock and horror of returning to Lahore after years and seeing the monstrosity known as the WAPDA House - and things have gotten even worse over the years through replacement of beautiful old trees by palm trees. Palm trees? Trees that are bare and ugly. Trees that cast no cool shadows. Aaaargh. Do some people really think that by turning this country into Little Arabia by doing this, and by uttering a few guttural sounds, we will all go to Heaven? We won't. But we may become as uncouth as the Soddies, sooner than you think.)
Sorry for that distraction, but it does make my blood boil. OK. Lemme get back on track.
So what was I doing at this NCA? Had I reached it by mistake while looking for the other one? No! I'd gone there after years of promising myself to do so, just to meet my real cricket hero, the legendary Imtiaz Ahmed (T.I., Pride of Performance), who is Advisor to the PCB Women's Wing. Little wonder they are doing so well :) My face lights up even now when I recall the magical duo of Imtiaz and Maqsood ('Merry Max') on the pitch. Their partnerships drove the old men at the even older manual scoreboards mad.
There was so much to talk about with him, so many wonderful stories to hear. It was a delight to travel back to a time when even the tense Indo-Pak political relations did not mar sports. When the Commonwealth XI played the Indian Prime Minister's XI three of our cricketers were chosen and invited personally by Panditji (a great cricket lover) to play on his team. Bowlers Fazal Mahmood & Khan Mohammad and Batsman-Wicketkeeper Imtiaz Ahmad —whose score of 300 Not Out not only saved the match but still stands as the highest score on that ground.
I will blog about some of the wonderful things he spoke about and recount a few of the anecdotes next week.
Thank you, Imtiaz Sahab and Shehzad, for spending so much time with me. It was wonderful to see you both together. Until next time …

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Kaesay Kaesay Loag - The Teaser

— To be followed in a couple of days by the main post —
In this video a 'young' man (and, by my standards, most are) talks of his father, a person almost everyone of my generation was in love with when we were kids.
video
Next: A nazm by another of our idols of the same period. Some classmates and I (we were ~14) scribbled many of his poems in our notebooks, tore off the pages, and secretly left them in the desks of the those we swore to ourselves were going to be the objects of our 'eternal' affection. Of course, we always passed these masterpieces off as our own - occasionally admitting (and impressing them even more with this) that the style was inspired by the diction of Sahir :)
The trouble began when the oh-so-pretty and innocent-looking Naseem, who always gave the impression of being made up of soft pastels (like one of those girls in The Radiant Way Readers we secretly pined for), received this particular one …
… from two of us! This led to our lies being exposed and the loss of a possible long-term relationship. For me, that is. Samad, the other guilty party, eventually did manage to marry her.
[Are these names real? Well, only Samad's has been changed. As Vonnegut stated on the opening page of Fates Worse Than Death, "No names have been changed to protect the innocent, since God Almighty protects the innocent as a matter of Heavenly routine."]
So, (1) Who do you think the poet is? (2) What is the loose but definite connection of the poet to the video above?
Note: If you know or recognize the person in the video, don't be a spoilsport and name him in the comments, please. Do so only if you guessed it from the story he tells. Or his give-away looks. Ditto, about the poetry - if you are a close friend or associate of the poet, hold back. Let's see what guesses we get.

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