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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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Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the book is worth having why do you not give a full citation and where/how we can get it?

10 December, 2013 13:41

Blogger Zakintosh said...

Dear Anonymous - No need to be rude. I got mine at the Sale at T2F. No idea where it is now available. I don't represent the book in any way. It was printed in Canada. Maybe may be able to guide you.

10 December, 2013 15:01

Anonymous Salman Siddiqui said...

Thank you for the wonderful and original 'Bandar Road Se Keamari.'
It is great.

Rushdi left us too soon.

12 December, 2013 12:56

Blogger Zain said...

Just ordered it via
Hope it reaches soon. You should do similar tour guides of the historical Karachi like the ones done by Amar Jaleel in Sindhi language. They are available on YouTube.

19 December, 2013 12:27

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely post. I wasn't familiar with Ahmed Rushdi. The "Dama Dam Mast Qalandar" made my day. I found the music video for it on youtube and my, Pakistan of the '60s was so hip! I wish it had stayed that way.

23 January, 2014 10:09


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