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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Chaatgaam Poets

I loved reading the lovely post on Parveen Shakir in Tehelka Blogs. I had met Parveen just a few days before her death, at a Feminist Mushaerah in Lahore, and adored many of her shayrs. (Thank you, Rana Safvi … and also for #Shair on Twitter.)  She was great! It was wonderful was to see people who responded to the Rana post. Obviously, shaeri has a strong flavour in India and Pakistan … so  I thought there'd be a few people among your readers who are interested in more shaeri. And in audio!
Today I am adding a brief selection of some Chittagong poets (aka as The Chaatgaam Poets) from the last time my Merchant Ship went there. Almost every trip I'd hold a mushaaerah on board. I often invited people from Dacca, too, including Iqbal Azeem and Suroor Barabankvi, but these two, of course, have been heard very often. However there were many others whom neither Pakistanis nor Indians have heard. Most of them moved to West Pakistan when the Bangladesh War was on. A couple also moved, via jails in India, years later.
I was very friendly with two lovely young poets, Nudrat and Shohrat. Sadly, both died in Karachi in the last 2-3 years.
Asghar Gorakhpuri (or Asghar Bhai, as I called him) was a really close friend and one whose conversations I miss often. He spent much time with me in Karachi after escaping from there. He told us of his horrible tale of lying for hours under dead bodies (and left presumably dead by some attackers). But I never heard him argue against me for my love of Bangladesh and its independence.
Yes, there were really awful troubles from the Pakistan side and, yes, Mukti Bahini followers also did really terrible things. My own distant relative, a girl of 3, had one eye removed by a knife in one of the attacks. A non-Bengali friend, from Dacca, who sailed with me on ships and went to look for his family (during the war) discovered that he had lost his father, two brothers, and a brother-in-law in those days, killed by neighbours and 'friends'. He now works, again, in Chittagong after many years of living in Karachi. I hope we learn that independence is a movement and should never be suppressed in India and in Pakistan.
Kavish Umar I have seen again recently. After tracing him for years since he disappeared, in the middle of a strong friendship, he is now back!  I hope to have him appear at T2F/Karachi soon for a live session (along with his daughter, Sahar, who is also a lovely poet now).
In the ship's mushaeraah I did recite a ghazal or two and Ustaad Mubaarak Mungeri used to call me Hamaara Chatgaiyaañ Shaaer. I really loved his poetry a lot.
It was sad … but for Chittagong poets getting to mushaeraahs in Karachi was very expensive (or time consuming!), so many people here never knew of them. Even after some of them did arrive, a lot were in tatters and looking hard for ways to make a living, with little financial help to keep them going. Very rarely did we hear them in any local sessions. Today I thought I'd share their lovely verses with some of you in India/Pakistan who may never have heard of them.
I have placed poets in the order that we recited at the ship's mushaaerah, before we sailed away from there for the last time.
01 • Kazim 'Nudrat' Abdi — Ghazal: Ameeré shahr ki bakhshish — The youngest poet of the group. Wrote very few pieces.
02 • Nasir 'Shohrat' Zaidi — Ghazal: Pardaé zahn peh — Another young poet who came to Karachi and was heard often in local mushaaerahs.
03 Mohammad 'Vali' Siddiqui — Ghazal: Hamayñ yaad haé — A very pouplar poet in Chittagong. 
04 'Munawwar' Faizi — Rubaaiyaat — A strong leftist shaaer who worked in PIA.
05 Zaheer 'Alam' Kidvai: — Ayk musalsal Ghazal: Door tak zülmat hi zülmat
06 Asghar 'Rahi' — Ghazal: Haé yeh gaysoo — People loved his tarannum.
07  Yusuf Ali 'Laiq' — Ghazal: Aap kay Saqi-o-Jaam — A lovely poet. This ghazal became quite a hit and was published fully in an Urdu paper that covered our session.
08 'Kavish' Umar — Ghazal: Pahloo mayñ khalish — His diction and his command of language won all his listeners. His ghazals and nazms were thoroughly popular.
(His collections have been published now and are available at Urdu Bazaar, Karachi.)
09 • 'Mubaarak' Mungeri — Nazm: Mauzooé Sukhan — An Ahmadi poet, this brilliant nazm mentions the Lahore Fasaadaat (1953) in which a strong anti-Ahmadi movement took place, resulting in a Martial Law in that area. He also mentions in another verse Syed (Z A Bhutto), Shaikh (Mujib-ur-Rajman) and Khan (Pakistan's President Yahya).
(Books were published by his son after Mubaarak sahab died)
10 • 'Asghar' Gorakhpuri — Nazm: Mohraa — He loved the classical style and presented it with new ideas, Great poet. Wonderful conversationalist.
(A CD of all his kalaams that I had is now available)
I have a selection of more of  the 'Chaatgaam' poetry and will release a CD or two of them at T2F, soon.
Have no idea where Vali, Munawwar, Rahi, and Laiq  are, so if you know, please drop a comment in my BlogPost. Thanks.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

He NOSE about it all!

Start from my last blogpost
in case you don't know what this is about.

Look hard at this pic and you'll find that there is a bump on my right side of the nose. Not a very good picture but that's all I could do at that time from my iPhone.

This is where the crooked nose bone had cracked an artery. The doctor cauterised me with Silver Nitrate, put in a cotton wad dumped heavily with medicine (yes!!! all the way up) … and it was painful, even apart from the anaesthesia. But he said it would be over. Although I wasn't too sure.

A night with Lexotanil. 

The next day, quite apart from the dismay that an alien object was sitting in my nose, I was Ok-ish but feeling a bit weak with lack of blood and sleep. And computers.

Another night with Lexotanil!

It was 6.15 am when woke up - still feeling groggy - and discovered that my bed cover had blood.

No. Not blood.

A rush to the bathroom, pouring blood into the washbasin until I thought it was far too much. Blew my nose. Removed the wad. Shoved some cotton with a bit of medicine all the way up and after a couple of minutes it stopped pouring out but I could feel the sounds inside.

Sent a message to the doctor and he said I should come in at 7.30 and see him again. "Nothing to worry about. Just control your bleeding …"is what he said.

Control? Hmmm. I bled from 6.15 am to 5.45 pm - changing wads, flowing with blood everywhere, no food, feeling tired (but not too tired, anyway) and finally got to see him in the evening.

"The nose looks good," said Doc. "The Silver Nitrate has worked. Now there are some capillaries that are leaking because the main artery has been stopped from bleeding. That's why there's this blood."

I didn't really care what was bleeding. I wanted it stopped. I blew my nose - along with heavy clots that had formed - and was then subjected to a cotton full of anaesthesia stuck up my nose while I was standing (which also led to my lips being anaesthetised, I guess). A bit of a pain that i could bear. I sat for a while until the Doc put out a new cottonish wad with loads of brownish medicine and said I should lie down. He then (painlessly for him but very painfully for me) shoved the thingy all the way up my nose, twisting and turning. He said, "The nose is rather crooked and we have to stop everything from bleeding!" … and so, after what seemed like several minutes (btw, the clock showed only 4 minutes), it was done. So was I.

This was followed by more cotton, plain, shoved in the beginning because he said there'd be leaks. Sometimes. They actually started while I was in his office and continued all of the next day.

Given more medicine to do this again if needed, I was told to preferably let the main wad remain inside. I did. I had to have a new ointment made at Kausar Medico before I went to see him again the next day.
The driver went to the Kausar Medico at a chowk nearby and was told that he would get it in 5 days. So he went off to Kausar Medico on Bunder Road and was told that he could pick it up in 5 hours. He did this. I am only mentioning that if anyone needs to go to Kausar Medico for a prepared ointment, Bunder Road is the answer for quick service.
At 8.30 I saw the doctor again (That was on Saturday) and he really felt that all was well and I would not bleed at all. I have to remove and reinsert new wads with this ointment for 5 more days and check it with him on Thursday when he will pronounce me, I hope, "All well!"

So bye … and thanks for reading all this. I feel really great. The nose leaks continue with the medicinal secretions. No bleedings, so far. Hope it's over.

Feeling a little weak … but nothing that good old ice cream won't cure :)

(I am sure you guessed what the above picture was!) 

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

So THIS is what really happened …

4th February 2013 - 7 am - I wake up with a slightly wettish feeling around my nose. Get up out of bed and a stream of blood keeps flowing down from my right nostril. Strange nosebleed, I thought. It took a long time to stop it. I had lost almost a cupful of blood by then.

Dr Shamim was called in and he suggested pressing the top of my nose if it happened again … and use an ice-pack. I had to do it while he was here as it started bleeding again. Almost another cupful before it stopped.

He called his friend who was an ENT and the friend said he'd be in his clinic by 2.30 … I went and sat at 2.00, after another bad nosebleed, and I was soon told that he'd be in by 3.30 or 4.00. So I left.

Two more nosebleeds later I went to Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and he took a look at my nose and said that a bone was crooked. It had cracked open the artery and that is why I was bleeding. Gave me all sorts of pills, sprays, ointments and said I should come back in 2 days to cauterise this if necessary.

A bone was crooked … Hmmmm!

I passed my Senior Cambridge exam in 1956 (St. Pat's, Karachi) and had to go to a college. Jaweed Niaz (husband of columnist Anjum Niaz) - a classmate and friend - and I decided to go to GC, Lahore. I was going to live in the Government College Quadrangle Hostel (Jaweed's father was a commissioner and he would live at home).

There are loads of stories that need to be told about GC. But we'll skip all that and move on to the Presidential Elections for GC. Sakhi Sarwar Sultan was leaving and a new President was to come in. Jawaid Azfar (who sadly died fairly young) came to Jaweed and many of of us. Jaweed Niaz knew him well. He and I supported his older brother, Kamal Azfar (KA has - since - been our Finance Minister and the Governor of Sindh), and so did most of our friends from East Africa, Phillipines, and a few young students from Lahore - like Jafri, Faruq, and Aamer.

Kamal's opposition was Khalid S. Butt.  I remember very little of Khalid now, except that his college coat had 'Russian' written on it where others had Hockey and Cricket and other stuff. I was fairly new to GC and though we supported Kamal for his brilliant debates and most other things I had no idea that the place would start talking about voting for a Punjabi student! I thought this was not the GC that I could have thought of - but many of my Punjabi friends would say, "Naheeñ - I am a Punjabi and will vote for Khalid." 

Among the days that we were canvassing for Kamal, I came across a group of students who were talking to Khalid in the garden. I walked up to them and asked them to vote for Kamal. One of them said to me, "I am sorry, I am a Punjabi and can't vote for anyone other than a Punjabi!" - I was surprised again at such behaviour and I walked away, saying, "I am sorry, too."

Three or four feet away from there I heard my name called, so I turned back … and a brick, picked from the place where they were standing, came hurtling through and hit me on the nose. I bled a bit. Was taken to the doctor who looked at me and said it was just a small hurt and the blood would soon stop … which it did. My nose, though, seemed twisted a bit to me.

Of course, the Election Day arrived and Kamal Azfar beat Khalid S. Butt - in a way that had never happened from the time that Allama Iqbal had won this election. Everybody, including those that had said, "We'll vote for Khalid because he is a Punjabi", voted for Kamal. When I asked some of them they said, " Oh,  we were only buying time. GC has no problems with where a chap comes from and Kamal was always the best choice."
I met Kamal frequently and when he was the Governor of Sindh I used to say that he'd make a lovely President, too. His wife was the perfect First Lady! Although we continued our friendship for a very long time, I discovered that Naheed Azfar behaved rather differently for a while. Their daughter said to me one day that she is upset because I have said lots of things against her. Untrue! But that's what she believed. I don't know who could have said this to her … but we have very little to do with each other now.
In 1980 I had some dizzy spells and I went to see a doctor who said to me that I should stop flying to join ships and should get a surgery done in the next two days because my bone had twisted inside the nose and was causing this problem in breathing. I asked Dr Shamim then and he sent me to Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh who gave me four days of medicine, said the nose bent had nothing to do with this. He thought the doctor had probably understood that I was a Merchant Navy Captain and decided to get some money from a useless surgery. Shit! Anyway, that medicine cured me.

In 2013 I had this new bleeding problem. I saw Dr Shaikh again after two days.
The middle day we had that useless Kashmir Day chütti that no one knows about. (When Basharat Peer, the Kashmiri writer, came to Lahore a few years ago it was on the 4th February. The next morning was Kashmir Day and he went out and saw all these signs about Kashmir and how people felt. He asked what had happened and someone said we have this holiday each year. He said, "I live in Kashmir and have never heard of this day in Pakistan!")
I had several bleeding moments after that. Blood dripping rather suddenly, even into the food that I was trying to eat. Yechhh! I stopped them all the time, and the quantities varied from half a cup to a couple of teaspoons — making me feel very weak.

On the third day I went to him and was told that cauterisation was essential.

When a doctor says that you'll be given a local anaesthetic and feel a little bit of pain, be prepared. He is the one who has never had some thing stuck all the way up his nose. When he says 'a little more pain', hold on to the bed. Hard. (When he says 'a tiny bit of pain that you will have for a while', ask for a General Anaesthetic!)

The anaesthesia was more painful and uncomfortable but my nose now has Silver Nitrate covering the bone and the bleeding has stopped. It'll take another week before the paste melds with the bone and I shall see the doc again. It feels good, although it seems that there is some strange thing sticking in there. The doc thinks the feeling will end up in a few days, but I don't think so. I think I'll just stop worrying about it happening all the time …

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Times have changed!

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Saturday, February 02, 2013

Mehnaz and Kajjan Begum

With the death of Mehnaz at a young age (she was 55) we lost a lovely singer. She was travelling to the USA for medical attention and died on the way there. A large crowd attended her burial in Karachi. I remember seeing her when she was just 14 years old and accompanied her mother to a function at my friend’s place.

Mehnaz was the daughter of the famous Kajjan Begum, who was actually named Imam Baandi. Her mother was Husain Baandi. Both were well known in the UP. Kajjan Begum (and her mother) used to perform Noha and Soz recitals at Shia homes in Moharram and at Majlises held in many parts of UP. Apart from singing Noha and Soz, Kajjan Begum was also well-known for her singing of Ghazal, Thümri, Dadra, Chaiti and more. She also performed wonderful UP wedding songs at a number of places (including my own wedding, in Karachi). For those who may not know, Noha and Soz are poems about the Muslim Prophet’s grandson Hazrat Husain, the son of Hazrat Ali, who was murdered in Karbala.

I thought it would be nice to put together some links to the songs of the two marvellous singers here, singing separately and together at some mahfils. Mehnaz, of course, went to do her singing in her own way – adding modern styles to address ghazals and other songs – but one could see the training she received from her mother. Kajjan said: Mehnaz gaati achchha haé, laykin sharmaati bohat haé. That was in her early days. Once she became popular, her sharmaahat was no longer what held her. Mehnaz loved singing. She performed at the All Pakistan Music Conference in Karachi, was a well-known film singer, and was on TV a lot of times.

Kajjan was loved by all who met her. Always full of mischief, she responded funnily to most questions, added tons of anecdotes to her conversations, and was ready to sing whenever asked. I asked Begum Akhtar (Faizabadi) what she thought Kajjan’s singing was like and she said: Kajjan say sirf ünn ki Amma achchha gaati haéñ!

Kajjan: Soz Ghabraaé Gi Zainab
Kajjan: Thümri Chüriyaañ Karak Gaiyyaañ
Kajjan & Mehnaz: Wedding Song Kaahay Ko Beyaahi Bidays
Mehnaz: Ghazal Ab Kay Tajdeedé Mohabbat
Mehnaz: Punjabi Folk Maéñ Kamli Da Jhola
Mehnaz: Traditional Sakhiri Moray Naén
Kajjan & Mehnaz: Traditional Najariya Lag Jaé Gi

I first met Kajjan Begum (or Kajjan Bai, as she was then called) when she came to Pakistan and visited Syed Aalé Raza (a friend of my father) and then came to our house after getting our address from him. I wish there had been a tape recorder that far back, because she sang a small Thumri at my father’s request … and I fell in love with her voice.

Syed Aalé Raza – a wonderful poet – wrote a Salaamé Akhir that was recited each Moharram by Syed Nasir Jahan (and now by his son, Asad Jahan) at the end of the 10th Day observances on the TV. I thought I’d add Nasir Bhai’s version here, too, in case some of you may have missed it.

Syed Nasir Jehan: Salaamé Akhir


By the way, several CDs and DVDs of Pakistani Poets, Singers, Musicians, and more are available at this place in Karachi and people in India could ask friends coming here (or to any place in Pakistan) to take them back. There are loads of people that you may have missed out on and are worth listening to or seeing.

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