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Monday, December 09, 2013

A Travel Guide to Karachi

Attended an interesting event yesterday at T2F. The book launch of a twisted, alternative, humorous, funny, serious guide to Karachi, done by 7 artists. The book is called Right to the City. While the entire evening was more than enjoyable, the screen show was fun, too.

I got carried away by the first piece from Sara Khan. The screen showed a video with Bandar Road Se Keamari being played as the background. It took me back to the old Karachi that I knew when I was young … and Karachi was Karachi.

Sadly, the piece was sung by Moin Akhtar. No, no, he didn't sing it badly at all. It was just that I kept thinking of the original piece sung by Ahmed Rushdi, who died so young.
Don't you remember Rushdi? This is what Wikipedia says about him: Ahmed Rushdi, SI, PP (Urdu: احمد رشدی‎; April 24, 1934 – April 11, 1983) was a versatile Pakistani playback singer who worked in film music and was "an important contributor to the Golden Age of Pakistani film music." Rushdi is acclaimed as one of the greatest singers who ever lived in South Asia and was a natural baritone, yet could sing high tenor notes with ease. He is best known for his distinctive, melodious, powerful voice, complex and dark emotional expressions which led many critics to state his voice as the greatest and most distinctive they ever heard. Born in Hyderabad Deccan, he migrated to Pakistan and became a leading singer in the Pakistan film industry. He is considered to be one of the most versatile vocalists of the subcontinent and was capable of singing variety of songs. He is also considered to be the first regular pop singer of South Asia and credited as having sung the first-ever South Asian pop song, Ko-Ko-Korina.

We all loved Ko Ko Korina and his delightful English Version of Dama Dam Mast Qalandar  … but what I adored most of all was his Bandar Road Se Keamari  taking everyone through the major road that started from Puraani Numaish (Old Exhibition) and reached the harbour in Keamari.
The road was renamed M. A. Jinnah Road after Jinnah Sahab died and was buried in that area. I remember being part of the funeral procession as a cub-scout and also recall how a colourful tower at Puraani Numaish ground was very quickly painted black while the procession was heading towards the burial ground.
I met Sara and told her that I had the piece in two sides of 78 RPM (those wonderful waxed discs that we played on a hand-wound gramaphone) and would put it on the computer for her. Came home, looked through my list, and found that I actually also had a 45 RPM that had the full song. (This was the shorter version of the 33 1/3 RPM Long Play 12" - our great delight when it appeared and, except that the record got damaged soon, it was the best record … and that includes today's CDs!)

Now Sara can hear all of these and also add her 'favourite' to the video. And all of you who have missed these or never heard of them should hear them and think of what Karachi was like … and how our musical genres were always so different from the others.

Happy listening!

PS: The book - well worth having - was Rs.300 only at the sale. (Nothing comes for Rs. 300 in Karachi, I thought, except for a small conical shaped Moong Phali newspaper packet.)

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Friday, December 06, 2013

RIP Nelson Mandela

July 18, 1918 -  December 5th, 2013
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela,
South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician,
served in Jail for 27 years.
He became President of South Africa
One of the greatest leaders we have seen.
He adored Mahatma Gandhi and,
like Bapu, he chased the awful White apartheid regime
out of his country after their centuries of terrible rule.
People the world over thought
the Blacks in South Africa
would kill several Whites
after gaining their independence.
He made sure this never happened.
He loved Cricket.
In fact, the very first question he asked,
when he got out of Jail, was
"Is Bradman still alive?"
In 1972
Nuzhat and I sat with his daughter
(outside a London Church)
protesting about his being jailed for 10 years.

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